The World's Unsexiest Business
adding a little sizzle to the convenience store industry
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 :