Specifically, the complaint asserts that the defendants made claims that an omega-3 fatty acid dietary supplement marketed as MegaRed would help prevent heart disease. These types of claims have drawn attention from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has allegedly condemned such advertisements, describing claims about omega-3' health benefits as "false and misleading."
"In conjunction with their extensive, long-term campaign of deceptive advertising and misleading statements,"the complaint states, "defendants have violated [the FDA'] clear directives by ... consistently and repeatedly falsely telling consumers that taking just 'one small softgel per day' may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."
Further, the complaint cites a guideline by the American Heart Association recommending that patients consume 500 to 1,000 miligrams of omega-3 fatty acids daily to help combat heart disease. A single MegaRed capsule, the supplement' recommended daily dose, contains only 50 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. The proposed class action asserts the packaging for MegaRed is misleading because it claims that using "just one small softgel"of the supplement daily "may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."Schiff has marketed the size of the MegaRed capsules, which are slight in comparison to fish oil capsules, as having similar health benefits, which is one of the product' main advantages.
Named plaintiff in the complaint, Jeffrey Johnson, a "health-conscious individual"contends that he and others like him were misled by the marketing claims, and as a result paid a premium for the supplement, which costs significantly more than fish oil.
The proposed class action complaint accuses Schiff of unjust enrichment, on behalf of a nationwide class; and violations of the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act; California Unfair Competition Law; California False Advertising Law; and California Sherman Food, Drug and Cosmetic law, on behalf of a Californian subclass.
Plaintiffs are seeking an injunction prohibiting Schiff from further misleading advertisements, as well as actual and punitive damages.
The plaintiffs are represented by Dina E. Micheletti of Fazio Micheletti LLP. The case is Johnston v. Schiff Nutrition International et al., case number 3:15-cv-03669, in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.