On January 16, 2023, the courts stayed and administratively closed the pending class action lawsuit against Morphe Color Additives. The court took this action following January 12, 2022, Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition filed by Forma Brands, the parent company of Morphe.
Both the defendant and its associated parent companies, Forma Beauty Brands LLC, Morphe Management Holdings LLC, and Forma Brands LLC, stood accused of deceptive advertising. According to the Morphe Palette lawsuit, the limited liability company marketed and sold eye makeup products that were not intended to be used near or on the eyelids.
Their popular color palettes (aka “pressed pigments) allegedly have colored additives known to be harmful and not intended to be used around consumers’ eye areas.
What Can Plaintiffs in the Morphe Palette Lawsuit Expect Now?
Unfortunately for the allegedly injured plaintiffs, the bankruptcy filing effectively freezes any further class action litigation from going forward. Bankrupt companies are fiscally unable to pay large settlements to the plaintiffs if they prevail in court.
What Is the Typical Process When Suing Companies Like Morphe Palette?
One option injured consumers can explore is taking the company to small claims court. Using Morphe Palette as an example, because they are a limited liability company registered to do business in California, damages in small claims courts are capped at $10,000.
If your claim was not more than that amount, you could seek civil justice by first determining the company’s registered agent of service of process, i.e., the corporation or individual designated to accept service of any legal actions against the company.
In this company’s case, their bankruptcy filing added additional Sacramento-based agents at some point between July 10 and October 30, 2022.
Issue Your Demand Letter
In similar cases where no bankruptcies were filed, small claims court plaintiffs must send a demand letter via certified mail, return receipt requested, to the company they believe caused their injuries or other damages.
Demand letters must contain the following:
- Name and correct address of defendant company
- The subject line indicating this is a demand for payment
- The amount defendant allegedly owes the plaintiff
- Summary of why this claim is valid, e.g., Morphe Color Palette caused eye damage and irritation in its users
- Intention to escalate matter inappropriate small claims court
- Plaintiff’s name and address
Plaintiffs should include as an exhibit the return receipt or the unclaimed demand letter when filing their petition in the California small claims courts.
Dispute's Demand Letters are paid back 72% of the time in our experience.
How to Know the Proper Venue for Filing a Small Claims Lawsuit
While you could have multiple options depending on the company’s circumstances, typically petitions for damages are filed in the small claims courts having jurisdiction over the defendant’s business location.
Use Resources at Your Disposal
Contact the county small claims court to learn more about the filing fees and service costs associated with your case. They can advise you over the phone or direct you to their website portal for more information about filing a small claim against a defendant.
Is the Process Complicated?
Filing a petition for damages in small claims court is much easier and cheaper than filing it in a district, circuit, or other larger civil justice venue.
But simply filing the petition is insufficient. You must also hire a process server to physically deliver the petition to the defendant(s).
What About the Actual Trial?
Many (but not all) small claims courts disallow attorneys to present their clients’ cases before the judge. Essentially, that means that while you may seek legal advice and guidance, in the courtroom you will present your case yourself.
This requires preparation and knowledge of local rules. Some litigants prefer to seek online assistance from Dispute when preparing to begin a small claim against a defendant.