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Martin v. Reid

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

March 25, 2016

TINA MARTIN, Class Objector-Appellant,
v.
SIDNEY REID et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
UNILEVER UNITED STATES, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellees

         Argued September 29, 2015

Page 303

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 12 C 6058 -- Rubé n Castillo, Chief Judge.

         For Sidney Reid, Alisha Barnett, Dawn Damrow, FRAN PENELL, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Yolanda Loyd Reed, Plaintiffs - Appellees: Marvin A. Miller, Attorney, Miller Law Llc, Chicago, IL; Peter Safirstein, Attorney, New York, NY.

         For TINA MARTIN, Objector, Appellant: Ronald A. Marron, Attorney, Law Offices of Ronald A. Marron, San Diego, CA; Nancy L. Hendrickson, Attorney, Hendrickson Law Firm, Chicago, IL; Charles Benjamin Nutley, Attorney, C. Benjamin Nutley, Pasadena, CA.

         For Unilever United States, Inc., Conopco, Inc., doing business as: UNILEVER HOME AND PERSONAL CARE USA, Defendant - Appellee: Sondra Hemeryck, Attorney, Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila Llp, Chicago, IL; Neil Lloyd, Attorney, Paula J. Morency, Attorney, Schiff Hardin Llp, Chicago, IL.

         For Les Emballages Knowlton, Incorporated, Defendant - Appellee: Paul Gamboa, Attorney, Stephanie F. Jones, Attorney, Gordon & Rees Llp, Chicago, IL: Peter Safirstein, Attorney, New York, NY.

         Before WOOD, Chief Judge, and EASTERBROOK and RIPPLE, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

Page 304

          Wood, Chief Judge.

          This case arises out of several class actions that were brought against Unilever United States, Inc. (Unilever USA) to recover damages from a hair-smoothing product that allegedly destroyed users' hair and burned their scalps. The lead case, Reid v. Unilever USA, was brought in the Northern District of Illinois under the court's diversity jurisdiction, see 28 U.S.C. § 1332, related actions in Kentucky and California were later transferred to

Page 305

Illinois and consolidated with Reid. The cases were eventually settled, but not to everyone's satisfaction. Tina Martin, a class member, objected to the settlement on numerous grounds, which we detail below. We have examined all of them and conclude that the district court acted well within its discretion when it approved the settlement. We therefore affirm its judgment.

         I

         The class representatives in the three suits had all purchased Unilever USA's Suave® Professionals Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit (the Smoothing Kit), a hair product that supposedly would smooth hair and coat it with Keratin, a protein found naturally in hair. Unfortunately, for some consumers, the Smoothing Kit was a disaster. Its active ingredient, thioglycolic acid, is extremely corrosive, and if left on long enough, can dissolve the hair and burn the scalp. Asserting claims for breach of warranty, violations of state consumer fraud and deceptive practices laws, and unjust ...


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