TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Greatest Lawsuit Ever?

Okay, probably not.  And not really a tort suit, as far as I can tell.  But any time you've got a bodybuilder suing Pat Robertson, I'm sold.  Plus, he's also sued Jon Stewart and a fellow named John Edwards (not that one) (or that other one, who, as it turns out, lacks the final s).  The bodybuilder is Phil Busch (warning: his website starts making noise without warning and is profanity laden).  The story:

At the center of the controversy is Robertson's formula for a weight-loss shake. The formula is distributed free through The 700 Club, CBN's flagship talk show. Using the shake, Busch's weight dropped from more than 400 to 212 pounds in 15 months. In the fall of 2004, Busch entered two drug-free bodybuilding competitions, Mr. Natural Olympia and Mr. Natural Universe, and scored two top-10 finishes.

When Busch shared his story with The 700 Club, the show's producers decided to use Busch's dramatic before-and-after photos to kick off the 2005 edition of "Pat's Weight Loss Challenge."

The recipe is distributed for free through the non-profit group CBN (which broadcasts The 700 Club) but also licensed to, among other places, GNC stores, by the for-profit Robertson Asset Management, through which Pat Robertson receives a commission.  Robertson's attorneys say the lines are kept clear to protect the CBN's tax-exempt status.

So here's the part that Busch is angry about: As noted, he appeared on The 700 Club, and the free distribution took off dramatically.  But the for-profit sales soared too, with a different body builder as the (one assumes paid) spokesman.  Busch thinks that his appearances were being used to sneakily promote the commercial product and wants to get paid.  So he sued, currently acting pro se.  So far, the non-Robertson defendants in that suit have settled for a total of $42,000.  Unfortunately, the Eastern District of Virginia doesn't scan its filings, so I don't have the complaint for you.

He's suing Stewart for using his image in a bit about the Robertson shake, and Edwards for allegedly backing out on an agreement to create a line of Busch-endorsed products.

And in case you are disbelieving the power of the Robertson Shake, here's a video of his leg-pressing abilities:

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