Last week, the Seventh Circuit reminded advertisers of the narrowing availability of insurance coverage for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) claims.  In Mesa Laboratories v. Federal Insurance Co., the court rejected a fax marketer’s bid to make its insurer pay for its defense and settlement of an underlying unsolicited fax lawsuit.  This decision underscores the insurance industry’s recent trend of limiting TCPA coverage under general policy forms and requiring policyholders to seek out and purchase specific coverage for those types of claims.

At one time, insurance policies did not say whether they provided coverage for claims brought under the TCPA.  When the statute was passed in 1991, many policyholders were able to secure coverage for TCPA claims under the “personal and advertising injury” portions of their general liability insurance policies, which typically cover any “oral or written publication that violates a person’s right to privacy.”  With the explosion of TCPA lawsuits in recent years, however, insurers have looked to reduce their own exposure by adding exclusions to their policies that expressly bar coverage for TCPA claims.  At the same time, many carriers have started offering affirmative coverage for TCPA liability.  Policyholders usually must pay extra for this, however, and the coverage often comes with reduced sublimits of liability or other restrictions on coverage.

But even when a policy has an express TCPA exclusion, an insurer still might have to defend its insured in a lawsuit that asserts TCPA claims because of a general principle of insurance law recognized by courts around the country: if a lawsuit asserts multiple claims against an insured, and at least one of those claims is covered by the policy, the insurer must defend the entire lawsuit – even if the other claims are expressly excluded from coverage.  Thus, an insurer whose policy excludes TCPA claims might have to defend a TCPA lawsuit if the plaintiff also includes a false advertising or defamation claim, both of which are expressly covered.
Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Reminds Insurance Policyholders to Shop Carefully for TCPA Coverage

Welcome to our monthly digest of litigation and regulatory highlights impacting the personal care product and dietary supplement industry.  April saw a re-emphasis on restriction of COVID-related claims in advertisements for supplements and therapies, developments in various class action cases, including a win for consumers challenging hand sanitizer’s claims of killing 99.99% of germs and a slew of new “natural” class actions, and finally a roller coaster ride for the FTC involving major blows and power moves.

Let’s take a look….
Continue Reading Dietary Supplement and Personal Care Products Regulatory and Litigation Highlights – April 2021

Earlier this week, Judge Cynthia Bashant of the Southern District of California granted a plaintiff’s second bite at the apple (or rather biscuit) to certify a class of purchasers of belVita breakfast biscuits in McMorrow v. Mondelez International, Inc.  The plaintiff alleged that Mondelez falsely labeled its belVita biscuits as providing “NUTRITIOUS SUSTAINED ENERGY;”  “NUTRITIOUS

Welcome to our monthly roundup of regulatory and litigation highlights impacting the dietary supplement and personal care products industries.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy the read.  February was a short month, with a lot going on.

NAD

Health claim substantiation was front and center before NAD in a monitoring case involving Pendulum Therapeutics and a “medical probiotic” product featuring claims such as “The only medical probiotic clinically shown to lower A1C & blood glucose spikes for the dietary management of T2D*” (*Consult your physician as part of your total diabetes management plan.  Results may vary from person to person.”)

The advertiser submitted a 12-week multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study (the “Perraudeau Study”) to assess Pendulum Glucose Control’s safety and effectiveness in improving glycemic control in Type 2 diabetics and, ultimately, their dietary management of the disease – specifically, the role of certain probiotic strains found in prior research to be associated with the promotion of a healthy gut microbiome through the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).

The advertiser also provided clinical studies and research articles demonstrating the roles of A1C, fasting glucose and postprandial glucose levels in managing Type 2 diabetes. The advertiser also referred to the FDA’s Guidance document (Diabetes Mellitus: Developing Drugs and Therapeutic Biologics for Treatment and Prevention) to demonstrate what level of reduction in HbA1c was clinically meaningful.

While NAD expressed some concerns about the evidence, ultimately, NAD determined that the Perraudeau Study was a good fit for the challenged claim “The only medical probiotic clinically shown to lower A1C & blood glucose spikes for the dietary management of T2D*” (*Consult your physician as part of your total diabetes management plan. Results may vary from person to person.”) but recommended the following modifications: (1) limiting the claim to individuals who are taking metformin; (2) modifying the claim to clarify that the product can be used as part of the dietary management of type 2 diabetes; and (3) removing the references to percent reductions in blood glucose spikes in the absence of evidence in the record demonstrating that the reductions were clinically relevant.

This decision is a helpful discussion of the competent and reliable scientific evidence standard.  Anyone seeking to understand health claims substantiation better should check it out.
Continue Reading Dietary Supplement and Personal Care Products Regulatory Highlights – February 2021

Welcome to our monthly roundup of regulatory and litigation highlights impacting the dietary supplement and personal care products industries.

NAD

NAD tackled substantiation for “#1 Dermatologist Recommended” claims in a challenge involving L’Oreal’s CeraVe moisturizer and use of syndicated survey data to support related claims.

Health claim substantiation was front and center in

In a series of orders issued earlier this month, Judge Dale S. Fischer of the Central District of California dealt two strikes to putative class claims against ticket merchants Ticketmaster/LiveNation and StubHub that seek refunds for Major League Baseball games cancelled or “postponed” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.  See Ajzenman, et al. v.

Last week, a federal judge in the Southern District of New York dismissed a putative class action alleging that L’Oreal’s “EverSleek Keratin Caring” hair products deceived consumers into believing the products contained keratin. United States District Court Judge George B. Daniels rejected these allegations, finding that the challenged statements were clear both on their own

Last month, a California court, for a second time, dismissed a class action complaint asserting that Ghirardelli’s advertising for its “Classic White” “Premium Baking Chips” created the false impression that the product contained real chocolate—this time with prejudice.  Plaintiffs in Cheslow v. Ghirardelli Chocolate Co., Case No. 19-cv-07467-PJH, alleged that they purchased Ghirardelli’s product

As we previously reported, “Phase I” of class action filings relating to the COVID-19 pandemic has become a significant contagion of its own with more than 500 cases being filed since March challenging refund policies, school closures, event cancellations, and marketing and pricing practices.  As the economy gradually reopens, “Phase II”—how companies respond to these cases—is just beginning.  Not surprisingly, defendants are fighting hard and early to defeat these claims, with many opting to file motions to dismiss rather than answering the complaint and entering into lengthy and expensive discovery.

Early Action in Cases Against Public-Facing Businesses

Public-facing businesses—such those in the retail, travel and hospitality industries—have been the first to re-open and are currently navigating a patchwork of state guidelines on how to do so safely.  Compounding this burden, these same companies are facing a wave of lawsuits by customers and employees alleging negligence, breach of contract, and unfair business practices during the pandemic.

These industries are not new to class action litigation and many companies have included arbitration clauses and class arbitration waivers in their consumer contracts.  These defendants have, not surprisingly, moved to compel arbitration, and plaintiffs have responded with unique (but likely ineffective) allegations of unconscionability, fraud and duress to try to stay in court.  For example, in a case against Amazon, the plaintiffs alleged that the arbitration agreement was unconscionable because they were under duress during the pandemic and were forced to purchase products from Amazon.  Amazon’s response was based on the black-letter principle that unconscionability is measured at the time of contracting, and not at the time of the challenged conduct.

Other companies have focused on substance, arguing that they complied with their contractual obligations and that their customers have not suffered damages.  For example, in the case of recurring monthly payments for fitness club memberships, defendants have argued that their membership agreements do not mandate refunds for temporary closures, and therefore plaintiffs who filed suit within days or weeks of the initial closure did so too quickly.
Continue Reading What will “Phase II” of COVID-19 Class Actions Look Like?

A federal judge in Florida recently dismissed a false advertising case against Tyson Fresh Meats and The Fresh Market challenging the use of the word “prime” to describe Tyson’s “Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork.” Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants “misrepresented that the USDA had graded their product as prime,” but notably did not allege