Wrigley to settle class action Eclipse suit

by Keith Nunes
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CHICAGO — The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. has entered into an agreement to settle a class action lawsuit that alleged misleading advertising claims about the germ killing properties of the company’s Eclipse brand of gum and mints products. Under the terms of the agreement, which is still subject to the approval by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Wrigley will create a fund of $6 million, plus an additional $1 million, if needed, to reimburse consumers up to $10 who purchased Eclipse brand products featuring a “natural germ killing” message.

“Wrigley has agreed to a settlement of this lawsuit to prevent further distraction to its business and denies any wrongdoing,” said Paul Chibe, vice-president and general manager for Wrigley’s U.S. Gum and Mints business unit.

In 2008, Wrigley introduced a reformulated version of its Eclipse brand that claimed the “Eclipse gum brand is scientifically proven to help kill the germs that cause bad breath …” The reformulated product featured magnolia bark extract, the ingredient the company said killed the germs.

The plaintiff, Carol D. Smith, of Florida, claimed, under Florida law, that Wrigley was engaging in deceptive trade practices and that the Wrigley claim was a “breach of express warranty” in that Eclipse gum “is scientifically proven” to help kill germs that cause bad breath. Wrigley filed a motion to dismiss the case, but on October 1, 2009, the company’s motion was denied.

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