Summary: Mr. Brooks is a lawyer in Concord, Massachusetts. Over the past 30 years Mr. Brooks has litigated a wide variety of civil cases nationwide, including matters involving franchising, dealerships and product distribution, as well as securities, antitrust and consumer protection class actions. Mr. Brooks has substantial experience representing the victims of fraudulent and deceptive multi-level marketing (“MLM”) schemes. He has represented MLM distributors in putative and certified class actions in state and federal courts, and is frequently consulted by consumer advocates, the media and other attorneys concerning MLM issues. Mr. Brooks was class counsel in one of the most significant MLM cases, in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that a MLM firm could not avoid being characterized as a pyramid scheme simply by having rules against inventory loading and requiring retail sales; it has to actually enforce rules which ensure that distributors retail products to persons who are not themselves part of the sales force. See Webster v. Omnitrition International, Inc., 79 F.3d 776, 782 (9th Cir. 1996), cert. den. 519 U.S. 865 (1996). Mr. Brooks represented a class of Nu Skin Canada distributors and won rulings that MLM distributors in Canada could sue under the federal securities laws, and that such claims should be certified for class action treatment. See Capone v. Nu Skin Canada, Inc. Case No. 93-C-2855 (D. Utah). In a case involving victims of a “buying club” which sold memberships through a MLM system, Mr. Brooks successfully argued that securities claims should be upheld and that an arbitration clause in the MLM distributor contract should not be enforced because it violated the public policy of the State of New York. See Rhodes v. Consumers' Buyline, Inc., 668 F.Supp. 368 (D. Mass. 1993). Mr. Brooks obtained substantial class settlements for distributors in two cases involving Herbalife “lead generation systems.” See Jacobs v. Herbalife International, Inc., Case No. CV 02-01431 (C.D. Cal.) and Minton v. Herbalife International, Inc., Case No. BC 338305 (Cal. Super. Ct., Los Angeles Cty). Mr. Brooks successfully defended the operator of the www.mlmsurvivor.com web site against claims of defamation by a high level Amway distributor. See Deimler v. Scheibeler, et al, No. 2003 CV 1405 CV (Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania). Most recently Mr. Brooks represented 18 former Herbalife distributors who objected to the class action settlement in Bostick v. Herbalife (C.D.Cal.). Mr. Brooks has worked pro bono for a number of non-profit organizations involved in the effort to educate and protect consumers from deceptive and fraudulent MLM schemes, including Pyramid Scheme Alert (www.pyramidschemealert.org), the Consumer Awareness Institute (www.MLM-thetruth.com), Quackwatch (www.quackwatch.com and www.mlmwatch.org), MLM Survivor (www.mlmsurvivor.com), and the Rick A. Ross Institute (www.rickross.com). Since 1995 Mr. Brooks has participated in rule-making proceedings by the Federal Trade Commission concerning its proposed business opportunity rule in which he has argued for disclosure and conduct regulation of the MLM industry. Representative Decisions: NXIVM Corp. v. Ross Institute, 364 F.3d 471 (2nd Cir. 2004) (Mr. Brooks successfully opposed efforts to obtain a preliminary injunction against his client, a non-profit anti-cult organization, in lawsuit alleging Copyright and Lanham Act violations, including plaintiff’s appeal to the Second Circuit and petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court; Mr. Brooks is representing the defendant pro bono); Wolinetz v. Berkshire Life Insurance Co., 361 F.3d 44 (1st Cir. 2004) (Mr. Brooks obtained a ruling reversing summary judgment in a “vanishing premium” case); In re: AOL Version 5.0 Software Litigation, 168 F.Supp.2d 1359 (S.D.Fla. 2001) (Mr. Brooks represented internet service providers suing America Online for distributing software that interfered with customers seeking to use their services); Scheck v. Burger King Corp., 756 F.Supp. 543 (S.D.Fla. 1991) (widely cited case in which Mr. Brooks successfully opposed summary judgment in encroachment claim by franchisee), further opinion, 798 F.Supp. 692 (S.D.Fla. 1992) (denying motion for reconsideration); Szymanski v. Boston Mutual Life Ins. Co., 56 Mass.App. 367 (2002), rev. den., 438 Mass. 1106 (2003) (reversing summary judgment in vanishing premium litigation); Oganesov v. GNC Franchising Inc., Bus. Franchise Guide (CCH) ¶11,808 (Pa. Ct. Cmn. Pl., March 3, 2000) (awarding $700,000 judgment for franchisee in encroachment litigation; Mr. Brooks represented the franchisee at trial and in the franchisor’s appeals), aff’d, Bus. Franchise Guide (CCH) ¶12,163 (Pa.Super. 2001); Gentle Wind Project v. Garvey, 2005 WL 40064 (D.Me. January 10, 2005) (Mr. Brooks successfully obtained dismissal of claims by alleged cult against operator of cult information web site); Richards v. Arteva Specialties SARL, 66 Mass. App. 726 (2006) (Mr. Brooks successfully obtained reversal of trial court ruling dismissing indirect purchaser antitrust action under Massachusetts consumer protection law). Admissions: Mr. Brooks is a member of the bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First and Third Circuits. He has been admitted pro hac vice in many state and federal courts across the country. Bar Associations: Mr. Brooks is a member of the American and Massachusetts Bar Associations and a member of the Forum on Franchising of the American Bar Association. Mr. Brooks was a speaker at the 1995 Annual Forum on Franchising of the American Bar Association, where he delivered a paper entitled "Survey Evidence - Use of Collected Data in Encroachment Cases" and has been a speaker at conventions of the American Association of Franchisees and Dealers and the American Franchisee Association. Education: Suffolk University Law School (J.D. 1982) (Note Editor, Suffolk Transnational Law Journal, 1981-82); Northwestern University (B.A. 1979).
I am a Special Situations/Value Investor, I invest in Relative value arbitrage situations, Bankrupt and Distressed situations, I have 20 years Experience as a bankruptcy/ legal consultant, Financial/ White Collar Fraud Investigator.
Best investments include (GGP) General Growth Properties (HPY) Heartland Payment Systems (WMIH) Washington Mutual Inc. (NFLX) Netflix, I am currently Long Republic Airways (RJETQ) Fannie Mae (FNMA) Sears Holdings Inc. (SHLD) Sears Holdings Inc/Warrants (SHLD.WS) Pershing Square (PSHZ) I am short Herbalife (HLF)
I've been both a social-justice activist and iconoclast for most of my adult life. Since 2012, I've been a proud MLM-described "(illusory) dream stealer" and "loser", as well as a card-carrying fraud "hater". I'm nothing less and claim nothing more.
My current focus is on the consumer abuses endemic in MLM. I'm also an uncompensated member of the entirely self-funded International Coalition of Consumer Advocates (ICCA) and its steering committee.
I earned a BSBA at The University of Colorado in 1983, where I also studied philosophy and logic. I consider having no more advanced or current credentials a handicap. Nonetheless the formal education I do have gives me a foundation for my business analyses. I spent eight-and-a-half years observing four MLMs up close through family members. I also served in administrative support capacities for one of them. While I regret that history, it afforded me insight and understanding that is useful in my MLM analyses. I'm also retired after a twenty-five year EMT/paramedic career and a nine-year overlapping career in EMS education.
My only connection to investment markets is passive, through my pension fund. I'm here because SA's Herbalife-related articles and fora have essentially become central to the ongoing public debate vis-à-vis MLM.
Former Electrical Engineer for the Bell system. Just looking to maximize my retirement income by selecting under valued stocks that are likely to realize large upward movement in a short period of time.
Investment Style: Inspired by the following texts - "The Intelligent Investor", "Security Analysis", "The Rediscovered Benjamin Graham", "Mckinsey - Valuation", "The Essays of Warren Buffet", "The Most Important Thing", "Margin of Safety", " The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint For Success ", "Poor Charlie's Almanack", “Asian Godfathers”, “The Innovator’s Dilemma” and “Competition Demystified"
I am a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of California, Irvine.
I have been an individual investor for over 20 years on both the long and short side. I like to buy (or sell) when I see a significant difference between my calculation of an enterprise's value and the market value.
The most significant day of my investing career was December 29, 1999.
I joined Seeking Alpha as a Senior Editor in June 2012. Currently, I manage the Dividends, Income & Retirement and Expert Insight platforms. D&I focuses on income investment strategies and dividend investment-focused content for investors from the accumulation stage to retirement. The purpose of Expert Insight is to expand and elevate the quality of Seeking Alpha's content by including articles from an industry insider's point of view, designed to help investors make more informed decisions as they consider specific sectors and trends within those sectors for their investing strategies, e.g., utilities or technology. Expert Insight articles offer more of a macro, 30,000-foot-view that goes beyond investment analysis or stock recommendations.
I also curate the Dividends & Income Digest, a bi-weekly publication that takes a look at a question that is compelling and relevant to the community, showcases the responses of DI thought leaders, and serves as a round-up of top DI articles.
I hope to continue to discover new voices and thought leaders through insightful articles and conversations in the comments threads. My goal is to draw a large, diverse audience to Seeking Alpha, and make our community THE go-to place to participate in investing research and exchange lucrative, unique, exciting investing knowledge and ideas. I'm always looking for new ideas and contributors, so please feel free to reach out to me. I'm eager to hear your thoughts and discover how we can work together to make Seeking Alpha the best site for investors on the web.