Supplement maker Natrol seeks bankruptcy in wake of class actions

June 11 Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:55pm EDT

June 11 (Reuters) - Natrol Inc filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, a day after a U.S. judicial panel consolidated several class actions accusing the health supplement maker of false marketing of its joint relief products.

Natrol, a unit of Plethico Pharmaceuticals Ltd of India, also owns the Laci Le Beau dieter's teas, NuHair and Shen Min hair loss treatments and MRI and Prolab strength supplements.

In documents filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, Chatsworth, California-based Natrol did not explain why it was seeking bankruptcy.

A company spokeswoman and Michael Nestor, a Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor lawyer who filed the bankruptcy petition, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A lawyer who represented Natrol in consumer lawsuits declined to comment.

Bankruptcy automatically stays litigation, and Natrol has been the target in the past year of at least three lawsuits seeking class action status. They were filed in California, Illinois and New York federal courts.

The lawsuits say Natrol's glucosamine-related supplements cannot provide the advertised benefits of regenerating cartilage, lubricating joints and providing comfort, according to court documents.

Natrol said in federal court documents that its products performed as advertised, and it denied the allegations.

The three lawsuits were transferred on Tuesday by a judicial panel to U.S. District Judge Frederick Motz of Baltimore to coordinate discovery and other initial matters. The judge is already overseeing similar litigation involving products made by GNC Corp and Nutramax Laboratories Inc.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the glucosamine cases did not respond to a request for comment.

Natrol said in bankruptcy court documents that it had up to $500 million in assets and up to $100 million in liabilities.

Plethico Pharmaceuticals acquired Natrol for about $82 million in 2008.

The case is Natrol Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 14-11446. (Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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