Paparazzi “lead & nickel free” class-action filed in New York
A Paparazzi customer in New York has filed a class-action against the MLM company.
Central to the lawsuit are alleged misrepresentations regarding toxic metals in Paparazzi jewelry.
BehindMLM covered the finding of toxic metals in Paparazzi jewelry earlier this year.
Crack the Crown’s discovery, which was verified by testing, was brought on by Paparazzi to dropping its “lead & nickel free” marketing claim.
Surprisingly, in the wake of the discovery and past and potential consumer harm, no regulatory action has been lodged against Paparazzi. Whether the MLM company is under regulatory investigation is unknown.
Plaintiff Tamie Hollins claims to be a Paparazzi customer who
purchased Paparazzi products because they were advertised as being free of heavy metals and nickel-free.
Hollins asserts that had she and other customers have known Paparazzi jewelry contained lead and nickel, this
would have caused (her) and members of the proposed classes not to purchase or consume the products.
Hollins’ class-action cites the removal of “lead-free and nickel-free” representations by Paparazzi beginning November 9th, 2021.
As alleged in Hollins’ complaint;
Unbeknownst to Plaintiff and Members of the proposed Classes, and contrary to the representations of Paparazzi’s website, the products contain toxic heavy metals such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, and lead, as well as nickel.
Lead is a carcinogen and developmental toxin known to cause health problems to consumers.
For centuries, exposure to lead has been known to pose health hazards.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry 2007, certain levels of exposure can result in delirium, seizures, stupor, coma, or even death.
A substantial body of recent epidemiologic and toxicologic research demonstrates that multiple health effects can occur at low to moderate blood lead levels previously without recognized harm.
Health effects of chronic low-level exposure in adults include cognitive decline, hypertension and other cardiovascular effects, decrements in renal function, and adverse reproductive outcome.
Exposure to heavy metals causes permanent decreases in IQ, diminished future economic productivity, and increased risk of future criminal and antisocial behavior in children.
Toxic heavy metals endanger infant neurological development and long-term brain function.
Some studies have shown that lead can be absorbed through the skin.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry states that there may be no threshold for lead with regards to developmental impact on children. “In other words, there are no safe limits for [lead]”.
Moreover, nickel is (a) known allergen that can cause reactions in wearers such as itchy rashes and blisters at the site of contact with skin.
Reactions can begin within hours or days of the exposure to nickel, and may last as long as two to four weeks.
Studies have shown that roughly 12 to 17% of women and 1 to 3% of men are allergic to nickel.
In a statement attributed to Paparazzi’s founders and corporate offices dated December 22, 2021, Paparazzi admitted its jewelry “may contain trace amounts of lead and nickel”.
As far as I’m aware Paparazzi itself has issued no public statement regarding toxic metals being used in their jewelry, so that last statement piqued my interest.
The statement itself is uncited but there is a citation pointing to footnote 4 of Hollins’ complaint.
Footnote 4 has a link to the “about our products” section of Paparazzi’s website, backdated January 2022. There’s nothing about lead and nickel on the page.
Footnote 4 also provides a link to a deleted blog post from a still-enrolled Paparazzi distributor. I don’t know what was on that page but it’s not Paparazzi’s own website.
Hollins’ proposed class-action would divide affected Paparazzi customers into a Nationwide Class with a New York Subclass.
Plaintiff believes there are hundreds or thousands of Class Members geographically dispersed throughout the United States and hundreds or thousands of Class Members in each state.
Questions to be answered should the class-action be permitted to proceed, are whether
- Paparazzi sold products that had detectable levels of nickel and lead;
- Paparazzi advertised, represented, or held itself out as producing or manufacturing products that were safe to wear;
- Paparazzi expressly warranted the products;
- Paparazzi purported to disclaim any express warranty;
- Paparazzi purported to disclaim any implied warranty;
- any limitation on warranty fails to meet it essential purpose;
- Paparazzi intended for Plaintiff, the Class Members, and others to purchase the products;
- Paparazzi intended or foresaw that Plaintiff, the Class Members, and others would wear the products;
- and in what manner Paparazzi was negligent in manufacturing or processing the products;
- Paparazzi’s negligence proximately caused loss, injury, or damages to the Class Members;
- the Class Members suffered direct losses or damages;
- the Class Members suffered indirect losses or damages;
- the Class Members are entitled to actual or other forms of damages and other monetary relief
- the Class Members are entitled to equitable relief, including but not limited to injunctive relief and equitable restitution
Specific causes of action raised against Paparazzi include:
- strict product liability;
- unjust enrichment; and
- violations of New York General Business Law
Tamie Hollins seeks to represent Class Members if the action is approved.
Plaintiff and her counsel are committed to prosecuting this action vigorously on behalf of the Class and have the resources to do so.
Projected damages have been pegged at over five million dollars.
With the disclaimer that I’m not a lawyer, pending regulatory action I think Hollins might have a bit of an uphill battle definitively proving some of the questions she’s raised.
Things get even more complicated if you factor in a class of potentially thousands, each with unique circumstances.
Assuming Paparazzi don’t rush to settle, nonetheless this should be an interesting case to follow.
Shortly after filing, on May 2nd, Hollins’ attorney wrote the court requesting a case transfer from the Northern District of New York to the South District.
This was approved on May 3rd but I can’t find the transferred case on Pacer at time of publication. I’ll check back in a bit and provide an update either way.
Update 11th May 2022 – A second Paparazzi class-action complaint has been filed in North Carolina.
The complaint details similar allegations against Paparazzi, pertaining to toxic amounts of heavy metals in their jewelry.
One tidbit from the lawsuit appears to be a source for the claimed acknowledgement of nickel and lead in their products. It’s an undated email from Paparazzi corporate, which I believe went out late 2021;
I’ll be tracking both class-actions going forward.
Update 21st May 2022 – The Southern District transfer went through on May 17th.
I can now see the case docket but there are no substantial updates to report. I’ll continue to monitor the docket as part of BehindMLM’s case calendar.
Update 25th August 2022 – Paparazzi filed to transfer Hollins’ class-action to Utah.
The transfer motion was approved by the court on August 23rd.