Broward New Times — 05.05.16
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In 2009, Los Angeles-based celebrity hair stylist Chaz Dean released Wen, a line of hair-care products that purportedly cleans and conditions without harsh sulfates to create a healthy, natural look. Actresses Alyssa Milano and Christina Applegate have touted the products on infomercials. So has Brooke Shields, who in one commercial flips her hair, looks into the camera, and says, “Wen is the only thing that can change everything for your hair.”

Waverly Robinson of Davie didn’t get the softer, shinier, bouncier locks that Shields or the other A-list celebrities have raved about, but she agrees that Wen’s cleansing conditioner definitely “change[d] everything” for her hair. According to a lawsuit filed in Broward County in April, Robinson says Wen products caused balding, dryness, thinning, and an itchy scalp. Her claims mirror hundreds of others in an ongoing class-action suit.

“The products are the cause of widespread hair loss suffered by the Plaintiff,” the complaint states. “Simply put, no reasonable consumer would purchase a hair product, like the ones at issue, if they knew at the time of purchase that it would cause their hair to fall out.”

On Consumer Affairs’ site, a woman from Brandon, Florida, wrote in January: “I used this product, and I lost half of my hair and have huge bald spots.” A few weeks later, a woman in Loxahatchee wrote, “In less than a month, my hair was coming out in patches... I was bald for about 1.5 years before it grew in.” In February, a woman from Orlando reported, “Each time [I used Wen,] I had clumps of hair falling out in my shower, all over my comb and brush... I had so much hair falling out that I got scared and started crying.”

In 2014, more than 200 people joined a California class-action lawsuit against Wen by Chaz Dean. They alleged that the cleansing conditioner, which costs as much as $32 for 16 ounces, leads to balding and rashes. The litigation is ongoing. Robinson purchased the Wen cleansing conditioner from QVC and paid more than $100 for the hair-care package.

Robinson’s suit — unlike the other class action against Wen — also goes after QVC, the billion-dollar TV infomercial channel that sells Wen and other products. The complaint accuses QVC of not disclosing the adverse effects.

A QVC spokesperson was unable to comment on the litigation. Wen spokesperson Joe Hixson told New Times that Robinson’s suit is similar to the other. “It does not present solid evidence. It’s speculation is what it is. There’s nothing to show that the people having issues are not for the hundreds of other issues like alopecia (a condition causing hair loss), stress, or allergy,” he says. “It’s concerning that millions of bottles have been sold and the universe of people having problems is so small.”

Robinson’s attorney, Josh Eggnatz, explains that the litigation is in its initial stages. His firm represents Robinson and other buyers in Florida. “Chaz Dean and QVC represent themselves as reputable companies, and consumers rely on the reputation and purchase from them. It’s the same reason people purchase the name brand and not the store brand,” Eggnatz tells New Times. “Certainly if our client had known that this product would cause her hair to thin and fall out, if it was disclosed on the label, then she would not have purchased it and wouldn’t have paid the price that she did.”




On the TV show American Takedown, which airs on A&E, camera crews follow elite police forces as they bust high-stakes criminals. It’s basically Cops on steroids. In one episode, the U.S. Coast Guard ambushed a drug-filled boat en route to Puerto Rico. In another, a sheriff’s office in Tennessee busted a massive dogfighting ring. Each episode ends with ne’er-do-wells handcuffed and slumped against a wall, their faces blurred as they ponder the string of poor decisions that brought them there. Morgan Spurlock, of Super Size Me fame, produces the show.

An episode that aired in July 2015 could end up costing A&E. The episode chronicled the Florida Division of Insurance Fraud’s attempts to track down two alleged frauds. Palm Beach County attorney Cory Meltzer and chiropractor Roger Bell had been accused of faking traffic-accident claims. They were part of an alleged scheme that worked like this: People who’d been in car accidents were told to seek treatment at specific clinics despite the fact that they frequently were not injured. The clinics would then bill insurance companies for treatments never given, and law firms would reap a portion of the payouts. When Meltzer and Bell were arrested in 2014, authorities had been silently embedded at some of the frauds’ health clinics for more than a year.

During the episode, the camera flashed to a sign for West Palm Beach law firm Meltzer & Bell, located on North Dixie Highway. “The past week, we have been establishing at their houses and businesses to try to establish a pattern of their daily activities,” the show’s narrator said. The only problem was that the show had the wrong guys.

Meltzer & Bell is owned by criminal defense attorneys Larry Meltzer, a former state prosecutor, and Stephen Bell, an ex-public defender, who say they have nothing to do with the accused. They simply have the same last names. This past April 19, the two — who mostly defend clients with DUIs — sued both A&E and Spurlock’s production company, Warrior Poets, for libel in federal court. They had previously tried suing in state court.

The plaintiffs assert that the show’s producers must have known that the accused frauds — Cory and Roger — had different jobs and different offices. Larry and Stephen claim A&E knew it had the wrong guys but used the law firm’s sign anyway.

“Looking at this, how can they not have realized that Melzter and Bell did not have a law firm together?” the partners’ lawyer, Jamie Sasson, told New Times. “Everyone knows lawyers and chiropractors don’t work together.”

Warrior Poets did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For once, we actually feel bad for DUI lawyers.





Last year, Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins, teamed up with the government of Qatar to buy a stake in Formula 1 racing. Now there are reports that the Middle Eastern country’s state-owned airline, Qatar Airways, could get naming rights to New Miami Stadium (formerly Sun Life Stadium), where the Fins play. Representatives from the Washington-based nonprofit group Alliance for Workers Against Repression Everywhere (AWARE) say they are calling on Ross and the NFL to nix any such deal because Qatar has a record of human rights abuses.

“The Dolphins are going to name a stadium after people who are dealing in human slavery?” asked Mike Lux, chair of AWARE’s advisory board. “That’s appalling!”

According to AWARE, “Every week, approximately 29 migrant workers will die — total deaths are estimated to be 4,000 — building the 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer facilities in Doha because of deplorable working conditions. As of last year, the International Trade Union Confederation estimated that as many as 1,200 workers had died already.”

The group says Qatar Airways “mandates that its employees live in company accommodations where their personal lives are monitored... Qatar Airways workers in Doha are also banned from marrying without the company’s permission, and women must adhere to strict grooming policies, including weight limits...Workers often complain they are denied wages and are forced to live in unsanitary housing. Further, the LGBT community in Qatar lacks any protection, as being homosexual is illegal in the state.”

AWARE advised fans: “Don ’t fly with governments and airlines that have blood on their hands.”

Lux says he worked in the Clinton White House on labor issues. “The world is getting smaller, and labor rights in this country are very much tied [to what happens around the globe]. If our workers are competing with slave labor or exploited labor in other countries, that’s bad for our workers.”

Lux said his group forwarded a news release to the team but hasn’t received a response yet. A call and email from New Times to a Dolphins spokesperson were not returned.

Qatar Airways responded in a statement, saying, “Qatar Airways Group employs 40,000 people from 163 nations, speaking more than 160 languages.” The statement asserted the company offers competitive salaries and excellent benefits, including health care and housing. “Qatar Airways is bound by the laws of the countries it serves...Recent attacks leveled against it are based on a lack of understanding of labor practices outside the United States and a desire to slow the growth of a carrier that has been lauded for both its top-quality product and service.”