Brian Johnson or, the “Liver King”, is a fitness influencer well-known on the internet. For all his fame and claimed fortune, the Liver King lawsuit continues to make headlines. Mr. Johnson has been on the Joe Rogan Experience, Joe Rogan’s popular podcast. He is best known for his large physique and his willingness to walk around shirtless. He has long credited his physique to an “ancestral lifestyle” and preached his nine ancestral tenets. At about 45 years old, his results have impressed millions of people, and he has grown a massive online presence. For a long time, he adamantly denied steroid use. This gave his following hope that they too could become as rich, strong, and successful as him. What once was fascination has turned into infamy.
Unsurprisingly, doctors and nutritionists spoke out against his diet. Mr. Johnson’s alleged dietary recommendation of eating raw meat has been described as dangerous to the risk of bacterial infection. While the medical community debates whether a carnivore diet can be healthy, a diet of raw meat is less contentious. In December of 2022, Mr. Johnson posted a video admitting he lied to his followers, amassing nearly 4 million viewers in less than a year. The lawsuit claims that a large portion of his followings suffer from severe food-borne illnesses because of his teachings. Mr. Johnson owns Ancestral Supplements and The Fittest Ever, LLC. The lawsuit includes these two entities in addition to Mr. Johnson as the three defendants.
Liver King Lawsuit: Legal Side
The plaintiff filed his complaint in New York for $25 million, accusing the defendants of misleading consumers with Mr. Johnson’s claims that his physique is due to consuming large quantities of raw meat rather than his $11,100 per month steroid routine. In the days before social media, influencers were far less common. They have existed, but not in the capacity that they do today. In re JUUL Labs, Inc., Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation provides a terrific example of federal law against questionable sales practices.
In re JUUL Labs, Inc.
The background of this case is simple. Government entities and consumers brought a class action against Juul Labs, Inc. for their sale of an electronic nicotine delivery device. The allegation in the case was that the defendant corporation marketed their nicotine and delivery system to students in violation of state statutes, federal statutes, and the common law. In the case against Juul Labs, public entities sufficiently alleged a public nuisance claim against the defendant. The allegation involved the company using its expertise in design and marketing addictive products and thwarting regulation to expand its youth market.
In the case against Mr. Johnson, allegations include the “Liver King” pushing a “dangerous and life-threatening diet”. This is comparable to Juul Labs’ e-cigarette delivery system. Moreover, Mr. Johnson’s allegedly immoral method of advertising is comparable or worse than Juul Labs’ marketing campaign. Mr. Johnson’s campaign involves deceit whereas Juul Labs targets a young market.
Since Mr. Johnson’s revelation that he uses steroids, there has been outcry in addition to the Liver King lawsuit. While the original suit has been discontinued, Mr. Johnson continues to face scrutiny for his alleged unethical practices. His behavior has also sparked an update to the Endorsement Ad Guidelines by the Federal Trade Commission. Influencer marketing is a reported $21 billion industry. Perhaps the Liver King’s scandal will spark the changes needed to keep consumers safe. If you have any inquiries regarding a personal injury matter in Washington, D.C. or Maryland, contact us today.