Roca Labs Threatens Other Sites For Writing About Its Case, Files Another Questionable Document

from the just-keep-digging dept

The saga of Roca Labs continues. If you're unfamiliar with it, I recommend reading the previous stories, rather than having me rehash it here, but the Florida company, which makes a substance that it claims will help people lose weight is suing PissedConsumer.com because Roca gets many of its customers to agree to a questionable clause barring any negative statements about the product, and Roca claims that PissedConsumer's encouragement of negative reviews is somehow tortious interference. Roca also has a history of threatening lots of people with defamation claims, including all three former customers who came forward as witnesses in the PissedConsumer case... and us at Techdirt for merely covering the case and quoting some of the filings. There was also this weird tangent involving a failed accusation that PissedConsumer's lawyer, Marc Randazza tried to "bribe" a state Senator (that got tossed out pretty quickly).

Apparently, though, Roca Labs just keeps threatening people for covering the case. We've heard from a few others who received similar threats to the one we received, and the latest is Tracy Coenen, a fraud investigator who writes the Fraud Files blog, where she covered the Roca lawsuit, the lawsuit against a former customer and the fake implied endorsement from Alfonso Ribeiro.

Apparently, Roca's "independent general counsel" Paul Berger didn't like that, and sent her a legal nastygram last week, claiming that she made "numerous false and defamatory statements." Coenen has now responded to Berger's letter, declining to retract the original, noting that the statements in question are either statements of opinion, quotes from the pleadings in the case or factual statements.

At this point, I'm just kind of curious as to why Berger thinks this particular strategy is effective. Is it just the only remaining hammer in his toolbag, and thus every bit of coverage looks like a nail he has to bang?

In the meantime, the case continues with yet another new lawyer representing Roca (I've lost track of how many there have been). The latest lawyer, James Hetz, who also lists himself as "independent general counsel" for Roca Labs (how many of those do they have?) recently filed a statement that the PissedConsumer case "IS NOT related to any pending or closed civil or criminal case filed with this Court or any other Federal or State court..."

That struck me as somewhat interesting, given a blog post from lawyer Ron Coleman last week, in which he revealed that... before Roca had sued PissedConsumer in Florida, PissedConsumer had actually sued Roca Labs for declaratory judgment in New York, after Roca had begun sending PissedConsumer threatening letters demanding it remove all those negative reviews (and apparently claiming, hilariously, it had "suffered damages in excess of $40 million" from the negative reviews). According to the docket on that case, Roca Labs is trying to get it dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, but otherwise the case is proceeding. Given that these appear to be about the very same issue, I'm not sure how the Roca Labs filing in Florida by Hetz is an accurate statement.






Filed Under: defamation, james hetz, paul berger, pissedconsumer, threats, tracy coenen
Companies: consumer opinion corporation, pissedconsumer, roca labs


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