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Whole Foods Tries To Scuttle Homeopathy Class Action

Almond Recall at Some Whole Foods Markets

Almond Recall at Some Whole Foods Markets

Whole Foods is trying to scuttle a proposed class action lawsuit over allegedly deceptive packaging of store-brand homeopathic products by “picking off” the plaintiffs and thereby avoiding payments to consumers.

According to Law360.com, Whole Foods is trying to avoid a class action lawsuit by utilizing an increasingly popular way to try and end proposed class actions lawsuits, the “pick off.” Whole Foods has sent each of the four named plaintiffs in the lawsuit an offer ($20 for products that cost them between $6.00 and $10.00) that the company says provides them “all the relief” they could have recovered at trial.

The plaintiffs seek to represent consumers who purchased Whole Foods brand ‘Cough Ease for Kids,’ ‘Cough Ease,’ ‘Flu Ease’ or ‘Arnica Montana 30C’ products in the last four years.

The lawsuit, filed in August 2014, claims Whole Foods 365-brand cough syrup and remedies are so diluted that they have no effect on the human body and don’t effectively treat flu-like symptoms in adults and children.

“Whole Foods is not only taking advantage of consumers’ desire for natural medicine, but also deceiving consumers into believing that Whole Foods’ products are effective, regulated drugs that are held to the same standards as true medical drugs and non-homeopathic [over-the-counter] drugs.”

The plaintiffs also claim that the homeopathic drugs Whole Foods sells aren’t evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, further leading to customer confusion.

12 comments
  1. ReallyGoodMedicine

    A recent court ruling in California finds that plaintiffs must prove their claims not just bring a claim and shift the burden of proof to the defendant. The plaintiffs in this case will have to prove these products don’t work which is doubtful given the huge number of satisfied patients who use these products over and over again.

    1. Peter Vintner

      The number of “satisfied customers” is entirely irrelevant. Facts are not established by popularity.
      What you suggest is that a California court will accept that unicorns exist because it’s impossible to prove they don’t. I’m sure the California judiciary are more familiar with the rules of logic and evidence.
      In this case an analysis of the product should provide all the evidence needed to point to the balance of probability not being in the defendants’ favour.
      The “satisfied clients” here should be considered as victims of a fraud, whatever they themselves choose to think. That’s what a successful fraud is – satisfied clients. It’s still fraud. Homeopathy is, incontrovertibly, medical fraud.

  2. healthytricia

    What a laugh this ridiculous “law suit” is! Of course, as your previous commentator says, this is impossible to prove and would be balanced by the many people who have derived benefit from these products. How is this any different from any other “natural” product or food or pharmaceutical, for that matter? e.g I ate blueberries and still developed cataracts. Reality: blueberries can be beneficial to some people’s eyesight: e.g. I took an Aspirin and my headache didn’t go away . Reality, Aspirin is a successful analgesic in some cases. e.g. I took large doses of Vitamin C and I still got a cold. Reality: taking large doses of Vitamin C, in some cases, will stop a cold in its tracks.
    Would I SUE because the blueberries, Aspirin, and Vitamin C did not help me in the ways I believed they would ????

  3. louise40

    Well Jennifer Kaplan, in my opinion, homeopathic products work much better and much faster than pharmaceutical ones and the great thing is that once cured, the condition does not come back! So I think these lawsuits are frivolous and the plaintiffs are very likely put up to it by certain skeptic orgs we have seen that recruit people for this purpose.

    1. ReallyGoodMedicine

      Of course, these law suits are sponsored by people who are threatened by homeopathy — threatened most likely on a financial basis. A perusal of the magician James Randi’s website clearly shows that volunteers are solicited to act as plaintiffs. Most likely the volunteers know nothing about medicine. They clearly don’t know anything about homeopathy.

    2. Guy Chapman

      In your opinion. Meanwhile, in the world of objectively verifiable reality, there is no credible evidence they work at all, other than as a placebo. Nor is there any reason to expect they should, nor is there any remotely plausible way they can work.

  4. Nancy Herman

    What a biased piece of nonsense. The stores sell it because people buy it. They buy it because it works. Give the public crefit for having some intelligence. Overwhelming majority of users are highly educated, and don’t believer this kind of nonsense. Shame on Jennifer Kaplan.

  5. Guy Chapman

    Heel has closed up shop in the US and Boiron settled a suit on similar grounds. The safest course for any retailer is to stick with the evidence and not make any therapeutic claims for homeopathy, or use product names which might imply therapeutic use.

    200 years without a shred of credible evidence is probably long enough to be confident it’s never going to happen.

  6. Voice of tReason

    I’m sure Whole Foods, with all the appropriate confidence in their homeopathic products will eagerly meet their detractor in court.
    Oh wait.

  7. jenkaplan

    Thanks for the lively discussion. For all of you who think I shouldn’t blog about this because WF should be able to offer their homeopathic products, if you bothered to read this post, you would see that I did not take a position as to who is right or wrong in this lawsuit. I merely wrote about the facts of the lawsuit. So, I say shame on you to anyone who thinks facts should not be discussed in open forums.

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