Courts make ruling on Dr. Bronner's organic lawsuit

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dr. bronner, Pleading, Plaintiff

California courts have upheld certain motions by the defending cosmetics companies in the amended federal lawsuit bought by Dr. Bronner’s that .

The judge chose to grant the motions filed by the defendents to dismiss for lack of subject-matter and failure to state a claim in favor of the defendants, headed by the Hains Celestial Group.

However, the California judgment deemed that Dr. Bronner’s motion to dismiss a counter claim filed by Ecocert, which certifies some of the beauty products in question, was granted.

Nevertheless, both Ecocert and Dr. Bronner’s have been given 30 days to amend their pleadings as the court deemed certain defects in the proceedings could be rectified through amendment.

The court ordered that any amendment plea should be filed by 13th January, 2010, while a case management conference is scheduled for February 12th.

Ongoing saga dating back to April 2008

The lawsuit was first filed back in April 2008 under the plaintiff name All One God Faith, doing business as Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, under the premise that its complicity to strict FDA regulations governing organic beauty products was not being met by its competitors.

Dr. Bronner’s claims that many of the leading organic beauty brands are not complying with the standards enforced by the FDA, in turn not complying with consumer expectations as to the definition of an organic certified product.

The natural soaps company originally brought the lawsuit against a number of players including Hains Celestial (Jason Naturals and Avalon Organics brands), Levlad (Nature’s Gate), Kiss My Face, YSL Beaute and the certification bodies OASIS and Ecocert.

In the original lawsuit Dr Bronner’s asked that the companies cease to market products with organic in the product name unless they meet USDA National Organic Program specifications, which it believes represents consumers’ expectations of the term organic.

However, last July the company upped the stakes and by asking for damages incurred through loss of sales to what it alleged were falsely advertised organic products.

Second amendment focused on mislabeling of organic products

In the second amended complaint presented at the San Francisco Superior Court, Dr Bronner’s is calling for the profits made from the sale of the defendants allegedly mislabelled organic products to be awarded to the company.

In addition, it asked for monetary compensation for the diversion of sales from Dr Bronner’s to the defendants.

Likewise the lawsuit also asked that certifiers OASIS and Ecocert should stop certifying products as organic if they could not be certified under the USDA national organic program.

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