By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Honest Co, the online shopping company cofounded by actress and model Jessica Alba, was accused in a lawsuit of fraudulently labeling dozens of home and personal care products as natural, plant-based or chemical-free, causing consumers to overpay.
The complaint filed on Friday night by Brad and Manon Buonasera in U.S. District Court in Manhattan targets Honest's marketing of at least 41 items such as floor cleaners, laundry detergent, children's toothpaste, soap and bubble bath.
While the products carried such labels as "natural," "all natural," "naturally derived," "plant-based" and "no harsh chemicals (ever!)," they actually contained "a spectacular array of synthetic and toxic ingredients," such as the toxins phenoxyethanol and methylisothiazolinone, the Buonaseras said.
"Honest's products are a chemical soup," according to the complaint prepared by four law firms.
The complaint said damages could top $5 million and be tripled, and seeks class-action status for New Yorkers who bought Honest's products.
It also said Honest has either discontinued or changed ingredients and labels for some of the 41 products.
Honest did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. The Buonaseras' lawyers did not immediately respond to similar requests. Alba was not named as a defendant.
A similar lawsuit over just five Honest products is pending in a federal court in Los Angeles. Honest wants to dismiss it.
The Buonaseras said they sued after buying Honest's Conditioning Detangler and Shampoo & Body Wash at a Costco store in Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood.
They said they told Honest of their claims in mid-September, and sued after the Santa Monica, California-based company failed to correct its advertising.
Honest raised $100 million in an August funding round, and, according to a published report, has worked with Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Morgan Stanley on a possible initial public offering. The Buonaseras' complaint refers to that plan.
The case is Buonasera et al v. Honest Co, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-01125.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)