Fat-Busting Shapewear…Busted? All I can say is DAMN! A federal consumer fraud class action lawsuit has been filed against Wacoal America Inc. and Maidenform Brands, Inc. over allegedly deceptive marketing claims the Defendants made regarding the purported slimming benefits of the Novarel Slim Fabric used in “Novarel Slim iPant” and “Flexees” brand shapewear. Hope on a hanger it’s allegedly not! Damn, damn, damn!
The Novarel and Flexees class action lawsuit, which was filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of New York on November 5, 2013, seeks class action status for all persons who paid, in whole or in part, for shapewear constructed with Novarel Slim fabric and manufactured, marketed or sold by Wacoal or Maidenform for personal, family or household uses. (Case No. 2:13-cv-06122).
According to the class action lawsuit, the Defendants claim that Novarel Slim Fabric, manufactured by Nurel SA, contains ingredients that can be absorbed by the body and permanently change the wearer’s skin tone and body shape. These ingredients include embedded microcapsules containing caffeine to promote fat destruction, vitamin E to prevent the effects of aging, ceramides to restore and maintain the skin’s smoothness, and retinol and aloe vera to moisturize and increase the firmness of the skin. Specifically, Wacoal American and Maidenform promise that use of Novarel Slim iPant and Flexees products will result in fat destruction and reduce the appearance of cellulite (see video below…). According to the complaint, the companies charge up to 50 percent more for shapewear products that contain the Noveral fabric compared to the cost of comparable shapewear that does not purport to contain these ingredients.
The Novarel and Flexees class action lawsuit alleges that the claims used by Wacoal and Maidenform to market Novarel Slim iPant and Flexees shapewear are deceptive and misleading. Among other things, Plaintiffs point to research from the Mayo Clinic, which found that cellulite cannot be “cured” with topical applications.
Bottom line—(pardon the pun)—I still have to diet… Damn!!
The lawsuit claims violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, breach of express warranties and unjust enrichment. It seeks, among other things, restitution for the amount of money Class Members spent to purchase Novarel Slim iPant and Flexees garments.
What’s in your Air Conditioner? If it’s a Lennox Air Conditioning unit—you may not be surprised to learn there’s something defective in it. The company is facing a defective products class action lawsuit alleging its air conditioning units are susceptible to formicary corrosion as a result of the deficient materials used in the manufacture of its coils. The Lennox air conditioner lawsuit further alleges that Lennox has not informed its customers of the defect, even when it is called to replace failed coils in existing units. This conduct, the lawsuit claims, means that customers are unable to make informed decisions regarding the purchase of a Lennox Air Conditioner.
Formicary corrosion—in case you were wondering—is a particularly insidious defect in an evaporator coil because the resultant leakage is difficult to detect, and usually results in consumers being forced to repeatedly refill their air conditioners with Freon, often at significant cost, which only works to mask the defect for a period of time, until the leak is detected and the coil needs to be replaced.
Lennox Coils are allegedly defective because they are manufactured with materials that, within the industry, are well known to be prone to formicary corrosion, which makes the Lennox Coils unreasonably susceptible to premature rupture and refrigerant leaks under normal use and conditions.
The federal class action, filed by Plaintiff Robert Thomas, of Illinois, is brought on behalf of the following nationwide consumer classes (the “Classes”):
All persons residing in the United States who purchased a Lennox AC containing a Lennox Coil, primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.
All persons residing in the United States who purchased a Lennox AC containing a Lennox Coil, primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, and who paid to replace a Lennox AC evaporator coil. The lawsuit also seeks to represent a subclass defined as all members of the Classes who reside in Illinois.
It’s a Blockbuster Drug! (of sorts…) Fitting though, considering the players. Global health care giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and its subsidiaries will pay more than $2.2 billion in a Qui Tam (whistleblower) investigation. The settlement will resolve criminal and civil liability arising from allegations relating to the prescription drugs Risperdal, Invega and Natrecor, including promotion for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and payment of kickbacks to physicians and to the nation’s largest long-term care pharmacy provider. Got all that?
Officially—the Risperdal settlement whose “…global resolution is one of the largest health care fraud settlements in U.S. history, including criminal fines and forfeiture totaling $485 million and civil settlements with the federal government and states totaling $1.72 billion.” (source: US Dept of Justice).
The resolution includes criminal fines and forfeiture for violations of the law and civil settlements based on the False Claims Act arising out of multiple investigations of the company and its subsidiaries.
Here’s the skinny from the DOJ:
J&J Subsidiary Janssen Pleads Guilty to Misbranding Antipsychotic Drug.
In a criminal information filed today in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the government charged that, from March 3, 2002, through December 31, 2003, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., a J&J subsidiary, introduced the antipsychotic drug Risperdal into interstate commerce for an unapproved use, rendering the product misbranded. For most of this time period, Risperdal was approved only to treat schizophrenia. The information alleges that Janssen’s sales representatives promoted Risperdal to physicians and other prescribers who treated elderly dementia patients by urging the prescribers to use Risperdal to treat symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, depression, hostility and confusion.
The information alleges that the company created written sales aids for use by Janssen’s ElderCare sales force that emphasized symptoms and minimized any mention of the FDA-approved use, treatment of schizophrenia. The company also provided incentives for off-label promotion and intended use by basing sales representatives’ bonuses on total sales of Risperdal in their sales areas, not just sales for FDA-approved uses.
In a plea agreement resolving these charges, Janssen admitted that it promoted Risperdal to health care providers for treatment of psychotic symptoms and associated behavioral disturbances exhibited by elderly, non-schizophrenic dementia patients. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Janssen will pay a total of $400 million, including a criminal fine of $334 million and forfeiture of $66 million. Janssen’s guilty plea will not be final until accepted by the U.S. District Court.
So, enquiring minds want to know how many people were prescribed this drug when they didn’t actually need it…
Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. In advance of Monday—Here’s to our Veterans – THANK YOU. And have a good weekend!
Usually gynecomastia is a subject for plastic surgeons—not little boys on an antipsychotic drug like Risperdal.
However, a Risperdal lawsuit brought against Johnson & Johnson by Aron Banks was about just that—Banks alleged that by taking Risperdal, starting when he was just nine years old, he developed breast tissue (“gynecomastia” is the medical term) which led to sustained psychological trauma.
Banks, who is now 21, claimed he took Risperdal over a four-year period (2000-2004). The drug at the time had not been approved for children.
According to a Bloomberg report (9/10/12), Johnson & Johnson has settled Banks’ lawsuit on the opening day of trial in Philadelphia; another Risperdal lawsuit alleging gynecomastia is due to head to court in Philly on September 20.
Another drug that’s been linked to reports of gynecomastia is Propecia; currently, there are lawsuits underway alleging Propecia-induced sexual dysfunction.
Risperdal has also been linked to an increase in stroke risk for older patients who suffer dementia and take antipsychotics.
The terms of Banks’ Risperdal gynecomastia settlement have not been disclosed.
This Week’s Mantra—Cav-e-at Emp-tor…Cav-e-at Emp-tor! Throw that right in there with ‘om shanti shanti shanti om’ at your next yoga class and see what happens…
This week, a consumer fraud class action against Cytosport got greenlit by a judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Bottom line, the company is accused of engaging in false advertising of its popular Muscle Milk line of products. (I’d be wary of a product with that name. What does it mean?)
According to the Muscle Milk class action lawsuit, to increase sales figures, Cytosport intentionally misrepresents the purported health benefits of Muscle Milk, and actively draws consumer attention away from the significant amount of saturated fats in the products.
The lawsuit alleges that Cytosport profits significantly from its deceptive marketing of Muscle Milk (well, why else would they do it?) because the company’s depiction of the products as “healthy” plays into consumers’ increasing interest in health-conscious foods.
In its decision, the Court explained that a “reasonable consumer would be likely to believe that the drink contains unsaturated, not saturated fats. The drink container also states that it is a ‘nutritional shake.’ This representation … contributes to a sufficient claim of deceptive product labeling … the injury to the consumer class as a whole could be substantial, even if the injury to individual consumers is minimal. No benefit is served by false and misleading advertising.” Well, that’s not entirely true —the company has benefited, allegedly.
Hey, maybe Lay’s Potato Chips and Muscle Milk can team up for some co-op ads, eh? Mmmaybe not.
Costliest Ad Campaign Ever? This settlement is one for the books, if it goes through. According to media reports out this week, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) may have to stump up a cool $1.25 billion in penance for deceptive marketing of its atypical antipsychotic Risperdal, in Arkansas. The Risperdal settlement, ordered by a judge in Arkansas, is one of the larger J&J may have to pay for deceptive marketing of the drug. But it’s worth noting that J$J will likely appeal.
According to a report by Bloomberg, it took jurors in state court in Little Rock, not more than three hours to deliver their verdict: J&J and its Janssen unit were guilty of taking part in “false or deceptive acts.”
These “acts” date back to 2003, when the company allegedly sent what’s known as “Dear Doctor” letter to no less than 6,000 doctors in the state, allegedly claiming Risperdal is safer than competing drugs used in the state. “
FYI—Risperdal carries a warning stating that older adults with dementia who take antipsychotic medications may have an increased risk of death, stroke or mini-stroke during treatment.
The state of Arkansas is seeking more than $1.25 billion in penalties over the Risperdal marketing campaign, and a judge will decide later whether to fine J&J,” Bloomberg reports.
This is the third case in which states allege J&J hid the risks associated with Risperdal—and tricked Medicaid regulators into paying more than they should have for the medicine. And it is the third case in which a jury has found against the drug-maker. Juries in Louisiana and South Carolina have also found that J&J’s marketing of Risperdal violated consumer-protection laws. (Bloomberg)
GameStop GamePlaying Over. And one more time for good measure—yet another consumer fraud class action, this one a settlement against retailer GameStop, who stands accused of “deceptive and misleading practices” with its used game sales and paid downloadable content.
Filed two years ago, by James Collins of California, the GameStop lawsuit claims GameStop sells used copies of games that require users to purchase downloadable content for features, even though the packaging for those games advertise that content as free.
According to the lawsuit, several games include one-time-use codes for consumers to download free content, but they require users to purchase that same content if the code has been redeemed, as is the case for many used copies of games. “As a result of GameStop’s deceptive and misleading practices, consumers who purchase used games from GameStop unknowingly find that they must pay an additional fee to access the full game they thought they purchased,” the lawsuit states.
According to the terms of the settlement, for the next two years GameStop must post online warnings and in-store signs (in California, where the lawsuit was filed) next to used games to remind consumers that certain downloadable content may require an additional purchase.
Consumers in California who have purchased a qualifying used game and are enrolled in GameStop’s PowerUp Rewards Program may be able to recover the $15 they might have paid for downloadable content. Also, they could be eligible to receive a $10 check and a $5 coupon. Non-PowerUp Rewards members can receive a $5 check and a $10 coupon. FYI—this settlement only applies to California customers.
And on that happy note—that’s a wrap. I hear the ice-cubes calling my name…om caveat emptor caveat emptor om…
Holy HELOC Batman—It’s been certified! A class action lawsuit brought by a couple in Cupertino in 2009—and which has been through 4 attempts to get certified—finally got the nod from a federal court judge this past week. And this one could affect many people.
The back story—Washington Mutual and JPMorgan Chase (Chase has since acquired WaMu) allegedly reduced credit limits on Jeffrey and Jenifer Schulken’s home equity line of credit (HELOC) without valid reasons.
Specifically, the HELOC class action lawsuit alleges violations of the Truth in Lending Act violations and unfair competition among other claims. The Cupertino couple allege they were informed by Chase, by letter, that their home equity credit lines would be suspended because they did not have enough monthly income to satisfy their debts. The Schulken’s allege that the monthly income of $11,200 that Chase claimed the couple stated on their applications, was inaccurate, that they had never “provided such an inflated income figure to WaMu, and that if the Schulkens’ file indicated such an income, then WaMu had intentionally misrepresented their income.”
After four attempts by Chase to have the complaint dismissed, two classes have now been certified: the “inability to verify” class, and a subclass of borrowers whose credit lines were suspended because Chase could not verify their financial circumstances.
The plaintiffs’ class definition to include “only those members who signed contracts that (1) arise from heritage WaMu customers, and (2) state that the borrower must provide, upon the lender’s request, ‘a current financial statement, new credit application, or both.'”
Couple of big pharma settlements announced this week…
At the top of the hit parade we have Johnson & Johnson (J&J). They have reportedly agreed to pay $158 million to settle a lawsuit in Texas that alleges the company defrauded the state by misleading doctors about its antipsychotic drug Risperdal.
The deal will put an end to claims that J&J marketed Risperdal off label—for unapproved uses—and downplayed health risks associated with the drug. Texas had originally sought at least $579 million in damages. Well, shoot for the stars—isn’t that how the saying goes?
Bloomberg reported that the settlement follows some rather incriminating testimony given in court last week. Testimony that included an expert eye witness stating that J&J hid data showing Risperdal could cause weight gain that could lead to diabetes. According to Bloomberg “the witness also alleged that J&J had key study [ Study 113] results several years before it added warnings about weight gain to the drug’s label.”
Bloomberg notes in its report that J&J’s unpublished studies—ah—yes—more than one—were cited in a South Carolina case that brought a $327 million judgment against the pharmaceutical manufacturer. “It is apparent to this court that this information was not disclosed because if did not fit the marketing department’s vision for the promotion and marketing of this drug,” Judge Roger Couch wrote in a ruling (as quoted by Bloomberg). Amen to that.
And singing from a similar song sheet—we have Merck. It was announced this week that they have agreed to pay up to $37 million to settle a Canadian Vioxx class action lawsuit. Included in the settlement is $10 million for costs and fees. Plaintiffs’ lawyer said up to 2,000 Canadians may be eligible for compensation.
FYI—Vioxx (Rofecoxib) was on the market from 1999 to 2004, prescribed to patients as a pain-reliever for arthritis, osteoarthritis, menstrual pain, and other acute pain. Vioxx was recalled and pulled off the market when it was linked to deadly side effects heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, and arrythmia. This led to billions of dollars’ worth of litigation, including a $4.85 billion settlement that covers most of the U.S. plaintiffs.
Ok—That’s a wrap for this week. See you at the bar!
Sometimes a child’s voice can be the voice of sanity and the impetus for change in the fight against a seemingly overwhelming foe. In this case, the foe is the mandated psychiatric drugging of our children with any of a number of drugs—Ritalin, Adderall, Risperdal to name a few. And the child, is a high school senior whose comment I came across on the Ablechild.org Facebook page.
The young man’s comment said that he has a nephew who is being forced to take medication—and that his nephew’s mother runs the risk of getting “screwed” should she not give the child the meds. He goes on to mention a friend who’s been on Ritalin his whole life and is “following a pathway to drug addiction and it is happening before my eyes.”
Given the recent study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry showing that childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) increases the risk that a child will smoke cigarettes or abuse drugs or alcohol in early adulthood, and that intervention with stimulant drugs was not found to conclusively alter or reduce that risk, either this kid has done his homework and/or he’s seeing a medical experiment play out in front of his very eyes.
Regardless, the comment he made that really caught my eye and stuck with me the most was this: “I wanna do something to stop this but I don’t know where to start I’m just a senior in high school.”
Just a senior in high school.
As someone who’s now well beyond high school and a parent to three, it’s a heart-wrenching plea to hear from someone so young, and clearly not so naive. Heart-wrenching because it’s compounded by the advice of the Ablechild.org FB page moderator to take advantage of the Hatch Amendment and the Medwatch form for reporting any adverse drug reactions to the FDA. Yes, a parent should be aware of both and should utilize both (along with pushing to be an active participant in any Section 504 considerations for their child)—but it’s not enough.
What if the “adverse reaction” is more than a low-grade fever. What if it’s sudden death—as was allegedly the case with 14-year-old Matthew Hohmann in 2004? As reported at the time at abcnews.go.com, his parents are convinced that Matthew’s Adderall XR is responsible for his death. And what of the FDA’s Medwatch reporting system then? No, what you need then is an attorney.
What if it’s Maryanne Godboldo of Michigan who’s fighting for her custody of her daughter following a drawn out battle with CPS (Child Protection Services) over her stopping her daughter’s use of the psychotropic drug, Risperdal?
And see, Godboldo’s story didn’t start there—it started when she and her daughter wanted to enter the public school system after several years of homeschooling—and the school required immunizations. Godboldo noticed uncharacteristic behavioral changes in her daughter within two weeks of the immunizations. And she began—as any responsible parent would—to try to seek help for her child.
Her suspicion that the immunizations might be the cause of the behavioral change was dismissed, and doctors prescribed psychotropic drug therapy for her daughter, which Godboldo later discontinued. The result? Health care providers claiming Godboldo medically abused her daughter, and CPS stepping in to remove the child from the home.
Godboldo is now facing criminal charges for allegedly firing a gun shot at police when they came to take her daughter away. If indeed she did take aim, who as a parent among us can not sense her frustration, her desperation and her lack of any other recourse to have her voice heard?
Ditto Jim Kaiser, who actually felt he had no other option than to kidnap his own son a few years back in order to keep his child from being forced to take Adderall (see video above). What you don’t see in the video report on Kaiser is what he shares on his website, MyNameisBen.org, where he shares that his child’s mother has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and he also shares “words that she personally wrote” in her journal about her feelings and her ability (or lack thereof) to take care of her son. Reading this, if indeed true, provides a bit of backstory to Kaiser’s fight for his son and, as with Godboldo above, would make any parent understand what drove him to kidnap his own child to save him from being drugged.
And, with the statistics for ADHD diagnosis on the rise—according to the CDC (cdc.gov), parent-reported ADHD diagnosis rose twenty-two per cent between 2003 and 2007—this is not an issue that’s going away any time soon.
The problem with the lame “follow the process” process to documenting a child’s diagnosis (or misdiagnosis, as with ADHD can be the case) and treatment is that, as a parent, there is no real recourse as Godboldo and Kaiser have found out. Following the rules and trying to do the right thing nets nothing except an up-to-date file in some school office somewhere. And it nets a young man—truly no longer a child, though legally so—reaching out on a Facebook page in a plea for help and a desire for action, somehow, some way.
My advice to this young man is this: Continue to question. Continue to vocalize. Continue to fight. You will be heard. File the reports and the paperwork to CYA (cover your a**)—or advocate for those you love to do so. Follow the “drugging our kids” stories that are garnishing national attention, and don’t be afraid to speak with an attorney who specializes in civil rights—or, though I hope it doesn’t come to this as it would mean injury is involved, pharmaceutical litigation or medical malpractice (lest we forget little Rebecca Riley).
And for the rest of us, it’s time to take note of this young man’s plea and do something.