Milberg SlimFast Class Action Claims Diabetic Products Misbranded
by Brian Eckert
Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman PLLC (Milberg) has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of California consumers who purchased certain SlimFast snacks, shakes, and meal bars labeled as “diabetic weight loss” products. The SlimFast class action claims that this labeling constitutes improper health claims under state and federal laws because the products in question have not been approved to prevent and/or treat diabetes.
Plaintiffs say they were misled into buying the SlimFast products at a premium price based on false and misleading marketing. They seek monetary damages resulting from their purchases and a correction to what they allege is deceptive labeling.
Complaint: Consumers Misled Into Believing Products Could Prevent, Treat Diabetes
Diabetes mellitus is a leading cause of death and serious health complications in the United States. The CDC estimates that more than 34 million U.S. adults suffer from diabetes, and that another 88 million Americans are at risk of developing diabetes.
Diabetes results from the body’s inability to properly regulate blood sugar (glucose). The blood glucose levels of diabetics can be managed through a combination of medication, diet, and activity.
SlimFast—a subsidiary of Ireland-based Glanbia PLC—sells a number of over-the-counter nutritional supplements, including those labeled as “diabetic weight loss meal bars,” “diabetic weight loss meal shakes,” and “diabetic weight loss snacks.”
“These claims mislead consumers into believing reasonably that they can use the Products to prevent and treat diabetes.”
According to Milberg’s complaint, filed by attorney Alex R. Straus on March 4 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, the defendants make a number of statements that, viewed in their totality, are either explicitly or implicitly claiming to prevent and/or treat diabetes. For example, as cited in the complaint, the products state that they are for “Type II Diabetes,” “keep glucose intake in check,” and are “for those managing their glucose intakes.”
However, these and similar diabetes-related health claims made by the defendants were not authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which, according to the complaint, makes them misbranded and illegal under the Food Drug & Cosmetic Act, as well as California’s Sherman Law. The products are also misbranded because they misleadingly purport to prevent and treat diabetes, which makes them drugs requiring FDA approval, the complaint adds.
“These claims mislead consumers into believing reasonably that they can use the Products to prevent and treat diabetes,” the complaint states. “Defendants’ prominent and systematic mislabeling of the Products and its false and deceptive advertising form a pattern of unlawful and unfair business practices that harms the public and, if unstopped, could lead to substantial societal harm.”
The California Class
The SlimFast class action lawsuit names five plaintiffs—Emanuel Aliva, Michael Sizemore, Carole Schauer, Sheree Silva, and Omar Aldamen—and seeks to establish a broader California class of similarly situated consumers.
All of the plaintiffs are California residents who bought SlimFast diabetic weight loss-branded products. They say the products were more expensive than competitor products but that they chose to pay a higher price for the SlimFast products based on the defendants’ false diabetes-related representations, including the representations that the products control and manage glucose levels.
All persons in the State of California who purchased any of the following products, either online or at a brick and mortar store, may be able to join the lawsuit:
- SlimFast Diabetic Friendly Meal Replacement Powder (Chocolate Milkshake and Vanilla Milkshake)
- Slimfast Diabetic Weight Loss Snack (Peanut Butter Cup and Nutty Caramel & Chocolate Clusters)
- Slimfast Diabetic Weight Loss Meal Bar (Creamy Chocolate Mousse, Double Chocolate Cookie Dough, and Peanut Butter Chocolate)
If the SlimFast class action is certified by the court, consumers who purchased at least one of these products for personal use will automatically be included as a class member and eligible to share in any settlement.