The World's Unsexiest Business
adding a little sizzle to the convenience store industry
Let's set the scene, mood, and feel. Then just as you suspected--the smell of money in the air. A bunch of lawyers get together for a Sunday evening gathering at a downtown Los Angeles local watering hole down the street from the firm. (Partner note to self: best to minimize the distance between the mahogany paneled relics of the old boys club and the extracurricular activities.) The place where the lines between morality, justice, and capitalist self preservation become all too blurred.
And in the event an 11th hour class action directive heads their way? Rally the troops and wake the commander.
The direct purpose of such a weekend festivity could be summed up by what else but a heavy dose of inebriation with a dash of middle manager aspirational camaraderie. Consumption by means of intravenous injection not required. But highly recommended. Now the indirect purpose of such an impromptu soiree sits in a position that's anything but whimsical--a determined search for the next windfall sucker. A couple of hours into the extortion inducing drink-a-thon, the culmination of a "breakthrough" is reached. Though the sucker and bait might be different this time, what seems to never change is the nuisance lawsuit that eventually yields a billion dollar unicorn worthy business model.
Financier$ get your checkbook$ ready!
(Speculative immoral litigation needs funding)
A junior associate proposes the following:
Apple, Google, and Waze navigation applications are intended by alleged 'design' to guide drivers to their destination in the shortest period of time. The straightest path? Maybe. Or the least circuitous one? Perhaps. But that's up to the driver whose familiarity with toggling some lesser known option features can make the difference between the road less traveled and punctuality.
Now what happens when drivers are given an ever so slight run around only to add a couple of minutes getting to their destination? Perhaps coincidentally driving in close proximity to a retail establishment or two that may just need the kind of attention it normally doesn't. Or couldn't, for that matter. All without the help of, say a well planned detour?
Now how about a detour which takes driver past a generally low vehicle traffic gas station? Seems far fetched or even conspiracy theory laden? No way brah. The apps would never get you caught up on the wrong side of town without you realizing it almost immediately. But they might oh-so-subtly push you on the wrong side of the street. What about the perilous situation that follows of a U-turn being maneuvered while a negligent red light 'jumper' heading towards you. We all know how this story ends.
And to a heavy emotionally swayed grand jury it's an even more compelling sob story.
It doesn't matter whether the offending driver was far too blasted out of his mind on Jack, Johnnie, or Jose. All eyes, ears, money, and resources are narrowly diverted to how and then why the superfluous U-turn was made. Ambulance chasing hits the information highway. No scratch that. It's the biggest heist of the big data interstate.
Arriving at a courthouse near you...
See the following for more:
Globe and Mail
What's going on with a lawsuit being initiated by a "less than savory" male enhancement pill manufacturer directed towards unsuspecting convenience store owners?
As a retailer you're required to pull the products in question. But as a consumer your vigilance against their sale of such "contraband" teeters on the edge of whistle blowing. Or so the 'civic duty' preaching lawyers would like for you to do so.
The offenders: Rhino products (not limited to the following):
The primary players?
PLAINTIFF: OUTLAW LABORATORY, LP (herein referred to as Outlaw)
LEGAL COUNSEL: Robert Tauler, Leticia Kimble (Tauler Smith LLP)
DEFENDANTS: Too many retailers to name ranging from convenience store, liquor store, to bodega style shop owners
Outlaw's claim directed at the convenience store proprietor:
Defendants are engaged in a massive covert scheme to distribute and sell illegal “male enhancement” pills containing undisclosed pharmaceuticals to the general public.
What are these "undisclosed pharmaceuticals" in question? Most notably sildenafil which according to Wikipedia can best be explained using a comparison to male enhancement "miracle" drug Viagra:
Both Viagra and sildenafil are widely used to treat erectile dysfunction. In fact, they contain the same active ingredient. Viagra is a brand name for the sildenafil produced and sold by the company Pfizer. Sildenafil is also sold as a generic drug, which is medically identical to Viagra.
What's the contentious issue?
Retailers who sold such products for which they had no idea contained an ingredient that was only available in prescription form (otherwise known as a Viagra) are being penalized under the following technical legalese ridden statutes:
1. FALSE ADVERTISING IN VIOLATION OF THE LANHAM ACT § 43 (a)(1)(B))
2. VIOLATION OF THE CIVIL RACKETEER INFLUENCED AND CORRUPT ORGANIZATIONS ACT (RICO)
According to a legal source who didn't want want to be named, "this sure sounds to me like Pfizer or even Outlaw doesn't like anyone raining down on its prescription or offshoot prescription profit stronghold. Too bad for retailers they had know idea they could be had on account of an obscure false advertisement legal statute."
That legal statute he's referring to is the Lanham Act, which in laymen's terms, loosely asserts that if YOU as the retailer sell the product then YOU also directly approve of its advertising. Fake or not. Conspiracy optional.
While many convenience store owners and operators are crying foul calling it nothing short of a "shakedown" and "deflection strategy, at best" initiated as a massive attempt by Outlaw to cover its bases, it seems to me like the plaintiff has expertly cornered (or shall I say arbitraged by virtue of ignorance) retailers leveraging a statute which would require such sellers of products to be fully aware of all contained ingredients--even when scientific and chemical obfuscation makes it nearly impossible to do so!
Perhaps seeking to shore up its reserves for a potentially huge financial penalty, Outlaw seems to have no other choice but to seek to collect damages from as many retailers it can find whether or not they had sold said products. Therefore, a rather loaded question looms: To what extent did Outlaw go to find such retailers or was it simply an effort initiated by Tauler Smith to blanket all players in the industry? An anonymous industry expert offers the following reading: "They most likely targeted everyone whose contact details were readily available or forced suppliers to hand over lists of customers."
Seems all like a zero-sum game to me since Outlaw will merely act as a de facto pass-through vehicle by collecting whatever it can from legally served retailers and then remitting such funds back to the FDA or other regulatory body that might potentially levy a massive fine.
Take a look at one of the lawsuits filed against Al-Eryani Wholesale Inc. and Sams Universal Wholesale Inc d/b/a SamCo Wholesale that was scraped from Scribd :