Kirstie Alley on the Hook for False Advertising Claims

Actress Kirstie Alley is facing a class action lawsuit based on her position as a spokesperson for the Organic Liaison weight loss program. In Organic Liaison advertising,  Alley claims to have lost 100 pounds while using Organic Liaison products based on their proven ability to optimize weight loss results quickly and easily, reduce cravings, and boost energy.   

Plaintiff Marina Abramyan, who says she purchased the products in reliance upon the actress’s statements, alleges that Alley really lost her weight as a contestant on the reality program Dancing With the Stars, which featured her losing weight  from dancing every day for several months while on a restricted calorie diet.   In addition, the plaintiff alleges that although the Organic Liaison products claim to be “the first USDA Certified Organic Weight Loss Product,” the Department did not certify the product as an effective weight loss program, but only as an “organic product.”  

The Plaintiff asserts that the claims made by Alley on behalf of Organic Liaison are false, misleading and lack any scientific substantiation. She also argues that the defendants made material omissions in the ads by failing to disclose that Alley’s results were not typical, thanks to the many hours of intense dancing instruction associated with her participation on Dancing with the Stars.  The plaintiff further alleges that Organic Liaison is “nothing more than run-of-the-mill fiber and calcium supplements,” and that the before and after photos of Alley used in the advertising are deceptive.  

Based on these claims, Abramyan seeks an injunction as well as an unspecified amount of actual and punitive damages.  

An Organic Liaison representative called the allegations in the suit “patently false,” and went on to state that “Ms. Alley participated in DWTS for only a short period of time during her approximately one and a half year participation in the Organic Liaison program; the vast majority of her weight loss had nothing to do with her participation in that show.  Unlike a similar case involving the Kardashians, the claims against Alley in the Organic Liasion lawsuit are not based solely on her role as a celebrity spokesperson.  Apparently, she is also a shareholder of Organic Liaison LLC.

This putative class action further underscores the dangers inherent in advertising an actual customer experience.  In addition to potential NAD claims brought by competitors, advertisers run the risk of being targeted by class action attorneys.   As detailed in a previous post, when describing a real life customer experience, advertisers must make it clear that (a) either the experience highlighted in the advertisement could be achieved by customers generally, or (b)  the experience is specifically NOT typical of the experience other customers may have with the advertiser’s product.

In addition to her role on the NBC sitcom Cheers, Ms. Alley also played the role of Vulcan helmsman Mr. Saavik on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Author: Seth Heyman
Seth D. Heyman is a California attorney with extensive experience in advertising and marketing law, corporate law, contracts, governmental regulations, international business, and Internet law. He has counseled numerous successful companies, both public and private, and was responsible for regulatory compliance, contract management, corporate governance, and HR best practices for multiple organizations in many diverse industries, including marketing, telecommunications, energy, and technology development. He offers insight and guidance on federal and state direct mail, TV, radio, telemarketing, and Internet marketing laws, as well as online promotions, Internet privacy, data protection regulations, and similar matters.

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