The state has effectively shut down a Marysville-based company that allegedly misled consumers about the effectiveness of breast-enlargement, weight-loss and sexual-dysfunction...
The state has effectively shut down a Marysville-based company that allegedly misled consumers about the effectiveness of breast-enlargement, weight-loss and sexual-dysfunction products it marketed through Web sites.
In court papers filed yesterday, Omni BioTech International, which also did business as Small Breast Solutions (SBS), admitted no wrongdoing. But it agreed to pay $34,000 in civil penalties and legal costs, to pay refunds to dissatisfied customers and to stop selling its products in Washington state.
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In a complaint filed at the same time as a consent decree in Snohomish County Superior Court, the state Attorney General’s office alleged that SBS and its officers, Bailey Rosson-Gray and Robert Rosson, a married couple living in Arlington, made unsubstantiated claims about the products they sold.
The defendants’ lawyer, Thomas Mitchell of Everett, did not respond to phone calls. Neither company President Rosson-Gray nor company Secretary Rosson could be reached yesterday.
The products ranged from $14.95 for a supply of breast-enhancement soap to $349.90 for a six-month supply of the “Complete System,” which included “Breast Enhancement Liquid,” “Feni-Fennel Spray Lotion,” and “Sher Breast Cream,” among other products.
The state’s complaint quoted the following Q&A from one of the defendants’ Web sites:
“I’m 16 years old and my breasts haven’t grow [sic] at all. My doctor told me that I was probably done growing. Is it safe for me to take SBS, and will it still work for me?”
“Yes, it is safe for you to use SBS.”
The state alleged that assurances like that were misleading because such “representations have not been substantiated by any scientifically accepted tests that demonstrate that SBS products are safe or effective for teenagers.”
The defendants similarly misled consumers by promoting another product called “Velotrex” that supposedly could “treat men with sexual disorders caused by ‘fatigue, stress, alcohol, etc,’ ” according to the lawsuit. The state also challenged claims about a product called “DreamaLEAN” that the defendants said could help the “break down [sic] of body fat and cellulite in specific areas which, not only helps you to look better, but also increases self-esteem.”
The lawsuit also took aim at what it claimed were “pictorial misrepresentations” involving “before and after” photos of a woman’s chest area in a bikini, among other alleged deceptions. It also accused the defendants of publishing bogus testimonials, including an endorsement from a customer who supposedly decided to buy SBS products after checking the Better Business Bureau and finding the company had “an awesome rating.”
In fact, the BBB rating stated the company “has received consumer complaints and that ‘the consumer was not always satisfied with the outcome’ of the complaint resolution,” according to the lawsuit.
Assistant Attorney General Paula Selis said that, based on business records the state obtained through administrative subpoenas, her office knows the defendants have operated their Web-based business since 2001 and dealt with “thousands of consumers” across the country. It also knows from those records that “hundreds of consumers” complained to the business, she said.
Under the consent decree, the defendants must contact anyone who has complained to them and ask if they want a refund, Selis said.
In addition, she said it prohibits the defendants from making misrepresentations about the products they sell, from selling the products in Washington state and from selling to Washington consumers from anywhere else.
The case against Omni BioTech marks the second Internet-based, body-enhancement business the state has accused of violating consumer-protection laws this year. The first was against another Marysville-based business called Nature’s Advantage, which agreed to pay $18,000 to settle allegations that it made unsubstantiated claims about its breast-enhancement products.
Peter Lewis: 206-464-2217 or firstname.lastname@example.org