A putative class action lawsuit has been filed against MonaVie Inc., the maker of “superfood” juices, accusing the company of using a predatory pyramid scheme to sell fake health drinks.
In the MonaVie class action lawsuit, plaintiff Lisa Pontrelli alleges the company charges an inflated price of $45 per 25-ounce bottle of juice, which MonaVie says offers amazing health and beauty benefits. In reality, Pontrelli says, the company is engaged in false and misleading advertising.
Because MonaVie claims that its juice products will treat or cure a variety of health problems, the company has been able to convince consumers to pay an inflated price for its products, the class action lawsuit continues.
According to Pontrelli, the creator of MonaVie juice has been involved in other pyramid schemes, one of which involved the sale of another superfood juice product called Royal Tongan Limu. In her class action lawsuit, Pontrelli claims that Royal Tongan Limu was sold under a similar multilevel marketing scheme before being removed from the market.
The class action lawsuit accuses MonaVie of making promises nearly identical to those concerning Royal Tongan Limu. Both products were advertised as having significant health benefits derived from exotic superfoods discovered in remote locations. Both brands of juices were sold in containers that resemble wine bottles “in an effort to lend marketing credibility and an air of sophistication to the product.”
“The most important similarity between MonaVie Products and Royal Tongan Limu products is that both are/were marketed as having substantial prophylactic, healing, therapeutic and curative powers for an almost limited universe of diseases and conditions,” the MonaVie class action lawsuit says.
Pontrelli claims that MonaVie uses the multilevel marketing scheme to avoid accusations of false advertising, even though the company is aware that its distributors rely on false testimonials and misleading marketing tactics.
Pontrelli claims in the class action lawsuit that MonaVie set up an “elaborate network” of independent distributors who are held out to be separate, independent businesses. Because each distributor must pay for the privilege of distributing MonaVie products, independent distributors are able to increase their earnings by encouraging other individuals to become distributors of the alleged superfood juice products.
The class action lawsuit alleges that MonaVie distributors recruit “medical experts” to provide false, vague or misleading testimony about the health benefits provided by the juices. For example, a man who introduces himself as “Doctor” Lou Niles frequently touts the health benefits of the MonaVie products. Although Dr. Niles claims he is a practicing MD oncologist, he allegedly is neither an MD nor an oncologist. Pontrelli believes that MonaVie relies on fake experts to lend credibility to the products’ health claims.
According to the MonaVie class action lawsuit, a post on www.monavieforum.net states that MonaVie juices may be a viable alternative to traditional treatments for the following diseases: allergies, arthritis pain, asthma, back pain, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, intestinal disease, skin disorders, sleep apnea, stroke and weight loss. The same post suggests that consuming MonaVie every day could help prevent cancer, boost energy and alleviate stress.
Pontrelli filed the class action lawsuit on behalf of New Jersey residents who bought MonaVie products from July 2007 until the present. She alleges fraud, unjust enrichment and violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.
Pontrelli is represented by Donald A. Beshada of Beshada Farnese LLP.
The MonaVie Class Action Lawsuit is Lisa Pontrelli v. MonaVie Inc., Case No. 2:13-cv-04649, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
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