Announced Action for August 6, 2004

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Commission authorization of staff amicus brief filing: The Commission has authorized the staff to file a joint amicus brief in Spano, et al. v. SAFECO Insurance Co. of America, et al., No 04-35313 (9th Cir.). At issue in this case is whether the Ninth Circuit should hold that an insurer takes “adverse action” with respect to a consumer, as that term is defined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), if, based on information in a consumer report, the insurer charges the consumer a higher initial price for insurance than it would have charged if the information had been more favorable. This is the third amicus brief filed by the Commission this year related to this issue. The two other briefs, also filed in the Ninth Circuit, concerned Rausch v. Hartford and Willes v. State Farm, and the issues presented in each brief are essentially the same.

In its brief, the Commission argues that if the district court’s narrow interpretation in this case prevails, it will leave open a loophole that may permit insurance companies to use consumer reports to make decisions unfavorable to consumers without disclosing this fact to the consumers. Accordingly, the Ninth Circuit should reverse the lower court’s decision.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the amicus brief, which can be found as a link to this press release on the FTC’s Web site, was 5-0. (FTC File No. P042118; the staff contact is Lawrence DeMille-Wagman, Office of the General Counsel, 202-326-2448; see related press releases dated January 23 and February 24, 2004.)

Commission approval of final consent order: The Commission has approved a final consent order and authorized the staff to send letters to the commenters of record in the matter concerning Southeastern New Mexico Physicians IPA, Inc., et al. On June 7, 2004, the Commission accepted a consent order with the respondents, and placed it on the public record for comment. The comment period expired July 6, 2004, and two comments were received, both of which are now available on the Commission’s Web site. The Commission vote to approve the final consent order was 5-0. (FTC File No. 0310134; the staff contact is Steve Vieux; see press release issued June 7, 2004.)

Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC's Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

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Media Contact:
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202-326-2180