Don’t Go To The Beach

Beach season is upon us. Although we here at Abnormal Use advocate staying inside at all times, maximizing the time that we can bill and blog, we understand that some of you yearn to have the sun forcibly remove layers of your skin. If you are one of those people, please read the following before going outside.

Karen Mather purchased some sunless tanning lotion that she alleged caused her injury. Mather v. L’Oreal USA, Inc., No. A10A0458, 2010 WL 2015337 (Ga. Ct. App. May 21, 2010). Mather has multiple sclerosis and “direct sunlight causes her pain.” Nevertheless, it’s beach season, and Mather decided to go to the beach. (The opinion does not reveal why someone who is sensitive to direct sunlight goes to the beach for recreation.) Just before leaving for the beach, Mather purchased two tubes of L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze self-tanning lotion, which she used “twice a day for three days and experienced no problems.”

On the drive home, Mather developed some problems “where the sunlight touched her skin through the car windows.” (Again, it is unclear why this plaintiff with such sun sensitivity refuses to wear a long-sleeve shirt). Mather’s skin reddened, and she developed small pustules. Her condition worsened, and she developed abscesses filled with pus, with lesions everywhere, and her multiple sclerosis was exacerbated. In fact,

“Mather testified that, as a result of using the self-tanning lotion, ‘[m]y organs will never be the same.’ “

That is true Plaintiffspeak if I have ever heard it. Dear Defendant, your $10 product affected me to the point where my organs will never be the same. Lots of money will fix my organs.

As you may have guessed, L’Oreal moved for and was granted summary judgment. Mather sued on a failure to warn theory, and, strangely enough, Mather had no evidence that L’Oreal should have known about a reaction such as Mather’s. L’Oreal showed that the active ingredient, hydroxyacetone, is common and safe for use by most people. Even during the product’s testing, of those that experienced some reaction, no reaction resembled Mather’s. This appears to be a case where Mather’s lawyer thought that he might find something decent in the discovery phase to support his case. That was not the case. In the end, Mather had no evidence contradicting L’Oreal’s assertion that the testing process was insufficient. Therefore, feel free to pick up some sunless tanner, or get out in the sun and give yourself lesions naturally.

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