Summary of Action

Section 13(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 53(b), authorizes the FTC to sue in federal district court those who violate the laws under the Commission’s purview and authorizes courts in such cases to issue a “permanent injunction.” For decades, courts across the nation have ordered defendants to not only stop their unlawful activity, but also return money unlawfully taken from consumers in cases brought under Section 13(b).

Recently, however, certain Courts of Appeal changed course, concluding that Section 13(b) of the FTC Act does not authorize the Commission to obtain monetary restitution, i.e., that false advertisers can keep their ill-gotten gains, because, in short, the word “restitution” was not specifically written into the statute. This hotly contested issue was then taken up for review by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), which initially consolidated two cases — FTC v. Credit Bureau Center, LLC from the Seventh Circuit and AMG Capital Management, LLC v. FTC from the Ninth Circuit — as they both present the same issue. (After Justice Barrett joined the bench, however, SCOTUS deconsolidated the cases, deciding not to review the Credit Bureau case as it would have presented a conflict of interest for Justice Barrett.)

Because the long-recognized power of courts to order restitution in appropriate Section 13(b) cases is vitally important to protecting consumers and the national economy, filed a brief as amicus curiae with SCOTUS in support of the FTC.

However, on April 22, 2021, SCOTUS ruled that the FTC does not have the authority to obtain consumer redress under Section 13(b) of the FTC Act.

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