Diet Firm Says Talk Show Host Defamed It

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A diet supplement maker claims an L.A. radio talk show host defamed its products – after it paid her $17,000 a month to endorse them – because of hurt feelings after her national show which it sponsored was canceled. VitaSource sued Luz Maria Briseño in Superior Court.

     VitaSource claims that KTNQ called Briseño to a meeting on April 2 to tell her “that they were canceling her national radio talk show. KTNQ asked Greg Geremesz, president of VitaSource, to attend this meeting.”
     VitaSource claims it had been paying Briseño more than $17,000 a month to endorse its products. She was replaced on Radio Cadena by another nutritionist and a psychologist, both of whom endorse VitaSource, according to the complaint.
     VitaSource claims that at the meeting where her national show was canceled, “Briseño was asked to continue the endorsement of VitaSource during her one-hour local show. However, Briseño became very emotions and said she would no longer endorse VitaSource during her locally broadcast show.
     “During the meeting on April 2, Briseño said to Geremesz: ‘You’ll see what happens,’ or words to that effect.”
     VitaSource claims that its agreement with Briseño prevented her from endorsing any of VitaSource’s competitors. VitaSource says a new agreement, in August 2009, for increased advertising on KTNQ and Univision, boosted Briseño’s monthly check to $32,000.
     But VitaSource claims that the extra advertising did not produce satisfactory sales, because “Briseño was unable to attract a significant number of listeners as customers outside the Southern California media market,” so KTNQ and Univision canceled Briseño’s show.
     From then on, the complaint states, Briseño posted messages on her blog and Twitter page that defamed VitaSource products and discussed the termination of her show. She also put VitaSource and its products in a negative light on her local show, VitaSource says.
     VitaSource claims it sent Briseño a cease and desist letter, but that the defamation has not stopped.
     VitaSource adds that since Briseño began disparaging it, it has seen a sharp drop in sales volume.
     VitaSource seeks an injunction and damages for defamation, trade libel and interference with contractual relations.
     It is represented by John Zarian with Zarian, Midgley & Johnson, of Boise, Idaho.

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