Purple Innovations has filed a lawsuit and restraining order against Honest Mattress Reviews after questioning the company’s “White Powder”
The lawsuit claims that general questions about the powder were “inflammatory”
Judge Dee Benson granted the restraining order that demands HMR remove all posts about Purple
Purple has been very vague when answering questions about the white powder claiming it is patent pending
A lawsuit between a mattress company and a mattress review company has set the stage for what is now a battle over the First Amendment.
Purple Innovations, the creator of the purple bed-in-a-box mattress, is suing Honest Mattress Reviews, Ryan Monahan, the creator of HMR, and competitor Ghostbed. Monahan was formerly “Chief Brand Officer” of Ghostbed.
Purple filed a 102-page complaint and a 174-page restraining order request. Surprisingly, after only seeing Purple’s accusations, Judge Dee Benson granted the prior restraint request. The order requires HMR to take down any existing posts about Purple and also forbids the defendants from speaking about the lawsuit in any way the court may disapprove.
Apparently Purple was in such a rush to get the lawsuit out, they initially sued themselves. Techdirt points out that on February 27, 2017, there was a “Modification of Docket Error.” The error was that Purple’s counsel filed against the plaintiff instead of the defendant, making for an embarrassing start to this legal battle.
What’s In The White Powder
So what exactly did HMR say to bring down such a massive lawsuit? From what we can see in the early stages of the suit, HMR asked questions that Purple is not wanting to go into detail on.
When you order a purple mattress, before it leaves the warehouse, it is coated with a white powder that Purple has been very secretive over. The company claims that is because the white powder is patent pending and if they say too much their competitors may try and steal the white powder that the company refers to as their “secret sauce.”
HMR asked four questions about this white powder, due to a concern for people sleeping on this white powder and facing the possibility of inhaling it. In specific, there was a concern for asthmatics and individuals who suffer from other respiratory issues.
In the lawsuit, Purple states “The White Powder “Article” purports to ask a series of inflammatory questions about a white, powdery substance that appears on Purple Bed products. The “Article” also makes statements that are false and likely to mislead or confuse consumers to believe (among other things) that Purple’s products — including the powder substance on the mattresses — are dangerous and that Purple is deliberately withholding information from consumers.”
So what are the “inflammatory questions” that HMR asked? According to the lawsuit, the four highlighted questions are, “What is this white powder? Is it safe? Is it safe to touch your skin? Is it safe to inhale?”
The lengthy lawsuit goes into more depth on other issues Purple is claiming, but at the end of the day appears to be centered around questioning the white powder.
Purple has released a very vague description of what the powder is. From that description we do know is that the white powder is a polyethylene, which is a “food-contact-grade plastic considered to be safe.”
According to NOVA Chemicals, polyethylene is a “clear-to-white, solid, plastic product made by reacting molecules of ethylene gas into long polymer chains in carefully controlled manufacturing processes.” Polyethylene products are considered to be safe for humans and the environment in intended uses.
Polyethylene resins are most commonly used in “end-use markets,” mainly packaging. They are largely used in food packaging, grocery bags, squeezable bottles, and children toys.
The study goes on to say that with the “evaluation of human toxicological data of polyethylene demonstrates that this product poses a low risk under intended use conditions.” However, in workplace processing of polyethylene, “contact with fine dusts and heated fumes may cause eye, skin and respiratory system irritation.”
According to NOVA Chemicals, HMR has a valid reason to question the white powder on Purple’s products. If the white powder is a polyethylene, in fine dust form, then by sleeping on the mattress is there a possibility of inhaling the white powder and what are the end results?
Copy And Paste
The Facebook page for Purple has turned into a PR nightmare. The comment section is full of copy and paste replies from Purple attempting to push people to their very vague answers about the white powder.
When criticized over the lawsuit, the response is, “Purple is not suing Ryan Monahan over safety questions, as he has stated. The lawsuit is a civil action for false advertising and false association. It was filed by Purple against Honest Reviews, LLC, Ryan Monahan, and its associates.
The court filings are public and you can find them on file with the United States District Court, District of Utah, Central Division.”