Attorneys in GNC class settlement ask for $974k

By Steve Gonzalez | Jun 23, 2006

The good news for consumers of a muscle building product purchased at General Nutrition Services stores is that a full refund of $25 or so may be coming in the mail.

Even better news for plaintiff's attorneys: Close to $1 million may be awarded in fees and costs in the proposed class action settlement of Nicholas Robitaille v. Muscle Marketing USA Creatine Serum and GNC filed in St. Clair County in 2003. Circuit Judge Lloyd Cueto will decide whether to approve the settlement during a Nov. 6 hearing.

GNC has agreed not to oppose the attorneys' request for $974,000, according to literature sent to potential class members.

Consumers who have purchased any form of Muscle Marketing USA Creatine Serum at a GNC store on or after January 1, 1999, will be entitled to payment or a discount certificate.

According to the notice by Cueto, people who can document their purchase of the product from a GNC store on or after January 1, 1999, will be entitled to submit claims for a full cash refund.

Those who don't have proof, but would be willing to verify their purchase under oath will be entitled to receive a discount certificate which has a cash value of $10 toward the purchase of $25 or more of any products at any GNC store.

Robitaille, the class representative, alleged that the labels on MMUSA Creatine Serum falsely represented that it contained "pure creatine monohydrate" or that a suggested serving supplied "the equivalent of 2,500 mg of creatine monohydrate."

GNC claims that it had nothing to do with any of the advertising about which Robitaille complained, and strongly denies that it did anything wrong but agreed to the settlement to avoid the costs associated with going to trial.

MMUSA is not a party to this settlement, and the claims against the producer are not being dismissed.

GNC has agreed to distribute up to $50 million worth of discount certificates to persons who sign an affidavit stating under penalty of perjury that they purchased one or more bottles of MMUSA's Creatine Serum at a GNC store on or after January 1, 1999.

Class members can object to the settlement if they do not like any part of it by sending a letter to the court and the lawyers involved in the case by July 6.

That also is the date set to request being excluded from the settlement. Class members who fail to ask to be excluded cannot sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against GNC related to GNC's sale of MMUSA Creatine Serum.

The class is represented by Mark Tamblyn, of Sacramento, Douglas Brooks of Boston and Jo Dee Favre of Belleville.

GNC is represented by Gerald Stubenhofer, Jr. of Pittsburgh.

03 L 133 (20th Circuit)

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