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Knix seeks sanctions against attorneys behind class action

Canadian underwear maker Knix Wear Inc. filed a motion to sanction the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the class action, saying they failed to conduct an independent investigation before filing the lawsuit in April alleging a company product. contain harmful chemicals.

Knix also filed a motion to dismiss the class action suit.

A class-action lawsuit against the lingerie brand was filed in April, alleging the company’s menstrual underwear is “unfit for its intended use” because they contain a harmful chemical called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), sometimes nicknamed “permanent chemicals”, despite being advertised as free of these substances, according to an amended court document filed April 7, 2022 .

In new court documents filed on June 11, 2022 and obtained by CTVNews.ca, Knix argued that the plaintiffs, Gemma Rivera and Marisa Franz, and their attorneys, “did not know whether any property Does any Knix product actually contain fluorine, let alone a specific type of fluorine (organic fluorine) that is likely to indicate the presence of PFAS. Indeed, they did not conduct any independent investigation to even try to confirm the truth of that assertion.”

Knix said the allegations against the company’s products were futile and based on unfounded claims made on a “mother blog”. It requires a complete dismissal of the claim with prejudice, or disparity, and at the expense of the defense company.

The original lawsuit alleges that Knix products contain unsafe PFAS, a chemical used since the 1950s in many industries and found in many everyday products. That lawsuit was later amended to say that Knix’s menstrual underwear contained “elevated levels of fluorine, which is an indicator” of unsafe PFAS.

Knix said in a statement to CTVNews.ca on Friday that it takes product safety seriously, is transparent about its testing process, and strongly denies the allegations made in the California lawsuit.

“This is an unfair attack on our brand integrity. Any suggestion that our product is somehow unsafe is false, which is why we have filed both a Modified Complaint Rebuttal and Sanctions Motion under Rule 11 to the attorneys who filed that application,” the company stated.

“Rule 11 motions are rarely filed in litigation in the United States. However, in this situation, since the Court’s filing is without any factual basis, we ask the Court not only to drop the case but also to sanction the law firm that filed the application… [we] We sincerely apologize to our customers for any fear or confusion this is causing. ”

Plaintiffs’ attorneys, Sean Litteral and Rachel Miller, with law firm Bursor & Fisher, did not respond to a request for comment on Knix’s move.

CLAIM “FRIVOLOUS”

Knix says it has conducted extensive testing by third-party labs, but the plaintiffs have stated in the lawsuit that these claims are inaccurate or misleading.

In its punitive motion, which also cited previous cases involving “frivolous clothes,” the company said the lawsuit was based on statements made in a published blog post. published by “Mamavation” and that it did not conduct its own independent investigation.

“Rule 11 exists to prevent the kind of ‘file first and question later’ plea,” the company stated in its punitive motion.

“The rule requires the individual filing attorney to conduct a reasonable investigation; it does not allow him to simply arouse unsupported and defamatory charges from internet bloggers who are not following the rules of the Court. “

Knix said that Mamavation did not provide any details regarding its claim, including the name of the lab or the test results, and no details were given about how the testing was conducted. including testing conditions, procedures, and how samples were collected and prepared. .

“Those factors are important, because fluorine is ubiquitous in the environment, and Mamavation herself acknowledges that the detection of fluorine can be caused by contamination before or during testing,” suggested the punishment. show.

The move also noted that the blog also did not specify whether the products tested positive for organic or inorganic fluorine. The latter is not a potential indicator for PFAS and may include compounds such as fluoride salts and minerals.

Knix notes that plaintiffs’ attorneys have previously acknowledged these differences in lawsuits against other companies. They also note that attorneys general have filed “at least half a dozen PFAS lawsuits in the past two months, all of which relied entirely on third-party testing reported in news articles, blog posts or documents.” litigation submitted by other attorneys.”

Knix states in its filing that it continues to conduct periodic PFAS and organic fluorine tests on its products and requires its suppliers to do the same, with testing and results. Sample results are posted on the company’s website.

In the petition, the company describes Mamavation as an affiliated “mother blogger” with no scientific background who receives financial compensation from various apparel brands, including competitor Knix, for directing its readers to those competitor’s sites. “

The hearing is currently set for November 10, 2022 in California.

WHAT IS “EVERY CHEMICAL”?

According to the US Government’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, there are thousands of PFAS and studies have suggested that it is found in the blood of 97% of Americans. They were formerly known as perfluorochemicals, or PFCs.

They can be found in a number of everyday products from makeup, non-stick cookware and stain-resistant fabrics to pizza boxes and fast food packaging, as well as in more specialized industries ranging from spaceship to the fire brigade. Low levels of PFAS have been found in foods including honey, eggs, vegetables and even beef.

Because chemicals do not break down or dissolve easily, there has been much concern that these chemicals could reach levels that are harmful to both humans and the environment. Some research shows that at very high levels, certain PFAS can cause health problems including a higher chance of certain types of cancer, higher cholesterol levels, and changes in the immune system. immune system.

This week, the US Environmental Protection Agency issued a warning that two types of PFAS compounds found in drinking water pose a greater health risk than previously thought, even at undetectable low levels. can now.

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