During a recent Surfin’ Safari we must have told the DDL Son at least five times to slather on more sunscreen. Naturally, he engaged in the usual noncompliance-defiance and, naturally, now has a face adorned with a scarlet nose. Years ago there was a famous commencement address built on the advice that everyone should wear sunscreen. Sunscreen sometimes makes a cameo appearance in the news of the weird. We learned that American Army World War II tins of sunscreen and bacon recently turned up on the Salisbury Plain (not so far from Stonehenge). And we were brought up short when we read that some sunscreen products were recalled because they might ignite.
In this season of Summer Fun and marathon photosynthesis sessions, God Only Knows how ignorant and indifferent so many of us are about the need for sunscreen. Do you use sunscreen? (You should – and not just when you are reading the latest Lisa Scottoline thriller at the Jersey Shore.) Do you know what the SPF (sun protection factor) numbers mean? (SPF 15 means that only 1/15th of the burning radiation will reach the skin, SPF 30 means only 1/30th will, SPF 50 means only 1/50th will, etc.) How often should you reapply sunscreen? (At least every two hours. Then Do it Again.) How much should you use? (Way more than you think.)
Who regulates sunscreen? (The FDA. Sunscreen is considered an over-the-counter drug.)
And therein hangs the tale of today’s case, Eckler and Engel v. Neutrogena Corp., — Cal. Rptr. 3d –, 2015 Cal. App. LEXIS 584 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. June 9, 2015). Two plaintiffs brought slightly different claims that sunscreen labeling was misleading, and those claims were Shut Down by the California appellate court (one that really knows about sunscreen) on grounds of preemption. Up front in the opinion, the court sums up the issue nicely: “This case concerns congressional intent with respect to label information on sunscreen products: is it to be determined solely by the federal agency it charged with ensuring uniform labeling for those products, or, in addition, by each state through private civil suits.” That formulation captures the need for preemption to ensure uniformity and to apply agency expertise.
Continue Reading Fun Fun Fun: Cal Court Dismisses Sunscreen Cases on Preemption