A Victory For Free Speech in California: Will I Get My Victory?

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UPDATE: On February 17, 2010, Medifast Inc. filed suit in US District Court, Southern District of California, alleging defamation, violation of California Corporations Code, and unfair business practices. On March 29, 2011, Judge Janis Sammartino dismissed all of Medifast’s claims against me in her ruling on my anti-SLAPP motion.

A Swedish film maker, WG Film, won a victory for free speech in California. The documentary film producer made a movie about Dole Food, called “Bananas!”, detailing how the company was using pesticides and how it was treating its Nicaraguan workers. The film wasn’t flattering and, naturally, Dole sued the company for defamation.

The producers filed an anti-SLAPP motion in California, saying that the the movie was protected as free speech. Dole then dismissed the lawsuit, but did so without prejudice, which left an open threat that the lawsuit could be refiled at any time. Continue reading

The Fun Continues in the Medifast Litigation

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Lainie E. Cohen, Esq.

Lainie E. Cohen, Esq. arriving for my deposition (click to see full size)

UPDATE: On February 17, 2010, Medifast Inc. filed suit in US District Court, Southern District of California, alleging defamation, violation of California Corporations Code, and unfair business practices. On March 29, 2011, Judge Janis Sammartino dismissed all of Medifast’s claims against me in her ruling on my anti-SLAPP motion.

For nearly two years, Medifast (NYSE:MED) and its lawyers have known that I am not an appropriate target for a lawsuit. Nonetheless, they have pursued their malicious civil suit against me. Since the suit was filed, Medifast has been made aware of all the reasons why they shouldn’t be suing me:

  • I never said anything false about the company
  • I’m not aware of anything false that my co-defendants said, and which I later reprinted on this blog (and reprinting the writings of others does not make me responsible for those writings)
  • Every bit of evidence produced during discovery shows that I was not part of any conspiracy, and that I actually went out of my way to make sure that false statements or assumptions weren’t made or published about Medifast

But why let a little thing like the truth get in the way? Continue reading

Who is Short Selling Medifast stock?

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UPDATE: On February 17, 2010, Medifast Inc. filed suit in US District Court, Southern District of California, alleging defamation, violation of California Corporations Code, and unfair business practices. On March 29, 2011, Judge Janis Sammartino dismissed all of Medifast’s claims against me in her ruling on my anti-SLAPP motion.

So who is short selling Medifast (NYSE:MED) stock? I’m not, but apparently plenty of other people are. (No, Medifast, I have no idea who it is, nor do I care who it is. That’s your problem. Not mine.)

As my readers already know, Medifast is on the hunt for anyone who would dare to say something less than flattering about the company. I’m being sued, along with others, for having a low opinion of Medifast’s Take Shape For Life (TSFL) division. Shame on me for voicing my negative opinion of a multi-level marketing scheme, and Medifast will MAKE ME PAY for daring to oppose them.

I am happy to report, however, that I’m not the only one who questions Medifast’s business model. Last week an article was posted at Fool.com about the amount of short selling activity around Medifast. Short selling is a bet that a company’s stock price will fall, and some like short selling overvalued companies. Continue reading

Medifast is Abusing the Legal System to Punish Critics of Take Shape For Life

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Medifast General Counsel Michael Tanczyn, Esq. at the deposition of Sam Antar. (click to enlarge)

UPDATE: On February 17, 2010, Medifast Inc. filed suit in US District Court, Southern District of California, alleging defamation, violation of California Corporations Code, and unfair business practices. On March 29, 2011, Judge Janis Sammartino dismissed all of Medifast’s claims against me in her ruling on my anti-SLAPP motion.

Earlier this year, Medifast (NYSE: MED) filed a $270 million lawsuit against Barry Minkow, me, and several other defendants for what it has alleged are false statements and a conspiracy to damage the stock price of the company. This lawsuit is nothing more than the typical big company suing a critic to shut her up. Medifast has far more resources than any of the defendants, and the company was hoping that by suing us, we’d shut up about the company’s multi-level marketing division Take Shape For Life (TSFL). Continue reading

Medifast Lawsuit: Anti-SLAPP Motions Filed

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UPDATE: On February 17, 2010, Medifast Inc. filed suit in US District Court, Southern District of California, alleging defamation, violation of California Corporations Code, and unfair business practices. On March 29, 2011, Judge Janis Sammartino dismissed all of Medifast’s claims against me in her ruling on my anti-SLAPP motion.

Anti-SLAPP motions have been filed in the Medifast lawsuit by me and by my co-defendant, Robert FitzPatrick. My motion can be read in its entirety here, and Fitzpatrick’s can be read here.

SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.  It’s basically when a big company tries to shut up a little guy with expensive litigation. In my opinion, Medifast sued me and others in an attempt to get us to stop publicly analyzing or criticizing the company and it’s multi-level marketing business model. Continue reading

A Comparison of Medifast and Pre-Paid Legal

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UPDATE: On February 17, 2010, Medifast Inc. filed suit in US District Court, Southern District of California, alleging defamation, violation of California Corporations Code, and unfair business practices. On March 29, 2011, Judge Janis Sammartino dismissed all of Medifast’s claims against me in her ruling on my anti-SLAPP motion.

This week Barry Minkow and iBusiness Reporting did a comparison of the business models of Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc. (NYSE: PPD) and the Take Shape For Life division of  Medifast Inc. (NYSE:MED).  Pre-Paid Legal is being investigated by the SEC, and Barry wondered how the compensation plans of Pre-Paid and TSFL stacked up. The obvious question is whether Medifast could eventually face the same scrutiny as Pre-Paid Legal.

It seems that the SEC investigation of Pre-Paid Legal has focused on its stock buyback program (this is how executives and insiders get rich) and how the company is marketed. They also asked for data on membership statistics, so this could open the door to evaluating whether the practices of the company are like a Ponzi scheme. Continue reading

Medifast Changes Auditors: Was Barry Minkow Right When He Criticized Former Auditors?

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UPDATE: On February 17, 2010, Medifast Inc. filed suit in US District Court, Southern District of California, alleging defamation, violation of California Corporations Code, and unfair business practices. On March 29, 2011, Judge Janis Sammartino dismissed all of Medifast’s claims against me in her ruling on my anti-SLAPP motion.

Last week, Medifast Inc. (NYSE:MED) announced that it changed auditing firms. The company previously used Bagell, Josephs, Levine and Company, and they were criticized for the choice of auditors by Fraud Discovery Institute and Sam Antar. FDI’s criticism was summed up in a press release:

Expert’s letter sites possible stock-touting of Medifast (NYSE:MED) stock by company’s single-officed, New Jersey based, outside auditors through their alleged independent investment entity. Expert also notes that PCAOB cited Medifast auditors for significant deficiencies in three of six audit engagements reviewed by them, or 50% of audits in their sample.

Antar simply said that if Medifast was serious about the quality of its auditors, then it would find new ones. Continue reading

Medifast Lawyers Continue to Lie to the Court

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UPDATE: On February 17, 2010, Medifast Inc. filed suit in US District Court, Southern District of California, alleging defamation, violation of California Corporations Code, and unfair business practices. On March 29, 2011, Judge Janis Sammartino dismissed all of Medifast’s claims against me in her ruling on my anti-SLAPP motion.

The Medifast (NYSE:MED) lawsuit against Barry Minkow, Fraud Discovery Institute, me, Robert FitzPatrick, William Lobdell, and others marches on. Yesterday, the Medifast lawyers filed an amended complaint in the case. The passage of time has not made Medifast or its lawyers more honest, however, as the amended complaint repeats factual inaccuracies (those are called lies in my world) and even expands on them.

Grab a cup of coffee and kick up your feet while you read the amended complaint. The document now alleges a civil conspiracy related to Medifast’s Take Shape for Life (TSFL) division, and repeatedly refers to the defendants as co-conspirators. I can’t speak for the other defendants, but I certainly know that I conspired with no one. I simply performed services for a paying client, and I wrote about Medifast on this blog in a continuing effort to advance the discussion of the pitfalls of multi-level marketing. Continue reading

More on the Endless Chain Recruitment Scheme of Medifast and Take Shape For Life

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UPDATE: On February 17, 2010, Medifast Inc. filed suit in US District Court, Southern District of California, alleging defamation, violation of California Corporations Code, and unfair business practices. On March 29, 2011, Judge Janis Sammartino dismissed all of Medifast’s claims against me in her ruling on my anti-SLAPP motion.

Yesterday I referenced a new report on Medifast and Take Shape For Life by multi-level marketing expert Robert Fitzpatrick.. Here is more from his report. I want to highlight these things because they’re the facts that many pushers of MLMs will never tell you.

Those recruiting for MLMs are quick to tell you about how much you can make if you sell their product (often glossing over the fact that you’ll have to recruit new people into the scheme in order to have any chance of making a living), but they will never tell you that it’s next to impossible. They forget all the reasons why people in these MLMs are selling so few products and making so little money from selling. Continue reading

Medifast Multi-Level Marketing Scheme Called Into Question By Expert

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UPDATE: On February 17, 2010, Medifast Inc. filed suit in US District Court, Southern District of California, alleging defamation, violation of California Corporations Code, and unfair business practices. On March 29, 2011, Judge Janis Sammartino dismissed all of Medifast’s claims against me in her ruling on my anti-SLAPP motion.

Robert FitzPatrick, a multi-level marketing expert known around the world for his analysis of the business model, has released a report on Medifast Inc. (NYSE:MED) and its Take Shape For Life division. TSFL is the multi-level marketing arm of the weight loss company, and is the force behind the company’s overall increase in revenue.

FitzPatrick writes: Continue reading