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Nutrition Distribution, LLC v. 1 Nation Nutrition Holdings, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

December 18, 2017

NUTRITION DISTRIBUTION, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
1 NATION NUTRITION HOLDINGS, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JEAN C. HAMILTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant 1 Nation Nutrition Holdings, LLC's, and Defendant Infantry Labs, LLC's, Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (ECF 8). The matter is fully briefed and ready for disposition.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Nutrition Distribution, LLC, alleges as follows in its Amended Complaint: Plaintiff is a “sports supplement manufacturer and marketer, ” and “has products in several categories of body building products.” (ECF 7, ¶¶ 18-19). “Around 2007, Plaintiff began developing a new product in the muscle-gainer sub-market of the nutritional supplement world, ” which product it introduced as Mass. FX Black. (ECF 7, ¶¶ 20-21).

         Plaintiff further alleges as follows: Defendants have unlawfully advertised, marketed, distributed, and offered for sale products containing Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs), which “are synthetic drugs intended to have similar effects as illegal anabolic steroids.” (ECF 7, ¶ 1). Despite Defendants' “tout[ing] numerous purported health and physical benefits of their SARMs Product” on a Facebook page, “SARM drugs are still in the research and testing phases, ” and “products containing SARMs are not . . . safe and effective for use under the conditions suggested by Defendants and may pose significant potential health and safety risks to consumers.” (ECF 7, ¶¶ 4-5). “Defendants fail to disclose that SARMs are specifically prohibited for use in sporting events, . . ., despite the fact that Defendants specifically market their products to body builders and other competitive athletes.” (ECF 7, ¶ 7). “Defendants have knowingly and materially participated in a false and misleading advertising campaign to promote and sell their products containing SARMs, ” which conduct has “unjustly enriched Defendants at the expense of Plaintiff” and has caused Plaintiff “extensive and irreparable harm, including but not limited to, loss of revenue, disparagement, and loss of goodwill.” (ECF 7, ¶ 8).

         The Amended Complaint also alleges that: “SARMS are not legal as ingredients in any type of dietary supplement.” (ECF 7, ¶ 24). “Defendants knew all along that their products were not recognized among experts as safe and effective” and knew the products “may pose significant potential health and safety risks to consumers.” (ECF 7, ¶ 26). “Defendants' false and misleading advertising is harmful to the marketplace for dietary and nutritional supplements and potentially to individual consumers, ” and “[u]sers of the SARMs Products have little incentive to use a natural product like [Plaintiff's product] Mass. FX Black until they are hurt or the product is taken off the shelves.” (ECF 7, ¶ 27).

         Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to Section 43(a)(1)(B) of the Lanham Act, codified as 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(1)(B). In its Lanham Act claim, Plaintiff repeats the allegations stated above and alleges that “medical experts have opined that products containing SARMs ‘have many recognized potential serious side effects, including hepatoxicity (liver damage), and markedly lower plasma HDL cholesterol (raising the risk of heart disease)'” (emphasis in original); that Defendants' false marketing of their SARMs Products “has the tendency to deceive a substantial segment of the public and consumers . . . into believing they are purchasing a product with different characteristics”; that this “deception is material because it is likely to influence a consumer's purchasing decision, especially if the consumer is concerned about the consequence of taking steroids or illegal substances”; that “Defendants have introduced their false and misleading statements into interstate commerce via marketing and advertising” and via “shipment of their products into interstate commerce”; that “Plaintiff has suffered both an ascertainable economic loss of money and reputational injury by the diversion of business from Plaintiff to Defendants and the loss of goodwill in Plaintiff's products”; and that these false and misleading statements constitute “false and misleading descriptions and misrepresentations of fact in commerce, ” in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(1)(B). (ECF 7, ¶¶ 28-38).

         For relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages, restitution, and treble damages pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1117, punitive damages, costs and attorneys' fees, and preliminary and permanent injunctions enjoining Defendants from producing, licensing, marketing, and selling any SARMs Products. (ECF 7 at 9-10).

         LEGAL STANDARD FOR A MOTION TO DISMISS

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Allegations are to be “simple, concise, and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10(b) provides that in his or her complaint:

A party must state its claims or defenses in numbered paragraphs, each limited as far as practicable to a single set of circumstances. . . . If doing so would promote clarity, each claim founded on a separate transaction or occurrence--and each defense other than a denial--must be stated in a separate count or defense.

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) provides for a motion to dismiss based on the “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” To survive a motion to dismiss a complaint must show that “‘the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). See also Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007).

         “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice” to defeat a motion to dismiss. Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “[O]nly a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The pleading standard of Rule 8 “does not require ‘detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands ...


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