SALT LAKE CITY -- United States District Court Judge Clark Waddoups from the District of Utah has ordered, in favor of HealthyYOU Vending, a stipulated judgement and permanent injunction against its competitor Christopher Wyland, chief executive of Grow Healthy Vending. After a three-plus year effort to discover the source of false and slanderous posts on the Internet, HealthyYOU Vending said this week that its lawsuit has concluded successfully.
In 2014, HealthyYOU Vending's parent, 1.800.VENDING, a business-opportunity firm had accused Irvine, CA-based Grow Franchise Group LLC and Wyland, one of its owners, of posting bogus statements about 1.800.VENDING and one of its owners, Jeff Marsh. HealthyYOU filed a lawsuit in federal court on Oct. 3, 2014, seeking monetary and injunctive relief. | SEE STORY
After further investigation including subpoenas and depositions, HealthyYOU discovered bogus Web postings originating from the Wyland's residential IP address. HealthyYOU's 2014 lawsuit also named former vending aliases used by Wyland under which he conducted business.
"This has been a long process and we are happy to have it resolved," said Marsh, HealthyYOU's chief operator officer. "Although it is now clear to everyone that these posts disparaging our company are fraudulent, from what we've discovered about his history, I am cautiously optimistic at best that Mr. Wyland and Grow will refrain from further disguised attempts to damage our company. Only time will tell."
In the order Judge Waddoups prohibited Wyland and Grow Healthy Vending, and anyone in concert or participation with either, from making further false or misleading misrepresentations about, or disparaging in any manner HealthyYOU's products, services, business or officers. Wyland and Grow Healthy Vending are also enjoined from further false statements regarding the geographic origin or quality of HealthyYOU's vending machines. Wyland will make an initial payment of $25,000 to HealthyYOU and 20 additional payments over the next two years.
In a statement posted on Grow Healthy Vending's website, Wyland said: "I am pleased to announce that we have now reached a settlement agreement regarding the ongoing lawsuits between Grow Healthy Vending and 1.800.VENDING DBA HealthyYOU Vending. We are very happy with the outcome and settlement of this dispute. With the resolution of the dispute, I now look forward to reallocating more time and resources on continuing the Grow tradition of creating successful healthy vending operators."
Jefferson W. Gross of Burbidge Mitchell & Gross, lead attorney for HealthyYOU, believes the defendants got off easy. "After the maliciousness of some of these posts, I am amazed the executive team at HealthyYOU was so merciful in permitting settlement on those terms to Chris Wyland, and not taking him to trial and getting a multimillion dollar judgment against him."
Gross pointed out that HealthyYOU Vending will continue to be impacted by fraudulent posts, which will remain at some consumer complaint websites because federal law shields them, even if their postings are false or inaccurate. "These sites continue to prosper by driving search traffic to their 'bathroom wall' content surrounded by paid advertising," he said. "It's ridiculous."
Based in Kaysville, UT, 1.800.VENDING was founded 18 years ago. It launched its healthy vending division in 2007. The company says it has sold almost 100,000 machines to more than 6,000 vending operators and customers.