Pregnant women who wanted to know their baby’s gender were lured into buying a product that falsely claimed to be scientific and accurate, a San Diego Superior Court judge has ruled.
In addition, Judge Joel Wohlfeil found the IntelliGender Gender Prediction Test exposed the women to hazardous chemicals without necessary disclosures and warnings.
Those findings led to $250,000 in penalties being awarded to the people of the state of California, represented by the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, in a law enforcement action against Texas-based IntelliGender and its principals.
“This case exposed the dark side of entrepreneurism,” City Attorney Mara Elliott said. “It is troubling these misleading claims were made to prey on pregnant women. Consumer protection laws were created to stop this kind of conduct.”
The judge — in his ruling Monday — found the defendants violated California’s false advertising and hazardous substances laws and committed theft by false pretenses in marketing and selling the IntelliGender test.
The lawsuit alleged that the company’s founders, Rebecca Griffin and Teresa Garland, knowingly misrepresented facts in order to get consumers to buy the test, which was advertised as “based on science” and sold in drugstores near home-pregnancy tests.
The City Attorney’s Office presented evidence that the product contained lye — a corrosive chemical that exploded on hundreds of pregnant women, causing burns and skin irritation, peeling paint off walls, shattering lightbulbs and inflicting other damage.
The judge enjoined IntelliGender from making false claims about the product’s accuracy, claiming it is “based on science” or placing it near pregnancy tests in the family planning section of drugstores. The judge specifically found claims that the test could be “safely” conducted at home were false and misleading, and that the product was not fit for use as a family planning test.
The city attorney is also suing five retailers who sold the product in San Diego; the Texas manufacturer and one retailer have already settled.