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March 15, 2010

Retailers Settle Fur Lawsuit

Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s settle fur false advertising suit

raccoon dog

Lilia Tkachenko

WASHINGTON ― The Humane Society of the United States and retailers Bloomingdale's and Macy's have reached a settlement agreement in a lawsuit filed in 2008 alleging that several of the nation's largest department stores and fashion designers have repeatedly engaged in false advertising and mislabeling of fur garments.

Pursuant to the agreement filed in court today, Bloomingdale's will impose upon its suppliers strict new garment labeling practices relating to fur and fur-trimmed outerwear for all 40 of its retail stores, its outlet stores and its online marketplace, and adopt new advertising procedures with respect to all fur and fur trimmed garments.

Both Bloomingdale's and Macy's have agreed to endorse legislation to close a loophole in federal advertising and labeling laws that allows many fur-trimmed items to be sold without informing consumers whether and what kind of fur those products contain.

Bloomingdale's and Macy's are the final retailers to settle the litigation. Earlier this month, the D.C. Superior Court entered a final judgment declaring that defendant Neiman Marcus violated the D.C. Consumer Protection Act, enjoining the retailer from falsely advertising the garments named in the lawsuit and requiring Neiman to pay damages and costs associated with the case. Defendants Saks Incorporated, Lord & Taylor and Andrew Marc also entered into settlement agreements in the case within the last year.

"Bloomingdale's and Macy's have taken a major step forward by joining with The Humane Society of the United States in seeking to reform existing fur labeling laws," said Jonathan R. Lovvorn, vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation for The HSUS. "Bloomingdale's has agreed to voluntarily strengthen its labeling and advertising standards, which will go a long way toward honoring humane-conscious consumers' strong desire to keep cruel and inhumane products out of their shopping bags."

Over the past three years, The HSUS identified dozens of falsely advertised or falsely labeled fur garments across the retail industry. Garments containing animal fur were often described as containing fur from a different animal or even as "faux" fur. Fur from raccoon dogs is the most commonly misrepresented type of fur — in addition to being described inaccurately, garments containing raccoon dog fur are commonly not labeled at all, which is allowed by a current loophole in the federal law. Raccoon dogs have been documented to be skinned alive in China.

The HSUS urges Congress to pass the Truth in Fur Labeling Act (S. 1076/H.R. 2480), introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., to require accurate and consistent labeling of fur-trimmed garments regardless of dollar value.

To view the entire complaint and to learn about fur advertising and labeling issues, raccoon dogs and their mistreatment, and more, click here.

Timeline

  • January 2010 – As part of a settlement with The HSUS, Saks Incorporated institutes new garment labeling and advertising policies to better inform consumers about whether products contain animal fur.
  • December 2009 – As part of a settlement with The HSUS, Lord & Taylor bans raccoon dog fur from the company's U.S. stores and institutes new garment labeling and advertising policies.
  • March 2009 – As part of a settlement with The HSUS, Andrew Marc agrees to phase out raccoon dog fur and reform its garment labeling policies.
  • November 2008 – HSUS files suit against a number of major retailers including Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue for engaging in false advertising and mislabeling of fur garments.
  • February 2007 – Tests commissioned by HSUS investigators find domestic dog fur on unlabeled jackets advertised as "faux" fur.
  • December 2006 – Tests commissioned by HSUS investigators find raccoon dog fur on jackets advertised as "faux" and labeled as other species such as raccoon or coyote.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

 

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