Anxiety Supplement Lawsuit

Natrol Class Action for Anxiety Supplements

Anxiety Supplement Lawsuit

Tauler Smith LLP, a California law firm focusing on consumer fraud litigation, recently filed a class action complaint against supplement manufacturer Natrol LLC. The Natrol class action for anxiety supplements complaint asserts that Natrol is violating the Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) by marketing its Relax+ Ultimate Calm supplement as a remedy for anxiety when it contains “ineffectual herbs, extracts, and other vitamins that plainly do not have the ability to treat anxiety.” The nutritional supplement lawsuit also alleges that when an individual uses unapproved anxiety medications like Relax+ Ultimate Calm instead of seeking treatment from a licensed doctor, they could worsen their mental health.

The Los Angeles false advertising lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP are bringing civil actions against companies that market and sell dietary supplements claiming to remedy anxiety. If you purchased one of these supplements, you may be eligible to join a class action lawsuit. Contact us today to discuss your options.

Nutritional Supplement Manufacturers Endanger Consumers with Unapproved Anxiety Drugs

Anxiety is a recognized mental disorder. When a person suffers from anxiety, they may be stricken with feelings of worry or fear while attempting to perform everyday activities. This is a major mental health concern for millions of Americans, with statistics showing that more than 40 million U.S. adults are affected by anxiety disorders. This includes millions of young children and teenagers who struggle with mental health problems.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the best way to treat an anxiety disorder is with medications prescribed by a licensed physician and psychotherapy provided by a mental health counselor. Additionally, the National Institute of Public Health (NIH) has stated that individuals should not self-diagnose or use over-the-counter supplements to treat anxiety. The nutritional supplement industry has attempted to capitalize on the country’s worsening mental health crisis in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic by making unsupported claims regarding the ability of their products to relieve conditions like anxiety. When anxiety is left untreated, it can be ruinous to individuals and lead to more serious conditions and diseases.

Natrol Accused of False Advertising of the Relax+ Ultimate Calm Supplement as a Remedy for Anxiety

Natrol is a U.S. manufacturer of vitamins, minerals, and nutritional supplements. The company’s headquarters are in Chatsworth, California. According to Dun & Bradstreet, Natrol’s annual revenues surpass $121 million, which is part of the $140 billion market for dietary supplements.

The complaint alleges that Natrol puts consumers at risk by advertising its Relax+ Ultimate Calm supplement as a treatment for anxiety. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about the use of unapproved drugs to treat anxiety. Consumers who place their trust in nutritional supplement manufacturers may be more likely to forego seeking medical treatment for their health conditions, which can compound the effects of the disorders. Additionally, these individuals may be more likely to develop other mental and physical conditions because anxiety can cause depression, substance misuse, social isolation, and suicide.

Supplements Claiming to Treat Anxiety Violate the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act

The California Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) is a consumer protection statute that is meant to safeguard individuals against business fraud, including “unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in a transaction.” The CLRA, which is codified in Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1750, makes it illegal for companies to mislead consumers in advertising or sales transactions. The statute explicitly prohibits companies from “representing that goods…have…characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities that they do not have.” Plaintiffs can bring private civil actions under the CLRA when they have been deceived by the acts or practices of a company in the sale of consumer goods such as nutritional or dietary supplements.

Natrol has been accused of making unsupported claims about the ability of its Relax+ Ultimate Calm product to relieve anxiety. On the product packaging, Natrol prominently represents that use of the Relax+ Ultimate Calm supplement will reduce “stress, anxiety & tension” and offer other health benefits. According to the complaint, these representations are untrue and unlawful.

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Natrol for Violating the CLRA

The Los Angeles business fraud attorneys at Tauler Smith LLP have brought a class action lawsuit against Natrol for violating the CLRA. The legal complaint was filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. The complaint explains that an individual who consumes the Relax+ Ultimate Calm product “in lieu of a professional medical evaluation and treatment” is at risk of exacerbating their anxiety, as well as developing additional mental health disorders. Anyone who purchased the Relax+ Ultimate Calm supplement may be eligible to join the class action.

The class action lawsuit against Natrol seeks relief and judgment that includes the following:

  • An injunction that orders Natrol to correct its alleged deceptive marketing scheme and stop claiming that Relax+ Ultimate Calm is a remedy for anxiety.
  • An award of actual, punitive, and statutory damages to compensate the plaintiffs who purchased Relax+ Ultimate Calm.
  • Reimbursement of attorney’s fees for the plaintiffs.
  • Any other relief that the court may deem just and proper.

Did You Buy a Supplement That Claims to Treat Anxiety? Contact a California Consumer Fraud Lawyer Today

The California consumer fraud attorneys at Tauler Smith LLP are committed to protecting consumers against deceptive business practices. If you purchased a dietary supplement that claims to remedy anxiety, you should contact our legal team today to discuss your eligibility to join a class action lawsuit. Call 310-590-3927 or email us to schedule a free consultation.

Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act

Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act

Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act

Texas has strong consumer protection laws that safeguard residents against scams and other illegal practices. Chief among these laws is the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), which gives plaintiffs the ability to recover additional damages when they have been defrauded by false, misleading, or deceptive business practices. When state lawmakers passed the DTPA, the intent behind the bill was that companies should think twice before committing any kind of fraud against consumers. Texas consumer protection lawyers know just how effective the DTPA can be at holding fraudsters accountable for their unethical actions.

To learn more about the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, keep reading this blog.

What Is the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act?

The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, or DTPA, is a consumer protection law that prohibits businesses from making false or misleading statements in advertisements, contracts, and any transactions involving consumers. The DTPA gives consumers a cause of action for a civil suit when they have been misled by a business. The text of the statute casts a wide net by explicitly forbidding businesses from knowingly deceiving customers in advertisements, marketing materials, and sales transactions. This includes “false, misleading, and deceptive business practices, unconscionable actions, and breaches of warranty.”

The DTPA applies to several different types of consumer transactions, including the sale or lease of commercial goods, products, services, or property. The Texas DTPA law has a lengthy list of examples of deceptive business acts, including the following:

  • Passing off goods or services as those of another.
  • Confusing consumers about the true source of goods or services.
  • Lying about the certification status of a product or service.
  • Misrepresenting whether a product or service has received sponsorship or approval.
  • Lying about the geographic origin of goods or services.
  • Misrepresenting the ingredients of goods such as food products or nutritional supplements.
  • Selling an item as “new” when the product is used or reconditioned.
  • Lying about the quality or grade of a product.
  • Using misleading statements to disparage a competitor’s goods or services.
  • Advertising items as available for sale when they are unavailable or there is only a limited supply.
  • Lying about the reasons for a price reduction.
  • Misrepresenting the need for additional parts, replacement, or repairs.
  • Falsely presenting a salesperson as having the authority to negotiate final terms of a transaction.
  • Secretly resetting the odometer on a motor vehicle for sale.
  • Lying about a “going out of business” sale when the store is not going out of business.
  • Using “corporation” or “incorporated” in the name of a business when it has not been incorporated.
  • Falsely representing that a solicitation has been sent on behalf of a governmental entity.
  • Price gouging during a natural disaster.

Additional Damages Available Under the DTPA

The damages and compensation that may be available to plaintiffs filing lawsuits under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act include actual damages (i.e., economic damages), mental anguish damages, and attorney’s fees. The actual damages could involve things like the money spent on the purchase, as well as repair or replacement costs after the transaction.

Additionally, when a plaintiff in a DTPA case wins their claim, they may be eligible for up to three (3) times the usual damages awarded in a Texas civil suit.

Mental Anguish Damages

If the judge or jury finds that the defendant knowingly deceived the plaintiff, then it may be possible for the plaintiff to receive an award for mental anguish damages. The ability to recover damages for mental anguish is unique in DTPA claims because business transactions typically don’t involve the same kinds of mental or emotional harms as personal injury and wrongful death claims.

Treble Damages

The DTPA also allows for the recovery of treble damages, which means that the judge may impose a multiplier on the judgment or ruling and award up to three times the damages amount. When a defendant’s conduct is deemed egregious, it is not uncommon for plaintiffs to be awarded significantly higher damages as a way of sending a message and discouraging unethical behavior by other businesses in the future.

DTPA Waiting Period & Deadlines

Texas law requires victims of business fraud to wait at least 60 days before filing a DTPA lawsuit. The statute specifically requires plaintiffs to send a demand letter to the business owner or individual so that they have an opportunity to address the alleged fraud and potentially resolve the matter before a legal claim is necessary. Once 60 days have passed since the demand letter was sent to the defendant, then the plaintiff may choose to formally file their lawsuit in a Texas court.

Just as there is a waiting period on the front end of any DTPA claim, there is also a time limit for the plaintiff to take legal action. The deadline for a consumer to file a DTPA lawsuit is two (2) years from the date on which the false or deceptive business practice occurred. This statute of limitations is half the time that a plaintiff typically has available to file a breach of contract lawsuit in Texas.

Contact the Texas Consumer Fraud Lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP

The Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) gives Texas consumers the right to file a lawsuit and pursue damages when they have been victimized by a scammer or fraudulent business. If you have been misled or deceived in a commercial transaction, the Texas consumer fraud attorneys at Tauler Smith LLP can help you file a DTPA claim. Call or email us today to go over your options.

CLRA Consumer Protection

What Is the Consumers Legal Remedies Act?

CLRA Consumer Protection

California consumer fraud lawyers know that the state has been at the forefront of the consumer rights movement for a long time. In 1970, the California State Legislature passed the Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) to safeguard customers against deception by businesses. The CLRA makes it unlawful to engage in unfair or misleading acts when selling goods or services to consumers. The CLRA is often applicable in cases involving false advertising claims and/or consumer fraud. For example, when a company uses a misleading advertisement to persuade someone to purchase a product or service, the misrepresentation may constitute a violation of the statute. The same is true when a deceptive or intentionally confusing ad causes a customer to trigger an automatic renewal policy.

To learn more about the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, keep reading this blog.

What Deceptive Business Practices Does the CLRA Prohibit?

The California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, or CLRA, is a consumer statute that’s codified in Cal. Civil Code §§ 1750. The law allows plaintiffs to bring private civil actions against companies that use “unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in a transaction.”

The CLRA explicitly prohibits certain deceptive business practices, including the following acts:

  • Selling counterfeit goods.
  • Misrepresenting the source of a good or service.
  • Lying about a professional affiliation, certification, or endorsement.
  • Lying about the geographic origin of a product.
  • Selling a used or reconditioned item as new.
  • Misrepresenting the quality of a good or service.
  • Making false statements that disparage another business’ products.
  • Advertising items as being available for sale when they won’t be.
  • Advertising furniture as available for sale without disclosing that it is unassembled.
  • Telling a customer that a repair or replacement is necessary when it isn’t.
  • Offering a rebate or discount with hidden conditions.
  • Falsely presenting a salesperson’s authority to negotiate and finalize a transaction.
  • “Robo-calling” individuals who are not already customers.

One of the advantages of the CLRA is that victims of business fraud in California are not limited to filing lawsuits under the statute. This means that a consumer could bring multiple claims citing both the CLRA and other state or federal laws.

What Remedies Are Available to California Consumers in CLRA Cases?

The CLRA gives California consumers a powerful tool to hold businesses accountable for deceptive practices because the statute allows plaintiffs to recover different kinds of damages. The law is often interpreted broadly by courts to provide strong protections against consumer fraud, false advertising, and unfair business practices. When a consumer has been defrauded, they can file a lawsuit in a California Superior Court.

Consumers who bring a claim under the CLRA may pursue several remedies for any harm they suffered, including:

  • Actual monetary damages.
  • Punitive damages.
  • Restitution of property to the plaintiff.
  • An injunction against the defendant.
  • Attorney’s fees and court costs.
  • Any other relief the court deems proper.

Actual Damages & Attorney’s Fees

The first remedy available under the CLRA – actual damages – has a statutory minimum of $1,000 for each deceptive act or practice. The last remedy – “any other relief the court deems proper” – is a catch-all provision that gives courts wide latitude when determining what kind of monetary relief should be available to plaintiffs in CLRA actions.

In addition to getting damages for fraud, a plaintiff filing a claim under the CLRA may also be able to get attorney’s fees from a defendant who is found to have violated the Act. This can make it financially feasible for a plaintiff to bring a CLRA claim – since the defendant would have to pay the legal costs for both sides if they lose the case.

Additional Damages for Senior Citizens & Disabled Persons

A couple of special categories of consumers may be eligible for additional damages: senior citizens and disabled persons. As set forth by the CLRA, a “senior citizen” is defined as anyone over the age of 65. (In California, a senior citizen is usually defined as anyone over the age of 62, with the age threshold being lowered to 55 years old when the person lives in a senior citizen housing development.) California law defines “disabled person” quite broadly to include just about anyone who has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits at least one major life activity. For both seniors and disabled persons, the CLRA allows an award of up to $5,000 in damages to be tacked on by the court.

Proving a CLRA Violation

Although the Consumers Legal Remedies Act gives plaintiffs many options when seeking damages for consumer fraud, there are still ways for defendants to avoid paying maximum compensation. For example, if the defendant did not intentionally violate the CLRA, and they subsequently made a good faith attempt to correct the mistake, then the court might not award damages to the plaintiff. The complexities of the statute are one reason why it’s so important for you to have a knowledgeable California business fraud attorney handling your case.

Who Is Allowed to Bring a Lawsuit Under the Consumers Legal Remedies Act?

Private Civil Actions & Class Actions

The CLRA may serve as the basis for a civil suit in any consumer transaction where goods changed hands or services were provided. Anyone who can show damages having been caused by one of the acts prohibited by the CLRA can file a lawsuit, either individually by the consumer or in a class action involving other consumers who were deceived or defrauded. For class action litigation, the cases must be substantially similar. An experienced California consumer protection lawyer can assist you with a CLRA class action lawsuit and help get your class certified.

Exclusions from the CLRA

Certain types of transactions and business owners are excluded from the Consumers Legal Remedies Act: (1) real estate transactions, and (2) newspapers and other advertisers. Although the CLRA applies to most commercial transactions, the statute cannot be used as the basis for a legal claim when the transaction involved the sale of either a residential property or a commercial property. Additionally, the CLRA cannot be used to bring a lawsuit against the owner of a newspaper, magazine, radio station, or any other advertising medium unless the plaintiff can prove that the business owner knew that the ads were deceptive before disseminating them.

How Long Do You Have to Bring a CLRA Claim?

Three-Year Statute of Limitations

It is important for you to speak with a qualified CLRA attorney as soon as possible because you do not want the statute of limitations to expire before you attempt to bring a claim. The general rule is that a consumer has three (3) years from the date on which the unfair business practice occurred to file a lawsuit under the Consumers Legal Remedies Act. If you miss this deadline, you may be barred from bringing a legal action.

Business Owner’s Opportunity to Cure

In addition to making sure you file within the statute of limitations, an experienced attorney can also ensure that you meet any other important deadlines and filing requirements. For example, before the CLRA suit can proceed in court, the consumer must notify the defendant in writing about the alleged violation. This must happen at least 30 days before the lawsuit is filed, and the business owner will then have an opportunity to take appropriate action to fix or otherwise “cure” the harm. (E.g., repairing or replacing a damaged item that was sold to the consumer.)

Contact the California CLRA Lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP

Tauler Smith LLP is a Los Angeles law firm that focuses on consumer fraud litigation. Our attorneys are extremely familiar with the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, and we have filed both private civil actions and class action lawsuits on behalf of consumers. If you were a victim of business fraud or false advertising in California, we can help you take legal action and get you the financial compensation to which you are entitled. Call or email us to discuss your eligibility to file a CLRA claim.

Automatic Subscription Renewal Law

The Legality of Automatically Renewing Subscriptions

Automatic Subscription Renewal Law

You know the feeling. You sign up for a one-year subscription—whether it’s for TV and internet services, food delivery, clothing, a dating app, or countless other products and services—intending to pay only for that year. Or you sign up for a “free trial,” thinking you will only be charged if you actually buy the service. But then, without your knowledge and consent, you are charged for an additional subscription period, or for a product or service you never intended to buy. Unfortunately, this happens to consumers every day, and companies often rely on these deceptive practices to get your business and your money.

The good news is that many states, including California, have laws like the ARL to ensure that consumers enter subscription programs with full knowledge and affirmative consent. To learn more, keep reading this blog.

What Is the Automatic Renewal Law?

In 2009, the California Legislature passed the Automatic Renewal Law, Business and Profession Code Section 17600 (the “ARL”), to “end the practice of ongoing charging of consumer credit or debit cards . . . without the consumers’ explicit consent for ongoing shipments of a product or ongoing deliveries of service.”

You may be entitled to relief under the ARL if any of the following apply:

  1. You were charged for a subscription that automatically renewed without your knowledge and consent.
  2. You signed up for a “free trial,” and without being able to cancel the service, were charged anyway.
  3. You signed up for a “free trial,” and there was no “clear and conspicuous explanation” of the offer’s pricing or change in pricing upon the trial’s end.
  4. You signed up for the subscription online, but there is no online cancellation option.
  5. For non-online subscriptions, there are none of the following cancellation methods: (a) a toll-free telephone number; (b) an email address; (c) a postal address, if the seller directly bills the consumer; or (d) another “cost-effective, timely, and easy-to-use mechanism.”

What Are the Disclosure Requirements Under the ARL?

Under the ARL, any business initiating an automatic renewal or continuous service offer to a California consumer must:

  • Disclose the terms of the offer.
  • Obtain the consumer’s affirmative consent.
  • Provide the consumer an acknowledgement of the order.
  • Provide simple cancellation procedures, along with other miscellaneous requirements.

Whether they are offered orally or in writing, the offer terms must be disclosed in temporal or visual proximity to “the request for consent to the offer.” Id. § 17602(a)(1).

The disclosures must also be “clear and conspicuous.” Id. A visual disclosure is clear and conspicuous if it is “in larger type than the surrounding text, or in contrasting type, font, or color to the surrounding text of the same size . . . in a manner that clearly calls attention to the language.” Id. § 17601(c). An audio disclosure is clear and conspicuous if it is “in a volume and cadence sufficient to be readily audible and understandable.” Id. Three other important aspects of the ARL are: A company must allow a consumer to cancel an automatic renewal or continuous service offer exclusively online if the consumer accepted the offer online ( § 17602(c)); and An automatic renewal or continuous service offer that includes a free gift or trial must have a “clear and conspicuous explanation” of the offer’s pricing or change in pricing upon the trial’s end ( § 17602(a)(1)); and A “free gift or trial” triggers a disclosure in the acknowledgement about how to cancel–and an allowance for cancellation–before the consumer pays for the good or service ( § 17602(a)(3)).

Can You Sue If Your Subscription Was Automatically Renewed Without Your Consent?

Although there is no private right of action under the ARL, a private plaintiff may bring an action under California’s Unfair Competition Law, Business & Professions Code §§ 17200 et seq. (“UCL”), for restitution and injunctive relief, as long as the plaintiff has suffered injury in fact and lost money or property. See Lopez v. Stages of Beauty, LLC, 307 F. Supp. 3d 1058, 1070 (S.D. Cal. 2018).

Contact the California False Advertising Lawyers at Tauler Smith LLC Today

Victims of suspicious or unauthorized charges on their credit cards should report illegal subscription renewals to the California false advertising lawyers at Tauler Smith LLC. Our experienced attorneys can investigate the subscriptions and help you obtain compensation. Call 310-590-5927 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation.

Beware of Fake Cures to the Coronavirus

Companies peddling herbal remedies and other products that protect against Coronavirus are violating the law.

Growing fears about the Coronavirus pandemic have led to a dramatic rise in the sale of fraudulent nutritional supplements that claim to cure or prevent the disease. This phenomenon is not new.  The FDA itself has acknowledged that “during emergency situations or outbreaks, fraudulent products claiming to prevent, treat or cure conditions associated with the emergency or outbreak almost always appear for sale.”

Thus, on March 6, 2020 the FDA issued warning letters to several companies selling fake treatments for the coronavirus. The most infamous recipient of the warning letters, televangelist Jim Bakker, marketed a product that would “kill” coronavirus.  Bakker’s promotional videos claimed that the product, called “Silver Solution,” had been “tested on other strains of the coronavirus, and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours, totally eliminate it, kills it, deactivates it.”  Although these statements were arguably framed to evade false advertising lawsuits from consumers of coronavirus remedies, the statements are still considered unlawful.

Fraudulent claims about Coronavirus remedies are not limited to televangelists.  Sellers of herbal products have peddled homeopathic cures to the novel Coronavirus that have no basis in reality.  These include Amy Weidner of Herbal Amy, Inc., who claimed without any scientific support that “a number of herbs are strongly antiviral for corona viruses” in order to sell a formulation of various herbs on her website that she claimed were “preventative” of the disease.  Other websites have gone farther, selling four different herbal remedies to treat Coronavirus and dangerously stating that if their customers “are infected [with Coronavirus], take all 4 products and use the infection dosage.”

The dangers of marketing herbal products to treat a novel and deadly disease cannot be understated. At worst, consumers without access to medical care may forego medical treatment based on false claims. At minimum, consumers will shell out hard earned money for fake products that will do nothing to keep them safe.

As the pandemic spreads, so too will the opportunities for fraud. In the short time that Coronavirus has impacted daily life, a variety of fake remedies have evolved in products ranging from colloidal silver, ionic silver, herbal teas, and even essential oils like eucalyptus, all claiming they can cure or treat Coronavirus.

If you have purchased any products that claim to cure or prevent Coronavirus and believe you have been misled, contact us. Our false advertising attorneys can help investigate claims against unethical and immoral companies capitalizing on the Coronavirus crisis for their own financial benefit at the expense of the public.