Supersize me—or not—as the case may be. After all, if it sounds too good to be true… then maybe Magna-Rx Inc, is promising just a tad more than it can deliver. The supplement maker GNC got hit with a proposed consumer fraud class action lawsuit this week alleging the labeling on its male strength and performance enhancement supplement misleads consumers by implying it is an effective aphrodisiac. According to the Magna-Rx lawsuit, the company falsely markets “Magna-Rx+” as a medically endorsed aphrodisiac, although the supplement, a blend of herbal and root extracts, has never been scientifically studied, and there is no proof that its ingredients have an effect on male strength and performance. In plain English—snake oil.
In the complaint, Trevor Dixon, the plaintiff, states that he purchased Magna-Rx+ for $50 in March 2013, from a GNC store. In January 2014 Dixon discovered the company had violated California’s unfair competition and false advertising laws and Consumer Legal Remedies Act, as well as the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, by marketing the supplement as an aphrodisiac. Further, as an over-the-counter drug sold as an aphrodisiac, Magna-Rx+’s label should have been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the complaint states.
Magna-Rx+ includes the ingredients: horney goat weed (WTF?), muira puma, Asian ginseng, oat straw and catuaba. However, none of these are safe and effective for OTC use as an aphrodisiac,” the lawsuit states. “The FDA bars these false, misleading and unsupported by scientific data label claims.” Is there even such a thing as horney goat weed?
Wait—there’s more—“Further, consuming such random herbs and herbal extracts presents a risk of an allergic or other adverse reaction without any offsetting benefit,” the complaint states.
The complaint also notes that the president of Magna-Rx testified in a deposition that the company never scientifically tested Magna-Rx+’s efficacy. Only a few ingredients may be effective at treating certain conditions, none of which includes male virility, according to the suit.
According to the lawsuit, the Magna-Rx+ label contains the phrase “Dr. Aguilar’s Original,” suggesting that Magna-Rx was developed by medical professionals. However, Dr. Aguilar is not a licenced medical practitioner in the US, but has a small storefront ‘alternative medicine’ clinic in Mexico. And, no one from Magna-Rx has ever interacted with Aguilar. That’s encouraging.
Additionally, the complaint cites the phrase “Real Doctors, Real Results,” which appears on the product labeling and suggests Magna-Rx+ is medically endorsed. According to the suit, the “Rx” in the product’s name further implies that it is prescription-strength, and “Magna” indicates that it is effective in increasing male strength and performance.
Boy—this stuff makes the Tooth Fairy sound plausible. Wonder what it does do…
La-Z-Boy living up to its name…. in that it’s been a bit lazy about accommodating people with disabilities who need wheelchair access to their stores. So, the company now finds itself on the end of a discrimination class action lawsuit alleging its stores are not fully accessible to the disabled because they lack handicapped parking and wheelchair-accessible restrooms, in violation of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act and Disabled Persons Act.
Filed in Los Angeles, by lead plaintiff George Zepeda, the complaint alleges La-Z-Boy discriminates against disabled California residents by not requiring its facilities be accessible for handicapped individuals. Zepeda claims that there are several La-Z-Boy stores that do not have accessible restrooms, handicapped parking spaces and appropriate accessibility signage. The lawsuit also states that the furniture manufacturer has so far refused to remedy the situation.
“As a result of that failure to remedy existing barriers to accessibility, plaintiff and others similarly situated have been denied access to the benefits of the goods, services, programs, facilities and activities of defendant’s stores, and have otherwise been discriminated against and have suffered damages caused by defendant’s accessibility violations,” the complaint states.
In the complaint, Zepeda states that in June he purchased end tables and a stationary chair at a La-Z-Boy’s in California. He alleges that as a result of being denied full and equal access, he was discriminated against. Zepeda is restricted to a wheelchair and therefore, because the store did not have fully accessible restrooms, he says he was discriminated against.
Specifically, Zepeda claims that opening the restroom door required excessive force to open and keep open while he entered and exited the restroom because the door closer was not adjusted to allow the door to remain open long enough for him to wheel himself inside without assistance.
Further, once he was inside the washroom, he was unable to use the facilities because the toilet seat was “excessively high” from the floor, making it hard for him to maneuver from his wheelchair to the toilet seat, and also because the toilet paper dispenser, toilet seat cover dispenser and soap dispenser were mounted too high for him to reach. He says he also couldn’t wash his hands because the pipes under the lavatory were not covered and he was worried about burning his legs on them.
Zepeda also states that he wrote La-Z-Boy management about the issues but he never received a response. According to the lawsuit La-Z-Boy has a number of locations in Southern California with similar accessibility issues, including numerous restroom violations and a lack of disabled and van parking spots, and that the company has not acknowledged any of his complaints.
“The … violations are ongoing and continue to result in the plaintiff and unnamed mobility impaired class members suffering discrimination as a result of being denied full and equal access to these stores,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit is seeking certification of a class of all mobility-impaired or wheelchair-bound people in California who have patronized La-Z-Boy stores. The complaint states the class will consist of thousands of members, since census statistics show that more than 150,000 non-institutionalized people over age 16 in California use wheelchairs.
About those pension checks….employees at Meriter Health noticed they weren’t on the money. But this week they announced an $82 million settlement of an an employment lawsuit filed in 2010 alleging Meriter Health Services improperly calculated employee pensions. The settlement will see some 4,000 Meriter Health Services employees receive an average of $14,000 each in damages. A dozen people named as plaintiffs will each get an additional $5,000, and another 2,000 people will each receive about $250. Overall, more than $56 million will be allocated to about 6,000 people in 11 classes in the suit. Nice going!
The lawsuit alleged Meriter’s pension plan miscalculated benefits from 1987 to 2014. Both parties have agreed to the $82 million settlement, but a final settlement hearing is scheduled for some time in January.
Meriter Health Services became part of Iowa-based UnityPoint Health this year.
Ok—Folks—time to adjourn for the week. Have a fab weekend—see you at the bar!
A roundup of recent asbestos-related news and information that you should be aware of. An ongoing list of reported asbestos hot spots in the US from the Asbestos News Roundup archive appears on our asbestos map.
According to a study done by The National Fire Administration/NIOSH, published in the October 2013 issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the rate of mesothelioma among firefighters studied was twice that of the general US population.
The study is one the largest of its kind done to date, and looked at mortality patterns and cancer incidence among career firefighters. The researchers evaluated a pool of approximately 30,000 firefighters employed in San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia between 1950 and 2009.
They found, as have previous studies, that firefighters, through the course of their work, are exposed to known and suspected carcinogens like formaldehyde and benzene. The study shows that such exposure is linked to an increased risk of developing certain cancers. Additionally, the results were consistent with previous studies which show that firefighters experience higher rates of respiratory, digestive and urinary cancers, compared to the general population.
What was new, however, was the nearly doubling of the incidence rate for asbestos mesothelioma among firefighters, compared with the general US population. This had not been previously reported. The study not only strengthens previous evidence for the health risks firefighters are exposed to, but also suggests an association between firefighters’ occupational exposure to asbestos and increased mesothelioma rates, as asbestos is “the only known causal agent of mesothelioma.”
Moundsville, WV: Deborah Morgan has filed an asbestos lawsuit naming 72 companies she claims are responsible for her late husband’s lung cancer and death. She claims her husband’s condition was a direct and proximate result of the negligence of the defendants.
Ronald Morgan was diagnosed with lung cancer on May 2, 2013, and died September 22, according to the lawsuit. Deborah Morgan alleges the defendants that are premise owners had a duty to provide Ronald Morgan with a reasonably safe place to work and a duty to exercise reasonable care in protecting him from work place hazards.
Further, Mrs. Morgan alleges the defendants failed to warn her husband of the dangers of its products when they knew or should have down that expose to asbestos-containing products and other ingredients of the products would cause disease and injury, and that they failed to exercise reasonable care to warn Ronald Morgan of the dangers to which he was exposed by use of the asbestos-containing products and other ingredients in the defendants’ product.
Mrs. Morgan also claims the defendants failed to inform her late husband about safe and sufficient apparel for a person who was exposed to or used the product or products and that the defendants failed to place any warnings on the asbestos-containing products and failed to warn of the dangers of the ingredients of the products.
The 72 defendants in the suit include: A.W. Chesteron Company; Air & Liquid Systems Corporation; Allied Glove Corporation; Ametek Inc.; American Gage & Machine Company Inc.; American Optical Corporation; Atlas Industries Inc.; Aurora Pump Company; Bayer Cropscience Inc.; and Beazer East Inc. (wvrecord.com)
Moundsville, WV: 109 companies have been named as defendants by a couple seeking damages in an asbestos lawsuit. The plaintiffs claim the companies say are responsible for the mesothelioma diagnosis pertaining to Thomas Ray Allen. Allen was diagnosed with mesothelioma on April 30, according to the lawsuit.
Allen and his wife, Phyllis Allen, claim defendants exposed Thomas Allen to asbestos during his employment in New Martinsville. Specifically, the Allens claim that Thomas Allen was exposed to asbestos and/or other harmful minerals manufactured, supplied, sold, distributed, installed, used, specified, removed and/or required by the defendants.
Further, the Allens contend that the defendants failed to warn them of the dangers of the asbestos-containing products and failed to take reasonable precautions to warn them of the dangers.
The defendants also failed to exercise reasonable care to warn them of the dangers and failed to inform them of what would be safe and sufficient apparel for a person who was exposed to or used the product or products, according to the complaint.
The 109 defendants include Bayer Corporation; Air & Liquid Systems Corporation; Ajax Management Corporation; Alliance Machine Company; Allied Glove Corporation; American Gage & Machine Company; American Optical Corporation; Ametek Inc.; Armstrong International Inc.; and Armstrong Pumps Inc. (wvrecord.com)
Salinas, CA: The Windsor Gardens, a 99 bed for-profit nursing home in California, has agreed to a $225,000 settlement to settle allegations it failed to properly handle the removal of asbestos during a renovation.
The nursing home, in Salinas CA, and its general contractor relied on an incomplete “operations and maintenance” report rather than a full survey when doing a renovation in 2012, according to the lawsuit. As a result, they did not know that wallboard in patient rooms contained asbestos, and the harmful substance, which can cause lung cancer, was emitted during work, local CBS affiliate KION reported this week.
Windsor Gardens and its operator, S&F Management Company, entered into the settlement with the Monterey County District Attorney’s Environmental Protection Unit. The general contractor, The Stahl Companies, will also pay $70,435 in a civil settlement. (mcknights.com)
And this one’s dirty. Shitty, actually. Literally. A former Merrill Lynch financial adviser who decided to relieve himself in the woods behind a bar has filed a lawsuit against the city of Mount Dora and the police officer who cited him for disorderly conduct in 2010. Elvan Moore is alleging his civil rights were violated through the enforcement of a “careless and reckless policy” and that the charges resulted in him losing his job at ML.
OK—my first question—what was the police officer doing in the woods? Answer—he followed Moore out the bar. Ok that’s just weird. According to the officer, he followed Moore out the bar and into woods where he saw him squatting and next to a broken-down car and noted the strong odor of feces. Really—didn’t the cop have anything better to do? Mount Dora’s finest?
Moore is alleging that the charges are bogus, as he was vomiting not defecating (does the exit point really make a difference?) as a result of some vitamins he had taken. Apparently he was also prepared—as the police officer saw that Moore had paper napkins with him.
Now, disorderly conduct, it turns out, is a vague beast. Florida’s disorderly conduct statute includes acts that “corrupt the public morals or outrage the sense of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them.” You could pretty much write your own ticket based on that description. Interestingly, the charges were eventually dropped… BUT—they are a matter of public record and that is why Moore has his knickers in a knot.
Moore’s lawsuit claims the officer’s allegations caused him to lose his job at ML, and suffer damages to his reputation, as well as embarrassment and humiliation. Hard to avoid, I would think. And he does have legal recourse through a statute commonly used for police brutality.
The city of Mount Dora has not come clean on how it plans to handle the lawsuit. Moore is seeking over $15,000 in damages.
Is the fountain of youth cancer-inducing? Possibly…at least according to a dangerous drugs class action lawsuit filed this week against Allergan Inc’s subsidiary SkinMedica Inc. The lawsuit claims that the cosmeceutical company withheld information from consumers regarding its anti-aging creams specifically, that they contain human foreskin cells, and that these creams pose a risk for cancer.
Filed by plaintiff Josette Ruhnke, the complaint alleges that the sale of SkinMedica Inc.’s line of “Tissue Nutrient Solution” (TNS) products containing the compound “NouriCel” is illegal, because the products haven’t received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. U.S. District Judge David O. Carter ruled the case can go forward.
According to the complaint, TNS products are marketed for “skin rejuvenation” purposes. However, they contain a proprietary mix of human growth factors that originate from human foreskin tissue. The products are trademarked as NouriCel. The TNS creams have the ability to initiate cell division, which, according to Ruhnke’s complaint, are thought to contribute to the growth of tumor cells or other abnormalities.
The complaint, filed in 2013, also claims that, in addition to lacking FDA approval, SkinMedica had not performed required controlled safety studies before marketing TNS products. Judge Carter rejected arguments from SkinMedica that TNS products aren’t drugs under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act because the growth factors they contain are “naturally occurring.”
“SkinMedica promotes TNS Products as ‘cosmeceuticals’ containing a mix of endogenous ‘growth factors’ for skin rejuvenation. The term ‘cosmeceutical’ conveys that a product is both a cosmetic and pharmaceutical,” Judge Carter wrote. “A product which occurs naturally or is derived from natural ingredients is capable of regulation as a drug.”
Additionally, Judge Carter noted that the creator of NouriCel has stated that more double-blind and controlled studies are needed to confirm the preliminary clinical effects of growth factor products. Judge Carter also cited the fact that the complaint stated that the two FDA-approved products on the market containing human growth factors provide prominent safety warnings the TNS products lack.
“The thrust of defendants’ argument is essentially that the evidence does not support plaintiff’s claim,” Judge Carter wrote. “Plaintiff’s allegations, taken as true, suggest that there are serious safety concerns associated with TNS Products.”
The case is Josette Ruhnke v. SkinMedica Inc., et al, case number 8:2014-cv-00420, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
It seems that growing old gracefully may be vastly underrated.
Hotels less than Hospitable? What would TWA be without our weekly update on unpaid wages and overtime class action lawsuits. This week, workers at the Hilton and Marriott properties filed against Intermountain Management LLC alleging the company failed to pay overtime and other wages due to employees. The lawsuit contends that Intermountain Management misclassified its current and former workers so as to make them exempt from payment for overtime and wages and missed rest and meal breaks.
Further, former Intermountain manufacturing engineer Indica Heredia, who filed the lawsuit, alleges the company failed to pay all wages due to employees when they were terminated.
“Intermountain routinely understaffs knowing that scheduled shifts will not permit employees to take their legal meal and rest periods and will require them to work through meal and rest periods as well as off the clock,” the complaint states. Heredia alleges the Louisiana-based hospitality management company had a policy of making its employees work five-hour shifts or longer without a 30-minute meal break within the first five hours or compensation for the missed break and didn’t pay all wages due to ex-employees when they were terminated.
Heredia performed routine system testing on Intermountain products, among other duties, and claims he was misclassified as exempt from overtime compensation in violation of California labor law, the complaint states. The lawsuit proposes the class would include current and former hourly, nonexempt employees who worked in the four years preceding the filing of the complaint at hotels owned, managed or operated by Intermountain in California, including Residence Inn, Courtyard Inn, TownePlace Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites hotels.
The lawsuit alleges Intermountain Management violated California labor law, specifically that the class, consisting of at least several-hundred employees, was not paid all regular and overtime wages, given meal and rest periods, or provided wage statements and personnel records.
Heredia seeks unpaid wages at time-and-a-half or double-time rates for all overtime work, as well as damages and penalties and a declaratory judgment against the company.
The case is Indica Heredia v. Intermountain Management LLC et al., case number 5:14-cv-04006, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
They owe, they owe—so off to court they go…
And while we’re on the subject of unpaid wages …
Hip-Hip-Hooray! A $1.25 million settlement has been reached in the landmark unpaid wages class action pending against the Oakland Raiders football team. The employment lawsuit was filed by the Oakland Raiders’ Cheerleaders alleging wage theft and other unfair employment practices.
If approved, the NFL cheerleader settlement would cover 90 cheerleaders who worked for the Raiders between 2010 and 2013 seasons. The Raiderettes would receive an average of $2,500 to $6,000 per season, depending on which seasons they worked, according to a joint statement by the parties.
Under the deal, Lisa T. and Sarah G., a second named plaintiff, would each receive a class representative payment of $10,000. The settlement is subject to court approval. A hearing on the motion has been scheduled for September 26.
Filed by lead plaintiff and Raiderette “Lacy T., the lawsuit alleged ” in January, alleged that the Raiders withheld all pay from the Raiderettes until after the end of the season, didn’t pay for all hours worked, and forced the cheerleaders to pay many of their own business expenses.
According to the class action, pursuant to their contract, the Raiderettes were each paid $1,250 for working a full season, amounting to less than $5 per hour for the time they spent rehearsing, performing and appearing at events. Further, the lawsuit claimed wages were also withheld until after the end of the season.
The case is Lacy T. et al. v. The Oakland Raiders et al., case number RG14710815, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Alameda.
Ok – Folks –time to adjourn for the week. Have a fab weekend –see you at the bar!
What’s in your closet? Lindsay Lohan and company, by any chance? Better check behind those suit bags….
No stranger to legal issues (see mug shot, 2013), LiLo has been hit with a cease and desist letter, well, her and her brother (what happened to the father? He’s never far behind) for stealing an idea for a fashion e-commerce site—an idea that involves looking through celebrities closets. It seems LiLo has entered the business world with the same panache she demonstrated in the entertainment arena—if the allegations are true.
The whole business concept is just a tad creepy… the back story is that shortly after Lohan finished her 90 days in rehab last year, she and her brother, Michael Jr. got involved in a fashion start-up—an app that allows people to sift through celebrities virtual closets (e.g. Lohan’s—and, um—I think one could guess—what’s in her closet) to see what designers they’ve bought—so the wannabes can make the same purchases. The app, called Spotted Friend, was the brain child of one Fima Potik, a tech entrepreneur, reportedly.
According to the NewYork Post, where all the good news comes from these days, Lohan tweeted about Spotted Friend in July, 2013. At that time, the website apparently read: “A Fima Potik & Lindsay Lohan Production.”
Cut to July 2104, Page Six reported that Lohan’s younger brother was raising money for Vigme, a “social shopping community.” He said, “If Lindsay buys something, it goes into her [virtual] closet. People see what’s in her closet. If someone else buys [the same item], it puts money into Lindsay’s pocket.” I guess every penny helps—rehab’s not cheap these days…
But—Potik’s lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, is not buying, and LiLo, Michael Jr. and business partner Christopher Roth (not sure where he came from) are facing a cease-and-desist letter from Potik, in which Kasowitz wrote, “Prior to their involvement in Vigme, [the Lohans and Roth] were members of Spotted Friend LLC, a social commerce startup that was founded by Fima Potik in 2013. It is Mr. Potik—not the Lohans—that created and developed the idea for a mobile application that allows users to access celebrities’ and friends’ ‘virtual closets’ and to directly purchase fashion items and accessories from these ‘virtual closets.’ I’m having massive Facebook déjà vu here…
“In 2014, after being members of the company for over a year, without any warning, the Lohans and Mr. Roth launched a competing company and improperly took proprietary information and intellectual property from Spotted Friend to start the new business. We intend to take all action necessary . . . to protect Spotted Friend’s and Mr. Potik’s legal rights and commercial interests.”
Not surprisingly, Lohan’s attorney, Mark J. Heller, fired back with: “Allegations of any impropriety in Lindsay Lohan’s business relationship concerning this Web site are inaccurate and clearly designed to capitalize on her worldwide recognition as a fashion icon.” Worldwide fashion icon? What the best dressed wear in rehab these days? Ok—who’s on drugs here?
Spotted Friend is still up and running as of post time—and from the looks of it, it would seem that piggybacking on the coattails of others is nothing new to the whole lot of these folks–Potik included. How’s that? The opening splashscreen at Spotted Friend is actually a “Google” search screen (below). Any one run that by Google’s legal team? (just asking…)
Conversely, the folks at Vigme are still gearing up for an “Expected Launch – Winter 2014″ according to their LinkedIn page. We’re waiting with bated breath, of course.
I don’t know—the whole thing has me longing for the days when fashion came out of 7th Ave, vs. a dive bar in West Hollywood. But hey, if there’s a lawsuit, it could end up being more profitable than the app could ever be. Especially for those lawyers…