retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times had a long piece over the weekend about a case, that while specific to the nutritional supplement industry, could have an impact on retailing in general, as it looks to assign blame for a negative outcome not just to the manufacturer that created a product, but a retailer that sold it.

The specific case focuses on a 22-year-old Army private, Michael Lee Sparling, who collapsed and died while running in formation with his unit in Texas, shortly after having consumed the recommended dose of a workout supplement called Jack3d that the Times describes as containing "a powerful stimulant called dimethylamylamine, or DMAA for short, which some medical experts and health regulators say has similar effects on the body as amphetamines."

The Times continues: "Leanne Sparling and her husband, Michael, blame Jack3d for their son’s death. It is the only way, they say, they can make sense of a healthy young man dying from cardiac arrest. Last month, they filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against USPlabs, the maker of the supplement, and GNC. They argue that the companies sold a defective product and failed to warn about its risks.

"The case has united some military physicians, professional sports organizations and supplement researchers who say Private Sparling’s death, and reports of at least four others, expose major weaknesses in federal protections for consumers. It also opens a very public challenge to GNC’s image as a trusted supplier to athletes and bodybuilders."

The entire story can be read here.
KC's View:
As I read this story, all I could think about is how a finding in the Sparlings' favor could open the door to other such suits, and not just limited to the supplements business. I'm not sure this would always be a bad thing ... and it may be an inevitable thing.