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The Kil Report
The Kil Report: Alternative Medicine,Scientific Method, Evil Skeptic, Scams, Fraud, Hoaxes, Critical Thinking, Enforma
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Enforma: Garvey Walks

By David Glück
Posted on: 12/24/2002

Judge Feess tells us all that ignorance is an excuse, despite what we were taught as kids.


Dear Steve,

Been a while since I have written to you. Did you miss me?

Congratulations! Looks like you drew a walk from Judge Gary A. Feess. Good deal. I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard that the judge found that you can’t be held liable for deceptive statements because you were hired to read a script. He also said that you lack the “scientific background or experience” to evaluate the claims you were hired to read. What the judge seems to be saying is that a celebrity endorser has no responsibility to do anything but read lines and get paid. This suggests that the “actor” is assumed to be not particularly bright and therefore not liable. Even when the celebrity is presented as an expert, because of certain attributes he may possess that caused him to be hired in the first place, he can not be held liable. The judge also seems to be saying that a script is a script, and it doesn’t matter if that script is for a dramatic fiction or if it’s solely intended to misrepresent a product being sold to the public.

I get stuck on this. Was it Steve Garvey endorsing Enforma? Or was it Steve Garvey playing Steve Garvey endorsing Enforma? If it was Steve Garvey endorsing Enforma, why should the script matter? And if it was Steve Garvey playing Steve Garvey endorsing Enforma, how are we to know which Steve we are getting? I guess this was too subtle a question for Judge Feess to consider. If he was an umpire, the opposing team would probably have protested the call with a request that Feess get an eye examination.

But I digress.

The FTC seems to think that a celebrity endorser should have some clue about what the celebrity is endorsing. Go figure. Judge Feess does not agree. So nothing changes. If they can find one, any less-than-reputable company can still hire an idiot to make false claims for them. (Or the celebrity can simply claim to be an idiot. You proved that, Steve. I know you’re not quite as stupid as you made yourself out to be. You don’t really need to be an idiot to take the money and run.) And, I guess he’s saying that you could have investigated the claims yourself, but if you are ill-equipped to do that, and too stupid to have someone do it for you (your management company for example) that’s okay. I bet a lot of celebrities and athletes and their agents would like to high-five you right now. Since you convinced the judge that you were simply too stupid to evaluate Enforma, celebrates are free to take whatever money they are offered, to say just about anything, without being burdened by little things like whether the stuff they are representing is of any value. Of course, this is a considerable blow for consumer protection.

There is a perception on the part of many consumers that if the claims made for a product are presented as fact on a commercial, then it must be true, because it is against the law to lie about a product.

“They can’t say that if it isn’t true.”

But some companies can and do exaggerate or tell outright lies using whatever media is available to them. And way more often than most consumers realize. The FTC does have the power to sue if they think false claims are being made, just as they sued Enforma Diet Systems. But the FTC has a lot on its plate. Often, many complaints have to be made before they act. Just how much money did Enforma take in while you were hawking their worthless product, Steve? How many of those sales were the direct result of being told that the diet works because you told them so? As celebrities go, our perception that a buff athlete with more than 20 years in the major leagues just might know something about fitness and nutrition makes you the perfect spokesperson for a miracle diet, don’t you think?

Steve, I really do have to admire your combativeness. You have lost none of that will to succeed since leaving baseball. Who would have ever guessed that you, Steve Garvey, would be willing to admit to incredible ignorance if it meant a win? I mean, I was able to look up the pyruvate study mentioned in the infomercial, and find enough about chitosan to know that the Enforma system consisted of two bottles of pills that do little or nothing to aid in weight loss. My research only took me about twenty or thirty minutes. I’m sure you could have done that too. Even the judge could have done it. (Maybe if he had, you wouldn’t have gotten off. You might have drawn the perfect judge for this case. You were only playing stupid, right?)

What I read about the case, from an attorney trade paper, did not explain how the judge felt about you standing next to an actress who claimed to be a nutritionist in the infomercial. Did he figure that you didn’t know she was acting? If you knew she was acting, weren’t you taking an active roll in the deception? Gosh, your lawyers must have been good! Your attorney, Harry Saferstein, is quoted as saying the ruling is a “great victory for my client.” “This is good news for the celebrity endorsement community,” Saferstein said. Whew, that makes me breathe easier.

Oh hey, Steve, when you said, “Well, I’m telling you that at the time I did all my due diligence on these products. The product worked for me, my wife and my family.” I’m wondering. Is your family eating “supposedly forbidden” food? Food like “barbecued chicken and ribs, buttered biscuits, foods you can eat when you crave them without guilt, without worry…”?

Are you guys still taking “a few little capsules?” After all, you did say it worked for you. Hmmm…

Steve, I have some advice for you. Don’t let your guard down. I have a vague feeling that the FTC may want to appeal this decision in a higher court. Judge Feess’ decision might be considered by some as outrageous, silly, a complete disconnect from reality, or who knows what else! I’m not saying he ruled poorly, but it might look that way to others, if you know what I mean.

Winning is everything to you Steve. Gotta love that! Keep on fighting, and don’t worry about how many may lose in the process. That’s their problem. What a guy.

Sincerely,

David Glück
Skeptic Friends Network

FTC Update:
Commission authorization to file appeal:

The Commission has authorized the staff to appeal the district court’s adverse decision in its lawsuit against Steve Garvey, et al. This case is related to the FTC’s action against Enforma Natural Products, Inc.
For more information please see:

www.ftc.gov/opa/2003/01/fyi0307.htm



Read or Add Comments about this Article


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