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"The Tables Have Turned" On the Quackbusters...

Friday, May 10, 2002

Opinion by Consumer Advocate Tim Bolen

 

The "Quackbusters," a sham, and scam, organization held together for the express purpose of denying real health care to Americans, has been hit VERY HARD once again. This time, again, in California.

This time, the "defense" in a court case set it up so there was an immediate, and severe, penalty attached to the "Quackbuster" attack against their client(s). I see financial ruin of the top "Quackbusters" on the horizon. I'm very pleased.

In California, there is a law called "Anti-SLAPP" which basically says that if you file a frivolous lawsuit against an entity to "shut them up," a hearing will be held within sixty days to determine if a "SLAPP" situation exists. If it does, THE CASE IS instantly DISMISSED, AND the Plaintiff (whoever filed the lawsuit) has to IMMEDIATELY pay the Defendant's attorney fees. "SLAPP" is an acronym for "Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation."

The "Quackbusters," using their front organization, the National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF) had filed actions against over forty Defendants in California, claiming violation of California's "Private Attorney General" law. Six of those Defendants, all manufacturers of Homeopathic products, banded together, pooled their money, and evolved a defense strategy designed to not only defeat the "Quackbuster" assault, but to exact a severe penalty for that attack. It worked.

Virtually all of the original forty-plus Defendants had formed a communications alliance between their various defense teams - exchanging important information, tactics, and strategies, readily. That was a big benefit to all the Defendants. The communications system showed it's worth right from the start, when the first case went to court - when the "Quackbusters" were beaten senseless in front of a Judge. Then the "Quackbusters" withdrew (dismissed), in sheer fear of being DEPOSED, in another case. For information on these cases go to www.savedrclark.org front page, and click on "A Judges view..." For an even more detailed history, go to www.quackpotwatch.com.

The "Quackbusters" have always, so far, operated behind the scenes, with no penalty to themselves, for an attack against their victims. In fact, they usually collected substantial "Expert Witness Fees" for their actions. Being a top "Quackbuster" pays quite well. It is a business.

Even if the victims survived, winning their case, they were still mauled by the horror of the attack - the financial cost, the damage to their reputation, the emotional distress, the loss of business income during the fight, and the sense of wariness - knowing there'd be another attack "right around the corner," that lingered. A means had to be devised by the victims to make those "attacks" costly to the "Quackbusters," causing the same damage, or more, that the victims suffered. This is now happening.

Frankly, the "Quackbusters" are so dumb, so sleazy, so lazy, and so arrogant, they walked, wide-eyed, right into another trap - here in California. They deserve EVERYTHING they are going to get. And boy, are they going to get it...

 

HERE IS THE SITUATION...

 

The six Homeopathic manufacturers banded together, and decided to use a defense strategy called "complex litigation." In street language this means that the case was scheduled to be handled by a special Judge, and Court, designed to handle technical issues. The reason they did that was simple - the Defendants had FACTS on their side - the Plaintiffs had delicensed MD Stephen Barrett, and the guy with the fake resume, Bobbie Baratz (the president of the NCAHF), and a few other fellow-travelers.

But that was only the FIRST part of the strategy. It is the SECOND part that is going to hit the "Quackbusters" right between the eyes.

The attorneys for the Homeopathic manufacturers went ahead and asembled their case, amassing almost two feet of legal documentation, and then sprang the trap on Barrett, et al. They filed the Anti-SLAPP motion - and won.

Most of you will remember that HEALTH ACTIVIST Ilena Rosenthal, of the Humantics Foundation, filed an Anti-SLAPP motion against Stephen Barett, et al, in Oakland, CA. The Judge awarded over $30,000 in legal fees to her - and her case was simple - and her attorney fees were basic. In the Homeopath case, this isn't the situation. The Defendants spent their legal money, FOR THE WHOLE CASE, up front, doing their legal homework.

So how much will Barrett, and Baratz, and the NCAHF board get tagged with? Well, that's the question...

As a knowledgable bystander I can only estimate - but I'm going to guess that the tab will be upwards of $500,000.

 

WHO WILL HAVE TO PAY?

Now that's another area for speculation. It's a good question. Technically (remember, I'm not an attorney), the NCAHF, being the Plaintiff, is liable for the money. But there is a twist or two, that will go into the recipe. And that's where the fun begins.

In another case, during deposition of William Jarvis, the Secretary of the NCAHF, it was revealed that the NCAHF Board of Directors had NEVER officially decided to be a Plaintiff against ANY of these Defendants - THAT ALL DECISIONS TO OBLIGATE the NCAHF into this legal situation were made ENTIRELY by Stephen Barrett, and Bobbie Baratz. It was also brought out that both Barrett, and Baratz, were expecting sizable payment, in the form of "Expert Witness Fees" from the project. Baratz had been demanding $350 per hour for his time.

There is another twist. I don't believe the NCAHF can weasle out of this, claiming Barrett and Baratz were responsible, because they KNEW about the cases, and DID NOT exercise their fiduciary responsibility, under California non-profit corporation law, to STOP the cases, and dismiss them..

THE BOTTOM LINE is that, under California Anti-SLAPP law, SOMEBODY is going to pay the bill - and, it's going to be a big one.

Yes, they'll file an appeal - but it just a matter of time before they have exhausted their options - and will pay the price.

Good move, Homeopaths. A little drop here, a little drop there...

 

Tim Bolen

Consumer Advocate