The New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office sent cease and desist letters to four retailers (GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart) and subpoenas to manufacturers (Nature Made brand; NBTV Inc. of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., maker of Sundown Naturals, Nature’s Bounty, Vitamin World and other brands; Nature’s Way Products Inc. of Lehi, Utah, maker of Nature’s Way brand; and Nutraceutical Corp. of Park City, Utah, maker of Herbs for Kids and other brands) demanding evidence for health claims printed on labels of dietary supplements. In February 2015, the AG announced that DNA barcoding tests commissioned by his office on six popular herbal supplements found that of hundreds of bottles tested, 4 out of 5 contained none of the herbs listed on the labels. The supplements tested included ginseng, touted as an energy booster; Echinacea, marketed as a cold remedy; St. John’s Wort, used for depression; and ginkgo biloba, used for memory problems.
As the New York Times reports:
Among the attorney general’s findings was a popular store brand of ginseng pills at Walgreens, promoted for “physical endurance and vitality,” that contained only powdered garlic and rice. At Walmart, the authorities found that its ginkgo biloba, a Chinese plant promoted as a memory enhancer, contained little more than powdered radish, houseplants and wheat — despite a claim on the label that the product was wheat- and gluten-free.
Three out of six herbal products at Target — ginkgo biloba, St. John’s wort and valerian root, a sleep aid — tested negative for the herbs on their labels. But they did contain powdered rice, beans, peas and wild carrots. And at GNC, the agency said, it found pills with unlisted ingredients used as fillers, like powdered legumes, the class of plants that includes peanuts and soybeans, a hazard for people with allergies.
Consumer and consumer groups have initiated lawsuits. If you think you may have purchased an herbal supplement that has made false claims, please contact us to learn more about your legal rights.
UPDATE: The New York Attorney General announced an agreement with GNC to implement new standards in authenticating new herbal supplements, ensuring their purity, and educating consumers about their chemical content.
A recent lawsuit alleges a conspiracy among manufacturers Coopervision, Inc., Alcon Laboratories, Inc., Bausch & Lomb Inc., and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., with distributor ABB/Con-Cise Optical Group LLC, to fix the prices of disposable contact lenses. These four manufacturers are alleged to hold 97% of the market for disposable contact lenses. It is further alleged that they use ABB/Con-Cise, the largest distributor, to hold their monopoly through the use of price floors. Price floors typically establish minimum prices the reseller can advertise or sell a particular good. It is alleged that if a retailer violates the price floor set by these four manufacturers, then they allegedly threaten to cease supplying that retailer with disposable contact lenses. The lawsuit alleges that the purpose of these price floors was to artificially keep the price of contact lenses to consumers high and stifle competition between independent eye care professional retailers on the one hand and big-box stores with vision care centers (e.g., Wal-Mart), internet retailers (e.g., 1-800 CONTACTS), and warehouse clubs (e.g., Costco), which typically charge about 30% less for the same contact lenses sold by independent eye care professional retailers.
If you think you may have overpaid for your contact lenses, please contact us to learn more about your legal rights.
Anthem, Inc., one of the nation’s largest health insurers, recently suffered from a hack affecting approximately 80 million individuals. The hackers stole personal identify information (“PII”) and personal health information (“PHI”) including medical identification numbers social security numbers, addresses and email addresses, which as the New York Times, notes could be used for medical fraud. In response, Anthem has offered 24 months of identity theft repair and credit monitoring services. It has not offered any health insurance fraud monitoring. AS CNBC notes, criminals can use the information stolen at hospitals, emergency rooms and pharmacies to receive care and prescriptions, racking up charges and wrecking victims’ medical records. The medical fraud risk is particularly insidious “because any medical care a criminal receives while using a victim’s ID number gets added to the victim’s health record—and may go unnoticed for months or even years. The effects ‘can be life-threatening,’ as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes on its website.” The basis for this risk is that the victim’s medical care can cause doctors at emergency rooms, who electronically share data, to provide incorrect medication, fail to recognize risks of procedures, etc. Moreover, a person health insurance premium could also rise based on the medical care, surgeries, and hospital visits in a given year–care that they themselves did not receive.
Lawsuits have been filed. If you have been a victim of the Anthem data breach, contact us to learn more about your legal rights.
Rezvani Volin & Rotbert P.C. is pleased to announce a significant jury verdict in favor of our clients. Following a 5-day jury trial in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the jury returned a verdict against the plaintiff and in favor of our clients (defendants in the action) on every count of the counterclaims that RVR pursued at trial on behalf of our clients. The jury awarded our clients over $267,000 in compensatory damages arising from plaintiff’s fraud, promissory fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty, and $250,000 in punitive damages. McNamara v. Picken, et al., Case No. 11-cv-01051-ESH-JMF (D.D.C.). The jury’s award is in addition to an award of nearly $10,000 against plaintiff, which RVR secured for our clients as a sanction for plaintiff’s discovery failures.
Rezvani Volin & Rotbert P.C. currently serves as a court-appointed member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in:
The firm also serves as court-appointed co-lead class counsel in:
Please contact us to discuss any of these cases, or any other legal issues that are important to you.