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Falcons’ Jackson sues supplement maker


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Falcons’ Jackson sues supplement maker

By D. ORLANDO LEDBETTER

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jackson, appealing a four-game suspension from the NFL, filed a class-action lawsuit against the manufacturer of Nikki Harrell’s StarCaps diet pills Monday in Superior Court of California.

Jackson is suing Balanced Health Products, the maker of StarCaps. He is seeking restitution and damages for false advertising and unfair business practices against the company and retailers of StarCaps.

Other named defendants include Nikki Haskell, General Nutrition Corporation and Centers, Great Earth Companies and Vitamin Shoppe Industries.

“Grady has obviously suffered damage to his reputation with the taking of StarCaps,” said attorney Eric Farber, who filed the lawsuit. “As well, Grady has set up a place for consumers to seek restitution.”

The lawsuit seeks to stop the sale of StarCaps to the general public. It reveals that Jackson has been suspended for four games as a first-time offender of the league’s steroids policy, but is currently in the appeals process.

Jackson has played in the Falcons’ past two games since receiving his suspension notice.

A team spokesman said the Falcons would not comment on the lawsuit.

When reached by phone, Jackson referred all matters to his agent Angelo Wright.

“I don’t have any comment at this time,” Wright said. “There is nothing for me to say.”

StarCaps, on its Web site, StarCaps.com, acknowledges Jackson’s lawsuit in a message: “We’ve received notice of a problem with an NFL player. We have referred the matter to our counsel and are taking all necessary steps to ensure that our customers receive a product that is safe and effective. We have temporarily suspended shipping of StarCaps pending the results of our investigation. Thank You.”

Jackson, with 15 tackles and one sack, is a key cog in the Falcons’ run defense. With his size, which is generously listed by the team at 6-foot-2, 345 pounds, he constantly faces double-team blocks.

With the Falcons at 6-3 and one game out of first place in the NFC South Division, a loss of Jackson for four games would be a major blow to the defense.

The Falcons don’t have a defensive tackle with Jackson’s size on the active roster. They did recently added J’Vonne Parker (6-4, 325) to the practice squad. Since coming out of Rutgers in 2005, Parker has played in 11 games with Cleveland, Dallas and Baltimore. He has six tackles and one fumble recovery.

In the lawsuit, Jackson said he thought he was taking a papaya and garlic extract. He but contends in the lawsuit that the StarCaps pills, which were billed as natural diet pills, actually contained Bumetanide, a powerful loop diuretic available only by prescription.

Bumetanide is used for the treatment of edema associated with congestive heart failure, hepatic and renal disease. Bumetanide is on the NFL’s list of banned substances as a diuretic masking agent.

The lawsuit points out the manufacturer claims that “you can lose anywhere from 10 to 125 pounds.”

Jackson, 35, has played most of his career well above 350 pounds.

“We would like to see this product pulled from the market completely and make sure that consumers who purchased it can get their money back, essentially,” Farber said.

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