L'Occitane fends off lawsuit over online privacy violations

By Alessandro Carrara | Published: 17-Apr-2024

Law firm Zimmerman Reed and 3,144 customers claimed that the company's website tracking tools violated consumer privacy

L'Occitane has fended off a lawsuit over alleged privacy violations caused by access to its website. 

The mass arbitration claim was brought forward by law firm Zimmerman Reed and 3,144 customers, who argued that the company's website tracking tools violated consumer privacy.

Mass arbitration claims have become a trending alternative to traditional class action lawsuits, and are a method of resolving a large number of individual claims.

US District Judge Percy Anderson dismissed the motion from Zimmerman Reed and the clients on 12 April, which intended to compel the French skin care brand into settling.

Anderson stated that the French skin care brand was not subject to arbitration agreements just because the customers had visited L'Occitane's website.

L’Occitane has fiercely argued against Zimmerman Reed’s claims, and stated the firm’s goal was to “extract a costly settlement” from the retailer.

Following the complaints made by customers against L’Occitane, the retailer wrote to the firm and its clients in October 2023 revoking both parties' access to use the site.

The brand owner would go on to bring its own legal action against  Zimmerman Reed and the 3,144 customers in February 2024.

It argued that by continuing to access its website after their written request to not do so, both parties had violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

Anderson dismissed the claim brought forward by L’Occitane its ruling on 12 April, however, and said CFAA does not apply to visitors of public websites.

“It is likely that when a computer network generally permits public access to its data, a user’s accessing that publicly available data will not constitute access without authorisation under the CFAA,” Anderson said.

With the mass arbitration and L’Occitane’s own claim against Zimmerman Reed now settled, Anderson is now mulling on whether to dismiss the remaining CFAA fraud claims against the remaining clients.

Anderson stated that whatever damages may have supported L’Occitane’s own lawsuit against the parties, now no longer exists as a result of his ruling.

Both parties have until 22 April to argue their case.

“The court orders the parties to show cause in writing why, if the Court concludes that the CFAA claim should be dismissed against both Zimmerman Reed and Claimants, why the Court should not decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining claims” a statement in the case’s court document read.

Cosmetics Business has contacted L’Occitane for comment. 

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