Amazon Sued for Selling “Counterfeit” Dietary Supplements

On Friday, a consumer filed a class-action complaint, in the Central District of California, challenging Inc.’s purported practice of selling dietary supplements that do not actually contain the advertised key dietary supplement ingredient.

The plaintiff claimed that Amazon allegedly sells counterfeit glucosamine sulfate supplements, which are most commonly used to help with osteoarthritis and to improve joint pain and health. The plaintiff alleged that “these products are marketed as glucosamine sulfate when, as a matter of fact, no glucosamine sulfate is found in the products.” As a result, the plaintiff proffered that Amazon engaged in “unfair, unlawful, unethical(,) fraudulent, misleading, unconscionable, and/or deceptive sales and/or marketing of its Glucosamine Sulfate containing Supplements (‘Glucosamine Sulfate Products’).”

The plaintiff asserted that he bought a “bottle of Solimo Glucosamine Sulfate 2KC1 1000mg, a dietary supplement manufactured, marketed, and/or sold by Defendant.” The plaintiff averred that the product is “marketed as ‘Glucosamine Sulfate 2KC1 1000mg.’” However, they contended that “laboratory testing confirms that the product Plaintiff purchased does not, in fact, contain any Glucosamine Sulfate.” The plaintiff noted that Glucosamine Sulfate is thought to perform better than other glucosamine products, adding that the “Glucosamine is one of the most commonly purchased dietary supplements, with annual revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The plaintiff claimed that according to U.S. law, “a food ‘shall be deemed to be misbranded’ if it is a dietary supplement and fails to list ‘the name of each ingredient’ in the dietary supplement, the ‘quantity of each such ingredient,’ or ‘the label or labeling of the supplement fails to identify any part of the plant from which the ingredient is derived,’” among other things. They claimed that manufacturers are required to set up a system to ensure compliance with these regulations in addition to testing the components used in the dietary supplement.  

According to the complaint, Amazon represents that the Glucosamine Sulfate Products are what they claim to be, and that “each capsule contains a specific amount of a particular supplement.” However, the plaintiff pointed to the ingredient list on the particular Glucosamine Sulfate Product that he purchased, claiming that “(a) reasonable consumer would expect…that the label statements regarding the identity, quantity, and purity of the Affected Products would be truthful and not deceptive or misleading.” However, the plaintiff alleged that Amazon failed to disclose that the Affected Products “do not contain the ingredients represented on the Affect Products’ labels or that the Affected Products contain adulterants or undisclosed substances.”

In particular, the plaintiff averred that “(e)xemplars of Defendant’s products have been tested…The lab’s findings concluded that the primary composition of the capsules consisted of Glucosamine Hydrochloride and Potassium Sulfate. The analysis found no trace of Glucosamine Sulfate, contrary to the claims on the product.” Consequently, the plaintiff claimed that he and the putative class would not have purchased these products if this information was disclosed.

The putative class consists of “All individuals and entities in the United States who purchased SOLIMO Glucosamine Sulfate products within the applicable statutes of limitations preceding the filing of this lawsuit.”

The counts against Amazon include breach of express warranty under the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, violation of the California Unfair Competition Law, violation of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and violation of California False Advertising Law.

The plaintiff seeks class certification and for the plaintiff and his counsel to represent the classes; declaratory and injunctive relief; restitution; disgorgement; an award for damages, cost and fees; pre- and post-judgment interest; and other relief.

The plaintiff is represented by the Law Office of Francis J. Flynn Jr.