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Consumer Law

Infomercial King’s ‘Cure’ Not So Easy, But Sanction Troubling, Court Says

Posted Aug 28, 2009 1:14 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau’s weight-loss plan was neither easy nor simple, but sanctions imposed against him for violating a consent decree barring misrepresentations were so troubling as to require reconsideration, a federal appeals court has ruled.

A federal judge had fined Trudeau $37.6 million and banned him from infomercial appearances for the next three years because of claims he made pitching his book The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About. The plan limits calories to 500 a day, calls for water enemas and injections of a hormone often prescribed to stimulate ovulation in infertile women, and requires dozens of dietary and lifestyle restrictions.

The opinion (PDF) by Judge John Tinder, appointed to the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2007, upheld a judge’s findings that Trudeau had violated the consent decree, but said the judge improperly imposed a sanction that did not give Trudeau a chance to mend his ways. On remand, the appeals court said, the lower court should explain how it arrived at the $37.6 million figure, according to Reuters and Courthouse News Service.

The opinion begins with an overall description of Trudeau’s history:

“If you have a problem, chances are Kevin Trudeau has an answer. For over a decade, Trudeau has promoted countless ‘cures’ for a host of human woes that he claims the government and corporations have kept hidden from the American public. Cancer, AIDS, severe pain, hair loss, slow reading, poor memory, debt, obesity—you name it, Trudeau has a ‘cure’ for it. To get his messages out, Trudeau has become a marketing machine. And the infomercial is his medium of choice.”

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Judge: ‘Easy’ Diet Claim in TV Ads Misleading, Violated Order”

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