Almost as soon as it was filed, a class action lawsuit against the makers of EOS lip balm was settled during the last week of January. The January 28th settlement came as a surprise to many, as the suit had only been filed about two weeks earlier. Terms of the settlement were not released, but a statement by the plaintiff’s lawyer implies that part of the terms include changes to the product packaging.

Popular with Millienials

EOS lip balm has become very popular since it first appeared on the market in 2009. The brand succeeded in part by using unique and distinctive packaging: while similar products are usually sold in sticks or tubes or small tins, EOS is marketed in small, round plastic pods in an array of bright and bold colors, making it instantly recognizable. Recognition itself is another thing the brand has cultivated, specifically through the use of celebrity product placement. EOS was displayed prominently in music videos released by Miley Cyrus in 2013 and Jennifer Lopez in 2014, both of which helped boost brand awareness and sales among the product’s main target: millennial women. The brand has used other celebrities, such as Hilary Duff and Britney Spears, in different media campaigns.

Negative Reactions

EOS (the parent company sometimes uses the longer name “Evolution of Smooth”) has promoted its lip balms as safe products, describing them as natural and hypoallergenic.

However, some users have reported allergic reactions, including swelling and bleeding. On January 12th, a class action suit was filed on behalf of one user, Rachael Cronin, and all others who might be affected. The Cronin suit claimed that the lip balm caused a rash that was serious enough she was forced to seek medical attention, and which took about 10 days to abate. It’s not clear what was responsible for the rash, but after reviewing photos dermatologists have suggested that vitamin E, beeswax, or the natural fragrances in the product might be responsible. For its part, EOS holds that its products have been rigorously tested and are completely safe.

A key point in the suit seems to have been the claim that, despite reports by some users, the company failed to provide warnings of possible allergic reactions or side effects in their advertising or on the product packaging.

Protect Yourself and Others

When a product is determined to be unsafe, even when it causes problems only for some users as in the EOS case, action should be taken to correct the problem. Product liability law is an important part of the consumer protection system in the US, and Wilson Kehoe Winingham has experience with it. If you’ve been affected by a dangerous product, give us a call at 317-920-6400 or contact us online for a free consultation to discuss your case and get advice on how you might proceed.

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