Have you been hearing about the MONAT lawsuits? I keep seeing the same comments on social media. It's always the same refrain: “MONAT causes hair loss. There have been a lot of MONAT lawsuits.”
We've only heard part of the story, and there are still a lot of rumors being spread online.
It's time to lay out the facts.
Note: I am updating this post due to information I have still receiving. Please search on the page for the word UPDATE for any corrections.
Yes, there were a lot of MONAT lawsuits last year in 2018. And yes, there has been a lot of press about these lawsuits. But does the press ever talk about the verdicts? Four of the lawsuits have been settled so far, in MONAT's favor.
And just because there are lawsuits does not mean the claims made are true. Is there actually any evidence that MONAT causes hair loss? The way our court system works here in the USA, you are innocent until proven guilty.
In this post, I'll tell you the whole story of what happened last year… How four hairdressers started a dumpster fire on Facebook which led to 15 MONAT lawsuits, and what the status is of all these lawsuits.
If you're not familiar with MONAT, it is a direct sales company that sells naturally based salon-quality hair care. You can read my MONAT review here.
Disclosure: I've been an Independent MONAT “Market Partner” (meaning I promote MONAT and earn a commission — similar to affiliate marketing) since September, 2017. I am extremely careful not to promote anything that is unhealthy, and as a result, I researched these lawsuits extensively to see if there was any merit to any of the claims being made. If there were any truth to these claims, I would stop promoting MONAT.
MONAT Lawsuits in 2018 (The Full Story)
Because this is a long post, I have broken it up into multiple pages so it loads faster. I am including a table of contents so you can jump down to the various sections. You can also scroll to the bottom of each page to click through to the next page.
- MONAT Lawsuits: The Full List of Cases
- MONAT Lawsuits: People Involved
- Definitions of Class Action Lawsuit and Defamation Lawsuit
- MONAT Lawsuits: Summary
- MONAT Lawsuits: Timeline of Events
- The MONAT Haters: Class Action Lawsuit Plaintiffs & Hate Group Members
- Status of the MONAT Class Action Lawsuit
- The Online Attacks Continue
- Are There Ingredients in MONAT That Could Cause Hair Loss or Breakage?
- But Aren't Some People Having Bad Reactions to MONAT?
- Conclusion: Are MONAT Products Harmful or Dangerous?
1. MONAT Lawsuits: The Full List of Cases
There are a total of 15 MONAT lawsuits online that were initiated between 2017 and 2018.
- Eleven of the lawsuits are class action lawsuits initiated by consumers against MONAT.
- Four of the lawsuits are defamation lawsuits initiated by MONAT against 4 women (3 hairdressers selling competitor products, and 1 former MONAT Market Partner).
In the chart above, you can see that the 11 class action lawsuits are in the process of being consolidated into one “Multidistrict Litigation” class action lawsuit. This is what it means when it says “Transferred to MDL”.
UPDATE: Only 2 of the cases have been settled. The cases against Mags Kavanaugh and Vickie Harrington were settled. The lawsuits against Kayla Baker and Toni Miller are still pending. I will update this post as I receive more information.
2. MONAT Lawsuits: People Involved
The 11 class action MONAT lawsuits have multiple defendants. I will cover them in a separate section below.
The defamation lawsuits were initiated by MONAT against 4 women:
- Mags Kavanaugh, Kayla Baker, and Toni Miller are hairdressers who sell competitor products.
- Vickie Harrington is a former MONAT Market Partner.
UPDATE: I corrected a mistake above. It said that Vickie Harrington was a hairdresser and Kayla Baker was a Market Partner. That was a typo which has been fixed.
I cover the full story of the people involved in the MONAT lawsuits in the next section…
3. Definitions of Class Action Lawsuit and Defamation Lawsuit
But before we get into the timeline and details of the MONAT lawsuits, we need to go over some definitions.
This section is a little dry… but please bear with me.
It is important that people understand why these MONAT lawsuits happened and why people are suing.
I have seen a lot of people online saying MONAT is being “heavy handed” with lawsuits. I think after you read this section, you will understand why the had no choice but to sue.
Let's first cover the definitions of a class action lawsuit and a defamation lawsuit.
What is a Class Action Lawsuit?
A “class action” lawsuit is one in which a group of people with the same or similar injuries believe the injuries are caused by the same product or action and they sue the defendant as a group (as opposed to one individual suing another).
Other names for lawsuits brought by a number of people who are claiming to have suffered similar harm or losses are “mass tort litigation” and “multi-district litigation” (“MDL”). (Source)
Class action lawsuits are a way for consumers or other groups of people to protect themselves from dangerous products, unethical business practices, etc.
What is a Defamation Lawsuit?
“Defamation of character” is a term for any statement that damages someone's reputation.
When you make a defamatory claim in writing, it is called libel. Spoken defamation is slander. Defamation is not a criminal offense; it is a “tort” (a civil wrong, vs. a criminal wrong). (Source)
Defamation lawsuits are a way for individuals and organizations to protect themselves from having their reputations damaged by malicious gossip and lies.
What Does a Victim Need to Prove to Establish Defamation?
According to the Nolo legal website:
“The law of defamation varies from state to state, but there are some generally accepted rules. If you believe you are have been “defamed,” to prove it you usually have to show there's been a statement that is all of the following:
Let's go over these 4 elements of what defines a defamatory statement:
This means that a third party heard or saw the claim. In other words, someone other than the person who made the statement or the person the statement was about.
“Published” doesn't mean that the statement was printed in a book or newspaper. It just means it was made public through social media, television, radio, or gossip. The claim can be made verbally, in written form, pictured, or even gestured.
Written statements last longer than spoken statements. For that reason, most courts, juries, and insurance companies consider libel to be more harmful than slander.
A defamatory statement must be false. If the statement is true, it's not considered defamatory.
You can say mean or disparaging things, as long as they are true, based on facts and evidence.
For this reason, most opinions are not considered defamation because they can't be proven to be objectively false. For example, if a critic writes a review online and says, “That was the movie I've ever seen,” he's not defaming the filmmaker. This is because the statement can't be proven to be false.
However, if you say “this product damaged my health,” you would need to prove, with evidence, that the product did in fact damage your health.
The statement must be “injurious” or damaging. Someone suing for defamation must be able to show how his or her reputation has been hurt by the false statement in order for the claim to be considered defamatory.
For example, a company lost sales; someone lost work or was harassed by the press. Someone who already has a bad reputation will not likely collect much in a defamation suit. They must be able to show that their good reputation was damaged.
The offending statement must be “unprivileged.” Privileged speech can include a person is offering testimony as a witness in court, lawyers and judges while in court, and government officials' statements made while in session.
Under these circumstances of “privileged speech,” if someone who gives damaging testimony about someone else, those statements will be protected from civil liability for defamation. Lawmakers have come to the conclusion that in these and other situations, which are considered “privileged,” free speech is so important that the speakers should not be constrained by worries that they will be sued for defamation.
Okay, with that groundwork laid, let's take a look at how all these MONAT lawsuits played out…
4. MONAT Lawsuits: Summary
I will use this section to give you a summary of what happened.
In this section, I cover MONAT's background and their exemplary 4-year history in business.
I will also discuss the competitors who were likely threatened by MONAT's stratospheric growth, and how an online dumpster fire escalated into an online witch hunt and whole lot of lawsuits.
MONAT was founded in October 2014 by the Urdaneta family, American citizens with roots in Venezuela. It is actually a subsidiary of the parent company, the Alcora Corporation, founded by Senor Luis Udaneta.
Alcora also owns L’EUDINE Global, which was originally established almost 2 decades ago, in 2001, as a direct sales company specializing in beauty and wellness with offices in Maracaibo, Venezuela and Miami, Florida.
MONAT, their ground-breaking naturally-based salon-quality hair care line quickly became the Uber of hair care brands.
In 2017, in their third year of business, MONAT grew 700%. That year they did $300 million in sales in US and Canada, and were projecting one billion in sales revenue in 2018.
To give you an idea of how huge that is, and why I compare them to Uber, MONAT's annual revenue is 3 times that of the biggest US hair care company (OGX, owned by Johnson & Johnson).
To give you an idea of what the industry looks like, and how literally all the brands are controlled by a handful of companies, take a look at this graphic below (this isn't just hair care — this is makeup, skincare and perfume as well):
OGX, the best selling US hair care brand after MONAT, is not listed on that graphic but they were bought by Johnson & Johnson in 2016.
For MONAT to take a massive bite out of this market, with huge billion dollar companies controlling everything, well, they must be doing something right.
MONAT's Commitment to Science
MONAT is no slouch when it comes to science. The quality of their products as well as their remarkable growth has attracted respected leaders in the beauty industry, as well as highly esteemed scientists.
Last year MONAT hired Alan J. Meyers as its Chief Science Officer. With 30 years of experience in the beauty industry, at companies including L'Oreal, Revlon, Elizabeth Arden, and Avon, Mr. Meyers holds 23 patents and is the recipient of the Human Biology Association Lifetime Achievement Award.
Also, last year, Dr. Antonella Tosti, MD, Professor of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the University of Miami, and the author of over 700 scientific publications, joined the MONAT Scientific Advisory Board.
Dr. Tosti is a Founding Member and past President of the European Hair Research Society and Secretary and Treasurer of the North American Research Society. She is the Founding Member and Secretary of the International Society of Trichoscopy. (Trichoscopy is a method of hair and scalp evaluation and is used for diagnosing hair and scalp diseases.)
With Fast Growth Comes Competition
For MONAT, their explosive growth got them a lot of attention… which in turn, bred competition.
What competition, you ask? Hairdressers selling competitive products. Why would hairdressers be threatened by MONAT, you ask? I think it was because it was threatening their income and the way they've always done business.
Hairdressers make money in a few different ways:
- Servicing clients with hair cuts and color treatments
- Teaching classes
- Sell hair care products
Because MONAT is a direct sales company, their products are not sold in stores or salons.
MONAT sells their products via “network marketing” which means anyone can sign up to be a distributor and they make commissions recommending it to their friends. (You are probably familiar with this distribution model because you likely have friends or family members who sell Amway, Herbalife, Young Living or the like.)
When MONAT's sales started blowing up back in 2017, a few hairdressers who were selling competing products started trashing it.
Why? I don't know. But here's my guess: because it was threatening their income from the products they sold in their salons.
This was very similar to the way existing cab drivers were threatened by Uber when it took off.
Let's get into what happened…