NEW SCANDAL ROCKS SUZANNE SOMERS

Published on: April 27, 2001

REELING FROM her battle with breast cancer, Suzanne Somers has been thrust into a new fight: A group of scientists claim the star's artificial sweetener, SomerSweet, was stolen from their company.

Food researchers at Nutrilab Corporation have filed a whopping $27 million lawsuit against an ex-employee they say swiped the recipe for the sugar substitute and went into business with Suzanne to distribute it.

The Nutrilab scientists say after being commissioned by a representative from Somers, they developed SomerSweet -- but then an employee quit the firm, took the data and set up a competing company, which is now making the SomerSweet for Suzanne.

"We foolishly believed in good faith that we would have a trusting partnership in this business venture, but that clearly is not the case," blasted Greg Robbins, Nutrilab's Vice President of product development.

"The bottom line is that I have five children and Suzanne Somers is taking food out of my kids' mouths!" fumed Robbins.

Currently Somers is on a promotion tour for her new book and SomerSweet.

Top Nutrilab researcher Dr. Ann de Wees Allen -- who claims she created and trademarked SomerSweet -- told The ENQUIRER that she and Nutrilab are suing the ex-employee for trademark and copyright infringement, defamation and unfair competition.

Dr. Allen says she is now considering slapping Suzanne herself with a lawsuit.

However, in a statement to The ENQUIRER, a spokesperson for Somers vehemently denied that SomerSweet was developed by Nutrilab or that Dr. Allen owned the SomerSweet trademark.

"No ingredient or recipe of Dr. Allen's has ever been utilized in any SomerSweet product," said the spokesperson.

"Dr. Allen's accusations are without basis. . . and her threats of a lawsuit against Ms. Somers will be vigorously defended."

The spokesperson said Somers may file a countersuit against Dr. Allen for defamation and false claims to the SomerSweet brand name.