L.L. Bean Inc. is the target of a class-action lawsuit claiming some of the Freeport retailer’s boots are not waterproof as advertised. Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Portland Press Herald

L.L. Bean Inc., the famed Freeport retailer that got its start 111 years ago selling boots for wet weather, has been sued for false advertising by a New York woman who says some of the company’s boots aren’t waterproof as claimed.

Linda Lenzi filed a class action against the iconic Maine company in a Rochester, New York, federal court, seeking more than $5 million in damages for tens of thousands of potential class members. The 123-page complaint says Lenzi purchased the Women’s Storm Chaser Boots with a zipper closure in March 2020 from an L.L. Bean store in Victor, New York. The boots cost between $100 and $125 and were advertised as waterproof.

“After purchasing the Mislabeled Boots, Ms. Lenzi experienced water leakage into the interior of those boots after wearing them outside on an inclement weather day in or about April 2020, which is when Ms. Lenzi first learned that the ‘waterproof’ representations and warranties that induced her purchase were false and misleading,” the complaint states.

“Had Ms. Lenzi known the truth that the Mislabeled Boots were not ‘waterproof,’ despite their labeling to the contrary, she would not have purchased them.”

The complaint also identifies a half dozen other boot models with zippers that it claims are not waterproof, based on information from manufacturers about the zip closures. None of the models is the traditional, lace-up “Bean boot” style. But the identified boots, including the model purchased by Lenzi, are shown with tags, labels and other marketing material describing them as “waterproof.”

A spokesperson for L.L. Bean said the company is aware of the lawsuit.


“We look forward to addressing these claims through the legal process,” Amanda Hannah wrote in an email. “We do not comment on pending litigation.”

The attorney who represents Lenzi did not respond to emails or a voicemail about the case. A woman who answered a phone number associated with Lenzi said any questions should be directed to her attorney and then hung up.


The complaint details at length the way L.L. Bean markets certain boots as waterproof in stores and on its website. The document includes photos of individual products and displays inside retail stores and in catalogs, as well as screenshots from the company website and social media pages.

The complaint filed against L.L. Bean Inc. includes images such as this, showing one of the company’s boot models that was allegedly marketed as “waterproof.” Photo courtesy of U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York

“For years the Company’s marketing and labeling communicated a consistent and material message that the Products were ‘waterproof,’ providing a ‘barrier’ against water infiltration, without qualification,” the complaint states. “Moreover, each and every Class member who purchased the Products was exposed to the ‘waterproof’ claim.”

Lenzi alleges the boots in question are made with a zipper that the company knows is not waterproof and does not include a gusset used in other L.L. Bean boots to block moisture. Her lawsuit says “truly waterproof” zippers would be far more expensive to produce than the ones used by L.L. Bean.


The complaint includes a screenshot of a one-star customer review of the Storm Chaser boots from January 2020 in which the buyer criticized the footwear.

“Not waterproof zipper lets water inside shoe. Wear like a tennis shoe very comfy. Useless boot if it can’t keep feet dry,” the person wrote.

The L.L. Bean Customer Satisfaction team responded to the review by saying: “We are sorry that the boots didn’t perform as you expected. The zippers on these boots (are) not waterproof. The boots are waterproof up to the zipper base. You are more than welcome to return the boot to us.”

The complaint quotes and includes screenshots from similar customer reviews of L.L. Bean boots advertised as waterproof.

Lenzi says L.L. Bean has modified some marketing materials and product descriptions since she sent a notice of her legal claims in April 2022, and that the company now admits its zippers are not waterproof or are instead water-resistant. However, Lenzi’s complaint says, “This after-the-fact disclaimer is too little, too late for Plaintiff and other purchasers who purchased the Products trusting L.L. Bean to live up to its ‘waterproof’ promises.”

Her claims include a breach of express warranty, unjust enrichment and other counts. Lenzi is asking the court to grant class certification to include people who purchased the products she says are “mislabeled.” The complaint says the class could include tens of thousands of people across the United States.

L.L. Bean was founded in 1912 as a mail-order business, after Leon Leonwood Bean invented a boot with a rubber bottom, a leather upper and a gusseted tongue, designed to keep hunters’ feet warm and dry. Today the company is headquartered in Freeport and operates 56 stores in 19 states, along with 24 stores in Japan and eight in Canada.

In 2021, L.L. Bean’s annual sales revenue grew 14% to $1.8 billion, the largest gain since 1993. The company employs about 5,500 people.

In 2018, a judge dismissed a federal lawsuit over L.L. Bean’s scaled-back return policy. The company previously had an unlimited policy but said customers had abused it by returning worn-out products. Now, L.L. Bean accepts returns on items purchased in the previous year or if there has been a manufacturing defect. Items purchased before Feb. 9, 2018, are not subject to the one-year time limit, a key factor in the judge’s dismissal of that case.

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