|NEWS RELEASE||March 29, 2005|
Judge Orders Atkins Nutritionals to End Secrecy and Produce Internal Business Records
Ruling Is the Latest Legal Victory for Former Dieter Suing Atkins
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.—A Florida judge has ordered Atkins Nutritionals to produce internal business records as well as other evidence sought by plaintiff Jody Gorran, a former dieter who is suing the weight-loss corporation. Gorran developed a near-fatal artery blockage after following the high-fat Atkins diet for two-and-a-half years, and his lawsuit, filed last year, has withstood repeated attempts at dismissal. In the face of Atkins’ repeated refusal to produce documents and answers to questions in the discovery phase of the case, Gorran filed a motion to compel.
In a hearing today before Palm Beach County judge Susan Lubitz, Gorran’s motion to compel was successfully argued by Dan Kinburn, associate general counsel for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Gorran believes that Atkins Nutritionals’ internal business records are crucial to his case because they will likely show that the corporation engaged in deceptive commercial speech not protected by the First Amendment.
In another recent victory for the former dieter, Atkins Nutritionals has agreed to produce documents and other evidence relating to the dangers of the diet. “It has taken a judge’s order, but now Atkins Nutritionals can no longer conceal its biggest business secret: its strategy for marketing a dangerous diet. Soon, the public will learn that the low-carb plan is all about hype, not health,” says Jody Gorran.
In his lawsuit, Gorran contends that the Atkins diet caused him to develop severe coronary artery disease, including dramatically elevated cholesterol levels, crushing chest pains, and a potentially fatal arterial blockage requiring an angioplasty and a stent. A heart scan done prior to Gorran beginning the diet showed no signs of heart disease. He is asking that all Atkins products and books be required to carry warning labels, and he is seeking less than $15,000 in damages.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.