Pennsylvania Record

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Safety of DEET an issue in lawsuit by maker of OFF! bug spray against organic competitor

Federal Court

By Charmaine Little | Aug 13, 2019


PHILADELPHIA – S.C. Johnson & Son has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against a Yardley company over allegations that its advertisements regarding insect repellent and the safety of DEET are false and misleading.

The suit was filed July 3.

SCJ alleges Greenerways LLC violated the Lanham Act and unfair competition law when it falsely advertised that active ingredient in insect repellent DEET is unsafe for consumers. Greenerways sells insect repellent products while SCJ is known as a leader in household cleaning products, pest control products and more.

“Greenerways’ product labeling, advertising, social media posts, and other consumer communications related to the products contain a multitude of false and misleading statements,” according to the lawsuit. 

SCJ alleges Greenerways’ false and misleading statements are related to the alleged detrimental impacts of DEET and false promotions concerning how safe the defendant's product is. 

SCJ sells insect repellent products, some of which include DEET, but the products compete with Greenerway’s products. The suit states that the defendant makes false and deceptive statements regarding DEET to "spread fear and misinformation to drive consumers away from products that contain DEET."

“Greenerways’ fearmongering campaign against DEET relies on demonstrably false attacks on DEET and contradicts the overwhelming scientific evidence in support of DEET’s safety when used as directed, and irresponsibly misleads consumers,” SCJ alleged.

The suit cites allegedly misleading statements on Greenerways' website, including “DEET ‘is hazardous to the health of people and animals’" and "DEET is a powerful, harsh solvent that will break down and remove paint, fingernail polish, plastics and other synthetic substances.” 

SCJ said Greenerways also further misleads consumers regarding the safety and impact of its products.

SCJ wants the court to bar Greenerways and its related affiliates and individuals from using false and misleading statements while advertising. It also requested damages such as actual, incidental, consequential and compensatory, plus exemplary damages, prejudgment and post-judgment interest.

The plaintiff is represented by attorneys with McCarter and English in Philadelphia and Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren in Milwaukee.

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U.S. District Court of Eastern District of Pennsylvania

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