Posts Tagged ‘medifast’

Medifast Victory For Tracy Coenen

medifastAnother victory for Tracy Coenen in the malicious lawsuit filed more than 4 years ago by Medifast (NYSE: MED) related to their Take Shape for Life business unit. In 2011, I was dismissed from the lawsuit following my successful filing and argument of an anti-SLAPP motion. Medifast immediately appealed that decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Today, my dismissal from the Medifast lawsuit was affirmed by the Court of Appeals, which said:

5. Finally, we affirm the district court’s order granting of Coenen’s anti-SLAPP motion. Coenen’s statements were either not libelous per se or were republications for which she should be afforded immunity under the CDA.
6. Appellee Coenen shall recover her costs on appeal. All the other parties shall bear their own costs on appeal.

Medifast can suck it.

Medifast Cease and Desist Order and Civil Penalty

On September 18, 2013 a cease and desist order was filed pursuant to the Security and Exchange Commission’s investigation of Medifast Inc. (Medifast’s business includes Take Shape for Life, or TSFL, which is its multi-level marketing division.) Medifast materially overstated income and understated expenses from 2006 through 2009, according to the SEC. This has resulted in the cease and desist order, and has Medifast paying a $200,000 penalty to the government.

You may recall that Medifast sued several people (including me) in 2010 for criticizing their business model and business practices.

One of the issues in the lawsuit was the criticism of Medifast’s auditors, Bagell, Josephs, Levine, and Company.The criticism of the auditors was grounded in a 2008 PCAOB report on an inspection of six of BJL’s audits, which turned up audit deficiencies in three of them. In 2010 Medifast switched auditors.

Does Xyngular Work? (Or Isagenix, or Herbalife, or Take Shape For Life, or Visalus, or Any Multi-Level Marketing Company)

Several months ago I wrote an article on the Xyngular weight loss program being pimped by Jennifer McKinney (aka mommy blogger MckMama).  The bottom line for me was that these programs do not work because:

  • They create short-term weight loss through a dizzying cycle of starvation, unhealthy meal replacement shakes, and questionable drug-like “supplements” that are supposed to get you high and suppress your appetite
  • The representatives make repeated health claims are strictly prohibited by the federal government. The distributors claim that the products cure anything and everything from joint pain, to autism, to diabetes, and more.
  • Xyngular (and Herbalife, Medifast, Take Shape For Life, Visalus, Isagenix, and the rest of them) have poor long-term results because they are fad diets that rely on starvation and potentially unsafe substances. The vast majority who lose weight with these programs gain it all back.

Multi-Level Marketing Income Disclosures

Medifast Pyramid SchemeSome multi-level marketing (MLM) companies release income disclosures or earnings disclosures. These documents theoretically provide insight into how much distributors earn in commissions or overrides.

However, the disclosures are generally worthless. What is more important than the information in these documents? The information that is not disclosed in the documents.

Multilevel marketing companies purposely omit important information that would allow potential distributors or investors to have real insight into these plans.

Medifast Take Shape For Life: Endless Chain?

A recent filing in the Medifast appeal (the case in which Medifast sued me and others, and lost miserably) raises some interesting questions about whether Take Shape For Life (TSFL) is an endless chain recruitment scheme. From that filing:

A. Medifast’s Evidence Does Not Prima Facie Show That FitzPatrick’s “Endless Chain” Statement is Provably False

Medifast’s reply again does not demonstrate that FitzPatrick’s endless-chain statement is false. Because Medifast has alleged libel, it must make a prima facie showing that challenged statements are untrue. Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, Inc., 501 U.S. 496, 516 (1991). Courts also evaluate whether an average reader would consider the statement to be fact or protected opinion. Carver v. Bonds, 135 Cal.App.4th 328, 344 (2005).

Right to Free Speech Wins Again

Popehat points us to a nice victory by SOCNET in a lawsuit filed by John Giduck, the man who claims he was defamed when a SOCNET user stated that he was fraudulently posing as a Special Forces veteran.

The court granted SOCNET’s motion to dismiss (even with no anti-SLAPP statute in Colorado), saying:

It is this tension that has generated numerous cases addressing the first element of a defamation action, i.e. is the statement defamatory. Not every untrue, uncomplimentary or offensive statement concerning an individual is defamatory.

Medifast Lawyers Lie to the Court (Again)

In the never-ending saga of Medifast Inc’s $270 million lawsuit against me for defamation related to their Take Shape for Life division (TSFL), the company and its lawyers have repeatedly lied to the court about what I have said, written, and done. Apparently, this is the only way they think they might win their case. Thankfully, the judge saw through their lies and dismissed me from the case under California’s anti-SLAPP legislation.

That hasn’t stopped Medifast from continuing the lies, however. And the company appears to be upset over my writings about the lawsuit. Management and the attorneys have falsely stated that I am writing about this case to get publicity for myself. The truth is that I write about this case to expose the lies and shady litigation procedure employed by the company.

I do not believe a company like Medifast should be allowed to commit these acts in the dark of night. I want to expose management and the attorneys for the liars that they are, so the whole world can see it.

Defamation and Statements of Opinion

A couple of months ago, a ruling on an anti-SLAPP motion in a defamation case against Gawker Media (owner of website Gizmodo) got my attention. Scott Redmond, with his service called Peep Telephony (or Peep Wireless), was upset because Gizmodo posted a negative review of the service. More specifically, Gizmodo called the service a scam, saying that it offers “free” cellular service for phone calls, texts, and data access. A look at Peep’s website produced this criticism:

To be frank, this all sounds like bullshit. In fact, the combination of everything described was so strange, it almost made the company seem like a larger-than-life prank on the tech world. The closest thing to a technical explanation for Peep is this:

Multi-Level Marketing Companies and Pyramid Schemes

For decades, muti-level marketing companies like Amway, Mary Kay, Herbalife, Avon, and Usana have fought against being labeled as pyramid schemes. They say that pyramid schemes are illegal, and that their MLM business format is perfectly legal.

My definition of MLMs is a little nuanced. I tend to call them legalized pyramid schemes. What I mean by this is that multi-level marketing companies are indeed pyramid schemes, but our state and federal governments allow them to operate and generally call them legal if they have the right window dressing.

Is Multi-Level Marketing a Legitimate Business Model?

The heat has been on multi-level marketing companies lately, most notably Mary Kay Cosmetics, the focus of Virginia Sole-Smith’s article on the pink pyramid scheme.

One of the common defenses of multi-level marketing is that it is a legitimate business method that has been around for a long time. I’ve also been told that if it was illegal, it would have been shut down. Neither the length of existence nor the lack of law enforcement action means something is legitimate or not a fraud. Remember Enron? Remember Bernie Madoff? These and others have been in business for a long time, and turned out to be complete frauds.

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