Why Scrubs Maker FIGS is Being Sued in California Court

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Why Scrubs Maker FIGS is Being Sued in California Court
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Last August, FIGS, the medical scrub startup based in Santa Monica, was sued for false advertising and misleading business practices. This week, the company is in court arguing it didn’t need to rely on any unsavory marketing tactics and that its products sold more because they were better than its competitors.


The lawsuit, brought forth by Strategic Partners Inc. (SPI), a Chatsworth-based competitor that does business as Careismatic Brands, alleges FIGS co-founders Trina Spear and Heather Hasson violated advertising regulations by falsely claiming their scrubs are made to protect the wearer from bacteria or disease through the use of a chemical called Silvadur. In the lawsuit SPI cited the fact that FIGS said this chemical helps its scrubs reduce hospital-acquired infection rates by 66%, which SPI claimed was untrue and misleading.

The exact amount of money SPI is seeking from the suit isn’t clear. But the company did request numerous damages, including the costs of the suit and attorneys’ fees. SPI also asked for compensatory damages plus punitive damages and disgorgement of profits, which means the court could order FIGS to pay back part of the money it made selling its scrubs if the judge rules against them.

“What [FIGS] did is they came up with these false claims so that health care workers would pay premium pricing based on something that didn't exist,” said Sanford Michelman, attorney for SPI. He also said the company “is a get rich quick scheme.”

Unlike FIGS' direct to consumer model, SPI sells through a middleman, licensing out brands to mainly brick and mortar retailers.

Michelman claimed SPI has sources that used to work for FIGS that will testify FIGS’ 66% infection prevention claim wasn’t accurate, including a former stock boy and an infectious disease expert.

A FIGS spokesperson who was in court Tuesday said, however, he anticipated SPI will need to prove specifically that FIGS’ sales increased because of its allegedly misleading marketing, which could be a difficult task for the plaintiffs.

The suit also called into question other elements of FIGS’ business practices, including the company’s promise to donate “hundreds of thousands of scrubs internationally'' as part of its Threads for Threads program. Per the publication of the company’s first video ad for it, the program appears to have been set up in 2013 to donate one pair for every pair sold: The lawsuit alleged, “these misrepresentations regarding donations are part of FIGS’s broader plan to deceive the public into believing that FIGS and FIGS scrubs are special, when they are not special.”

During opening statements, law firms Bird Marella and Munger, Tolles, & Olson argued on behalf of FIGS that SPI uses a similar chemical in its medical clothing.

Back in 2021, FIGS created an entire website to explain its side of the story. On the site, the medical clothing startup called the lawsuit “baseless attacks” from an older competitor that’s simply angry it lost market share to a new upstart and wants to “thwart competition.”

To that end, FIGS’ chief legal officer said the lawsuit was an attempt by SPI to “stifle” competition and drive it out of the market. He called the litigation “absurd” and said it won’t hold up in court.

This is a developing story. Have a tip? Contact Samson Amore securely via Signal at 401.287.5543 or Samsonamore@dot.LA.

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