December 12, 2008
Attorney General Corbett announces $700,000 consumer protection agreement with Pure Weight Loss Inc.
HARRISBURG - Attorney General Tom Corbett today announced a more than $700,000 consumer protection agreement with Pennsylvania-based Pure Weight Loss Inc. addressing more than 3,500 complaints involving non-delivery of weight loss products or services to consumers from Pennsylvania and several other states.
Corbett said a consent decree has been reached with Pure Weight Loss, Inc., of Horsham, PA (formerly known as L.A. Weight Loss Centers, Inc.), along with the company's owner and president, Vahan Karian.
Corbett said the agreement requires the payment of $500,000 to the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, for distribution to consumers who pre-paid for products and services that were not delivered and who filed valid complaints with the Attorney General's Health Care Section.
Additionally, the agreement sets aside $200,000 in a secure fund, which will be used to provide restitution to consumers who filed claims in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court case involving Pure Weight Loss. Corbett said this money will be turned over to the Bankruptcy Trustee for distribution to consumers who have filed proofs of claim with the bankruptcy court.
Corbett explained that the Attorney General's Health Care Section began receiving complaints about Pure Weight Loss in December 2007, shortly after the company announced plans to close more than 400 weight loss centers across the country. The company halted operations on January 4th, 2008, and filed for bankruptcy shortly after that, leaving thousands of consumers without access to weight loss products and services that they had pre-purchased.
Corbett said that the majority of the consumers who contacted the Attorney General's Office had purchased contracts lasting a year or more, paying as much as $2,000 for "lite bars" and other food items that were never delivered. Following the closure announcement in December 2007, consumers were instructed by Pure Weight Loss to pick up products from their stores prior to January 4, 2008, or file a claim for refunds - but many consumers failed to receive either refunds or the products and services they had purchased.
Corbett said that in addition to the $700,000 payment from Karian and Pure Weight Loss to fund consumer restitution, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General is also working with authorities from the states of New York and Maryland to recover additional funds for consumers from those states.
Both New York and Maryland require weight loss centers to post security bonds intended to protect consumers against losses, and all complaints involving consumers from those states will be turned over to authorities in New York and Maryland as claims against those security bonds - allowing the remaining funds to be distributed to consumers from Pennsylvania and other states.
Corbett said that efforts are underway to verify all the consumer claims that have been filed with the Attorney General's Health Care Section. Bank and credit card records are also being obtained to determine the exact amount of credit card charge-backs, stop-payment orders or partial refunds that may already have been paid to some consumers. Corbett said the final distribution amount for each consumer will be calculated when the review of that financial information is complete.
It is anticipated that partial refund distribution will begin in early 2009 for eligible consumers who have already filed complaints with the Attorney General's Health Care Section.
Refund distribution for consumers who filed proofs of claim with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court will take place at the conclusion of the bankruptcy case involving Pure Weight Loss.
The consent agreement was filed in Commonwealth Court, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, by Deputy Attorney General Timothy E. Gates of the Attorney General's Health Care Section.
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