IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
EASTERN DIVISION

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION,

Plaintiff,

V.

JACQUELINE SABAL, aka JACQUELINE SABLE individually,

Defendant.

Civil Action No

COMPLAINT FOR INJUNCTIVE AND OTHER EQUITABLE RELIEF

Plaintiff, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”), for its complaint alleges as follows:

1. The Commission brings this action under section 13(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (“FTC Act”), 15 U.S.C. 53(b), to secure preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, rescission of contracts, restitution, disgorgement, and other equitable relief for defendant’s unfair and deceptive acts and practices in violation of Sections 5(a) and 12 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(a) and 52.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

2. This Court has jurisdiction over this matter under 28 U.S.C. 1331, 1337(a), and 1345, and under 15 U.S.C. 45(a)(1) and 53(b).

3. Venue in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois is proper under 28 U.S.C. 1391(b) and (c) and 15 U.S.C. 53(b).

PLAINTIFF

4. Plaintiff, the Federal Trade Commission, is an independent agency of the United States Government created by statute. 15 U.S.C. 41 et seq. The Commission is charged, inter alia, with enforcement of Sections 5(a) and 12 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(a) and 52. Section 5(a) of the FTC Act prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce. 15 U.S.C. 45(a). Section 12 of the FTC Act prohibits the dissemination or the causing to be disseminated of any false advertisement in order to induce the purchase of food, drugs, devices, or cosmetics. The Commission is authorized to initiate federal district court proceedings to enjoin violations of the FTC Act in order to secure such equitable relief as may be appropriate in each case, and to obtain consumer redress. 15 U.S.C. 53(b).

DEFENDANT

5. Defendant Jacqueline Sabal has manufactured, advertised, offered for sale, sold, and distributed products to the public, including Sable Hair Farming System. Individually or in concert with others, she participated in the acts or practices alleged in this complaint. Her residence is 2209 South Cypress Bend Drive, #107, Pompano Beach, Florida 33073.

6. At all times pertinent to this complaint, defendant has transacted business in this district.

COMMERCE

7. At all times relevant to this complaint, defendant Jacqueline Sabal has maintained a substantial course of business in the advertisement, sale and distribution of products to the public, including but not limited to, Sable Hair Farming System in or affecting commerce, as “commerce” is defined in Section 4 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 44.

DEFENDANT’S COURSE OF BUSINESS

8. Since at least 1993 through 1995, defendant Jacqueline Sabal advertised, offered to sell, sold and distributed Sable Hair Farming System. Defendant’s advertisements included, but were not limited to, program-length radio infomercials which ran for 30 minutes or less and fit within normal radio broadcasting time slots. Defendant’s radio infomercials were and are broadcast on network and independent radio stations throughout the United States. The infomercial for Sable Hair Farming System contained the following statements:

Sable:“So I found a combination of herbs that, when mixed with cleansers like witch hazels and alcohols, can deep clean underneath the surface of the scalp, and clean out all the debris that prevents the hair or blocks the hair from reaching the surface.”

*****

"And the amazing thing that was happening is that after we cleaned, as we looked at the scalp, hair sprouted out."

*****

"[T]he hair that sprouts out measures five years, for instance, that it's been growing under the scalp, from the blood, from the protein in the blood."

*****

“[W]e had live subjects tested in a laboratory here in south Florida, and they counted the hairs as they came in on every test subject every day that they used the product.”

*****

"So we have a wonderful product that cleans the scalp. And if you learn to do that, first of all, you'll never lose your hair."

*****

“I should be in most of the major medical journals in the world in the next few months, which will finally end baldness in the human race. And I’m very proud of that. A hundred percent on my testing. And that will be announced, I would say, before the end of the June.”

*****

“And everyone should have all their hair back in six months to a year, permanently, painlessly, and never have to purchase anything again.”

*****

Trudeau: “And you’re saying that if the follicles were cleaned properly --”

Sable:“They would never lose their hair”

*****

Sable:"[W]e could actually end hair loss in the human race. No one would become bald any more."

*****

“Well, the doctors that have tested with us, that amazed them. That was the very first thing that amazed them. They said they saw more in five minutes with our product than they did with any other product they’ve ever tested. And that includes the Rogaine and Minoxidil products.”

*****

“You don’t ever have to be bald any more. You don’t ever have to go bald, if you’re a young person who’s just starting to lose their hair. And there’s a lot of help that we can give you. So I hope you do give us a call.” (Complaint Exhibit A; Radio Infomercial Script.)

DEFENDANT’S VIOLATIONS OF THE FTC ACT

9. Under Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(a), unfair or deceptive practices in or affecting commerce are unlawful.

10. Under Section 12(a)(2) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 52(a)(2), the dissemination or the causing to be disseminated of any false advertisement in order to induce the purchase of food, drugs, devices, or cosmetics is unlawful. Under Section 12(b) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 52(b), the dissemination of any such false advertisement is an unfair or deceptive act or practice in or affecting commerce within the meaning of Section 5 of the FTC Act. The FTC Act defines “false advertisement” as an advertisement, other than labeling, which is misleading in a material respect. 15 U.S.C. 55(a)(1). The FTC Act defines “drug” as articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease and articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body. 15 U.S.C. 55(c).

COUNT I

SABLE HAIR FARMING SYSTEM

11. Through the use of the statements referred to in Paragraph 8, and others not specifically set forth herein, defendant Jacqueline Sabal has represented, expressly or by implication, that:

(a) Sable Hair Farming System will stop, prevent, cure, relieve, reverse or reduce hair loss.

(b) Sable Hair Farming System will promote the growth of hair where hair has already been lost.

(c) Sable Hair Farming System is superior to Rogaine and Minoxidil in stopping, preventing, curing, relieving, reversing or reducing hair loss.

(d) Scientific studies demonstrate that Sable Hair Farming System is effective in stopping hair loss and promoting hair growth.

12. In truth and in fact:

(a) Sable Hair Farming System will not stop, prevent, cure, relieve, reverse or reduce hair loss.

(b) Sable Hair Farming System will not promote the growth of hair where hair has already been lost.

(c) Sable Hair Farming System is not superior to Rogaine and Minoxidil in stopping, preventing, curing, relieving, reversing or reducing hair loss.

(d) Scientific studies do not demonstrate that Sable Hair Farming System is effective in stopping hair loss and promoting hair growth.

13. Therefore, the representations set forth in Paragraph 11 are false and misleading and constitute deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, in violation of Sections 5(a) and 12(b) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(a) and 52(b).

14. Through the use of the statements referred to in Paragraph 8, and others not specifically set forth herein, defendant Jacqueline Sabal has represented, expressly or by implication, that she possessed and relied upon a reasonable basis that substantiated the representations set forth in Paragraph 11 (a) - (c), at the time the representations were made.

15. In truth and in fact, defendant Jacqueline Sabal did not possess and rely upon a reasonable basis that substantiated the representations set forth in Paragraph 11 (a) - (c), at the time the representations were made.

16. Therefore, the representation set forth in Paragraph 14 is false and misleading and constitutes a deceptive act or practice in or affecting commerce, in violation of Sections 5(a) and 12(b) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(a) and 52(b).

CONSUMER INJURY

17. Consumers throughout the United States have suffered substantial monetary loss as a result of defendant’s unfair or deceptive acts or practices. Absent injunctive relief by this Court, defendant is likely to continue to injure consumers and harm the public interest.

THIS COURT’S POWER TO GRANT RELIEF

18. Section 13(b) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 53(b) empowers this Court to grant injunctive relief and such other relief as the Court may deem appropriate to prevent and remedy violations of any provision of the law enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, plaintiff, the Federal Trade Commission, requests that this Court:

  1. Award plaintiff such preliminary injunctive and ancillary relief as may be necessary to avert the likelihood of consumer injury during the pendency of this action and to preserve the possibility of effective final relief;
  2. Permanently enjoin defendant from violating Sections 5(a) and 12 of the FTC Act, as alleged herein, in connection with the advertising, marketing, and selling of merchandise by infomercials;
  3. Award such relief as the Court finds necessary to redress consumers’ injury resulting from defendant’s violations of the FTC Act, including, but not limited to, rescission of contracts, refund of monies, and the disgorgement of ill-gotten gains; and
  4. Award plaintiff the costs of bringing this action, as well as such other and additional relief as this Court may determine to be just and proper.

DATED: ________________, 1998

Respectfully submitted,

DEBRA A. VALENTINE
General Counsel

C. STEVEN BAKER
Director
Chicago Regional Office

____________________________________

MARY ELIZABETH TORTORICE
RUSSELL W. DAMTOFT
CHARULATA B. PAGAR
THERESA M. MCGREW
Attorneys for Plaintiff
Federal Trade Commission
55 E. Monroe St., Suite 1860
Chicago, Illinois 60603
(312) 353-8156