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Fast-Growing DTC Brand Wins ‘Meritless’ Lawsuit

After four years, Figs’ contentious lawsuit with Strategic Partners has reached a satisfying conclusion for the medical scrubs maker.

Figs Inc., the direct-to-consumer healthcare apparel and lifestyle brand, announced that a jury in the United States District Court for the Central District of California has found in its favor and rejected all of the claims made by Strategic Partners, Inc. (SPI), also known as Careismatic Brands.

The jury’s decision follows four years of litigation pursued by Strategic Partners, one of the largest legacy players in the medical apparel market, in an attempt to stifle Figs’ growth.

“This verdict is a powerful win, not only for Figs, but for fair competition,” said Todd Maron, chief legal officer at Figs. “This marks the end of a nasty, four-year campaign against Figs, engineered by SPI’s former CEO Mike Singer and based on outright falsehoods. SPI has sued competitors at least twice before in similar situations, and we felt it was important to stand up for the truth when confronted with a baseless lawsuit. We want to thank the jury and the Hon. John W. Holcomb for their careful attention to this case, ensuring a fair outcome.”

The lawsuit accused Figs of false advertising, unfair business practices, and untrue and misleading advertising. SPI claimed that Figs broke into the healthcare sector under “dubious circumstances” and “recklessly” advertised the antimicrobial properties of its scrubs, according to court records.

SPI asserted that Figs co-founder Trina Spear accessed confidential information and data regarding the medical apparel industry from her then-employer Blackstone Group Holdings and, together with Figs co-CEO Heather Hasson, used it to launch the company. SPI believed this to be true because it was also in possession of said confidential information at the time.  

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SPI alleged that Spear knowingly violated Blackstone’s code of ethics and “admitted her wrongdoing publicly” via a YouTube interview with Refresh Miami that has since been taken down. A Figs representative clarified that this claim was thrown out by the judge.

“The centerpiece of SPI’s case, and the one designed to generate salacious headlines, was that our co-founder Trina Spear somehow obtained and exploited SPI’s confidential business plan to build Figs,” Figs said. “We have maintained from the start that this assertion was egregiously false, and on August 10, 2021, the court dismissed this part of SPI’s case and refused to grant them an opportunity to amend and resubmit that claim.”

Another point of SPI’s case is that Figs claims its products will protect healthcare workers by reducing hospital-acquired infection rates by 66 percent. SPI disagrees, arguing that testing of products made by Figs has demonstrated that they do not kill bacteria and infection immediately on contact.

“Figs’ untrue health claims are endangering healthcare workers, their patients, and the public, rather than protecting them,” the complaint said. “Creating a false perception that a certain kind of scrubs can protect the wearer from infectious diseases or bacteria—when they cannot—stands to affect the behavior of those healthcare workers, their patients, and the public who may wrongly rely on their scrubs for protection rather than following other available or proper sanitation procedures.”

Additionally, Figs’ allegedly false and misleading claims enabled it to raise millions of dollars in funding, build public relations campaigns and obtain the benefits of social influencers, outlined in a 200-plus page evidence findings report. SPI, which sells competing antimicrobial garments, claimed it was harmed by these claims, thus costing SPI revenue and profits.

Figs has vehemently disputed these allegations, all documented on its website, facts-and-figs.com.

“The claims in that lawsuit are meritless and we are not going to let anyone stand between us and serving the community of healthcare professionals that we’re so passionate about,” the website says.

SPI will continue to pursue all legal options available, the company said in a statement to Sourcing Journal.

“This trial finally brought to light voluminous evidence demonstrating how Figs intentionally and recklessly deceived healthcare workers, its investors, and the public with false health and safety claims about the protective properties of its scrubs and fabricated the nature and extent of its philanthropy,” Girisha Chandraraj, CEO of Careismatic Brands, said. “Careismatic Brands takes our position as a leader in the medical apparel industry seriously, and brought this case to protect healthcare workers, force Figs to stop making false claims, and ensure a fair and transparent marketplace. We have succeeded in this regard, and we are pleased that healthcare workers finally have access to the truth about Figs scrubs.”