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Azadian Law Group
April 30, 2016

Mercola to Pay $5.3M to Settle FTC False Claims Case

Two companies operating under the name Mercola – Mercola, LLC and Mercola Health Resources, LLC – have recently agreed to issue refunds to consumers who have purchased one of their indoor tanning systems, according to a recent announcement from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

This agreement was triggered by an FTC complaint1, which alleged that the Mercola companies had made “false, misleading, or unsubstantiated” claims about their indoor tanning systems.

While individual consumer refunds are expected to be between $1,200 and $4,000, in total, Mercola will be required to shell out at least $5.33 million to pay for these refunds, as well as to cover the costs of administering the refund program.

A Closer Look at Mercola’s False Claims

As the FTC complaint against the Mercola companies explains, these two companies falsely claimed that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had deemed indoor tanning systems to be “safe.”

Additional false claims Mercola reportedly made in its various ads included (but were not necessarily exclusive to) claiming that:

  • Its tanning systems could reduce consumers’ risk of cancer while improving “the clarity, tone and texture of skin, basically giving [them] a more youthful appearance”
  • Other “authorities” had endorsed its indoor tanning systems – In fact, Mercola claimed that the “Vitamin D Council” had specifically recommended the use of its tanning systems. What Mercola failed to explain, however, was that the Vitamin D Council was paid by Mercola to endorse these tanning systems.

The brand names of the Mercola indoor tanning systems for which such false claims were made include:

  • D-Lite
  • Sun Splash
  • Sun Splash Renew
  • Vitality
  • Vitality Refresh
  • Vitality D-Lite

Commenting on this case, Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, has stated:

These types of false claims are especially troubling because of the serious health risks posed by indoor tanning… The fact is [that] indoor tanning is not safe because it increases the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma.

The Settlement

According to the FTC, a refund program administrator will be sending out notices and claim forms to consumers who have purchased a Mercola indoor tanning system as far back as January 1, 2012. To receive a refund, consumers have to send back their completed claim form (with any required supporting documentation) by the deadline specified in their notice.

In addition to paying about $5.33 million to settle these consumer claims, Mercola is also required, per the terms of this settlement, to:

  • Abstain “from making false or unsubstantiated health-related or efficacy claims” related to its products
  • Abstain from misrepresenting “evidence” of scientifically-proven benefits associated with its products
  • Clearly and conspicuously disclose any connections the company may have with any party who endorses and/or reviews its products

Contact a Los Angeles Class Action Attorney at the Azadian Law Group, PC

If you have been harmed as a result of any company’s misleading and/or false claims about its products, contact a Los Angeles class action attorney at the Azadian Law Group, PC for a free case review to find out more about your options for recovery and justice.

Call us at 626-449-4944 or send us an email via this contact form to find out more about how we can help you. If you choose to move forward with us, you will not have to pay us any legal fees until or unless compensation is secured for your case.

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1: To view the complete text of FTC complaint issued to Mercola, click here.

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