Announced Actions for June 7, 1996

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    Applications for prior approval of transactions: The FTC has received applications for prior approval of transactions from the following. The FTC is seeking public comments on the applications for 30 days, until July 8.
  • Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corporation, of Nashville, Tennessee, has filed an amended application to divest the 50 percent interest of Healthtrust, Inc. in the SSH Joint Venture, which owns and operates the South Seminole Hospital in Longwood, Florida, to Orlando Regional Healthcare System (ORHS). Columbia/HCA also is requesting an extension until Sept. 11, 1996, of the April 11, 1996, deadline for completing this transaction, due to pending District Court litigation, the resolution of which will set the price for the interest to be divested. The divestiture would end the joint venture, and South Seminole Hospital would continue to operate under the sole ownership of ORHS, which owns the other half interest in the joint venture. The divestiture of Healthtrust’s interest is required under a 1995 consent order that Columbia/HCA signed to settle FTC charges that its acquisition of Healthtrust would impair hospital competition in areas of Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Utah. (See Oct. 5, 1995 news release for more details regarding the consent order; Docket No. C-3619). Staff contact is Dan Ducore, 202-326-2526.

 

  • Schnuck Markets, Inc., of St. Louis, Missouri, has filed an application to divest four supermarket properties to Four Store Partners, LLC, a Missouri limited liability corporation. The land is occupied by supermarkets that Schnucks previously has divested, with FTC approval, to Family Company of America. The divestitures were among 24 required by a 1995 consent order designed to restore supermarket competition allegedly injured when Schnucks acquired supermarkets owned by National Holdings in five states, including Missouri. Family now leases the properties on which these supermarkets are located. In the proposed transaction, Schnucks would sell its fee interest in the properties to Four Store, then lease them back. Family would continue to operate the stores as sublessee. The properties at issue are in St. Peters, Fenton, and Chesterfield, Missouri; and Wood River, Illinois. (See March 8, 1995 news release regarding the 1995 consent order; Docket No. C-3585.) Staff contact is Dan Ducore, 202-326-2526.

Commission action regarding applications for prior approval: Following a public comment period, the Commission has ruled on the following application.

  • The FTC has approved the application of Service Corporation International (SCI), of Houston, Texas, to divest two funeral homes, one cemetery and one crematory in Medford, Oregon, to Shirlee Kern and David Kern. The divestitures were required under a 1995 consent order designed to restore competition allegedly injured when SCI acquired Uniservice Corporation. (See May 22, 2995 news release for more details regarding the consent order; Docket No. C-3579; Commission vote 5-0.) Staff contact is Dan Ducore, 202-326-2526.

Consent orders given final approval. Following a public comment period, the FTC has given final approval to the following consent orders, making their provisions binding on the respondents.

  • The Diet Workshop, Inc., a franchisor of weight-loss plans and products based in Waltham, Massachusetts, and the owner of its company-operated territories, Diet Workshop of Boston, Inc., settling charges that they made unsubstantiated weight-loss and weight-loss maintenance claims and used consumer testimonials deceptively. The final order prohibits the respondents from misrepresenting the performance of any weight-loss program and requires them to have reliable scientific evidence to substantiate claims about achieving or maintaining weight loss, or the rate at which the loss can be expected to occur. The order also sets out standards for the type of evidence required to support various maintenance claims. In addition, ad claims about maintaining weight loss must include the statement: “For many dieters, weight loss is temporary.” Weight-loss maintenance claims in all but short broadcast ads must be accompanied by disclosures regarding the actual experience of Diet Workshop customers; short broadcast ads must direct consumers to check with the company’s local centers for detailed maintenance statistics. The order also bars the misleading use of testimonials, and requires atypical testimonials to be qualified. And it requires the respondents to disclose that failure to consume the total calories recommended for a specific weight-loss plan can pose health risks. (See March 12, 1996 news release for more details; Docket No. C-3663; Commission vote on May 30 was 5-0.) Staff contact is Andrew Caverly or Gary Cooper, FTC Boston Regional Office, 617-424-5960.

 

  • Johnson & Collins Research, Inc., of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and its owner, Gregor von Ehrenfels, settling allegations over the deceptive advertising of purported weight-loss and bodyshaping products in magazines directed to teenaged girls. The “products” were, in fact, booklets with advice on dieting and exercising. The order requires the respondents to clearly and prominently disclose, when representing that such booklets have any effect on weight or body size, that what they are selling consists solely of a booklet or pamphlet. The order also prohibits unsubstantiated representations regarding the effect of any weight-loss program on the users’ weight, body size or shape, body measurements or appetite, or its effectiveness in causing fast and significant weight loss; reducing body fat or cellulite; causing weight loss, fat reduction or increased muscle tone in specific, desired areas of the body; or burning excess calories, modifying caloric intake, or converting food into energy. The order also requires the respondents to disclose, when representing that any weight-loss product or program affects body weight or size, that weight loss requires dieting, increased exercise or both. (See March 12, 1996 news release for more details; Docket No. C-C-3661; Commission vote on May 31 was 5-0.) Staff contact is Richard Cleland, 202-326-3088.

Comments on the applications should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Copies of the documents referenced above are available from the FTC’s Public Reference Branch, Room 130, at the same address; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC’s World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov

 

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