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Judge Rules for Second Time in Favor of Man Suing Atkins Empire

Jody Gorran and
PCRM lead attorney Dan Kinburn and plaintiff Jody Gorran

A Florida judge has just denied Atkins Nutritionals’ second attempt to have a groundbreaking lawsuit against it dismissed. The lawsuit was filed last May by Jody Gorran, a Florida businessman who developed a life-threatening artery blockage after following the high-fat diet for two-and-a-half years.

Palm Beach County judge Susan Lubitz also ruled that Atkins Nutritionals must comply with Gorran’s requests for documents, answers to written questions, and depositions of senior Atkins officials. The rulings mean that the lawsuit will move forward towards trial and the discovery phase will begin, during which Gorran, 53, will seek support for his contention that the privately held corporation knowingly misled the public about the high-fat diet’s potential dangers.

Judge Lubitz denied Atkins Nutritionals’ first motion to dismiss in November. PCRM provides legal services for Gorran.

In both attempts to have Gorran’s case thrown out of court, Atkins Nutritionals had argued that the company was protected under the first amendment. But case law strongly supports Gorran’s lawsuit. For example, in U.S. v. Schiff, the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, ruled against the publishers of The Federal Mafia, a book promoting a tax evasion scheme, finding that commercial speech can be enjoined if it is fraudulent. In another well-known case, Braun v. Soldier of Fortune Magazine, the court found that advertising murder-for-hire is not accorded free-speech protection.

Gorran argues that the Atkins diet caused him to develop severe coronary 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.

Gorran is asking that all Atkins products and books be required to carry warning labels. He is seeking less than $15,000 in damages.



 

PCRM Online, January 2005

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