Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Victoria's Secret's Secret

Tuesday, November 11, 2008, ABC News reported that a lawsuit has been filed against Victoria’s Secret claiming that some of the brand’s most popular bras are responsible for injuring customers by causing rashes, hives and even permanent scarring.

Roberta Ritter, a 37 year-old Ohio resident, filed a lawsuit against the company on May 14, 2008, claiming the Angels Secret Embrace and Very Sexy Extreme Me Push Up bras she purchased and wore made her sick. “I had the welts ... very red, hot to the touch, extremely inflamed, blistery. It itched profusely," Ritter, told ABC News. "I couldn't sleep, waking up itching. I was just utterly sick."

The Ohio resident isn’t alone in her complaint. Her lawyers confirm that dozens of women have contacted them with similar claim with many of them wanting to be part of a class action lawsuit.

"I was floored. I thought, I have to come out with this. The can of worms has to be opened because it's not just me, it's other people as well," Ritter said. The medical web site
www.medhelp.org features numerous complaints against the underwear company. "I, too, had an awful itchy, red splotchy rash from the Secret Embrace bras," one poster complained.

Ritter's lawyers say they went out and purchased the same bra types named in the suit from a retail store then had them tested at a lab. The tests revealed that formaldehyde, a chemical used in embalming, was contained in the fibers of the bras. The lawyers believe Ritter may be allergic to formaldehyde.

Victoria’s Secret has denied the allegations. They released a statement saying in part, "We have strict quality controls around our products, and we do not use formaldehyde in our bras."

Ritter's attorney maintains that somehow the chemical is making its way into the bras. "It may not be something that they're specifying to put in their bra; but, somehow it's making its way into the manufacturing process because it was certainly present," said attorney Dawn Chmielewski of Climaco, Lefkowitz, Peca, Wilcox & Garofoli Co., L.P.A.

Although Ritter's bra has not been tested, she said her doctor has diagnosed her with an allergic reaction that could have been caused by formaldehyde.

"It's not something you think about every day when you grab your underclothes, when you put them on; but it's woken me up, and I just hope to wake people up to the reality that it can happen," she said.

A Victoria's Secret spokesperson admitted the company had received direct complaints from customers; but, added the bras have NOT been removed from store shelves. The company went on to say they are investigating the complaints and released this statement:

"We are sorry that a small number of people have had an issue and we want to help them determine the cause. Customer safety and satisfaction are always our primary concerns and we take seriously any issues our customers may have with our products. Customer safety and satisfaction are always are primary concerns and we take seriously any issues our customers may have with our products.”

The class action paperwork already has been filed; but, a judge won't decide until May 2009 if enough evidence exists to move the case forward. Dozens of women are seeking compensation for medical bills and suffering as part of the claim.

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