Herbalife, a national purveyor of nutritional supplements and other products for weight management, energy and fitness, has asked a judge for permission to nail down the identity of a Twitter troll they allege has posted a series of “defamatory, disparaging and deceptive” social media posts about the company and its management.
On July 20, Los Angeles-based Herbalife filed a petition in Cook County Circuit Court under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 224 asking the court to order Twitter to grant Herbalife the chance to review records to unveil the identity of the alleged defamatory tweeter, in preparation for a possible lawsuit from Herbalife.
“Petitioner (Herbalife) believes that Twitter has in its possession identifying information for the users … who have engaged in publishing actionable statements about Herbalife,” the petition for discovery states. “The basis for Herbalife’s believe is that Twitter’s registration process requires a user to provide a name and address before he or she can post a tweet.
“Further … Twitter also records the user’s Twitter account information and IP address every time he or she logs into Twitter and posts a tweet.”
Herbalife’s petition comes in the wake of a series of tweets from the account of a user identified by the Twitter handle of @AfueraHerbaLIES.
According to Herbalife’s petition, the tweets began in May 2015, when the user tweeted Herbalife’s products would be pulled from the market “because of their toxicity.”
“That statement is false because Herbalife products are not, and never have been proven to be toxic,” Herbalife’s petition states.
In later posts, the user continued to accuse Herbalife of peddling “toxic” products, while personally attacking other members of Herbalife’s management team.
In June, for instance, the Twitter user allegedly posted a tweet accusing Pamela Jones Harbour, a Herbalife executive and former Federal Trade Commissioner, “of perpetuating ‘modern day slavery’ by posting the following statement: ‘Former FTC Chair has no respect 4 others sold herself 2 $HLF that has her preserving a modern day slave industry 4 $$ (sic.)”
HLF is the symbol for Herbalife used on stock exchanges.
The user also used a tweet to refer to a Herbalife distributor as “a member of the ‘HerbaKlan.’”
And the petition states the Twitter user also has posted tweets in which “Herbalife and its management are vilified as ‘thieves,’ ‘pill pushing frauds’ and ‘bullies’ – among the many other offensive and denigrating terms used.”
“Indeed, even the Twitter handle @AfueraHerbaLIES, meaning in Spanish ‘out with HerbaLIES,’ is disparaging to Herbalife,” the petition states.
Herbalife has declared it will seek information, including IP addresses, account information and other Twitter user information to identify potential targets of a lawsuit for defamation and potential violations of Illinois law.
Herbalife is represented in the action b attorneys Stephen Senderowitz, Samuel Fifer and Kristen C. Rodriguez, of the firm of Dentons US LLP, of Chicago.