Update: $26M WEN Class Action Settlement Moves Forward
November 7, 2016 – A Los Angeles judge has given preliminary approval to a $26 million settlement in a class action lawsuit alleging hair loss, breakage and balding from WEN hair care products. As a result of the ruling, Celebrity stylist Chaz Dean and marketer Guthy-Renker will have to defend their WEN Cleansing Conditioner before a U.S. District Court Judge. The outcome of the lawsuit could mean settlements of up to $20,000 for some six million people.
What’s the Problem?
A class action lawsuit (PDF) was filed against Chaz Dean and the marketing company Guthy-Renker, LLC, in California federal on July 31, 2014, alleging that WEN Cleansing Conditioner causes hair loss that continues even after customers stop using the product. The complaint was filed by lead plaintiff Amy Friedman of Florida, who bought the WEN Cleansing Conditioner Sweet Almond Mint basic kit on Jan. 29, 2014 for $29.95.
Within 2 weeks of Friedman’s first use of WEN she began losing hair rapidly, and within a month had lost one quarter to one third of the hair on her head despite quitting the product after the second week, according to the class action.
What’s Causing the Hair Loss?
Since current laws do not require manufacturers of personal care products to test their products before bringing them to market, it’s still unclear as to what chemicals or allergens in WEN are causing hair loss.
“At this time, we don’t know,” says Johanna Congleton, MSPH, PhD, a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group (EWG). “What’s more troubling is the FDA doesn’t know.”
Class Action Allegations
Friedman alleges that:
- Guthy-Renker Advertised WEN using false and misleading claims that have harmed the class;
- As a result of the defective nature of the hair care products, they were and are unfit for their intended use and purpose;
- Defendant had knowledge of a material design defect with WEN, yet failed to disclose this information or warn consumers about possible side effects;
- Guthy-Renker concealed customers’ comments about WEN hair loss by blocking and/or erasing negative comments from the product’s Facebook page.
- Defendant reinforced false statements by citing a “3-week study of users of WEN Cleansing Conditioner,” in which “100% said their hair was more moisturized, 97% notice that WEN added more shine, and 95% reported that hair became more manageable.”
Plaintiff has proposed 2 separate classes – a national class for all customers who purchased WEN Cleansing Conditioner from Aug. 1, 2009 through the present and a Florida class for all customers in that state who bought the product from Aug. 1, 2009 through the present.
FDA Investigating Adverse Events Linked to WEN by Chaz Dean
July 19, 2016 – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it is investigating reports of hair loss, hair breakage, balding, itching and rash associated with WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner products. In a press release issued today, the agency said it has received at least 127 adverse event reports directly from consumers about the Wen products — the largest number of reports ever associated with any cosmetic hair-cleansing product, including cleansing conditioners.
Defendant Seeks Mediation in Hair Loss Lawsuits
On December 18, Radar Online announced that Chaz Dean is seeking to quickly mediate the hair loss class action filed against him. The legal proceedings have been temporarily suspended by a federal judge, as lawyers for both sides agreed to attempt to reach a settlement through mediation.