Monday, June 24, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Wednesday, October 25, 2023
​Consumer challenges Hawaiian Tropic’s ‘Reef Friendly’ sunscreen label
By Selected News Articles @ 3:59 PM :: 1636 Views :: Environment, Greenmail

Consumer challenges Hawaiian Tropic’s ‘Reef Friendly’ sunscreen label in Second Circuit

A buyer says the product's label is misleading because it claims the product is "Reef Friendly" despite including chemicals known to harm coral reefs.

by Nika Schoonover, Court House News, October 25, 2023

MANHATTAN (CN) — Hawaiian Tropic faced a threat Wednesday to its “Reef Friendly” sunscreen in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, where a consumer argued the brand misled customers by falsely claiming its products are safe for coral reefs.

Sherise Richardson, who bought the sunscreen partly because of the “Reef Friendly” label, says the sunscreen contains chemicals that are harmful to coral reefs and the marine life around them.

On Hawaiian Tropic’s sunscreen products, the label “Reef Friendly” is portrayed in bold letters with an asterisk that directs customers to the back of the label. There, above the “Drug Facts” section, it clarifies: “No Oxybenzone or Octinoxate.”

The product also claims it follows Hawaiian law, which banned the use of oxybenzone and octinoxate in sunscreen products in 2021, because the chemicals have harmful effects on the state’s marine environment and ecosystems, including coral reefs.

“Labeling and marketing of the products as 'Reef Friendly' allow it to gain an unfair advantage against its competitors that lawfully sell competing sunscreens and sun care products,” Richardson’s attorneys wrote in their brief.

In the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Richardson’s case was dismissed because the court inferred that a “reasonable consumer” would understand that the sunscreen was reef friendly because it did not contain the specific chemicals listed on the back label.

But Richardson says Edgewell Personal Care, which operates the Hawaiian Tropic brand, produces front and back labels that are at odds with each other.

“This product contains four different ingredients that are all reef damaging, and that is directly contradicting the front label statement that it’s reef friendly,” Glenn Danas, Richardson’s attorney, argued Wednesday.

But Edgewell Personal Care's attorneys countered that reasonable consumers would know the asterisk next to “Reef Friendly” would lead them to read the back label, which clarified that the two specific chemicals weren’t used.

Judge Michael Park, a Trump appointee, pushed back against that argument.

“This isn’t a legal document. It’s a picture with a leaf and some numbers and lots of different fonts,” Park said. “I wouldn’t necessarily agree with you that it’s reasonable to see an asterisk and think, ‘Oh, there’s fine print. I need to look further at what that means.’”

Thomas Davis, an attorney representing Edgewell, said that if you notice the “Reef Friendly” label then your attention is immediately called to the asterisk.

But Judge Gerard Lynch, an Obama appointee, said the back label is still not clear.

“And what you find is not something that says, ‘Disclaimer: All we mean by this is that we do not have these two chemicals,’” Lynch said. “It just says, 'does not contain these two chemicals.'"

Lynch then added that he wasn't sure what the two chemicals were, and he would not know if they were, in fact, harmful to coral reefs.

“Isn’t it a perfectly plausible thing to think that the average consumer would not read 'reef friendly,' even with a disclaimer, to mean anything other than it doesn’t have the stuff that hurts reefs?” Lynch said.

In response, Davis said the asterisk draws you to a “true statement,” saying the claim “Reef Friendly” is true because it follows Hawaiian law.

“These ingredients have been removed and that, in fact, is what happened after the Hawaiian legislation occurred,” Davis said.

In rebuttal, Danas said that the idea that “Reef Friendly” can simply mean that the product does not contain these two ingredients would be to encourage “highly deceptive advertising.”

Park and Lynch were joined by Judge Jessica Clarke, a Biden appointee. The panel adjourned without a ruling.

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii Military History

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Together

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

July 4 in Hawaii

Land and Power in Hawaii

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii