While a New York federal judge stripped the warranty claims from a class action lawsuit accusing Walgreen Co. of falsely advertising its glucosamine supplements, he rejected the company’s efforts to dismiss the case.
U.S. District Judge Vincent L. Briccetti found that the plaintiffs failed to provide timely notice of the alleged breach of warranty and stripped these claims from the class action lawsuit. However, he refused Walgreen’s plea to toss the suit, finding that plaintiffs Rosemary Quinn and Alan Ducorsky had stated actionable claims.
According to the class action lawsuit, Walgreen sells a line of six glucosamine supplements that falsely claim to “help rebuild cartilage.” The plaintiffs argue that this claim is scientifically impossible. While each of the six glucosamine supplements contains a variety of ingredients, they all contain glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate.
In 2011, Quinn purchased glucosamine supplements from Walgreen stores in New York and Connecticut. She “read and reviewed” the products’ labels and purchased them based on the representation that the supplements would “help rebuild cartilage.” Similarly, Ducorsky purchased glucosamine supplements from a New York Walgreens store after reading that the product would “help rebuild cartilage.”
The plaintiffs claim that Walgreen unfairly benefitted from their purchases of the ineffective glucosamine supplements. They both insist that they would not have purchased the glucosamine supplements had they known that the products would not be effective at rebuilding cartilage.
In their class action lawsuit, the plaintiffs cite several scientific studies that show that neither glucosamine nor chondroitin can rebuild cartilage. The only studies that suggest that the ingestion of glucosamine may affect cartilage growth are more than a decade old and were sponsored by the manufacturer of a glucosamine supplement.
Walgreen sought to dismiss parts of the glucosamine class action lawsuit because the plaintiffs did not purchase all of the named products. Judge Briccetti said that it is too early for him to make that determination.
“Courts are split as to whether plaintiffs have standing to assert claims that they themselves did not purchase, but which are substantially similar to products they did purchase,” Judge Briccetti said. He said he would consider the appropriateness of these claims during the class certification stage.
Quinn and Ducorsky asserted claims under New York and Connecticut consumer protection statutes as well as claims for unjust enrichment and breach of express warranty.
This class action lawsuit is not the first to target glucosamine supplements sold by Walgreen. In April, a plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit in California, accusing Walgreen of falsely advertising the FlexAid Advanced Triple Action Joint Formula.
The plaintiffs in the current Walgreen glucosamine class action lawsuit are represented by Douglas G. Blankinship, Jeffrey I. Carton and Scott D. Laton of Meiselman Packman Nealon Scialabba & Baker PC.
The case is Quinn et al v. Walgreen Co., Case No. 7:12-cv-08187, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
UPDATE 5/20/14: The plaintiffs have asked a judge to preliminarily approve a glucosamine class action settlement that will provide refunds to consumers who purchased certain glucosamine chondroitin products.
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