UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,

v.

HOME SHOPPING NETWORK, INC., and
HOME SHOPPING CLUB, L.P., Defendants.

CIV. ACTION NO. 99-897-CIV-T-25C

COMPLAINT FOR CIVIL  PENALTIES, INJUNCTIVE AND OTHER RELIEF

Plaintiff, United States of America, acting upon the notification and authorization to the Attorney General by the Federal Trade Commission ("Commission"), for its Complaint alleges that:

1. Plaintiff brings this action under Sections 5(l), 9, 13(b) and 16(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act ("FTC Act"), 15 U.S.C.  45(l), 49, 53(b) and 56(a), to obtain monetary civil penalties, injunctive and other relief from defendants for their violations of a final order to cease and desist issued by the Commission.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

2. This Court has jurisdiction over this matter under 28 U.S.C.  1331, 1337(a), 1345 and 1355 and under 15 U.S.C.  45(l), 49, 53(b) and 56(a).

3. Venue in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida is proper under 15 U.S.C.  53(b) and under 28 U.S.C.  1391(b-c) and 1395(a).

DEFENDANTS

4. Defendant Home Shopping Network, Inc. ("HSN"), is a Delaware corporation with an office and place of business located within the Middle District of Florida at 2501 118th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, Florida 33716. Defendant HSN is a holding company for numerous subsidiaries. Defendant HSN, through its subsidiaries, is engaged in the advertising, marketing and sale of consumer products through televised sales programs, mail order brochures, catalogues and other promotional literature.

5. Defendant Home Shopping Club, L.P. ("HSC"), is a limited partnership with an office and place of business located within the Middle District of Florida at 2501 118th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, Florida 33716. Defendant HSC is the successor entity of the merger of Home Shopping Club, Inc. ("HSCI"), and HSN Lifeway Health Products, Inc. ("Lifeway"), in or about January 1998. Defendant HSC operates two television retail services, The Home Shopping Network and America's Store. Defendant HSC produces live, customer-interactive, television programs that directly market consumer products to viewers. These programs are disseminated through cable channels, broadcast stations, and satellite dish receivers. In addition, defendant HSC advertises, offers for sale, and sells consumer products through mail order brochures, catalogues and other promotional literature.

PRIOR COMMISSION PROCEEDING

6. In a Commission proceeding bearing Docket No. 9272, in which HSN, HSCI and Lifeway were charged by the Commission with violating Sections 5(a) and 12 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C.  45(a) and 52, the Commission on September 26, 1996, issued a final order against HSN, HSCI and Lifeway to cease and desist certain advertising practices ("Commission's order"). The Commission's order was served upon HSN, HSCI and Lifeway on October 2, 1996, and by operation of law became final and enforceable thereafter. The order has remained in full force and effect ever since. (A copy of the Commission's complaint and order is attached to this Complaint as Exhibit A.) As a successor entity to HSCI and Lifeway, defendant HSC is subject to the Commission's order.

7. The Commission's order includes the following provisions:

ORDER

DEFINITION

For the purposes of this order, "competent and reliable scientific evidence" shall mean tests, analyses, research, studies, or other evidence based on the expertise of professionals in the relevant area, that have been conducted and evaluated in an objective manner by persons qualified to do so, using procedures generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results.

I.

IT IS ORDERED that respondents Home Shopping Network, Inc., Home Shopping Club, Inc., and HSN Lifeway Health Products, Inc., corporations, their successors and assigns, by and through their officers, agents, representatives and employees, directly or through any partnership, corporation, subsidiary, division, or other device, in connection with the manufacturing, advertising, packaging, labeling, promotion, offering for sale, sale or distribution of Life Way Vitamin C and Zinc Spray, Life Way Antioxidant Spray, Life Way Vitamin B-12 Spray, or any other food, food or dietary supplement, or drug, as "food" and "drug" are defined in Section 15 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C.  55, in or affecting commerce, as "commerce" is defined in the Federal Trade Commission Act, do forthwith cease and desist from making any representation, in any manner, directly or by implication:

B. That use of the product can or will cure, treat, or prevent any disease, or have any effect on the structure or function of the human body, unless, at the time of making such representation, respondents possess and rely upon competent and reliable scientific evidence that substantiates the representation.

III.

Nothing in this order shall prohibit respondents from making any representation for any product that is specifically permitted in labeling for such product by regulations promulgated by the Food and Drug Administration pursuant to the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990.

IV.

Nothing in this order shall prohibit respondents from making any representation for any drug that is permitted in labeling for any such drug under any tentative final or final standard promulgated by the Food and Drug Administration, or under any new drug application approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

DEFENDANTS' COURSE OF BUSINESS

8. At all times mentioned herein, defendants have been engaged in the manufacturing, advertising, packaging, labeling, promotion, offering for sale, sale or distribution of foods, food or dietary supplements, and drugs, as "food" and "drug" are defined in Section 15 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C.  55, in or affecting commerce, as "commerce" is defined in Section 4 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C.  44.

9. Since October 2, 1996, defendants have manufactured, advertised, packaged, labeled, promoted, offered for sale, sold or distributed numerous health-related consumer products. These products include, among others:

A. The Serious Skin Care Acne Line, which is a set of topical skin care products that includes Glycolic Cleanser (with glycolic acid and other ingredients), Clarifying Treatment (with 2% Salicylic Acid), Glycolic Renewal Gel (with glycolic acid and other ingredients) and Super Hydrate (a moisturizer);

B. Serious Skin Care Clearz-it, which is a topical acne product containing 5% benzyl peroxide;

C. Serious Skin Care Fading Fluid, which is a topical skin bleaching product containing 2% hydroquinone and azelaic acid;

D. Target Fat Weight Loss System (For Women Only), which is a weight loss product that includes Appetite Satisfying Wafers (with chromium picolinate, Citrimax and other ingredients), Herbal Balance caplets (with herbs and other ingredients), AM Activator (with vitamins, minerals and herbs), and PM Formula (with chromium picolinate, amino acids and other ingredients);

E. La Costa Spa products, which are weight loss products that include Snack Lights (with garcinia cambogia, chromium picolinate and other ingredients), Natural Cellutherm (with vitamins, chromium picolinate and other ingredients), and Natural Diet Control (with garcinia cambogia and other ingredients); and

F. Life Way Changes, which is a dietary supplement that includes Changes I Nutritional Support Formula (with calcium, magnesium, soy concentrate, vitamins and other ingredients) and Changes II Herbal Support Formula (with a blend of herbs and lactobacillus sporogenes).

DEFENDANTS' ADVERTISING: SERIOUS SKIN CARE ACNE LINE AND CLEARZ-IT

10. On numerous occasions since October 2, 1996, defendants have disseminated or caused to be disseminated advertisements for Serious Skin Care Acne Line and Serious Skin Care Clearz-It, including but not necessarily limited to television programs that were aired on October 11, 1996, July 27, 1997, and January 3, 1998. These advertisements contain the following statements and depictions, among others:

Television Program Aired October 11, 1996

A. LESA STOCK [spokesperson]: Yeah. Once again, this is Clearz-it. This is our therapeutic benzoyl peroxide product. You'll use this on your skin and you're going to actually see that your skin will clear up immediately. You dab this on your problematic area whether you have serious acne or just have occasional once a month break out. You use this on your skin, it will clear it up within 12 to 24 hours. Sometimes 48 if it's a real bad pimple. But this is a product that anybody can use.

B. LESA STOCK: I have a clinic in Santa Cruz, California called Serious Skin Care. I see over 250 people through the door per week. They're -- when they are on my product line, I have a 160 -- 100 percent success rate with this.

C. ROBYNNE [host]: Remember what Lesa was mentioning. One hundred percent success rate.

D. ON SCREEN: Rebecca, 3 months. Before/After [photographs].

LESA STOCK: And here once again, you can see that she [Rebecca] had that very terrible aggressive acne, the cystic acne. In her after picture approximately three months later, all the way clear. No make-up on her after picture. As you can see, I do not profess to be a photographer. There is no make-up on her. No touch-up on the photography. Three months.

E. LESA STOCK: Anybody who's suffering from cystic acne or a more aggressive acne are going to want to supercharge the whole system with the Clearz-it. The Clearz-it is fabulous to work in conjunction with this product line. It works fast, assertively, aggressively, and you're going to see great results in your skin.

F. ON SCREEN: Cecelia. Before/After [photographs].

LESA STOCK: We tried all the traditional forms of going to different doctors. Using the different antibiotics on her [Cecelia]. Nothing seemed to work. That's when I decided I had to do the research and come up with something that was working for her. This product worked for her. It worked for friends. It worked for clients. Finally, Jennifer came along and said, Lesa, we've got to come out with this product to bring it out to home shopping. And, you know, I said oh, there's so many acne products. No one is going to believe us. People have been trying it. They've been getting those great results.

G. ON SCREEN: Eli, 10 days. Before/After [photographs].

LESA STOCK: The next person up that we're going to be showing in our before and after pictures is Eli. This picture I just took not too long ago. He had pizza face acne. This is the type that will scar him for the rest of his life. He took control of his skin just like you have to do. You have to be the one to make that decision that you want to take control of your skin. It's not going to go by itself. . . . And this is him ten days after starting to use the product. He's not all the way clear but his pizza face is gone. Now, he has just flare-ups on his skin.

Television Program Aired July 27, 1997

H.. TERRI [host]: Many of us go into the drug store, you try something and you wonder why you still have the same problem with acne. We've spoken to women on the show before who said they had acne for 10 years, 20 years. I think I've heard 35 years before -- I forget, but years and years and years of having acne and having nothing to really clear the acne until they started using the Serious Skin Care line.

LESA STOCK: And you know what, these are not exaggerations. If you want to see your skin clear, if you have that once-a-month occasional breakout to severe cystic acne, you'll be able to use Clearz-It. It will target that area to clear out the follicle wall to clear your skin. And I'm not talking about just superficially clearing your skin. I'm talking about making your skin smooth like marble.

I. TERRI: I like that, "bust it with the Clearz-It." And you know what, that's exactly what it does. We call it Clearz-It because literally if you have any problem areas specifically, you know, just a stubborn pimple, it is going to immediately -- in fact, I noticed one time when I had a pimple that actually had formed, that I couldn't believe it. I thought, this can't be. I put it on at night and the next day it was diminished. The next day it was gone.

J. JENNIFER FLAVIN [spokesperson]: You know what? I've been through it all. I've used every product out there on the market. I've been through Accutane for six months, I've been to the best dermatologists, I've used everything from facialists. I used to buy all their products, thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars. Listen, nothing worked for me. . . .

Lesa gave me -- just handed me these products. She handed me the Clearz-It. I was very diligent on using it. I used it twice, sometimes three times a day and my face cleared up. And it's that simple, but you have to make the choice because it's not going to disappear on its own.

Television Program Aired January 3, 1998

K. JENNIFER FLAVIN: I've been to dermatologists, I've traveled all over the world looking for different products. Lesa put me on the four-piece system, the cleanser all the way through the hydrant to clear up my skin, but she also gave me one of the most important products in our line that will clear up your skin and if you are just having a once-a-month breakout around your period or you're breaking out every day, you need to get Clearz-It because this is rapidly going to clear up your skin.

L. LESA STOCK: Now, this [Clearz-It] is perfect for that once-a-month occasional breakout or severe cystic acne. Men out there with what is called folliculitis barbae from razor bumps, you can use this. It's going to clear your skin up as well.

DEFENDANTS' ADVERTISING: SERIOUS SKIN CARE FADING FLUID

11. On numerous occasions since October 2, 1996, defendants have disseminated or caused to be disseminated advertisements for Serious Skin Care Fading Fluid, including but not necessarily limited to television programs that were aired on October 9, 1996, August 28, 1997, and January 5, 1998. These advertisements contain the following statements and depictions, among others:

Television Program Aired October 9, 1996

A. LESA STOCK [spokesperson]: Hyperpigmentation can be caused by any type of razor bumps. It can be caused by a pregnancy mask. It can be freckling. It can be from picking our pimples and causing like a dark circle to be caused from there. You use the azelaic acid with hydroquinine, the fading fluid on your skin and you're going to even out the skin tone. This helps with anybody who has a redness in their skin as well or any dark patches. Anybody who is out there with ethnic skin they'll use the fading fluid on their face and they'll start to see that their hyperpigmentation will definitely start to dissipate. . . .

And I'm a prime example of this product. Because if you see my face I don't have freckles on my face but if you look at my hand my hand is covered with them. I haven't used this product on my hand but I've been using it on my face for approximately two years. Some people get great results with it rather fast. Some people it will take a little bit longer. But this is a product that anybody can use. It's so fantastic.

It does have a SPF in it as well. But I want you to use sunblock with it. If you're using it for fading any type of sun damage this is the product for you. Anybody can use this. If you have acne the azelaic acid will actually go in there and help clear that up as well. This is a product that anyone can use and you get fabulous, fast results with it.

B. LESA STOCK: Once again it contains azelaic acid and hydroquinone. So, we're getting rid of any type of hyperpigmentation, whether it be from pregnancy mask, razor bumps. Men who are out there suffering from razor bumps, from the scarring from razor bumps use this you're going to see it clear up immediately. These products are very technological. They are some of the latest things that are out there on the market and I'm really proud to bring them here to everybody here at home shopping. Elderly people can use this on their skin. It's going to actually help with any of the hyperpigmentation that they're suffering.

C. LESA STOCK: So, if you're out there with any type of hyperpigmentation --

JENNIFER FLAVIN [spokesperson]: Pregnancy mask.

LESA STOCK: -- pregnancy mask --

JENNIFER FLAVIN: Discoloration of any type on your skin.

LESA STOCK: That's right.

JENNIFER FLAVIN: It's just amazing. On any part of your body. And not a lot of women have different -- maybe like different colorations on their chest area. Use it on your chest area.

LESA STOCK: Ethnic skin, it is fabulous for you.

JENNIFER FLAVIN: Definitely.

LESA STOCK: For all the ethnic skin people.

D. LESA STOCK: Okay. Well, once again, the fading fluid can be used on any one. Anybody who is suffering from any type of hyperpigmentation, whether it be from -- from having folliculitis barbe, which is a razor bump, from having pregnancy mask, freckles, from pinching your acne. This is the product that will actually go in and even out any hyperpigmentation, which are the dark spots or light spots on our skin. Our ethnic clients use this. They love this product.

You don't have to fear about using this and it will break out your skin. It's going to actually make your skin look radiant and beautiful. It contains azelaic acid and hydroquinone and so it gets in there and it evens out all the pigmentation. Especially freckles. I use it on my face, my face doesn't have freckles. My hands still do because I haven't used it on my hands. So, anybody who is out there suffering from any type of hyperpigmentation this is the product for you. It's something revolutionary, technological, and it works fabulous.

Television Program Aired August 28, 1997

E. CHRIS [host]: I couldn't believe it. If all of that discoloration is on your face, I'm telling you, it gets rid of it.

JENNIFER FLAVIN: It evens out your skin tone.

F. LESA STOCK: Ethnic skinned people, this is a product that is really a dream machine for you. It is going to work on your skin. It's going to alleviate that problem. If you have any form of hyperpigmentation, and let's face it, we all do, the fading fluid is for you. Once again, azelaic acid with our 2 percent hydroquinone. The result is amazing. It's going to make your skin look revived, rejuvenated, and it's going to do a lot more than what we have even told you just now.

Television Program Aired January 5, 1998

G. LESA STOCK: It has a 2 percent hydroquinone, which is our FDA-approve lightener, but it also contained azelaic acid. Azelaic acid comes from the Chinese castor plant. The two of these piggyback together and go down to where the hyperpigmentation is. Hyperpigmentation is a form of a carbohydrate. Azelaic acid is a carbohydrate eater. What they do together, though, is the azelaic acid and hydroquinone target that area, act like little Pacmen to actually gobble up any type of hyperpigmentation under your skin.

Hyperpigmentation can be caused from sun damage, which is your age spots. It can actually be from melanization, from birth control pills, from pregnancy mask, from picking your pimples, from men who shave, they get what's called folliculitis barbe, those are the razor bumps, they can use that on their skin.

H. ELEANOR [testimonialist]: I love it. I am a woman of color, and I have tried everything. I went to the skin doctor and they charged me so much money, it's unbelievable, but thank you, thank you, thank you. . . .

LESA STOCK: So, what was going on with your skin? Did you have hyperpigmentation?

ELEANOR: Yes, I did. I mean, on my legs, my arms, my back, and -- it's been about three weeks since I used it -- I mean I've been using it.

JENNIFER FLAVIN: Right.

LESA STOCK: Right.

ELEANOR: And I see the difference, believe me.

CHRIS: It really is, it's dramatic.

JENNIFER FLAVIN: Three weeks.

ELEANOR: Yes, in three weeks.

DEFENDANTS' ADVERTISING: TARGET FAT LOSS SYSTEM (FOR WOMEN ONLY)

12. On numerous occasions since October 2, 1996, defendants have disseminated or caused to be disseminated advertisements for Target Fat Loss System (For Women Only), including but not necessarily limited to television programs that were aired on October 20, 1996, and March 24, 1997. These advertisements contain the following statements and depictions, among others:

Television Program Aired October 20, 1996

A. DR. LIEBERMAN [spokesperson]: It [Target Fat Loss System] really puts an end to the yo-yo syndrome. And I know for so many of you out there -- I mean, you've seen us do the product. You and I have been doing this together for eight years.

B. DR. LIEBERMAN: Now, if we go back to those before and after photos, let's take a look at Clover. She was also a size 22 her entire adult life. She dieted her whole adult life. She went down to a size 14. Since then, down to a size 12. And she's kept the weight off for years.

C. DEBORAH [testimonialist]: But I'm so proud of him [my husband]. He's lost 60 pounds.

DR. LIEBERMAN: Oooh (clapping). Fabulous, fabulous.

DEBORAH: And we've been on it since February. I've lost 50. So I'm half of my goal, because my goal is 100.

. . .

DEBORAH: And I'm not going to buy a lot of clothes. But just the fact that I've come from a 26 right now down to an 18, borderline on 16.

TERRY [host]: Woo! (clapping.)

DEBORAH: And I tell you, the plan is very simple and easy. You're never hungry. And I had a girl that asked me the other day, she said don't you miss not baking? Because I love to bake. And I said, I still bake. I just don't want all those fattening things anymore.

DR. LIEBERMAN: And it's so easy.

DEBORAH: It is.

D. DR. LIEBERMAN: That is so -- you know, for many people with this program, many people regain the body they've had in the past. But for some of the women that you've seen, like Flossie and Margaret, these women have always been obese.

DEBORAH [testimonialist]: I know.

DR. LIEBERMAN: They have always -- they have bodies now that they never had before.

E. DR. LIEBERMAN: When I see a woman who's overweight, I think, my god, this is a woman who has dieted and dieted. This is a woman who has followed a program that I might not be able to follow, because it was so rigid and so difficult. And this is a woman who doesn't know that she didn't fail, the diet failed her. Now, the beauty about this, once again, you lose 20 pounds, looks like 40. 40 pounds, looks like 80. This is to put an end to the yo-yo syndrome. This is to get a handle on the issue, learn how to eat, use the proper nutritional support. And what you'll learn on this program can be with you for a lifetime.

F. LANA [testimonialist]: You know, I am doing great. I started it -- I purchased the program probably in February and it stayed around the house, stayed around the house. And I said, I better get on it. So I started in June. And I've lost 32 pounds.

TERRY [host]: (Clapping.) Yeah!

DR. LIEBERMAN: (Clapping.) Yes.

LANA: I am so happy.

DR. LIEBERMAN: Now, I have to ask you a question.

LANA: Okay.

DR. LIEBERMAN: And I don't mean to beat you up, but aren't you sorry that you didn't open it as soon as you got it?

LANA: I -- I am. I am.

DR. LIEBERMAN: But I --

LANA: Because I probably would have been at 50 pounds by now.

Television Program Aired March 24, 1997

G. MS. FERRARA [host]: It is a revolutionary product. 65 pounds looks like 130 pounds. And it goes on and on and on, because we're losing fat. We're getting rid of the fat, and that is so important.

ON SCREEN: Before/after [photographs]. Lost 65 pounds!! . . .

MS. FERRARA: For women, it is particularly tough to lose fat. Our bodies naturally store fat for childbirth. It's not fair. I know it's not fair, but that's the way we've been made, and we unfortunately gain more weight than men in fat, and we gain it in areas that we hate. This is a system that is -- targets fat loss. It's not a diet. This is a way of life. You will live this way forever if you choose to, and you're going to be healthier, you are going to feel better and you are going to get rid of the fat, and no more of this losing 20 pounds to gain back 30 or losing 30 to gain back 40. We know that yo-yo syndrome.

H. MS. FERRARA: I know I've battled with my weight. I've been overweight, I've been underweight, and it's not fun, and it's hard to find a healthy medium, but you know, I'll tell you, when you learn about fat loss and you lose -- you lose your weight as fat, it doesn't come back.

I. MS. FERRARA: You're overweight because you're dieting, and as I said before -- and I sound redundant at this point -- diets don't work. You want to get rid of the fat. The fat is what you want to get rid of, because the fat won't come back, unless, of course, you don't eat properly. This is going to give you the energy and the gumption to do this, and wait until you see the results.

J. ON SCREEN: Before/after [photographs]. Lost over 300 pounds!!

DEFENDANTS' ADVERTISING: LA COSTA SPA WEIGHT LOSS PRODUCTS

13. On numerous occasions since October 2, 1996, defendants have disseminated or caused to be disseminated advertisements for La Costa Spa weight loss products, including but not necessarily limited to a television program that was aired on November 25, 1996. These advertisements contain the following statements and depictions, among others:

A. TERRY [host]: And again, it's excellent for weight management as well. Maybe you're at your weight but you -- maybe sometimes you kind of struggle with it up and down and you're looking for something to manage it or you -- you've had a successful weight loss, you want to maintain it. The -- the key is to maintain it. So many people lose weight and then they gain it back because they don't know how to manage it. This is excellent for managing.

B. TERRY: You know, women who go on these diets where they just deprive themselves radically of certain foods and then they get these wild cravings and then they go on the binge and they completely sabotage and they get this whole yo-yo thing going back and forth. And we've all been guilty of doing that.

C. TERRY: You bet. That's -- and that's the healthiest way to lose it. Here's another letter:

"I've been using the system for the last five years to curb my appetite. I am 5'10" and weigh 145 pounds. Before beginning the system I weighed 160. It works. I have tried other products where they are effective for a couple of months and then they lose their effectiveness and you have to go in search of another product. Not so with the La Costa Weight Loss System. It is the best."

D. CYNTHIA [spokesperson]: And the results can be very, very quick. Weeks to months to lose 12 to 18 to 25 pounds. You can use it to lose weight and you can use it to maintain your weight loss. We have a letter from Kim Wilson, also. She says that, "I've always had a battle with weight. The appetite control keeps me from snacking and eating more at mealtime. I've lost 18 to 20 pounds in the past year and I've kept it off with the appetite control. I think it's great."

E. CYNTHIA: Not only did I lose the 16 pounds that I just couldn't budge, but I also am using it now every day. I would not wake up in the morning without taking my Natural Cellutherm and my Natural Weight Control because it helps me maintain that weight loss all year through.

DEFENDANTS' ADVERTISING: LIFE WAY CHANGES

14. On numerous occasions since October 2, 1996, defendants have disseminated or caused to be disseminated advertisements for Life Way Changes, including but not necessarily limited to television programs that were aired on October 20, 1996, and May 21, 1997. These advertisements contain the following statements and depictions, among others:

Television Program Aired on October 20, 1996

A. DR. LIEBERMAN [spokesperson]: Because, you know, women out there, all of you out there, many of you don't know that you have a choice. . . . And women, a lot of women have decided to say no to hormones. They don't want them, they've read about the negatives, they have read about the side effects. They maybe have used them and have experienced the side effects. And, quite frankly, PMS and menopause are not diseases.

B. ON SCREEN: Life Way Changes Menopause and PMS Nutritional System. . . . System addresses coping and relieving symptoms such as breast tenderness, bloating, water retention, irritability, hot flashes.

C. DR. LIEBERMAN: What these [ingredients in Changes] do together is help the body better metabolize the bad estrogen to its safe and effective form. A lot of us are out of balance when we look at our hormones. And what this does is safely and naturally puts us back into balance.

D. DR. LIEBERMAN: This is a product that puts you back in the driver's seat and does it safely and naturally.

E. DR. LIEBERMAN: There are women who have symptoms that are so severe. There are women that have symptoms that are very mild. The beauty about this product is that it works whether the symptoms are severe or they're mild.

F. SHARON [testimonialist]: And it [Changes] has completely relieved my nervousness and irritability.

G. DR. LIEBERMAN: And many of us don't even know that we have a safe, natural alternative to hormone replacement.

H. DR. LIEBERMAN: I don't feel that women should be forced to do something [take prescription estrogen replacement drugs] when they have the possibility of a safe and natural alternative.

I. DR. LIEBERMAN: The side effect of estrogen replacement is not nothing. . . . But the downside of this, the worst thing that can happen to you if you try Changes, it doesn't work and you send it back and get your money back. I can live . . . with nothing as a side effect. I can live with that.

J. DR. LIEBERMAN: And I wanted to bring you the very best that I can find. There were lots of herbal combinations out there for PMS and menopause. I have to tell you, they're all wonderful and they all work for people. I wanted to choose the one that I thought had the most scientific data behind it, the most tested.

K. DR. LIEBERMAN: This is a natural food product that helps restore normal estrogen balance. It helps the body balance the bad to the good estrogen.

Television Program Aired May 21, 1997

L. ROBIN [host]: You know, so many women go through changes, whether you're going through changes through menopause or whether you're going through changes with PMS, premenstrual syndrome, every month while we get our period, while we're menstruating, and things that happen during these times are, of course, breast tenderness, bloating, water retention, moodiness, irritability, hot flashes. They can become very uncomfortable for us.

Well this is a way to be able to help cope and relieve such symptoms that we were just talking about and what's wonderful about this, of course, it dates back, when we talk about herbs and herbs date back to so many thousands of years ago. It contains Chinese herbs in an herbal support formula, and as we know, that these herbs have been used for thousands and thousands and thousands of years.

M. ROBIN: When our estrogen is not in balance, that's, of course, a hormone, as we all know, and many people when they are going through menopause or if they have, you know, PMS problems, a lot of times they will go on estrogen replacement, hormonal replacement, and then you get the side effects of those.

What's wonderful about this, and I'm looking at it right now, and I'm seeing, is there any type of warnings on this? No, I don't see any type of warning, okay?

N. ON SCREEN: Dear Dr. Shari Lieberman: Shortly after purchasing the Mega Ginseng Royal Jelly I ordered the Changes I & II For Women Only. I have been taking Changes for 3 months. I feel better than I ever felt in my life. I no longer dread getting out of bed on any given day of the month. I have a whole new personality. My co-workers cannot believe the changes in me. I even look better and feel great. Thank you with all my heart. Joan Krieg [testimonialist].

O. ROBIN: What's really going to help you is taking something that, again, can even out your body's system, can even out your hormones, and that's what's wonderful about -- and again, I'm talking about this from the -- the PMS standpoint.

Also, with menopause, many of you that are going through menopause, you feel you get all these other symptoms, like again, the breast tenderness and the swelling and the irritability and all that. So, what do you do? Again, you can go on hormonal replacement, but this is a way to really help alleviate the symptoms without having to go on hormonal replacement.

P. NANCY [testimonialist]: I have the PMS, and I -- I've been to doctors, millions of doctors, and I've taken estrogen pills, progesterone pills, birth control pills. I tried over-the-counter medications, Premarin . . . and it's just completely disappeared. I just can't believe it, going through so many different types of treatments, and then just finding one that's just natural herbs, and I -- it's working so well that I have ordered eight more boxes of it.

FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION

15. Through the means described in PARAGRAPH 10, defendants, in connection with the manufacturing, advertising, packaging, labeling, promotion, offering for sale, sale or distribution of Serious Skin Care Acne Line and Serious Skin Care Clearz-It, which are drugs, as "drug" is defined in Section 15 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C.  55, have, on numerous occasions, represented, directly or by implication, that the use of these products can or will cure, treat, or prevent a disease, or have an effect on the structure or function of the human body, as follows:

A. Serious Skin Care Clearz-It:

1. clears most pimples in 12 to 24 hours;
2. clears razor bumps on men's skin;

B. When used with the Serious Skin Care Acne Line, Serious Skin Care Clearz-It:

1. clears cystic acne;
2. clears very severe or aggressive acne;
3. clears anyone's acne within several months;
4. treats acne more effectively than other acne treatments, including over-the-counter acne treatment products, oral antibiotics and Accutane;

C. The results achieved by individual users of the Serious Skin Care Acne Line and Serious Skin Care Clearz-it, as shown in "before and after" photographs and as described, for example, by consumers during telephone calls and in consumer letters read on the air, reflect the typical or ordinary experience of members of the public who use the product.

16. Defendants have made the representations set forth in Paragraph 15 without possessing and relying upon competent and reliable scientific evidence, as defined in the Commission's order, that substantiates the representations, thereby violating Part I of the Commission's order.

SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION

17. Through the means described in PARAGRAPH 11, defendants, in connection with the manufacturing, advertising, packaging, labeling, promotion, offering for sale, sale or distribution of Serious Skin Care Fading Fluid, which is a drug, as "drug" is defined in Section 15 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C.  55, have, on numerous occasions, represented, directly or by implication, that the use of this product can or will cure, treat, or prevent a disease, or have an effect on the structure or function of the human body, as follows:

A. Serious Skin Care Fading Fluid eliminates any kind of hyperpigmentation;

B. Serious Skin Care Fading Fluid eliminates any kind of hyperpigmentation in a very short time;

C. Serious Skin Care Fading Fluid evens out skin tone perfectly, including dark patches on the skin and uneven skin tone on persons with a dark complexion.

18. Defendants have made the representations set forth in Paragraph 17 without possessing and relying upon competent and reliable scientific evidence, as defined in the Commission's order, that substantiates the representations, thereby violating Part I of the Commission's order.

THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION

19. Through the means described in PARAGRAPH 12, defendants, in connection with the manufacturing, advertising, packaging, labeling, promotion, offering for sale, sale or distribution of Target Fat Loss System (For Women Only), which includes foods and food or dietary supplements, as "food" is defined in Section 15 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C.  55, have, on numerous occasions, represented, directly or by implication, that the use of these products can or will cure, treat, or prevent a disease, or have an effect on the structure or function of the human body, as follows:

A. Consumers that use Target Fat Loss System (For Women Only) lose about 30 to 60 pounds or more;

B. Consumers that use Target Fat System (For Women Only) maintain their weight loss for long periods of time;

C. The results achieved in weight loss and weight loss maintenance by individual users of Target Fat Loss System (For Women Only), as shown in "before and after" photographs and as described, for example, by consumers during telephone calls and in consumer letters read on the air, reflect the typical or ordinary experience of members of the public who use the product.

20. Defendants have made the representations set forth in Paragraph 19 without possessing and relying upon competent and reliable scientific evidence, as defined in the Commission's order, that substantiates the representations, thereby violating Part I of the Commission's order.

FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION

21. Through the means described in PARAGRAPH 13, defendants, in connection with the manufacturing, advertising, packaging, labeling, promotion, offering for sale, sale or distribution of the La Costa Spa weight loss products, which are foods and food or dietary supplements, as "food" is defined in Section 15 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C.  55, have, on numerous occasions, represented, directly or by implication, that the use of these products can or will cure, treat, or prevent a disease, or have an effect on the structure or function of the human body, as follows:

A. Consumers that use the La Costa Spa weight loss products maintain their weight loss for substantial periods of time;

B. The results achieved in weight loss maintenance by individual users of the La Costa Spa weight loss products, as described, for example, in consumer letters quoted in the advertisements for these products, reflect the typical or ordinary experience of members of the public who use the products.

22. Defendants have made the representations set forth in Paragraph 21 without possessing and relying upon competent and reliable scientific evidence, as defined in the Commission's order, that substantiates the representations, thereby violating Part I of the Commission's order.

FIFTH CAUSE OF ACTION

23. Through the means described in PARAGRAPH 14, defendants, in connection with the manufacturing, advertising, packaging, labeling, promotion, offering for sale, sale or distribution of Life Way Changes, which is a food or dietary supplement, have, on numerous occasions, represented, directly or by implication, that the use of these products can or will cure, treat, or prevent a disease, or have an effect on the structure or function of the human body, as follows:

A. Life Way Changes relieves symptoms, whether mild or severe, of premenstrual syndrome ("PMS") and menopause, including breast tenderness, bloating, water retention, nervousness, irritability, and hot flashes;

B. Life Way Changes helps restore normal hormonal balance in users experiencing PMS or menopause;

C. Life Way Changes provides all of the benefits of prescription estrogen replacement drugs for users experiencing menopause;

D. Life Way Changes safely treats the symptoms of PMS or menopause without side effects;

E. The effectiveness of Life Way Changes in relieving the symptoms of PMS and menopause has been proven by scientific testing;

F. The results achieved by individual users of Life Way Changes, as described, for example, by consumers during telephone calls and in consumer letters read on the air, reflect the typical or ordinary experience of members of the public who use the product.

24. Defendants have made the representations set forth in Paragraph 23 without possessing and relying upon competent and reliable scientific evidence, as defined in the Commission's order, that substantiates the representations, thereby violating Part I of the Commission's order.

CIVIL PENALTIES AND EQUITABLE RELIEF

25. Each dissemination of an advertisement containing any representations in violation of the Commission's order in one or more of the ways described above constitutes a separate violation for which plaintiff seeks monetary civil penalties.

26. Section 5(l) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C.  45(l), authorizes the Court to award monetary civil penalties of not more than $10,000 for each such violation of the Commission's order that occurs prior to November 20, 1996. Section 4 of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, 28 U.S.C.  2461, as amended, authorizes the Court to award monetary civil penalties of not more than $11,000 for each such violation of the Commission's order that occurs on or after November 20, 1996.

27. Under Sections 5(l) and 13(b) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C.  45(l) and 53(b), this Court is authorized to issue a permanent injunction against defendants' violations of the FTC Act and the Commission's order, as well as ancillary relief.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, plaintiff requests this Court, pursuant to 15 U.S.C.  45(l), 49 and 53(b), and pursuant to the Court's own equitable powers to:

(1) Enter judgment against defendants and in favor of plaintiff for each violation alleged in this Complaint;

(2) Award plaintiff monetary civil penalties from defendants for each violation of the Commission's order alleged in this Complaint;

(3) Enjoin defendants from violating the Commission's order issued in FTC Docket No. 9272; and

(4) Award plaintiff such additional relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

DATED:

Of Counsel: FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
ELAINE D. KOLISH
Associate Director
for Enforcement
Federal Trade Commission
DAVID W. OGDEN
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Division
U.S. Department of Justice
 

MARY K. ENGLE
Assistant Director
for Enforcement
Federal Trade Commission

 

CHARLES R. WILSON
United States Attorney
Middle District of Florida

 

LOUISE R. JUNG
PABLO M. ZYLBERGLAIT
Attorneys
Division of Enforcement
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, D.C. 20580

By: ________________________________
Warren A. Zimmerman
Assistant United States Attorney
Chief, Civil Division
Fl. Bar # 652040
400 North Tampa St., Ste. 3200
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 274-6335 Phone
(813) 274-6198 Fax
 

EUGENE M. THIROLF
Director
Office of Consumer Litigation

 

________________________________
DOUGLAS ROSS
Attorney
Office of Consumer Litigation
Civil Division
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530
(202) 514-1874