Law360 (August 3, 2022, 2:58 PM EDT) -- A New York federal judge has granted preliminary approval for a $2.3 million settlement to resolve claims Bayer Healthcare LLC and Beiersdorf Inc. sold Coppertone sunscreen with dangerous levels of benzene.
In an order filed Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan also approved conditional certification of a class led by named plaintiff Almany Ismael Bangoura, who will represent all people in the U.S.who bought the Coppertone spray-on sunscreens at issue in the suit.
Bangoura filed the suit in January and amended it in March, alleging that a dozen of the companies' sunscreen products contained dangerous levels of benzene, which can have harmful effects on the immune system.
According to a motion for preliminary approval filed Monday, the deal was reached after two months of arm's-length negotiations and several additional weeks to hammer out details after reaching an agreement in principle.
Under the settlement, class members who present proofs of purchase can receive a full-price refund for each covered product, including taxes, while those without proof of purchase will receive the average retail price for up to six covered products, plus a 10% allowance for sales tax.
The payments will be adjusted based on how many claims the settlement administrator receives, and any checks that are uncashed or unredeemed after 120 days will be donated to Look Good FeelGood, a cancer charity.
In addition, Bayer and Beiersdorf have agreed to require testing for the presence of benzene in the class products for at least 18 months after the preliminary approval of the settlement to ensure that customers who buy those products in the future are not exposed to benzene.
In the settlement, attorneys for the class may ask for fees and costs of up to one-third of the settlement fund, while Bangoura may ask for an incentive award of up to $2,500.
Jason P. Sultzer of The Sultzer Law Group PC, representing the class, told Law360 on Wednesday, "We think the settlement is an excellent result for the class and we're pleased that the court granted preliminary approval."
Representatives for Bayer and Beiersdorf could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
The class is represented by Jason P. Sultzer, Joseph Lipari and Daniel Markowitz of The Sultzer LawGroup PC and Charles E. Schaffer and David C. Magagna Jr. of Levin Sedran & Berman.
Bayer and Beiersdorf are represented by Eamon P. Joyce, T. Robert Scarborough, and Elizabeth M.Chiarello of
Sidley Austin LLP.
The case is Bangoura v. Beiersdorf Inc. et al., case number 1:22-cv-00291, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.