A South Portland company that sold vitamin and mineral supplements has settled a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission over its allegedly deceptive marketing practices, according to federal court documents.
Health Research Laboratories LLC and owner Kramer Duhon of Dallas deceived consumers with promises that their products could treat everything from arthritis to memory loss, according to the Maine attorney general’s office, which joined the FTC in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Portland.
The proposed settlement order imposes a judgment of $3.7 million. If the company pays $800,000 in restitution, it will not have to pay the remaining $2.9 million.
HRL and Duhon marketed the supplements beginning on Jan. 1, 2012, through direct mail in the U.S. and Canada, the complaint said.
This is the second time this year the FTC and the Maine attorney general’s office have settled a lawsuit alleging false advertising with a Maine company selling supplements.
In February, XXL Impressions of South Portland, agreed to a $556,000 settlement and stop selling supplements.
In the most recent suit, BioTherapex, sold for $39.95 a bottle, was advertised as a remedy for arthritis, joint and back pain and weight loss.
Both companies distributed their supplements through Ship-Right Solutions located on Pleasant Street in South Portland. The company was not named in either lawsuit.
Calls to Ship-Right Solutions were not returned Friday afternoon.
NeuroPlus was sold for $39.99 a bottle as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, memory loss and cognitive deficits.
Those claims were false and the company misrepresented the terms of the “risk free” trial period, enrolling customers in auto-renewal payment plans without disclosing it, according to the complaint.
New York City attorney Andrew B. Lustigman, who represents HRL and Duhon, said Friday that his clients dispute the allegations.
“Health Research Labs prides itself on offering its customers high-quality scientifically backed products,” he said. “The company fully cooperated with the government throughout its three-year investigation. While we dispute the government’s allegations, my clients chose to resolve the matter in order to avoid the further cost and distractions of litigation, and instead focus their attention on continuing to provide their customers with innovative products.”
The order, once signed by a federal judge, would prohibit the company from making false claims in the future about the dietary supplements it sells.
Dietary supplements, unlike drugs, are not evaluated and reviewed by the Federal Drug Administration for safety and effectiveness, according to the Maine attorney general’s office.
Consumers with questions or concern about products and how they are being marketed may call the Consumer Protection Division of the Maine attorney general’s office at 1-800-436-2131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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