Bedding-maker Simmons hit with thread-count lawsuit

A gavel and a block is pictured at the George Glazer Gallery antique store in this illustration picture taken in Manhattan, New York City

By Mike Scarcella

(Reuters) - Simmons Bedding Company LLC has been sued by a consumer who accused the company of selling bedding and linens that falsely inflated their "thread count," duping buyers over the purported higher quality and durability of the products.

The lawsuit filed on Wednesday in a California federal court alleged certain Simmons Beautyrest products were deceptively marketed as having a "1,000 thread count" when the number of strands per square inch was really 216.

In the proposed class action, California resident Loriann Staples said she would not have purchased Beautyrest bed sheets, or would have paid less for them, had Simmons disclosed the alleged actual count.

The lawsuit filed by plaintiffs' firm Bursor & Fisher alleged that misbranded thread counts deceive consumers into believing "they are purchasing a product which is of higher quality, durability, longevity, softness, or better for sleeping than products with a lower thread count."

A representative from Simmons parent Serta Simmons Bedding LLC, based in Georgia, did not immediately respond to a message on Thursday seeking comment. An attorney for Simmons had not yet made an appearance in the case.

Lawyers for Staples did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Thursday.

Staples' lawsuit is among at least a handful of others that have accused manufacturers or retailers of deceptively marketing thread-sheet counts. Macy's Inc agreed in March to settle a class action in Ohio federal court for $10.5 million. A fairness hearing in that case is set for September.

The Federal Trade Commission in an advisory staff opinion in 2005 warned that consumers could be deceived based on variations in industry practices about how to count threads.

In January, Serta Simmons Bedding filed for bankruptcy protection in Texas in a bid to eliminate most of its debt. Serta Simmons Bedding's brands include Serta, Simmons, Beautyrest and Tuft & Needle. In the year ending June 30, 2022, the company's sales topped $2.4 billion.

The plaintiffs' lawyers said in the complaint that they "commissioned independent laboratory testing" to examine thread count.

The lawsuit, which estimated a potential class size of "hundreds of thousands" of members, seeks unspecified monetary damages and other relief.

The case is Staples v. Simmons Bedding Company LLC, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 4:23-cv-02427.

For plaintiff: Joel Smith and Brittany Scott of Bursor & Fisher

For defendant: No appearance yet

(Reporting by Mike Scarcella; editing by Leigh Jones)