Los Angeles sues antibody test broker Wellness Matrix and executives

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The city of Los Angeles has filed a lawsuit against Wellness Matrix Group and two of its executives, saying the company falsely marketed new coronavirus antibody test kits for home use.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, is one of several filed by L.A. city attorney Mike Feuer against companies selling coronavirus test kits and in one case, a radish paste cure for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Dubious brokers have tried to profit off the coronavirus pandemic and take advantage of loose federal regulation of blood antibody tests, which can be used to detect exposure to the virus and potential immunity, Reuters reported. Regulators have since changed their rules.

The case, which also names Wellness co-owner and director of business affairs George Todt and Wellness Chief Executive Barry Migliorini, said the company falsely claimed to have U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to sell “CoronaCide” antibody test kits for home use.

“Defendants offered the product for $49.95 and claimed ‘You’ll have your results in 10 minutes, without a prescription and no special equipment needed,’” the suit said.

The suit also says Wellness, headquartered in Huntington Beach, California, made false claims and fabricated a study about a disinfectant that could kill the virus on surfaces for “28 days or more.”

William Dailey, a lawyer for Wellness, said the company was not involved in marketing the kits or Todt’s dealings with CoronaCide, the company that makes the tests. Todt was not immediately available for comment.

Wellness Matrix did not deliver the kits to Los Angeles residents who were charged for them and did not give refunds to all customers who asked for them, the suit said.

The head of CoronaCide, Edward Joseph Eyring, has filed a federal suit saying Wellness falsely marketed his kits without permission. Eyring and CoronaCide were not named in the suit.

Reporting by Joseph Tanfani in New Jersey and Caroline Humer in New York