Federal judge gives consumers leave to amend dismissed claim over Nature Made biotin supplements

By Karen Kidd | Jan 9, 2019

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SAN FRANCISCO – A putative class action by two California consumers alleging they were deceived into buying more biotin than their bodies need was dismissed by a federal judge earlier this month, but were allowed a period to amend their complaint.

In his 11-page order issued Jan. 4, U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California Judge Edward M. Chen dismissed consumers Eugene Anthony and Amanda Holt's lawsuit against Pharmavite. Chen dismissed the pair's claim for injunctive relief with prejudice and dismissed their remaining claims without prejudice, giving them leave to amend their lawsuit within 60 days.  

Chen handed down his order in response to Pharmavite's motion to dismiss. The company claimed Anthony and Holt failed to state a plausible claim and failed to demonstrate a real and immediate threat of repeated injury.

Chen denied other requests by Pharmavite and Anthony and Holt's requests for judicial notice "because the materials they reference are not necessary for the resolution of this motion," the order said.

Anthony and Holt filed their putative class action in May alleging Pharmavite's biotin supplements are manufactured, marketed and sold via false, misleading and deceptive advertising that mounts to a violation of California's Unfair Competition Law

The pair claimed to have purchased Pharmavite's Nature Made biotin supplements based on the company's claims about biotin helping to support skin, hair and nails.

"Plaintiffs allege these health benefit representations are misleading because most people obtain more than enough biotin from their daily diets, so biotin supplements are unneeded, superfluous, and will provide no health benefits," the background portion of the order said. "Only a minuscule percentage of individuals with biotin deficiencies could potentially benefit from biotin supplements."

Anthony and Holt claim they were injured and lost money in their purchases, which allegedly did not deliver as advertised.

Chen countered in his order that Anthony and Holt's claim to have been injured didn't stand up.

"The import of plaintiffs' allegations is that Pharmavite can do nothing to alter its advertising or product to make biotin supplements beneficial to plaintiffs," the order said. "Plaintiffs do not face the 'injury of being unable to rely on Pharmavite's representations of its biotin products in deciding whether or not they should purchase the Biotin Products in the future.'"

Chen's order also pointed to established law that "named plaintiffs who represent a class must allege and show that they personally have been injured, not that the injury has been suffered by other, unidentified members of the class to which they belong and which they purport to represent."

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