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Jenny Craig Lawsuit Claims Diet Led to Gallstones

By Betty Wang, JD | Last updated on

The latest Jenny Craig lawsuit claims the name-brand diet caused gallstones -- about 1,000 of them, apparently, according to TMZ.

Mara Shapshay, a Los Angeles-based comedian who also writes for Glamour magazine, is suing Jenny Craig after she had to have gallstones removed from her body. She also blames the company for a recent miscarriage, and for causing abdominal pain, vomiting, and other side effects.

Jenny Craig knew its diet could lead to gallbladder disease, Shapshay alleges, and she is now suing them for unspecified damages. Should the company be concerned?

A little bit, at least. Jenny Craig could have a possible products liability issue on its hands, depending on a whole number of circumstances that are currently unknown.

In general, products liability arises when a defective product is used by a consumer who then suffers injuries. While there are several specific theories that a plaintiff can assert, the type of defect must first be determined. The three most common types are:

  • Manufacturing defects, which apply to one product that has somehow left the warehouse (or manufacturer's hands) flawed. It does not mean that the rest of the products are defective, but rather just that one somehow did not conform to standards.
  • Design defects, which can happen when there is a flaw in the design of the product itself. This implies that every single product is defective, or could have been better made.
  • Marketing defects, which include the improper labeling of products, faulty instructions posted on a product, or a failure to warn customers of a product's hidden dangers.

Note that while Shapshay's Jenny Craig lawsuit may seem to be alleging a marketing defect, that kind of defect only applies to hidden dangers. This means that obvious dangers (a knife that can cut you, for example) do not need to come with a warning. So in the company's defense, lawyers for Jenny Craig may try to assert that health risks come with every diet plan, and that they should be obvious.

It's also not known what other substances Shapshay may have ingested, which could potentially also have led to gallstones. If her lawsuit proceeds, Shapshay's personal injury lawyer will likely need to somehow prove -- perhaps through the use of scientific experts -- that her Jenny Craig diet was the precise cause of her injuries.

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