Kevin Trudeau Sues Federal Trade Commission for 'False Advertising'
National Consumer Advocate and FTC Critic
Seeks End to Ongoing Retaliation
CHICAGO, Feb. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Kevin Trudeau, founder of Tru Star Global Media and Shop America and an author who is fast becoming one of the nation's leading consumer activists, filed today two separate suits against the United States government charging the Federal Trade Commission with publishing false and misleading information. Mr. Trudeau is suing the FTC for very much the same reason that the FTC sues people -- for, in essence, a form of false advertising. According to the suits, the FTC has, by its own standards, committed a flagrant violation of the rules governing deceptive communications. In an agreement to settle prior litigation then pending in the United States District Court before the Northern District of Illinois, the government expressly acknowledged that "[t]here have been no findings or admissions of wrongdoing or liability by [Kevin Trudeau]." Within days, however, the FTC issued a news release maligning Mr. Trudeau in language that directly contradicts the terms of the settlement agreement by falsely implying that Mr. Trudeau was found guilty of false advertising. Mr. Trudeau is charging that the FTC -- again, to use the FTC's own articulated standard -- gives the "net impression" in its press release that Mr. Trudeau has been found guilty of wrongdoing, is a habitual false advertiser, and was ordered to pay a fine. According to the suits, these are blatant falsehoods, which additionally rob Mr. Trudeau of any benefit of the settlement agreement. On February 16, 2005, Mr. Trudeau, through his lawyers, wrote to the FTC asking the agency to remove the misleading news release from its website, issue a retraction, post the retraction, and disseminate it to all the news agencies that received the original release. On February 22, Christian White, Deputy General Counsel for Administrative Law and Ethics, rebuffed this request by asserting that the release does not violate the settlement agreement because "nothing in the press release refers to any 'findings' of fact or law ... " Astonishingly, the FTC is thus defending its actions related to the settlement agreement by stating that its published allegations about Mr. Trudeau, which are presented in their news release as fact, are indeed unsubstantiated. "The FTC has played fast and loose with the facts," said David Bradford, an attorney with Jenner & Block who represented Mr. Trudeau in his settlement with the FTC and in his current lawsuits against the agency. "If an advertiser manipulated the truth like the FTC has in its website and news release, the FTC would not hesitate to sue them for misleading the public. The FTC has disregarded their first and foremost obligation -- to promote the truth." Even the headline of the release was misleading, Bradford said. It stated that Mr. Trudeau has been banned from airing infomercials, implying a total ban. In fact, there is no total ban -- indeed, Mr. Trudeau is currently airing one of the most successful infomercials of all time, for a book which is critical of the FTC. The lawsuits accordingly charge the FTC with retaliation against Mr. Trudeau. In his publications, and in a highly popular series of TV infomercials, Trudeau has bluntly criticized federal agencies, and the FTC in particular, for working with the pharmaceutical industry to stifle discussion and marketing of natural food and medicine alternatives. Mr. Trudeau is the author of Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You to Know About, which discusses natural remedies for common ailments and diseases that don't involve expensive drugs or high-priced medical consultation. The book has become a best-seller. In one suit, Mr. Trudeau seeks a declaratory judgment that the FTC's news release is false and misleading, that the FTC has exceeded its authority, and that the FTC has wrongfully sought to chill Mr. Trudeau's exercise of his First Amendment rights. That suit seeks an injunctive order requiring the FTC to cease its wrongful conduct and correct its misleading statements. Mr. Trudeau's second suit seeks unspecified monetary damages for injury to his business. "This breach of contract is so bald-faced that it can only represent a concerted attempt by the government to put Kevin out of business," said Kimball Anderson, a lawyer with Winston & Strawn who also represents Mr. Trudeau. "Their news release repeats charges that, in the course of litigation, were never adjudicated. And now [in its February 22 letter] the FTC even admits it." The FTC news release was, the suits charge, additionally designed to maximize negative media coverage of Mr. Trudeau and his business. It is evident from media coverage that the strategy has been unfortunately successful, as the resulted coverage appears to have relied primarily, if not entirely, on the FTC release.
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