5:17pm PT by Austin Siegemund-Broka
'Fifty Shades of Grey' Lubricant Claimed Ineffective In Class-Action Lawsuit
A California woman has filed a class-action lawsuit against author EL James and a British erotic toy company over Fifty Shades of Grey sex lubricant. Her complaint? It didn't work.
In a complaint filed on Thursday, Tania Warchol claims that she purchased Fifty Shades of Grey Come Alive Pleasure Gel for Her, part of Lovehoney's Official Pleasure Collection Approved by James, "on at least two occasions" from an Adam & Eve store near her home. (The store's parent company, PHE, is named as a defendant. But Universal, which is releasing the upcoming film, is not a defendant because the advertising is linked only to James' best-selling series.)
The complaint notes that the product's packaging promises users will "experience enhanced orgasms and stimulation as every tingle, touch and vibration intensifies." It includes the lines from James' second Fifty Shades novel printed on the box — "I surrender, exploding around him — a draining, soul-grabbing orgasm that leaves me spent and exhausted."
It was a bit of a letdown, Warchol claims.
"Based on Defendants' representations, Plaintiff believed the Product has powerful aphrodisiac qualities and would increase her sexual pleasure as advertised," reads the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. "The Product did not deliver the purported benefits."
The suit contains other allegations about the gel's legal classification, including that it's improperly unregistered with the Federal Drug Administration. Federal law requires that any substance marketed over the counter as an "aphrodisiac" and its label receive approval from the FDA. Warchol claims "the adequacy of the labeled instructions for its 'aphrodisiac' uses" has not received FDA approval and the product is therefore a mislabeled drug.
The complaint contains similar allegations regarding the product's "latex compatible" label. In order for the gel to have that designation, it needs to be registered with the FDA as either a Class I Medical Device or, if it's meant for use with a condom, a Class II Medical Device, according to the filing. The Fifty Shades of Grey Come Alive Pleasure Gel is registered as neither and therefore is being "illegally marketed."
Warchol has sued on behalf of everyone who has purchased the lubricant in the last four years. She's claiming violations of California's unfair competition and false advertising laws and of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act. She wants the defendants to refund every plaintiff's purchase of the product in addition to paying punitive damages. She's represented by attorney Ronald Marron.
THR has reached out to Lovehoney, PHE and James' representatives for comment.
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