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Vitamin maker who SLAPPed critic must pay

By The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Vitamin maker USANA Health Sciences Inc. must pay a critic of the multilevel marketing industry who was forced to defend himself against a lawsuit brought by the company.

U.S. Magistrate Samuel Alba decided on May 7 that USANA owes $142,510 in attorneys fees to a San Diego investigator, Barry Minkow, and his Fraud Discovery Institute.

Alba's order follows U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell’s March 3 ruling that USANA violated California's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law for suing Minkow for fair criticism.

Minkow has assailed USANA for its network-marketing business model, once-soaring share price, and a series of flaps involving the credentials of top executives and sales associates.

Minkow served eight years in prison for stock fraud before starting the Fraud Discovery Institute. He came out with his first critical report on USANA in February 2007 when he bought "put" options on USANA's stock in a bet the price would fall.

USANA sued him for defamation and stock manipulation, but dropped the defamation claim last summer. It still has one claim pending, for securities manipulation.

USANA and its Chicago-based public-relations firm did not return calls for comment in time for this story.


California high court expands protections for citizens who speak out

Justices overturn ruling that found lawsuits had to involve a public issue to be covered by anti-SLAPP law. 01.22.99

Utah Legislature passes anti-SLAPP bill
Supporters say legislation strengthens First Amendment by stopping frivolous lawsuits against those who speak out at public meetings. 03.06.01

Calif. judge: City can't sue sponsor of pot-related initiative
Court dismisses Santa Barbara City Council's claim, saying it violates state, federal free-speech laws. 07.11.07

SLAPP suits

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