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

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION,

Plaintiff,

V.

KENNETH WRIGHT, 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 defendants’ 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 Kenneth Wright has manufactured, advertised, offered for sale, sold, and distributed products to the public, including Eden’s Secret Nature’s Purifying Product. Individually or in concert with others, he participated in the acts or practices alleged in this complaint. His principal office or place of business is 423 East Ojai Avenue, Suite 107, Ojai, California 93023.

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 Kenneth Wright has maintained a substantial course of business in the advertisement, sale and distribution of products to the public, including but not limited to, Eden’s Secret Nature’s Purifying Product, 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 1996, defendant Kenneth Wright advertised, offered to sell, sold and distributed Eden’s Secret Nature’s Purifying Product. 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 Eden’s Secret Nature’s Purifying Product contained the following statements:

Trudeau: “That cleansing my body has had a dramatic impact on my body and life. I feel brighter and more alert for longer periods of time than I have in years, and there’s no question that my immune system has dramatically improved.”

*****

Wright:“...a body that is cleansed and purified of toxic waste matters, colon waste, fatty arterial deposits, the ph balance of the blood’s better, the microflora of the colon’s better, you’re simply enhancing the overall integrity of your body.”

*****

Trudeau: "... I honestly believe that people try, they can’t lose weight. And it is really amazing because I have friends that I see what they eat, and they try to exercise. They try to, and they still can't lose the weight."

Wright:"That's right."

Trudeau: "What's the problem here?"

Wright:"Well, step number one is if you don't cleanse the system out, your body is constantly hungry. Why? It is not getting nutrients. It's not getting fed. The colon wall gets lined with some sort of a type of, it’s old fecal matter, it’s old gluey plaque like substance. The wall of the colon gets compromised in such manner that a lot of the nutrients that you’re eating, the foods that you’re eating don’t transfer."

*****

Wright:“So what we’re doing is cleaning out the digestive tract, the colon and aiming at cleaning and purifying the blood all at the same time. So between the two of these, what we’re initiating, Kevin, is a complete biological interwashing. When you assist the body’s own eliminative channels, help open them up --

Trudeau: “Right.”

Wright:“The body has an ability to restore itself. The integrity of the cells themselves on a cellular level becomes higher because there’s not a lot of junk in there. There’s not a lot of plaque in the way. They’re opening up the transfer of nutrients and oxygen so your cells can live again.”

*****

Trudeau: "And one of the things that everybody said, I asked them, I said what is your weight situation, and everyone said they have lost weight."

Wright: "Right."

Trudeau: "They're losing pounds."

Wright: "Right."

Trudeau: “Now this is obviously, we are not claiming to lose weight with the product, but this is cleansing, something is happening here.”

*****

Wright:“Your blood stream’s impure, the PH balance is off, and it’s exactly like a girl who has PMS. The blood stream gets impure before her cycle, it’s reabsorbed back into the blood stream, she’s experiencing, she goes AHHH!!! She goes crazy, just like my wife used to until we founded this formula. This is the same kind of experience. Your stress level gets nuts.”

Trudeau: “So are you telling me that people that have -- women that have a bad PMS syndrome, if they started cleansing their system, that could perhaps be relieved in some -- to some degree?” (Complaint Exhibit A; Radio Infomercial Script.)

DEFENDANTS’ 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

EDEN’S SECRET NATURE’S PURIFYING PRODUCT

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

(a) Eden's Secret Nature’s Purifying Product causes significant weight loss.

(b) Eden’s Secret Nature’s Purifying Product will prevent or cure illnesses, including but not limited to premenstrual syndrome.

(c) Eden’s Secret Nature’s Purifying Product will cleanse the body of harmful toxins.

(d) Eden’s Secret Nature’s Purifying Product will purify the body’s blood supply.

12. In truth and in fact:

(a) Eden's Secret Nature’s Purifying Product will not cause significant weight loss.

(b) Eden’s Secret Nature’s Purifying Product will not prevent or cure illnesses, including but not limited to premenstrual syndrome.

(c) Eden’s Secret Nature’s Purifying Product will not cleanse the body of harmful toxins.

(d) Eden’s Secret Nature’s Purifying Product will not purify the body’s blood supply.

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 Kenneth Wright has represented, expressly or by implication, that he possessed and relied upon a reasonable basis that substantiated the representations set forth in Paragraph 11, at the time the representations were made.

15. In truth and in fact, defendant Kenneth Wright did not possess and rely upon a reasonable basis that substantiated the representations set forth in Paragraph 11, at the time the representations were made.

16. Therefore, the representation set forth in Paragraph 14 is false and misleading and constitutes 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).

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

____________________________________

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