Many consumers frequently rely on important information provided by the manufacturer of a product in order to determine whether or not to buy that product. If a product does not list a particular ingredient, such as gluten, which is a protein found in many processed foods, consumers will frequently assume that the protein is not present in that product. Only recently have food producers begun to label their products as specifically gluten-free.
Walmart has recently encountered a lawsuit by consumers who purchased jewelry from their stores with Miley Cyrus's brand. The jewelry, which is made by BCBG Max Azria Group Inc., and sold in Walmart stores, allegedly contained cadmium.
Cadmium is a soft metal which is frequently used to stabilize plastics and to prevent corrosion. However, cadmium has been found to have toxic properties and it is included on the European Restriction of Hazardous Substances. This Restriction bans certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment, although it does allow for certain exemptions and exclusions. Some studies have linked cadmium with lung cancer and prostrate cancer and some people have theorized that the soft metal imitates estrogen and causes breast cancer.
In the past few years, jewelry sold at Walmart and collectible drinking glasses sold at McDonald's have been recalled when it was discovered that these products contained cadmium. In 2010, reports of high levels of cadmium in children's jewelry led to an investigation by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Despite the fact that there appears to be little hard evidence available that cadmium is dangerous, there have been enough scares and warnings to make consumers wary of the metal.
The plaintiffs of the current lawsuit against Walmart regarding the Miley Cyrus-brand jewelry say that they never would have purchased the jewelry if they had known that the product contained cadmium. A settlement has been reached in the case, but the defendants continue to deny having done anything wrong and any liability. Anyone who purchased Miley Cyrus-branded jewelry from a Walmart retail store after July 1, 2005 is eligible to participate in the class. Class members have four options:
TO REMAIN IN THE SETTLEMENT: In order to remain in the settlement, purchasers of the jewelry must submit a claim form in order to receive a payment from the settlement. They must also agree to the terms of the settlement which include forfeiting their right to sue the defendants in the future.
TO GET OUT OF THE SETTLEMENT: If class members do not wish to
remain as part of the settlement, they can choose to exclude themselves from the class.
TO REMAIN IN THE SETTLEMENT AND OBJECT: Those who decide to remain in the settlement will have the opportunity to object to the settlement.
APPEAR AND SPEAK AT THE FINAL APPROVAL HEARING: Just because a settlement has been reached between the two parties does not mean that it has yet been finalized. A judge must first grant the settlement court approval. If members of the class choose to do so, they can appear at the approval hearing and speak, or they can have an attorney appear and speak on their behalf. Should they chose one or both of these options, it would be entirely at their own expense.