Ulta Beauty is pushing for a quick end to a proposed class action claiming reselling used cosmetics is a regular store practice, arguing the company is not the party to blame.
The beauty chain on Tuesday asked an Illinois federal court to dismiss Kimberly Laura Smith-Brown’s February lawsuit stemming from online claims by a number of Ulta store workers that the repackaging and reselling of returned, used cosmetics was a de facto store policy. In a standard response filing, Ulta denied all of the allegations in the lawsuit outright, but also said that had shoppers unknowingly been sold used cosmetics, the company is not the party responsible.
“If plaintiff and members of the putative classes were injured, their injuries were caused in whole or in part by the actions of third parties over whom Ulta Beauty had no control and for whom Ulta Beauty is not legally responsible,” the company wrote in its response. “Ulta did not engage in any unfair or deceptive trade practices.”
Ulta added that “any losses or damages suffered by plaintiff and members of the putative classes were proximately caused in whole or in part by the negligence of other parties in this action, whether served or unserved, named or unnamed” and possibly those not currently involved in the action.
Considering its purported lack of legal responsibility for store associates and managers allegedly being told or feeling pressured to resell used cosmetics and other products, Ulta said it is not liable for any damages. The company offered up an alternative, however, noting that should the court disagree on this part, “it would be necessary to determine the proportion and degree of negligence and/or fault of each and every such person and entity so that any judgment that might be rendered against Ulta Beauty would be reduced,” according to the response.
Beyond that, Ulta argued that the lawsuit is banned because it “has and had no practice or policy of reselling products that were used and Ulta Beauty did not know, or have reason to know, that some purported Ulta Salon employees allegedly resold used products,” which it denies is the case.
The company also turned the responsibility to the shopper filing the suit, and some others that could have had a similar experience, saying they did not return supposedly problematic products and even continued to shop at Ulta, meaning they failed to mitigate any alleged damages. Ulta added that “plaintiff and the putative class members are not threatened with irreparable injury,” given the lawsuit’s claims that the use of unsanitary cosmetics poses a health risk.
An Ulta spokeswoman, asked to clarify how Ulta is not liable for the actions of its employees, declined to comment. A representative of Smith-Brown could not be reached.
Earlier this month, Smith-Brown asked the court to put the case on an expedited discovery schedule, claiming only a brief investigation by her lawyers into Ulta has found that a regional vice president and a district manager were “involved in enforcing these unsanitary practices.” Without expediting the case, Smith-Brown said Ulta won’t have to hand over any information until the end of May, but her request was denied.
Since Smith-Brown’s lawsuit, a second class-action has been filed in Illinois over the same issue, as has a shareholder complaint accusing Ulta of concealing a company practice and therefore making “false and misleading statements” as to its financial position and liability.
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