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Eliminating False-Marketing Campaigns

2014 February 26

Updated on Feb. 28, 2014

Riddell Helmets is facing at least three consumer class actions stemming from the false-advertising campaign for the Revolution helmets.

After a similar lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed in 2012, it was just a matter of time before various class actions would be revived.

In December 2013, the first of four class actions was filed in Florida. Shortly thereafter, two class actions (Aronson and Thiel) were filed in New Jersey. Just last week, a fourth class action was filed in California – with more likely on the horizon.

The Aronson complaint seeks to certify a nation-wide class of consumers that purchased the Riddell Revolution Helmet. The other three actions, taken together, seek to certify a state-wide class in California, Illinois, New Jersey and Florida.

With several overlapping putative class actions, which all share the same factual and legal issues, it is likely that Riddell will move to consolidate all the cases by requesting that the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation create an MDL.

The lawsuits target Riddell’s false-marketing claims that arose from a 2003 University of Pittsburgh Medical Center study that stated, “athletes who wore the Riddell Revolution helmet were 31 percent less likely to suffer a concussion compared to athletes who wore traditional football helmets.”

The 2003 study was scientifically flawed on multiple fronts.

First, the co-author of the study, Dr. Joseph Maroon, stated that the study should not have been used as a marketing tool. Second, Dr. Cantu said the study “suffers from a serious, if not fatal, methodological flaw….” Third, Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher testified to Congress that the study also had systematic flaws in data collection. Fourth, Dr. Cantu and Dr. Kutcher both agreed that the study was wrought with an “inherent conflict of interest.” Finally, a study from the Cleveland Clinic found that modern day helmets – including the Revolution – were no more effective at preventing concussions than leather helmets.

Since various companies continue to engage in false marketing, the only way to eliminate this will be through the civil-justice system.

Hopefully, this litigation and others like it will stop companies from profiting off of the so-called concussion crisis.

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