U.S. lawsuit claims L’Oreal makes up products to appear being from France

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A new U.S. lawsuit filed on Friday accuses L’Oreal SA of causing American shoppers to overpay for its beauty products by misleading them into thinking they are actually made in France.

Veronica Eshelby, the plaintiff in the proposed class action, said L’Oreal’s labeling its products “L’Oreal Paris” and use of French words such as “fini mat” (matte finish) and “sans huile” (oil-free) are meant to suggest its products are French.

She said the products are in fact neither made nor sold in France, but are designed by the company’s New York subsidiary for the American market, and made in its North Little Rock, Arkansas, plant or elsewhere in the United States and Canada.

Eshelby, a resident of Orange County, California, said she bought shampoo and two other products labeled L’Oreal Paris, and “did not notice or read the fine print” revealing the products’ North American origins.

“Millions of American consumers are overpaying for L’Oreal ‘Paris’ products that are not what they claim to be,” according to the complaint filed in the Manhattan federal court. “The fine print does not stop reasonable consumers from being misled.”

L’Oreal did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lawyers for Eshelby did not immediately respond to similar requests. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Companies are periodically sued over their products’ origins in American courts.

In 2015, Anheuser-Busch offered refunds to settle a Florida lawsuit claiming it tricked consumers into thinking it brewed Beck’s beer in Germany, though production had moved in 2012 to St. Louis, Missouri.

The case is Eshelby v L’Oreal USA Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 22-01396.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy)