(Photo: Raysonho via Wikimedia Commons)
A potential class action alleging so-called herbal supplements sold by GNC stores aren’t really herbal at all was filed in Miami federal court.
The lawsuit filed Monday is the first of its kind in the Southeast since the New York state attorney general’s office notified the Pittsburgh-based company Feb. 2 that it must stop selling products that may be adulterated or mislabeled. Cease-and-desist letters demanding more information about ingredient-verification procedures went to four retailers, also including Target Corp., Walgreen Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
All four stopped selling the challenged products in New York, but Wal-mart and GNC have continued selling them elsewhere, according to the New York Times.
GNC did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.
The Miami lawsuit filed on behalf of Kelly Reyes and others similarly situated targets four dietary supplement products: GNC Plus Gingko Biloba, GNC Herbal Plus St. John’s Wort, GNC Herbal Plus Ginseng and GNC Herbal Plus Echinacea.
The lawsuit said the products may contain rice, garlic, wheat/grass, pine or no plant substances whatsoever. The lawsuit seeks punitive and other damages based on five causes of action: violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, unjust enrichment, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, breach of express warranty and negligence.
“This is more than a matter of mislabeling or even fraud. This is a potential public danger,” Theodore Babbitt, one of the lawyers who filed the lawsuit, said in a statement. “Unlabeled ingredients such as wheat or any number of contaminants can harm people with allergies or aversions.”
Babbitt’s West Palm Beach firm Babbitt, Johnson, Osborne & LeClainche teamed up with the Miami firm Weil Quaranta & McGovern on behalf of the potential class.
The lawsuit was assigned to U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro.