Cincinnati firms restore nearly $24 million to Berkeley's fraud victims
Attorneys Jeffrey Goldenberg of Goldenberg Schneider, LPA and Kathleen Brinkman of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP announced today that the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has granted their petition to restore nearly $24 million to approximately 138,000 customers who were defrauded by Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, Inc. (Berkeley) during the 2001 – 2005 time period. In addition to the $24 million in refunds, the DOJ is implementing a supplemental notice and claims process that will allow other customers defrauded by Berkeley an opportunity to apply for a refund from additional forfeited funds. Berkeley’s top selling product during this time period was Enzyte, a male enhancement product marketed by a character known as “Smiling Bob.”
The return of this $24 million is the final chapter in an eight-year litigation battle that began in March 2004 when Goldenberg Schneider, along with Sean Matt from Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, filed a class action lawsuit against Berkeley in the Montgomery County Ohio Court of Common Pleas. The case alleged that Berkeley used false and deceptive advertisements to lure hundreds of thousands of men and women into purchasing supplements. Once these customers provided credit card information to pay for the shipping of their “free” sample, Berkeley repeatedly charged these cards for additional supplement shipments – shipments that were not authorized by the cardholder. Berkeley quickly became the most complained about business in the country according to the Better Business Bureau.
In March 2005, the United States Government seized approximately $28 million in Berkeley’s assets and pursued criminal charges against Berkeley’s owner, Steve Warshak, many of its officers, and other employees. Mr. Goldenberg and Ms. Brinkman first pursued these assets for the victims in federal court through the restitution process at sentencing of the defendants. Then, they pursued the assets through the federal forfeiture process by filing a class-wide petition for remission of these assets on behalf of 138,000 victims. The DOJ granted this petition on March 14, 2012, agreeing to refund $24 million to these victims. This is believed to be the largest number of victims to benefit from a class-wide petition in the history of the federal remission process.
About Goldenberg Schneider, LPA
Goldenberg Schneider, LPA handles legal matters in the following practice areas: Complex Civil Litigation including Antitrust and Securities, Class Actions, Consumer Protection, Products Liability, Privacy, Wage and Hour, Commercial Litigation, Environmental Law, Corporate Law, Wrongful Death, and Personal Injury. More information about Goldenberg Schneider can be found at www.gs-legal.com.
About Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP
Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP is a large law firm that traces its roots to 1846 in Ohio. With offices in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; and Naples, Florida, Porter Wright provides counsel to a worldwide base of clients. More information about Porter Wright can be found at www.porterwright.com. Kathleen Brinkman is a member of the firm's White-Collar Defense Internal Investigations Practice Group with deep experience in criminal law, asset forfeiture, and victims' rights.
About Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP
Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP represents consumers, investors, whistleblowers, inventors, workers, and others in complex litigation. The firm has offices in Boston, Chicago, Colorado Springs, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. and has been named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List five times. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Visit the firm’s class-action law blog at www.classactionlawtoday.com.