Summer brides may want to check their wedding gowns for drycleaning instructions that may not comply with the Federal Trade Commission's Care Labeling Rule.
On May 27, the FTC announced an administrative complaint against a New York-based drycleaner, Continental Gown Cleaning Service, Inc., for providing wedding gown manufacturers with care labels that falsely advertised that the company was the only drycleaner able to clean the gowns.
Today, the FTC announced that two wedding gown manufacturers have agreed to pay civil penalties to settle FTC charges that the companies violated the Care Labeling Rule by using Continental's labels. A complaint against a third manufacturer has been filed in U.S. District Court.
The Care Labeling Rule, which has been in effect since 1972, requires manufacturers and importers of clothing to attach care labels that state what regular care is needed for ordinary use of the garment. For this reason, care labels usually specify either a washing instruction or a dry cleaning instruction. According to the FTC, Continental's labels violate the rule because they fail to provide adequate instructions for drycleaning these garments. The labels fail to state at least one type of solvent that may be used on the gowns and fail to explain how the normal drycleaning process must be modified for these delicate garments. Among the labels Continental provided to the manufacturers were two that stated:
"Dryclean Only by Zurcion Method Continental
1-800-441-GOWN Manufacturers Guaranteed Processing."
"Dryclean Only by Zurcion Method Continental
1-800-441-Gown Made in U.S.A."
Ilissa Bridals, Ltd., which operates in New York, New York, and Demetrios James Elias, an officer of the company, will pay $20,000 in civil penalties. The second manufacturer, Mori Lee, Inc., which also operates in New York City and its officer, Arthur Udell, and individual defendants, Morvin Leibowitz, and Mitchell Udell, will pay civil penalties of $40,000.
A complaint against Alyce Designs, Inc. and two individual defendants, Alyce Hamm and Jean Paul Hamm, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
The complaint contains the same charges that Ilissa Bridals and Mori Lee have agreed to settle. For example, the complaint alleges that Alyce Designs violated the Care Labeling Rule by using Continental's labels which failed to state at least one type of solvent that may be used to clean the wedding gowns. In addition, the complaint alleges that Alyce Designs did not have a reasonable basis for instructing that the gowns can be adequately cleaned by the Zurcion method and for warning that the gowns cannot be cleaned by any other method of drycleaning or by washing.
The Commission vote to accept the settlements with Ilissa Bridals and Mori Lee were 5-0. The Commission vote to file the complaint against Alyce Designs was 5-0.
The complaint against Alyce Designs was filed at the FTC's request by the Department of Justice in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on July 20, 1998.
The proposed consent decrees with Ilissa Bridals and Mori Lee were filed on July 20, 1998, by the Department of Justice in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York at the request of the FTC. They are subject to court approval.
NOTE: The Commission issues a complaint when it has "reason to believe" that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The issuance of a complaint is not a finding or ruling that the respondent has violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.
NOTE: Consent decrees are for settlement purposes only and do not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. They have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the complaint against Continental Gown are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and copies of the complaint against Alyce Designs and the consent decrees with Ilissa Bridals and Mori Lee are available from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-FTC-HELP (202-382-4357); TDD 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 File Nos. Alyce 9523302, Ilissa 952394, Mori Lee 9523292)
(Civil Action Nos. Alyce 98C 4403, Ilissa 98CIV.5129, Mori Lee 98CIV.5130)