September 25, 2009
Fur False Advertising Case to Proceed
Court orders case to proceed against major retailers
The District of Columbia Superior Court issued a long-awaited ruling [see PDF] clearing the way for a lawsuit accusing several of the nation's largest retailers—including Lord & Taylor, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue—of engaging in false advertising and mislabeling of fur garments.
The suit was filed in 2008 by The Humane Society of the United States, arguing that these deceptive practices mislead consumers into unknowingly purchasing animal fur products and increase consumer confusion over the type and origin of fur used on clothing
"Consumers have a right to know what they're buying, but many major retailers keep selling 'faux fur' jackets that turn out to be real animal fur," said Jonathan R. Lovvorn, vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation for The HSUS. "Macy's, Saks, Neiman Marcus and Lord & Taylor just don't seem to care if consumers are deceived, even though real fur is something many consumers are determined to avoid."
Over the last three years, The HSUS has identified dozens of falsely advertised or falsely labeled fur garments across the retail industry. Although many of these garments were advertised or labeled as "faux fur," they were often fur from raccoon dogs, a member of the canine family native to parts of Asia, who have been documented to be skinned alive in China.
The lawsuit, filed under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act, alleges that the companies "misrepresent" the characteristics of the fur-trimmed garments by (1) advertising and labeling products as "faux fur," when they are, in fact, derived from real animal fur or (2) advertising and labeling products as common raccoon, fox or rabbit fur when they are, in fact, made from the wholly distinct species of raccoon dog—a member of the dog family. The complaint also alleges violations of the federal Fur Products Labeling Act and Federal Trade Commission Act, which also prohibit the false advertising and mislabeling of any fur product.