Lawyers Investigate Lawsuits Over New Balance “Made in USA” Label

New Balance Shoes Labeled “Made in USA”, But 30 Percent is Imported

The product liability lawyers at Parker Waichman LLP are investigating potential lawsuits involving the New Balance “Made in USA” label. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals who have questions about filing a lawsuit. Shoes are labeled as being “Made in the USA”, although only 70 percent of the shoe is made domestically. New Balance has faced legal actions over allegedly fraudulent labeling in the past; the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) brought an enforcement action regarding the label in the 1990s.

Among shoes sold in the United States, 98 percent are imported. According to the Wall Street Journal, New Balance differs from the majority in that 25 percent of shoes are made completely in one of the company’s five New England factories. “We’re proud to be the only major company to make or assemble more than 4 million pairs of athletic footwear per year in the USA, which represents a limited portion of our sales. Where the domestic value is at least 70%, we label our shoes Made in the USA.” the company says on its website.

Subsequently, New Balance shoes are still labeled as being “Made in the USA” even though 30 percent of the materials may be produced oversees. The outer soles, for example, are made in China. According to the FTC, a product labeled as “Made in the USA” must be “all or virtually all” made domestically. By these standards, New Balance shoes do not qualify as being domestically made.

In 1994, the FTC brought charges against New Balance for mislabeling its shoes as being made domestically. The charges were ultimately withdrawn, but the agency continues to stand by its “all or virtually all” standard.
New Balance claims they are not mislabeling their products because they clearly disclose that only 70 percent of the materials are made domestically.

The criteria for labeling a product as “Made in USA” have been stricter in California, where state law said that a product cannot be labeled as domestically made if “any article, unit or part thereof” has been “made, manufactured, or produced outside of the United States.” Even if the foreign-made materials are small, products are prohibited from being labeled as “Made in USA”. Now, California law more closely resembles federal standards for labeling.
Federal regulations state that products labeled as “Made in USA” mean that “all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of U.S. origin,” or “the product should contain no — or negligible — foreign content.”

Some companies have faced issues in California under the previous standard for domestic labeling. A manufacturer could not label its product as “Made in the USA” if it contained any foreign parts.

“We look at the New Balance shoe case as clear proof that the federal law is not being enforced.” said Consumer Federation of California executive director Richard Holober.

Consumer Fraud Lawsuits

Companies can be sued for misrepresenting their products or engaging in other unfair and illegal business practices. Consumers can sue over false advertising, bait and switch marketing, phony disclosure and charging for services never provided. Lawsuits filed over these claims allege that companies misrepresented the product in some way. These types of business practices are deceitful to the consumer, and they also give an unfair advantage to companies that act ethically.

Filing a consumer fraud lawsuit can recover damages for the consumer, but they also discourage unlawful and unfair business practices in the future.

A class action lawsuit was recently filed against Honest Company over its “Natural” Label. Plaintiffs allege that, despite the label, certain Honest Company products are made with synthetic ingredients. The suit was filed over several products, including: Honest Hand Soap, Honest Dish Soap, Honest Diapers, Honest Multi-Surface Cleaner and Honest Sunscreen. Allegedly, the products contain man-made ingredients such as methylisothiazolinone, cocamidopropyl betaine, phenoxyethanol and sodium polyacrylate.

Another class action lawsuit was filed against Herb Thyme Farms for alleging mislabeling its products as “organic”, when they are grown conventionally. CVS is also facing a proposed class action lawsuit over its CVS Flu Relief, marketed as a homeopathic flu remedy. The product label claims to have Anas Barbariae, an ingredient made of duck hearts and liver. According to the lawsuit, however, the ingredient is diluted so much that the product is essentially a sugar pill.

Filing a Consumer Fraud Class Action Lawsuit

If you or someone you know is interested in filing a consumer fraud class action lawsuit, contact Parker Waichman today. Our experienced attorneys offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

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