The state of California has what is known as a slack fill law, which prohibits companies from using packaging that includes so much empty space that it makes an item appear larger than it is. This mirrors Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which defines nonfunctional slack-fill as the difference between the actual capacity of a container and the volume of product that is within that container. If the empty space serves no useful purpose, the product may be deemed to be misbranded. Therefore, in California, if a consumer is unable to view the contents of a product, but the container contains non-functional slack-fill, consumers may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer.
The consumer goods company Proctor & Gamble Co. was recently sued for using oversized packaging for its Olay beauty products, allegedly making them appear to contain more of the product than the containers actually did. According to the LA Times, the company was sued by district attorneys in four counties in California, including Riverside, Yolo, Fresno, and Shasta counties. The company has decided to settle the lawsuit, agreeing to pay $850,000 in fines without admitting wrongdoing. Furthermore, the company, which is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, must change the packaging of these products by January 1, 2018. After launching a company-led review of their products, Proctor & Gamble has announced that it will change the packaging on the entire Olay product line.
The district attorneys who filed the case claim that they did so to protect the average consumer, who has the right to know what they are actually spending their money on. However, Proctor & Gamble maintains that their packaging conforms with all requisite laws. Nevertheless, each of the four district attorney offices will receive $194,000 in civil penalties and $12,000 for attorney’s fees.
If you or a loved one has been injured because of a defective product or if a defective product has resulted in the wrongful death of a loved one, please call 617-787-3700 now to speak with one of our expert Massachusetts products liability lawyers or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.