For reasons it won’t explain, a Texas medical device company has voluntarily withdrawn a libel case against FairWarning and the consumer group Public Citizen days after suing them.
Advanced Aesthetic Concepts, LP, distributor of the LipoTron 3000 weight-loss device, filed the one-paragraph dismissal on Friday–nine days after its original filing in Tarrant County District Court in Fort Worth, Texas.
Kevin Herd, a lawyer for Advanced, declined to explain. “A suit was filed, and a suit was dismissed, and that’s the way we’re leaving’’ it, he said.
As reported by FairWarning, the lawsuit charged that a July 11 FairWarning article about unauthorized LipoTron sales was inaccurate and had caused economic harm to Advanced and its top executive, Mark Durante. (Open Channel also published the report.)
The company also claimed that after publication of the story, Public Citizen defamed Advanced in letters urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and state medical boards to take enforcement action.
Advanced has also dismissed its claims against a third party–Medical Spa MD, a blog that has followed the controversy.
But the case continues against whistleblowers Paige Peterson and Belinda Worley, accused of leading “a smear campaign” to cause financial harm to Advanced.
Peterson, a former LipoTron distributor, and Worley provided information to FairWarning and Public Citizen. They also gave a trove of sales records and other documents to the Food and Drug Administration in 2010. The FDA is investigating marketing activities of Advanced and LipoTron manufacturer RevecoMED International of Fullerton, Calif.
The LipoTron, which uses radiofrequency waves to melt fat, for several years has been aggressively promoted by doctors and medical spas as a revolutionary way to slim down. However, the FDA has never cleared or approved the device for weight-loss treatments.
Allison Zieve, general counsel of Public Citizen, said she did not know the reason for Advanced’s abrupt change in legal strategy. “Maybe they realized they screwed up,’’ she said, and decided to steer clear of those “they thought most likely to put on a good defense.”
Peterson said the lawsuit is a face-saving move, and that Advanced knows “the truth’s been told about them all along.”
Now, she said, the company is pursuing the parties “they considered the weakest link because they think we can’t pay for a defense.”
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