Bloomberg Law
Feb. 16, 2023, 3:37 PM

John Paul Mitchell Systems Sued Over ‘No Animal Testing’ Promise

Julie Steinberg
Julie Steinberg

John Paul Mitchell Systems deceives consumers by promoting its hair-care products as cruelty-free and not animal tested even though it sold them in China, which requires animal testing, a new proposed class action alleges.

The company markets shampoo, conditioner, and other hair-care items under various brands including Paul Mitchell, Clean Beauty, and Tea Tree, according to the new lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Over the years, product labels have promised in various ways and words that its products are 100% cruelty free, the plaintiffs say. Those promises include: “Never Animal Tested”; “No Animal Testing”; “A Pioneer in Cruelty-Free Hair Care”; and “John Paul Mitchell Systems does not conduct or endorse animal testing,” the suit alleges.

But while portraying itself in the US as an animal rights pioneer, the company opted to take advantage of the market in China, where testing on animals was mandatory, named plaintiffs Randall Heagney, Rica Guerrero, Kerrie Gonnella, John Rohloff, and Jewel Rule allege.

According to the lawsuit, the company has maintained that it received an exemption from the animal testing requirement. But the plaintiffs say they haven’t been able to find records showing that Chinese authorities granted such an exemption and allege that “nor was JPMS, upon inquiry, able to provide to Plaintiffs any such documentation.”

Because “the marketplace disdains cosmetic products affiliated with animal testing,” Heagney and the others say they incurred financial harm by overpaying for cosmetics that were tested on animals despite assurances stating otherwise.

Causes of Action: Express warranty; California Consumers Legal Remedies Act; California False Advertising Law; California Unfair Competition Law.

Relief: Injunctive relief; restitution; damages; disgorgement of profits; attorneys’ fees and costs.

Potential class size: Unknown number of consumers who bought Paul Mitchell brand and other products between May 1, 2015, and June 30, 2022.

Response: The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attorneys: Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP represents the plaintiffs.

The case is Heagney v. John Paul Mitchell Systems, N.D. Cal., No. 3:23-cv-00687, complaint 2/15/23.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Steinberg in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at; Patrick L. Gregory at