Essential Oils unsupported health claims are beyond “puffery,” 2nd Circuit holds

“Essential oils” have become very popular over the past few years, in part due to confusion that, in this context, “essential” does not mean “indispensable or necessary,” but rather refers to the means by which they are derived from plants.

An essential oil company called Young Living had marketed its products as being “therapeutic-grade,” and having various physical and mental health benefits–claims that lacked actual support. A plaintiff sued Young Living under a variety of New York statutory and common law theories. The district court dismissed her claims as based on non-actionable puffery. Today, the Second Circuit largely reversed that decision.

The Second Circuit’s opinion provides a clear analysis of the limits of a “puffery” defense, finding that the company’s claims about health and medicinal benefits were both provable and not so obviously hyperbolic that they could be wrote off as puffery. The court also found that the plaintiff had met the heightened Rule 9 standard for her fraud-based unjust enrichment claim, while affirming dismissal of a breach of warranty claim.

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