Roca Labs threatens suit against customers who helped website it is also suing

Roca makes a dubious weight-loss product whose fine-print makes you promise not to complain, and the customers were cited by, whom Roca is suing for providing a place where dissatisfied customers could air their grievances.

Pissedconsumer's reply brief to Roca's suit is scorching, running the gamut from scientific analysis (its independent expert says that Roca's "non-surgical gastric bypass" is made from industrial food thickeners and represents a serious potential health-hazard to its users) to citations from Better Business Bureau complaints from three upset customers.

The day after this reply brief was filed, Roca sent threats to the customers. Some of these complaints were more than three years old, and the fact that Roca sent its letters out only days after the complainers were named as potential sources of evidence in its lawsuit makes this appear to be nothing more than witness intimidation -- slimy behavior from a company that sells slime.

In the threat letters to the three customers sent on Monday morning September 22nd, Berger directly references that one lawsuit he filed the previous Friday, September 19th as evidence of the "seriousness" with which Roca takes these issues. So, the timeline: on Thursday, September 18th, PissedConsumer responds to Roca's lawsuit, including declarations from three former customers who complained to the Better Business Bureau only to receive initial threats from Roca soon after, though no actual lawsuit (two of these happened in 2011, one earlier in 2014). On Friday, Roca sues a different former customer who complained to the Better Business Bureau. Then, early Monday morning, sends letters to the three former customers whose declarations were part of the Thursday filing, pointing to the Friday lawsuit as evidence of how the company will sue customers who complain to the BBB. You can see all three threats embedded below.

As Randazza notes in his own filing, this appears to be a fairly clear attempt to "intimidate and harass defense witnesses." From the filing:

So far, three of Roca’s prior customers have agreed to serve as witnesses. Most others declined to respond, wishing to not get involved, out of fear that Roca would retaliate against them for testifying. Those concerns proved to be well-founded, as Roca threatened all three of the witnesses Opinion Corp. identified. The timing of its aggression against these three women makes its intentions transparent – Roca wants to intimidate them and any other potential witnesses in this case.

As for Ms. Walsh and Ms. Anderson, it has been in excess of three years since they lodged their complaints with the Better Business Bureau. Roca threatened litigation at the outset, demanding they retract their complaints. Roca then went completely silent for more than three years. However, after such a long period of dormancy Roca now seeks to threaten imminent legal action against these witnesses. Nothing could have motivated Roca to reach out to these women after such a long period other than to try and intimidate witnesses in this case.

Roca Labs Threatens To Sue All Three Former Customers Who Provided Evidence Against Roca In PissedConsumer Case [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]

(Image: Crazy Slime, Amazon)

Notable Replies

  1. Careful now, you go helping people involved in this case and you'll end up added to the laundry list of defendants! wink

  2. Yes. I should be afraid, very afraid. Note how carefully I worded my comment - I didn't say who was tampering with witnesses, just that we were discussing the idea.

    (whistling) Nothing to see here, folks. smile

  3. This does seem to be the big flaw in Roca's business model: they can (apparently) create this quasi-legal user's agreement whereby customers cannot complain about their product, but they can't stop the Streisand effect of everyone else on the internet who hasn't used their product from publicizing complaints once those customers have let the cat out of the bag.

    If you make a good product it will advertise itself. If you have to require customers never complain about the product, well . . . what does that say about the quality of the product?

  4. The people at Roca remind me of the people who owned Amy's Baking Company. They're the kind of people who possibly put out a lousy product, and got a little in over their heads. When the customers started pushing back, they wouldn't back down, they went full Amy. You never go full Amy.

  5. Never would have happened if we had put fire through a proper regulatory and impact-check like we were supposed to do. Instead, the damn tech leaked out and spread like... well, like wildfire, and here we are. Huddled in the dark afraid of everything was good enough for our distant ancestors, it should be good enough for us!

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