Cranberry firm to pay $2M in false advertising lawsuit
A Butler County company has agreed to pay $2 million and quit claiming that its weight-loss system allows people to lose pounds until it has scientific evidence to back it up, according to court documents filed Thursday in Pittsburgh federal court.
The Federal Trade Commission filed a false advertising lawsuit against NutriMost LLC of Cranberry and its owner, Raymond Wisniewski, along with a proposed $32 million judgment. The agency agreed to suspend $30 million of the judgment unless it discovers the company provided false financial information.
U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer approved the order.
The company disagrees with the FTC's claims but is pleased it worked out an agreement, NutriMost said in a prepared statement.
“NutriMost is currently in negotiations with a contract research organization to perform a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study that will support future program claims,” the company said.
NutriMost, which markets its $1,895 system nationwide, fails to tell consumers that its “breakthrough technology” is untested, its testimonials frequently come from employees and franchise owners and that the success of its system depends on customers following a 500-calorie diet, the lawsuit says.
The company claims its technology will “reset” customers' metabolism and allow them to burn 2,000 to 7,000 calories of fat per day, causing them to lose 20 to 40 pounds in 40 days without having to follow a restrictive diet, the lawsuit says.
The company has no scientific studies to support its claims and when someone buys the product, the manual explains that the system requires them to “follow a very low-calorie diet of about 500 calories a day for more than 40 days, and requires users to follow certain rules about the types of foods they can consume, and when such foods can and cannot be consumed,” the lawsuit says.
In October 2014, the company started requiring customers to sign an agreement that they would have to pay $35,999 to NutriMost if they posted negative comments online or with the Better Business Bureau, regardless of whether the comments are true, the lawsuit says.
As part of the order, the company has agreed to remove that provision from its contract.