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AG Sues San Antonio-Based Dietary Supplement Company

Dec 5, 2002 | AP

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a lawsuit Thursday against a San Antonio dietary supplement maker he accused of selling "snake oil."

"When it comes to the promises of Body Solutions Evening Weight Loss Formula the only thing guaranteed to get any thinner is the consumer's wallet," Abbott said.

"People who are misled into thinking they can lose weight while they sleep are waking up with a snake oil hangover."

Abbott said Mark Nutritionals Inc.'s claim that the supplement lets people lose weight while they sleep was misleading and scientifically unsound.

The lawsuit, filed in Dallas, was Abbott's first legal action since being sworn in as Texas attorney general Monday. He announced the lawsuit in Houston.

Among other requests, the lawsuit asks for a state district judge to file an injunction that would bar the company from making the claim that users can lose weight even if they "eat substantial amounts of food high in fat and calories."

The lawsuit also asks for restitution to the state and consumers who purchased the $48 product.

Abbott spokesman Mike Viesca said the penalties could be up to $10,000 per day for each violation of Texas' Deceptive Trade Practices Act and another $25,000 for each violation of the Texas Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act.

Acting Mark Nutritionals chief executive Larry Cochran declined to comment on the lawsuit.

He said the company already was cooperating with the Federal Trade Commission, which filed a separate lawsuit against the company in San Antonio on Thursday.

Abbott said Texas, with help from 11 other states, led a yearlong probe into the company. Illinois is the only other state that has made its investigation public. The other 10 have not been identified.

According to the FTC, the company has brought in more than $190 million since it began selling it in 1999. Cochran said the supplement was sold to more than two million customers.

The company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September, has since agreed with the FTC to make sure any advertising they do will be truthful and in a nondeceptive fashion until all legal matters are resolved, FTC attorney Tom Carter said.

"We have been working with the (Federal Trade Commission) to get all of this stuff behind us," Cochran said in a prepared statement Thursday.

The company said it was working to develop financial, marketing and operations plans to present to the court and its creditors by the end of the year, Cochran said.

He said Mark Nutritionals also has hired a new management team.

"We are confident that, working cooperatively with them, we can also address their concerns," Cochran said. "We fully expect that Mark Nutritionals will emerge from bankruptcy quickly and with an even stronger position than it previously held."

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