FTC investigations require companies to act quickly. Failure to do so can have draconian consequences. Read more for recent case examples.
Continue Reading Spoliation and Failure to Disclose: What Gets Swept Under the Rug in FTC Investigations Lands in a Dangerous Pit

For those embroiled in Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) class action litigation, the sum of the damages may not necessarily equal the whole.

In Wakefield v. ViSalus, Inc., the plaintiff and certified nationwide class obtained a jury verdict that defendant made 1,850,440 prerecorded message calls without the then-heightened prior express consent to make such calls. Because the TCPA’s minimum statutory damages are $500 per unlawful prerecorded message call, the damages award was a whopping $925,220,000.

After trial, ViSalus challenged, among other things, the damages award as unconstitutionally excessive. Specifically, ViSalus did not argue that the TCPA’s $500 per violation statutory penalty is unconstitutional in a vacuum, but, rather, that the “aggregate award” is so “severe and oppressive” that it violated ViSalus’s due process rights. Last Thursday, the Ninth Circuit agreed.

Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Rules That TCPA Aggregated Statutory Damages Might Be Unconstitutionally Punitive

The FTC’s ears must have been burning. Yesterday, just hours after we finished a webinar discussing the latest developments in the FTC’s push for more rulemaking, the FTC announced an upcoming open meeting where it will propose issuing three advanced notices of proposed rulemaking (ANPR).

First, the FTC will consider whether to initiate rulemaking to

On Monday the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a cease-and-desist order to Kim Kardashian for failing to disclose that she received $250,000 to promote EthereumMax’s digital tokens, “EMAX tokens,” on social media.

The SEC considers the EMAX token to be an investment contract, a type of security under the SEC’s jurisdiction. EMAX tokens are available for public trading on cryptocurrency exchanges, and the SEC found that purchasers would have had a reasonable expectation of profits from their investment in EMAX tokens as a result of the efforts of the company behind the token.

Continue Reading Keeping Up with Disclosures: SEC Punishes Kim Kardashian for Crypto Promotion

The buzz around gig economy protections continued as the Federal Trade Commission took yet another action to safeguard gig workers. Last week, the FTC adopted a policy statement asserting its authority to address unfair and deceptive practices and anticompetitive conduct that harms workers in the gig economy.

The statement highlights data from several studies concerning the gig economy, including that it is expected to generate $455 billion in annual sales by 2023, and that 16% of Americans report earning income through an online gig platform. The statement also reports that, while gig work has already established itself in food delivery and transportation, it is now expanding into healthcare, retail, and other segments of the economy. The FTC noted that the decrease in demand for transportation during the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates “the precarious nature of gig work.”

The FTC statement focuses on three features of the gig economy “that implicate the Commission’s consumer protection and competition missions:”

Continue Reading New FTC Policy Statement: Agency Continues to Ramp Up Gig Worker Protections

We recently discussed the various ways in which the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is focusing on worker protections in the gig economy. Though we didn’t have a crystal ball to foresee it, the FTC announced that it is furthering those efforts through a new partnership with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). On July 19, 2022, FTC Chair Lina Khan and NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on behalf of their respective agencies to “promote interagency collaboration,” to enhance enforcement efforts, and to “better root out practices that harm workers.”

The NLRB is an independent federal agency that enforces federal labor regulations—namely, regulations prohibiting unfair labor practices—through investigations, administrative proceedings, and lawsuits. The NLRB also engages in rulemaking and conducts elections concerning the formation or decertification of unions. FTC Chair Khan stated that the agencies’ agreement will advance their “shared mission to ensure that unlawful business practices aren’t depriving workers of the pay, benefits, conditions, and dignity that they deserve.”

Continue Reading FTC Joins Forces with NLRB to Further Its Gig Economy and Worker Protection Agenda

The FTC is off to the races with another proposed rulemaking. On June 23, the FTC, by a 4-1 vote, issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) to combat what it perceives as “junk fees” and “bait-and-switch advertising tactics” in the auto sales industry. Congress gave the FTC the authority to write rules governing the retail sale of automobiles, using APA rulemaking and not the more cumbersome Magnuson Moss rulemaking that the FTC normally must follow in consumer protection rulemakings. This authority is no small matter, as on June 30, the Supreme Court issued its decision in West Virginia v. EPA, which will make rulemakings by the FTC and other government agencies more challenging.

The FTC’s proposed rule would prohibit certain misrepresentations, require certain disclosures, prohibit certain “add-ons,” and require more thorough recordkeeping. First, among a whole host of potential misrepresentations, the proposed rule includes prohibiting misrepresenting regarding vehicle costs; terms of purchasing, financing, or leasing; and the availability of vehicles at an advertised price.

Continue Reading FTC Starts the Engine on Car Sales Fees and Advertising Rulemaking, but Other Rulemaking Faces Major Questions

Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) moved to dismiss its long-running enforcement action against Electronic Payment Solutions (EPS) pending in the District of Arizona after the Commission voted 4-0 to approve a final settlement with EPS and certain of its owners. The case against EPS, a third-party payment processor, is just the most recent example

The FTC held its most recent open meeting on Thursday, and two major topics were front and center: potential changes to the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and a congressional fix to Section 13(b) after the one-year anniversary of AMG Capital Management LLC v. FTC.

In its first order of business, the Commission unanimously voted to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) and an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), which address several proposed updates to the TSR. The NPR is further along in the rulemaking process, where it seeks comment on the published proposed rule.

Continue Reading FTC’s Spring Open Meeting Brings Potential Rule Changes and Plea to Congress