No Gray? No Way: Judge Rules Feds Can Block Former Cheyenne Firm’s Product
A federal judge found only black and white, and no touch of gray, about a former Cheyenne-based company that sells a dietary supplement to reverse one of the hallmarks of aging.
U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson ruled this week the Federal Trade Commission can proceed with an injunction blocking Coorga Nutraceuticals Corp. and its executive vice president Garfield Coore from promoting its Grey Defence product because there's no scientific evidence to show it works.
"Coore was intimately involved with Grey Defence's development and advertising, yet chose not to consult any medical professional to evaluate his purported substantiation or conduct any well-designed clinical trial to investigate Grey Defence's efficacy," the judge wrote.
"Instead, he arrogantly relied on his own internet research, knowledge from high school biology and chemistry classes, a test on himself, and conversations with researchers who did not actually evaluate Grey Defence's efficacy," Johnson wrote. "This type of evidence constitutes reckless indifference."
FTC sued Coore and Coorga on May 13, 2015, demanding the court order COORGA to stop doing business, refund customers, give up illegal financial gains, and prove its products work.
Coore responded the FTC didn't provide evidence to support its allegations. The FTC damaged Coorga's reputation for selling a legal product that Coore said meets FTC guidelines.
The FTC and Coorga Nutraceuticals recently filed motions for summary judgment asking the court to dismiss the case in their favor.
Johnson washed the gray away in his Aug. 15 ruling.
He noted COORGA’s website cited a study it did by selecting 100 customers who used Grey Defence for five months. Twenty customers responded, and 13 indicated they saw grey hair reversal.
That's ridiculous, Johnson wrote.
The FTC offered the expert testimony of a doctor and professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, who said he could not find any human clinical trials of Grey Defence showing it could reverse or prevent gray hair.
Johnson noted Coore responded the doctor had no experience with research on hair color.
But a lay witness like Coore cannot provide expert opinions to rebut the doctor's expert opinions, Johnson wrote. "Coore's opinions offered as expert testimony amount to nothing more than unsupported, theoretical statements that are inadmissible and insufficient to create a disputed issue of material fact at summary judgment."
Johnson's ruling clears the way for the FTC block Coorga from doing business, refund customers, give up any illegal financial gains, and prove its products work.
That may not be so easy.
In a separate motion, Johnson granted a request from Coorga's attorney to withdraw as counsel because the Coore owes the Cheyenne-based Kuker Group law firm nearly $25,000, not counting recent invoices.
Last year, the Wyoming Secretary of State administratively dissolved Coorga Nutraceuticals for tax delinquencies.
Coorga's registered agent in Cheyenne resigned in October 2015.
And Coore and Coorga Nutraceuticals now list their residences in Scarborough, Ontario, according to recent court documents.
Both sides have until Sept. 19 to submit a final order in the case or a report their status.