In a libel lawsuit filed in Florida against the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball (doing business as Major League Baseball), Nutronics Labs says it has been a leading supplier of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) from deer antler velvet for more than 15 years, supplying leading supplement firms including Aquapail, NOW Foods, GNC and Biozone.
IGF-1 is popular amongst athletes looking for peak performance and rapid recovery after intense training.
Extensive and irreparable damage
Last summer, however, Major League Baseball sent out a letter warning major and minor league players to stop taking deer antler velvet supplements because they could be contaminated with banned steroid methyl-testosterone, claims Nutronics Labs.
Nutronics Labs says it sent a letter to MLB stating that its products did not contain the banned steroid. It then sent samples of its products to an independent testing laboratory (Aegis Sciences Corporation), which confirmed this to be the case, claims the firm.
However, MLB “did not respond and stood by its statements contained in the warning letter”, which added deer antler velvet spray to its list of ‘potentially contaminated nutritional supplements’, says Nutronics Labs.
“Regardless of the Aegis Sciences Corporation Laboratory report, minor and major league baseball players and companies such as Aquapail Inc and the Apollo Global Group decided to terminate business relationships with the plaintiff due to MLB’s warning letter”.
This caused “extensive and irreparable damage” including loss of business opportunities, decreases in sales, loss of endorsements by professional athletes and movie stars, the exposure to potential claims and the dilution of the Nutronics Labs brand, reputation and prospective goodwill, claims Nutronics Labs.
Damages could be in excess of $50m
It adds: “The statements in MLB’s letter that plaintiff’s supplement was contaminated and contained methyl-testosterone are false. Defendant knew or should have known that the statements were false when made, or did not exercise reasonable care in verifying the truth or falsity of such statements before transmitting and publishing these statements…
“By publishing the letter and the subsequent press releases on the internet, defendant MLB sought to injure plaintiff Nutronics Labs’ business reputation and to disparage its business.”
As a result, Nutronics Labs has suffered damages of that “could be in excess of $50m”, claims the firm, which is seeking a jury trial.
MLB was not available for comment as this article went to press.