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Nuk sued over its ‘orthodontic’ pacifiers

Where pacifiers are concerned, every parent seems to have a strong opinion. Some parents consider pacifiers to be a godsend when a cranky baby needs soothing and think they’re fine to use for a while when babies are small. Other parents hate them with a passion and blame them for all manner of ills, especially dental defects. In some families, the divide in opinion can lead to a lot of tension around the issue.

That’s why an “orthodontic” pacifier by Nuk seems like the answer to a prayer. That single word conveys reassurance that a baby’s favorite “binky” won’t lead to problems with the gums or tooth development and eases fears that using a pacifier will ultimately lead to buck teeth or something similar. In fact, the word actually implies that the Nuk pacifiers are somehow beneficial to the development of a baby’s teeth when used between the recommended ages of 18 to 36 months.

There’s just one problem: The claim is essentially meaningless. At least, that’s the allegations in a class-action lawsuit recently filed against the brand in a United States District Court. The lawsuit, which targets Newell Brands Inc. and Nuk USA LLC claims that the advertising violates the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act as well as the similar statute in Illinois where the lawsuit was filed.

In addition to misrepresenting its product, the companies are accused of omitting important information on the product’s safety and the risks it can pose when used by children over 2 years of age.

In addition to compensation, the plaintiffs are asking the court to order the company to stop selling pacifiers with the misleading label and issue corrective advertising. The plaintiffs are also seeking punitive damages as an incentive against further deceptive advertising.

Cases like this show how easy it is for the wrong word or two to create a big legal headache for a company. If you’re facing allegations of deceptive trade practices or deceptive advertising, it may be wise to find out what to do next.