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Contaminated Product Claims in 2023: Can Consumers Get Refunds?

Contaminated Product Claims in 2023: Can Consumers Get Refunds?

Contaminated cleaning products and even grocery food items have been in the news.  Symptoms of contamination may include a very irritating red rash like the chicken pox, joint or muscle pain, fever or chills, fatigue, and/or chest pain. 

In 2022, for example, Clorox announced the potential contamination of millions of bottles of the famous Pine-Sol floor and surface cleaner.  More than 30 million bottles of the solution were affected by the recall, at first. 

Scented Pine-Sol including the lemon, lavender, and ocean/wave scents were involved in the announcement.  The Pro and Professional brands of Pine-Sol were also implicated.

Contamination of consumer products may be discovered in multiple ways.  Victims may show up in emergency rooms or urgent care units complaining of abdominal pains, digestive issues, rashes, unusual pains, fevers, or tiredness.  Federal or state public health experts may interview these victims about what they ate and where they went in the week before they got sick.  If a pattern emerges, a particular grocery or consumer product may be identified as the culprit.  Sometimes, on the other hand, consumers may complain to the manufacturer about bad reactions to a product, and the manufacturer may decide to recall entire lines of product.  Another scenario is that a state public health agency may find the contamination by testing protocols and report it to the Food and Drug Administration or Centers for Disease Control before any illnesses occur.

Ice creams, frozen dessert cups, vegan proteins, and milkshakes are some of the products linked to contamination and consumer illness in recent reports.

Not even infants are safe from contaminated products.  According to a 2021 report, some baby foods were found to be contaminated with higher-than-expected amounts of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury.  Unless a full investigation could be done, no one would ever know whether there were objectionable levels of toxic heavy metals in baby foods on sale to the public.

Other contamination claims may be limited to a subset of consumers.  Recalls may be issued when a product contains nuts, eggs, or other ingredients that may trigger allergies in some consumers, but be fine for consumers without allergies.  Especially in such cases, the Food and Drug Administration may get involved.

Can Consumers Get Refunds?

Sometimes, a contaminated product recall may involve an offer of refunds.  A manufacturer sometimes does not even offer that much, unless consumers’ attorneys get involved.

Other times, getting refunds and compensation for injuries due to contamination can be a harder fight.  Foreseeing that buyers could have trouble finding a fair day in court, because they lack the money and staff that big companies have, Congress and New York legislature forged a solution.

The class action mechanism allows a few people who have suffered from contaminated products or other harms to represent thousands or even millions of other persons.  Usually, a class action involves a large group of buyers or other persons who would be difficult to bring to court all at once, some common factual situation or legal violation that united them, and class representatives who can work diligently to ensure that the lawyers for the class protects its rights.

The modern class action is the perfect mechanism for consumers to seek refunds and compensation for injuries arising out of contaminated products, or those that do not work as well as advertised.   State legislatures have made sure that most buyers of products have civil claims against false or deceptive advertising of consumer goods, or exaggerated claims about them.

A consumer does not need definite proof of having believed in the safety claims on a product label or TV ad in order to be entitled to compensation.  It may be enough that the advertisements, or the failures to disclose known safety issues, would be enough to fool the typical buyer.

In addition, failing to disclose information that is important to buyers can be fraud.  This kind of a failure can make other statements that the seller has made false or misleading to buyers.

Next Steps

Victims of contaminated cleaning or grocery products may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.  Compensation may involve lost pay or benefits due to falling sick, pain and suffering as a result of illness or hospitalization, and reduced enjoyment of life over time.  That’s in addition to such direct costs as medical bills, legal expenses, having to move, or time wasted while sick.

It is important to know your rights when it comes to contaminated cleaning or grocery products. A free consultation can help you understand your rights and take action to protect them, including by contacting government agencies or seeking compensation in a mediation with the manufacturer, or in court.

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