Christensen & Jensen, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, assists companies and individuals with compliance, investigations, administrative proceedings, litigation, and appeals involving the Federal Trade Commission and similar state agencies. We can assist clients nationwide with:
Compliance with FTC and state law requirements
Knowing what the FTC wants isn’t always easy. Occasionally, it issues clear guidelines, such as the recently revised shipping rule. Sometimes it issues not-completely-clear but still helpful guidelines, such as its March 2013 update to DotCom Disclosures. Other times, the FTC sets case-by-case ‘standards’, using expert witnesses in individual cases to lay out – after the fact – what it claims the law requires. Other standards can be gleaned from Consent Decrees and stipulated Injunctions, FTC speeches and conferences.
Investigations and responses to CIDs
FTC investigations often begin informally. In response to a direct inquiry or Better Business Bureau complaints, the FTC might review a website, perhaps make “undercover buys” (yes, they actually call them that). The investigation might progress to a Civil Investigative Demand, which is like a subpoena but more intrusive and without normal court protections. If you receive a CID, seek legal advice. Cooperation is important, but the FTC will use your CID responses in any later proceeding, and may use them against other business associates as well.
Dealing with FTC receivers and asset freezes
In some FTC Act cases, the FTC obtains an asset freeze and seeks appointment of a receiver. The FTC often uses “friendly” receivers, meaning that, although receivers are supposed to be neutral arms of the court, they are, shall we say, sympathetic to the FTC’s cause. It is important early on to consider opposing the appointment of a demonstrably biased receiver, to limit which businesses can be shut down, and to set the receiver’s compensation – which is paid by the business, not the FTC. It is also critical to limit the sharing of information between receivers and the FTC, and to identify which assets are, or are not, part of the receivership estate. Receivers can seek orders retroactively adding assets to a receivership estate.
Negotiation with the FTC and state agencies
Most FTC disputes do not end up in court. A business is almost always better off reaching a fair resolution with the FTC (or state agency), and moving on. If business owners wanted to spend time in administrative proceedings and litigation, they would be lawyers. Through one-on-one discussions or mediation, efforts can be made to resolve issues early on.
Litigation of claims brought by the FTC or state agencies
Sometimes a matter can’t be resolved, or the FTC takes unreasonable positions. For example, a common settlement demand by the FTC is that the defendant give up all his assets, including his house and everything in his bank account. The FTC often demands the right to scrutinize a business for the next 20 years. Or it might require certain double blind studies, when the law doesn’t require it. If negotiations are unsuccessful, the case must be defended.
We can assist with alleged violations of the FTC Act, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA), Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), Junk Fax Protection Act, and other laws enforced by the FTC or similar state agencies.
A separate group within Christensen & Jensen handles antitrust-related issues, such as the growing number of challenges by the FTC to health provider mergers. The firm can provide consultation or representation in matters involving the Clayton Act, Sherman Act, Hart-Scott-Rodino and other laws.
Appeals in FTC and other cases
Several types of appeals may be needed in an FTC case. Preliminary injunctions can be appealed. Summary judgments and trials can be appealed. The amount of judgments can be appealed. Christensen & Jensen has an exceptionally successful Appellate Practice Group in a wide range of areas, from commercial law to regulatory to criminal. Karra Porter, chair of the Appellate Practice Group, is one of the leading appellate attorneys in the western United States, winning more than 80 percent of her appeals.
Representing “relief defendants”
The FTC often seeks to recover assets and money not just from the alleged wrongdoer, but also from “relief defendants.” Those are individuals or businesses who are alleged to have received assets or money from the wrongdoer. These relief defendants often have no role in, or knowledge of, the alleged wrongdoing. Relief defendants have a legal right to defend not only their entitlement to the assets, but the underlying FTC Act violations as well (because if there is no wrongdoing in the first place, then the FTC has no claim to anyone’s assets).
Fees and compensation
We offer a variety of payment options, including flat fees, traditional hourly billing, contingency fees, and hybrid arrangements.