Consumer News Release
For immediate release -- Tuesday, January 11, 2000.
Contact Bob Brammer -- 515-281-6699
[See Update at end.]
Consumer Protection Division Sues Bettendorf Marketers of "Breast-enlargement" Device
Company claimed device can permanently enlarge and regrow breast tissue -- including for women who have had a mastectomy.
Des Moines-- The Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office filed a lawsuit today alleging that a Bettendorf company called New Womyn Inc. has no reasonable basis for claims it makes for a medical device purportedly for breast enlargement - including for women who have had a mastectomy.
Defendants named in the suit are New Womyn Inc. and its head, Dan Kaiser, of 2934 Devil's Glen Road, Bettendorf. New Womyn markets from its web site -- http://www.newwomyn.com/.
For a cost of about $2,500 to $3,000, the suit says, the defendants sell a "Stimulations VII" device - with "biospheres" that create "negative pressure" that facilitate "a natural growth response" in soft tissue of the breast. The suit alleges the defendants are violating the Consumer Fraud Act.
"Consumers are entitled to count on the fact that there is reasonable substantiation when companies make significant health and medical claims for products -- especially when so much money and their good health is at stake," said Attorney General Tom Miller.
The suit contained several key elements:
- Allegations that the defendants have no reasonable basis for various claims, including that the device has been scientifically proven to be safe and effective for breast enlargement, and that it would regrow breasts that have been removed in mastectomy.
- Allegations that the conditions of a refund guarantee "are so onerous as to make the money-back guarantee illusory or worthless." The Attorney General's review of the matter began with a complaint of a young California woman who was seeking a refund of over $2,000. The suit said the company's "18-month money-back guarantee" didn't mean a refund was available for 18 months, but that consumers needed to use the device for 18 months, visit a physician every month and fulfill many other conditions before they could obtain a refund.
- A request that the Court order New Womyn to answer a formal "Demand for Information" served last fall by the Attorney General's office which directs the defendants to substantiate claims for their device. Kaiser and New Womyn asserted a Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in refusing the investigative demand.
- A request that the Court: enjoin the defendants from marketing in or from Iowa; prohibit the defendants from making misrepresentations; order the defendants to answer the Attorney General's formal investigative Demand for Information; order the defendants to reimburse all persons who purchased Stimulations VII devices; and impose a civil penalty up to $40,000 per violation.
The consumer fraud lawsuit was filed Tuesday morning in Polk County District Court in Des Moines.
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On May 12, 2004, the Iowa Supreme Court affirmed the Iowa District Court's injunction and money judgment against New Womyn, Inc., and Dan Kaiser. Defendants are therefore permanently enjoined from making various exaggerated claims for the effectiveness of their breast enlargement device in Iowa, and are ordered to pay the State of Iowa $398,682.52. The Iowa injunction applies only to marketing activities occurring in Iowa or directed to Iowa residents, and Defendants are believed to have moved their operation to Florida.