The non-profit George W. Yu Foundation for Nutrition and Health, Inc. filed a lawsuit against vitamin and supplement company Twinlab Consolidated Holdings, former CEO Naomi Whittel and others, claiming the defendants used “fraud, deceit, trickery as well as unfair and illegal methods” to record presenters during a Yu Foundation educational conference retreat in Anne Arundel County, using the content for a commercial sales video about weight loss.
According to a report in The Capital, the Foundation is suing several groups associated with “The Real Skinny on Fat” infomercial, saying they pretended to be associated with the nonprofit so they could film interviews with experts at an event.
The case stems from a retreat on cancer and Alzheimer’s disease in Linthicum, Md, hosted by the Annapolis-based foundation and featuring lectures and discussions by 44 world-renowned doctors, scientists and health experts. The lawsuit claims the defendants registered as exhibitors but instead claimed to be associated with the Foundation and “would surreptitiously record portions of the retreat and attempt to recreate and reproduce other portions of the retreat, through improper, unlawful and fraudulent means.”
The lawsuit states the defendants “were repeatedly seen with cameras in or near the Retreat’s venues, including hallways, conference rooms, auditoriums, exhibitor spaces and dining and meeting areas. When spotted by Retreat organizers, they were asked to leave. Nonetheless, they continued to return.”
“Foundations are meant to serve the public, but commercial companies are taking advantage of foundation work without permission and using it in sales videos for their products and promotion,” said Andrei Palmer, member of the board of directors of the Yu Foundation in a press statement. “This goes against our principles and has already damaged our credibility. Speakers came from around the world based on our reputation but many will never come back because of this kind of intrusion.
The Capital reported that a call for comment from Delaware Corporations LLC, which is listed as the resident agent for The Real Skinny on Fat LLC III in Delaware business records, was not returned. No attorney is listed as representing the group in Maryland court records.