An Alameda County, Calif., jury has returned a $50 million verdict in a class action lawsuit that sought relief for Californians who bought Avacor, a hair-loss remedy that was marketed as an all-natural, clinically-tested product. There were about 150,000 purchases of Avacor in California during the class period, but since some were reorders, the exact size of the class is unclear.
The outcome against two Defendants marked the second trial victory in the same class action. The earlier trial ended in a $40 million verdict against different Defendants. The awards from the trials will not be added together. The court is expected to order that $50 million in all be returned to the class. Both trials took place before the same state court judge. The Defendants in the latest trial were two officers of Global Vision Products Inc., Robert DeBenedictis and Henry Edelson. A court-ordered stay after the company’s 2007 bankruptcy filing kept them out of the earlier verdict.
Name Plaintiffs Garrett Boyd and James Thomas claimed Avacor’s three-part “hair re-growth program” was misleading in selling itself as an all-natural, clinically-tested product with no side effects. It was contended that Global Vision Products’ advertising referred to a clinic that didn’t exist, a study that was never done and success rates that had no backing. The company, having filed for bankruptcy, was not included in either trial. Testimony indicated that DeBenedictis continues to sell Avacor.
The three principal Defendants involved in the 2007 trial were Avacor’s creator, a Nascar driver hired as its celebrity spokesman, and a former doctor who appeared in ads for the product. The jury returned a verdict of just under $37 million. In May 2008 the trial judge increased the award to $40 million and wrote:
The court can and does take judicial notice of the fact that enormous sums of money are spent on personal care and grooming products. Into this lucrative market stepped a band of hucksters, defendants, to prey on the vulnerabilities of human nature and employing a colossal array of false, deceptive and fraudulent techniques cynically collected millions of dollars from deceived California consumers.
Timothy Fisher, who is with the firm of Bramson, Plutzik, Mahler & Birkhaeuser located in Walnut Creek, Calif., and Scott Bursor from the New York firm of Faruqi & Faruqi, represented the Plaintiffs and did good work.
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