Schiff Nutrition International, Inc. will pay at least $5 million to settle a putative class action alleging that the company falsely marketed its glucosamine and chondroitin dietary supplements as an arthritis treatment. Lerma v. Schiff Nutrition Int’l, Inc., No. 11-1056 (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D. Cal., motion for preliminary approval filed March 25, 2014). The proposed settlement, if finalized, will resolve similar claims filed in other jurisdictions and centralized before the California court. The core issue in all of the lawsuits is the veracity of the joint- health benefit representations made about the company’s products.
Without admitting any liability, the company would remove certain labeling claims—“repair joints,”“repair cartilage,”“rebuild joints,”“rebuild cartilage,” “rejuvenate joints,” or “rejuvenate cartilage”—from product labels for 24 months. It may resume making the claims if it possesses and relies on “an independent, well-conducted, published clinical trial that substantiates the representations.”Three named plaintiffs would receive $10,000 each, and plaintiffs’ counsel would be paid $3 million in fees and expenses under the proposed agreement. A settlement fund of at least $2 million would be established for class members with and without proof of purchase; they would be entitled to receive varying amounts under the fund. According to a news source, the company’s supplements exceeded $100 million in sales in 2010. See Law360, March 26, 2014.