The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice filed a motion in Federal Court on April 11 to hold Alpine Industries, its president William J. Converse, its vice president Michael Jackson, and a related company, EcoQuest International, all of Greeneville, Tennessee, in civil contempt of a Court order issued in January 2000. The government is asking the Court to order Alpine, Converse, Jackson, and EcoQuest to stop making prohibited claims in marketing their air cleaning products, remove prohibited product claims from their Web sites, and impose daily fines if they continue to violate the order.
In January, a Federal judge ordered Alpine, a manufacturer of ozone generating air treatment machines, and Converse to stop claiming that their machines provide relief from any medical condition or that they effectively remove or reduce a wide variety of air pollutants from indoor environments. The injunction followed a November 1, 1999, verdict in which a Federal jury found unanimously that Alpine Industries and Converse violated a 1995 FTC order by failing to have "competent and reliable scientific evidence" to support hundreds of claims for their air cleaning products. Alpine was also found to make unsupported claims that its products control indoor ozone levels.
The government's motion alleges that Alpine and Converse have violated the January order by making prohibited claims about their ozone generators. The government also alleges that Jackson and EcoQuest, although not specifically named in the order, are bound by its terms because of their involvement with Alpine and Converse and their role in violating the order. Shortly after the Court's January order, Alpine sold its marketing operations to Jackson and EcoQuest International, a new corporation.
Alpine Industries is a privately held, multi-level marketing company that claims to have between 75,000 and 100,000 active dealers nationwide. Its main facilities are in Greene County, Tennessee. William J. Converse is the company's president and chief executive officer. Michael Jackson is vice president and heads the company's marketing activities, which are now run by him through EcoQuest. The flagship product of Alpine Industries is the XL-15, which sells for approximately $600 per unit.
Copies of the news releases and documents pertaining to Alpine Industries 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, D.C. 20580; 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); 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
(Civil Action No. 97-CV-509)