Paparazzi “toxic contaminants” class-action filed in Utah
Plaintiffs Lori Teske and Terri Franklin have filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Paparazzi.
The Teske Complaint was filed in Utah on June 6th.
As alleged by Class Plaintiffs, Paparazzi “peddle(d) low-budget jewelry and accessory items laced with high levels of toxic contaminants”.
Plaintiffs claim this was done on the representation by Paparazzi that their products were
“lead and nickel free” and were in compliance with state rules limiting the amount of dangerous toxins in consumer products.
Plaintiffs, both of whom were Paparazzi Consultants, claim they were duped.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Unknown to Paparazzi’s Consultants, Paparazzi’s jewelry contains astonishingly high levels of lead, nickel, cadmium, and/or other toxic metals.
News of toxic metals in Paparazzi’s jewelry surfaced earlier this year, following a commissioned lab report by Crack the Crown.
At Paparazzi’s urging, Consultants invest substantial sums of money to build up their inventory of Paparazzi costume jewelry inventory.
As recently as November 2021, Paparazzi advertised its products to Consultants and consumers as lead-free and nickel-free.
And as recently as December 2021, Paparazzi advertised its products to Consultants and consumers as compliant with California’s Proposition 65, which, as discussed further below, requires disclosures if certain levels of numerous toxic substances—including lead, nickel, and cadmium—meet or exceed a threshold amount, depending on the substance.
In fact, as laboratory testing has since confirmed, Paparazzi’s products are not lead-free, nickel-free, or otherwise free of Toxic Metals.
They often contain substantial, and in some cases shockingly high and potentially toxic, levels of lead, nickel, and other toxic metals
like cadmium that are hazardous to human health.
Paparazzi has induced its Consultants, including Plaintiffs and Class members, into purchasing large quantities of Paparazzi jewelry to sell to their consumers.
Not only does the Paparazzi jewelry fail to live up to the quality and safety representations Paparazzi has made about its products, it poses health and safety risks to Consultants and their customers.
Paparazzi has reaped massive profits from these sales, while Consultants are saddled with worthless,
potentially dangerous goods.
Plaintiffs and Class members bring this action to recover money damages for the harms Paparazzi has caused through its misrepresentations and deceptions about the composition, quality, and safety of Paparazzi products.
Plaintiff Teske joined Paparazzi in October 2020. She claims she spent over $18,000 on Paparazzi jewelry, of which she managed to sell “approximately $5000” worth.
When (Teske) learned, in late 2021, that the Paparazzi costume jewelry pieces she bought were not as advertised and were potentially dangerous, she decided to stop selling the jewelry she bought from Paparazzi.
She does not want to sell harmful products to anyone, and does not want anything to do with dangerous products getting into the hands of children.
Her unsold Paparazzi jewelry is packaged and sitting in her home. She is not even sure whether or how she can safely dispose of it.
Plaintiff Franklin joined Paparazzi in June 2019. Franklin doesn’t disclose how much she’s spent on Paparazzi but states that as of October 2021, she still had $13,500 in unsold inventory.
In October 2021, Ms. Franklin learned that Paparazzi jewelry was potentially toxic.
Because Ms. Franklin did not want to be involved in selling dangerous goods to anyone, she stopped selling Paparazzi jewelry.
At a cost of approximately $2.75 per jewelry item, Ms. Franklin has over $13,500 in Paparazzi jewelry inventory that remains unsold.
Ms. Franklin takes pains to keep her remaining inventory as far away as possible from where her grandson sleeps, whether it be in her basement, a storage shed, or closet space.
Ms. Franklin attempted to contact Paparazzi to buy back her unsold inventory, but she received no response.
Named defendants in the proposed class-action are Paparazzi LLC and co-founders Misty Kirby, Trent Kirby, Chantel Reeve and Ryan Reeve.
In response to the news its products were not nickel and lead free, Paparazzi removed the claim from its marketing and issued the following statement:
Paparazzi jewelry meets applicable consumer safety laws and regulations in the United States.
The metals found in Paparazzi Accessories pieces are primarily made of iron and include other trace minerals.
Those trace minerals are made up of a metallic alloy of either zinc, stee, or aluminum.
Before our jewelry is sold, Paparazzi tests its jewelry for chemicals of concern using labs that are accepted by the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission.
Paparazzi jewelry is required to undergo testing for compliance with California’s Proposition 65, which includes testing for all heavy metals including lead, nickel, cadmium as well as phthalates.
California’s Proposition 65 is one of the most stringent consumer laws in the US, and Paparazzi’s jewelry complies with Proposition 65.
Plaintiff claim they submitted forty pieces of Paparazzi jewelry for testing at the University of Utah.
Every sample tested positive for nickel. This is in direct contradiction to Paparazzi’s representations otherwise.
One sample tested in excess of 4400 mg per kilogram of nickel.
Similarly, every sample tested positive for lead. This is in direct contradiction to Paparazzi’s representations otherwise.
One sample tested in excess of 29,000 mg per kilogram of lead. In other words, nearly three percent of the whole sample was lead.
And every sample tested positive for cadmium. One sample tested in excess of 961,000 milligrams per kilogram of cadmium.
In other words, nearly the entire sample, roughly 96%, was pure cadmium. Several other samples tested in excess of 60% pure cadmium.
The University of Utah also undertook testing of 16 pieces of Paparazzi’s jewelry that remained in the possession of Plaintiff Terri Franklin.
Every sample tested positive for nickel and for lead. This is in direct contradiction to Paparazzi’s representations otherwise.
And every sample tested positive for cadmium. One sample tested in excess of 735,000 milligrams per kilogram of cadmium.
In other words, over two-thirds of the entire sample, roughly 73.5%, was pure cadmium. Several other samples tested in excess of 55% pure cadmium.
California’s Department of Toxic Substances prohibits products made up of more than 0.03% of cadmium by weight.
The Californian Health and Safety Code has also set a 500 PPM limit for lead.
Class Plaintiffs seek to represent Paparazzi Consultants that have “the same interests”.
Plaintiffs and all proposed Class members sold Paparazzi’s accessories as Consultants that Defendants falsely represented as lead- and nickel-free.
All of the claims of Plaintiffs and proposed Class members arise out of Defendants’ conduct in marketing Paparazzi’s accessories as lead- and nickel-free and in selling accessories that contained Toxic Metals.
Specific counts raised against Paparazzi in the proposed class-action are:
- violations of the Lanham Act;
- breach of implied warranty;
- breach of contract; and
- breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing
Class Plaintiffs seek an injunction against Paparazzi, disgorgement of profits, funding for a “national corrective advertising campaign”, destruction of tainted Paparazzi products, lost profit value on unsold products, damages and legal costs.
BehindMLM is currently aware of four similar class-actions filed against Paparazzi in the past few months:
- the Hollins Complaint (New York)
- the Johnson Complaint (originally filed in North Carolina, moved to Utah)
- the Burgess Complaint (California, BehindMLM coverage pending) and
- the Gilbert Complaint (Michigan, BehindMLM coverage pending)
Seeing as Paparazzi has managed to have at least one complaint moved to Utah, pending any unusual circumstances, I suspect the rest will follow at some point.
Then we’re likely looking at consolidation as the cases progress. Stay tuned for updates.
Update 11th October 2023 – On October 10th Paparazzi settled the Teske Complaint.
Details of the reached settlement have not been made public.