The Federal Trade Commission has filed charges in federal court against several participants involved in the allegedly deceptive advertising of "The Enforma System" weight loss products. The complaint names two hosts of the Enforma infomercial -- former professional baseball player Steve Garvey, and Lark Kendall, a purported "nutritionist"; Garvey's management company, Garvey Management Group, Inc.; the infomercial producer, Modern Interactive Technology, Inc.; and its two principals, Mark Levine and David Richmond. The FTC alleges that these defendants had active roles in developing the deceptive claims made to sell the Enforma products. In a separate settlement, Lark Kendall, called Kendall Carson in the Enforma infomercial, has agreed to settle the charges against her. Under a settlement with the FTC announced earlier this year, Enforma Natural Products, Inc. and one of its principals are required to pay $10 million in consumer redress.
The Enforma System was promoted chiefly via televised 30-minute infomercials, which claimed that consumers who used it could lose weight without dieting or exercising, regardless of what they ate. The Enforma System consists of two diet supplements -- a chitosan-based product called "Fat Trapper" that purports to prevent the absorption of dietary fat; and a pyruvate product named "Exercise In A Bottle" that supposedly increases the body's capacity to burn fat.
In April 2000, the Commission filed a complaint in federal court against Enforma Natural Products, Inc. and two of its principals, Andrew Grey and Fred Zinos, alleging that the company's claims for "The Enforma System" were false and unsubstantiated. The FTC also filed two stipulated final orders resolving the charges (one with Enforma Natural Products and Grey and the other with Zinos). The settlement with Enforma Natural Products and Grey required that they pay $10 million in consumer redress. Eligible Enforma System purchasers who want to make sure they are listed for ultimate refunds should complete the form contained on the FTC's Web site at www.ftc.gov or call 202-326-3123.
According to the FTC's complaint announced today, Garvey and Kendall appeared in the Enforma infomercials as co-hosts and made numerous statements promoting the efficacy of the Enforma System, such as the following statement by Garvey: "[L]ook at all these delicious supposedly forbidden foods; barbecued chicken and ribs, buttered biscuits. Foods you can eat when you crave them without guilt, without worry, and it's all because of a few little capsules." The FTC alleges that defendants Levine, Richmond and Modern Interactive Technology were instrumental in creating, writing, editing and producing both of the Enforma infomercials that made the deceptive weight-loss claims. The complaint also alleges that defendants Levine, Richmond, Modern Interactive Technology and Kendall falsely represented Kendall as a nutritionist in the two infomercials.
According to the FTC, the infomercials were broadcast on cable and local television stations throughout the United States. Together the two infomercials were broadcast more than 30,000 times. Garvey and Kendall both have been pictured on the official web site for The Enforma System and on the packaging of the product sold in retail stores. Garvey has also appeared on radio and TV programs promoting The Enforma System.
The Commission is seeking an order that would permanently prohibit the defendants from engaging in deceptive practices and would require them to pay redress for consumers who purchased The Enforma System.
Defendant Lark Kendall has entered into a settlement with the FTC that would permanently prohibit her from:
In addition, the settlement requires Kendall to provide consumer redress by assigning to the FTC her right to collect money she is owed for her appearance in the first Enforma System infomercial.
Finally, the stipulated final order contains various record keeping and reporting provisions designed to assist the FTC in monitoring Kendall's compliance.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint against Steven Garvey, Garvey Management Group, Lark Kendall, Mark Levine, MIT, and David Richman, and to file the stipulated final order as to Lark Kendall was 5-0. The documents were filed in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, in Los Angeles, on August, 31, 2000.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has "reason to believe" that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.
NOTE: This stipulated final order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. Final orders have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the complaint and stipulated final order are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. Copies of news releases pertaining to the Enforma case, as well as other dietary supplement cases are, also available from the FTC's web site. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
(FTC File No. 002 3177) (Civil Action No. 00-09358-AHM (AIJx)