Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog


Recently in Consumer Rights Category

A product that was being marketed as an opiate withdrawal remedy that promised to ease the associated pains has settled claims brought by the FTC against it. The company that makes Withdrawal Ease and Recovery Ease will no longer be able to make claims about the products' health benefits unless the claims are supported by actual evidence.

These products were marketed toward individuals seeking help recovering from the withdrawal symptoms of opiate addiction, and made specific claims that the product was effective, despite there being no scientific evidence to support those claims. In addition to the settlement preventing the company from making certain claims when marketing their products, the settlement also called for a $6.6 million dollar payment. However, the payment has been suspended due to the company's inability to pay.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration issued multiple warning letters to the manufacturers of several unapproved, deceptively advertised, alleged 'cancer treatments.' The warning letters were issued alongside a public notice which warned consumers of the dangers of buying non-FDA approved products that claim to cure cancer.

Particularly worth noting is that the FDA's warning to consumers advised individuals to be wary of social media advertisements for cancer treatments, particularly if there is not a clear indication that the product has received FDA approval for their claims. The FDA noted a rise in social media advertising for these false cures. Additionally, the warning advised that individuals seeking cancer treatment, or prevention, should seek advice from medical doctors before beginning any course of treatment or action.

Sometimes recalls will involve situations that seem to make no sense. Take for example the recent recall issued by McCain Foods USA, Inc., a maker of frozen hash brown potatoes, due to golf ball contamination. Yes. Golf ball contamination is a thing, and it may or may not be what you expect.

The manufacturer explained that golf balls were inadvertently 'harvested' along with the potatoes that go into their frozen hash browns. And apparently, the food manufacturer failed to spot the golf balls amidst the spuds, and sent the plastic balls to be hashed into the browns, packaged, frozen, and distributed to grocers all over despite containing "extraneous golf ball material." Fortunately no injuries have been reported. However, consumers are being advised to throw away or return Roundy or Harris Teeter southern hash browns.

The lawsuit against baby food making giant, Gerber, for deceptive labeling, has been revived by the Ninth Circuit Court. The case, which was nearly completely dismissed in 2013, alleges that the labels on Gerber baby food contained phrases that were misleading to customers. The circuit court has remanded the matter back to the district court to re-review the matter, and continue hearing the case, which despite being four years old, is still in its infancy.

The goliath of the baby food industry is alleged to have violated FDA standards on making claims on their product labels, and therefore misled consumers. For example, the phrase "as health as fresh" or "natural" or "a good source of __" potentially violate FDA standards. These types of phrases on Gerber products mislead consumers due to the fact that competitors' products lack the same type of claims on the product labels.

The Wounded Warriors Support Group is a non-profit created to provide emotional support to wounded war veterans in the form of equestrian activities. But a recent lawsuit filed by the California State Attorney General claims that the organization is a fraud. This organization shouldn't be confused with the Wounded Warriors Project, which is a legitimate charity.

In short, a husband and wife, their two adult children, and the family's two businesses, have all been implicated in a fraudulent charity scheme. The family is accused of using the charitable donations received to finance their personal lives, hobbies, and businesses. The charity was supposed to use the contributions to connect wounded veterans with horses for therapeutic purposes.

A 30-year-old San Diego woman has died after she had an adverse reaction to receiving an IV infusion that included turmeric. She was seeking treatment at a naturopathic clinic, where the IV supplement was administered to her. The San Diego medical examiner has attributed the death in large part to the turmeric IV.

The popular cooking spice has been gaining in popularity over recent years as a natural cure-all of sorts. However, it is usually taken orally in pill form, or as a powdered spice.

The makers of a drinkable sunscreen, Osmosis Harmonized H2O, are being sued by the Iowa Attorney General due to claims of fraud and deceiving consumers. The makers claims that by drinking five pumps of this water, that has been exposed to "proprietary frequencies in the form of scalar waves" from their harmonizer machine, a person can be protected at the same level of a SPF 30 sunscreen for 3 hours. The Iowa AG has called these shaky claims into question, and despite the less than 3.5oz bottle of drinkable sunscreen costing $30, is seeking $40,000 per consumer.

The actual lawsuit goes so far as to call the product's allegedly scientific basis "pure bunk" and "pseudo-science at its worst," explaining that there is no scientific fact to support the claims made. Additionally, it was never disclosed that the doctor that drafted a report in support, in 2014, had not been licensed to practice medicine since 2001. Significantly, the report was neither peer reviewed, nor published.

Vulto Creamery, makers of handmade raw milk cheeses, has been named in the wrongful death lawsuit brought on behalf of a Vermont man that died as a result of listeria contamination back in November 2016. The lawsuit, filed by his widow, explains that Richard Friedman consumed the Vulto Creamery's cheese in October, before he fell ill due to the listeria contamination. After over a week in a hospital, Friedman suffered a stroke believed to be related to, or a result of, the listeria poisoning.

At this time, there have been six reported hospitalization, and two deaths, related to the specific strain of listeria that contaminated the Vulto raw milk cheese, all of which were reported between September 1, 2016 and the end of January 2017. The FDA and CDC began investigating the matter at the end of January 2017.

How to Spot an IRS Scam

Don't declare the pennies on your eyes unless the IRS sends you something in writing. Scam artists are getting colder and bolder these days. Last year, a massive call center in India was shut down after it was discovered that scammers working in the center were scamming Americans out of thousands of dollars by pretending to be IRS agents.

My advice for those who get phone calls from anyone claiming to be an IRS agent: just hang up. Below you'll find three tips to help you identify when you are being targeted by a fake IRS scam.

Last month, 11 diabetes sufferers banded together to sue the makers of the life saving insulin drugs they rely upon to manage their conditions as a result of alleged price fixing, fraud, and racketeering. Their complaint alleges that the manufacturers conspired to raise their prices at virtually identical times and by nearly identical amounts, such that over the last 20 years, the price has gone up 700 percent. One such drug went from $21 in 1996, to $255 in 2016.

While the allegations of conspiracy, fraud, and price fixing are yet to be proven, the 700 percent increase is an undisputed fact that is seen beyond just one drug manufacturer. The complaint alleges that the manufacturers continued to inflate the list prices in order to offer larger "secret" discounts to insurers, who were then free to keep the discounts for themselves while passing on the added costs to consumers.