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Life Alert company falls victim to $2 million lawsuit


Life Alert, the company that puts the "Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!" commercials on late-night television, has been sued for deceptive advertising by eight California district


The $2 million lawsuit filed Wednesday in Sonoma County Superior Court claims that the maker of emergency medical alert systems uses high-pressure sales tactics and misleading ads to bully old people into buying its products.

"One 80-year-old woman was subjected to a six-hour sales presentation," said Jeffrey Holtzman, a deputy district attorney in Sonoma County. About 50 complaints have been made against the company statewide, he said.

Joining Mr. Holtzman's office in the lawsuit are the district attorneys of Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, Monterey, Napa and Los Angeles counties and state Attorney General Dan Lungren.

The lawsuit alleges Life Alert Emergency Response Inc., based in Chatsworth, Los Angeles County, and its parent company and five Life Alert executives violated state consumer protection laws by, in effect, lying to "senior citizens and disabled persons" during sales pitches.

Among the alleged misrepresentations cited by the complaint were that the defendants had a "hotline" to emergency personnel.

Attorneys for the defendants could not be reached for comment. Eric Bordo, a Life Alert spokesman, said he would respond in several days to written questions.

TTC The Life Alert system -- an electronic device that alerts company employees to call 911 -- costs $1,700 to $5,000, plus monthly "upkeep" charges, the complaint says.

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