There has been an ongoing battle between LG and their former consumer advocates and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The dispute centers around LG’s push to market their washing machines as “smart” and “smart technology.” In essence, LG wanted to position their line of appliances as one that was more technologically advanced than competing brands. It is a noble cause, one that I feel all consumers should support, but let us proceed with caution until we have all of the facts.
So, what is an LG washing machine lawsuit all about?
According to the Electronic Product Adiquette Council, an organization that sets industry standards, among other things, the following are prohibited:” Statements or advertising which make use of testimonials or general statements which give an impression that the Product is new, unique, or that it contains or will contain a particular feature that has not been found in competitors’ models. Similarly, comparative statements which indicate that another brand or model is equivalent to, superior to, or varies significantly from the LG product. In addition, trade or business references that give an impression that the Company holds or makes investments in a selection of businesses, unless those investments relate to the specific product.”
Now, these standards are very broad and LG could be guilty of using language that is vague and therefore, possibly violates the rules.
However, let’s consider each element of the Proposed Standards and how they might apply to LG. First, an advertisement for a product must not contain any statements which give the impression that the product is new, unique, or that it contains or will contain a specific feature which has not been found on competitors’ models. Likewise, comparative statements must not be used. Comparative statements are allowed if they can be reasonably construed to mean that the product performs better than competing products, or that a competitor’s product is defective or risky.
According to the FDA, a few other criteria that the agency considers to be generally relevant are: whether the statement is intended to express the opinion of the content holder or the reader (that is, whether the statement refers directly to the consumer), whether the audience is specifically targeted and whether there is an attempt to establish or oppose a claim.
These guidelines are important in determining whether a manufacturer’s advertisement constitutes a hazard or otherwise violates the regulations. If a manufacturer makes a claim which seems to create a danger, the advertisement may be found to be misleading even if it does not refer to a real risk. For example, if a washing machine lawsuit was filed against LG over a washing machine which had a low water pressure, the claim would likely be considered a hazard, and the advertisement would be deemed to have created a false risk.
In a recent case in California, the FDA determined that manufacturer’s warnings in their literature and on their products were inadequate.
The court determined that this case falls under the definition of a “misleading statement or advertisement.” Based on the facts in this case, the FDA determined that LG’s warnings about the dangers of their washing machines were sufficient to create a likelihood of harm, and therefore constitute advertising fraud. A three-judge panel of the United States Federal Court held that LG was liable for false advertising because it failed to warn consumers about the danger of using their washing machines when it did not pose a threat of damage to their health.
This ruling may have a significant effect on manufacturers throughout the nation.
Many manufacturers who relied on a manufacturer’s word as evidence to prove their safety claims now must resort to endorsements from third-party sources, or else face the risk of a Federal lawsuit for failing to properly warn their customers. Hopefully, this decision will help strengthen the LGB washing machine warranty to ensure manufacturers continue to honor their commitments to safe water maintenance.