The order is a significant step in concluding the case, Slatery said.
According to the ruling, HRC, Dan Hale, Don Hale, and Dixie Hale are ordered to pay consumers who bought HRC’s bio-identical hormone replacement therapy more than $18.1 million for violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. Additionally, the court issued a permanent injunction barring the defendants from engaging in conduct the court found unlawful.
The order is subject to review by an appellate court. If the appellate court agrees with the trial court ruling, HRC consumers will be paid from defendants’ remaining available assets. However, company assets are likely to be significantly less than the court-ordered amount.
“HRC and its principals made deceptive statements about the safety and efficacy of its hormone replacement therapy and omitted facts that were important to consumers,” Slatery said. “It took years of hard work from our attorneys, but the trial court has sent a clear message about defendants’ advertising practices.”
The state’s original complaint, filed Oct. 8, 2012, alleged in part that HRC, Dan Hale, and Don Hale withheld important information concerning health risks and side effects from consumers and made a series of false, deceptive and/or unsubstantiated claims about their alternative regimen of BHRT. For women, HRC’s BHRT consisted of estradiol, progesterone and testosterone. For men, HRC’s BHRT consisted of testosterone.
In 2015, the court found HRC violated the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act by deceptively claiming their products to be absolutely or completely safe, had no side effects and restored a user’s hormones to prime levels. The court also found HRC violated the TCPA by making false claims regarding FDA approval and by using company employees and family members in customer testimonial advertisements without disclosing that relationship to consumers.
“It is extremely important that consumers receive truthful information about the benefits and risks of any purchase,” said director Cynthia Wiel with the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs. “We are pleased that the court’s decision recognizes this principle.”
HRC Medical Centers operated clinics in Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis that sold BHRT.