In some situations the FTC files a complaint under its administrative process instead of taking the case to a federal court. This is called an adjudicative proceeding. The party can decide to settle with us or they can contest the charges. If they contest the case it is heard before an administrative law judge in a trial-type proceeding. The Legal Library has information about cases brought by us before an administrative law judge.
Intuit Inc., In the Matter of (TurboTax)
Altria Group/JUUL Labs, In the Matter of
The Federal Trade Commission filed an administrative complaint alleging that Altria Group, Inc. and JUUL Labs, Inc. entered a series of agreements, including Altria’s acquisition of a 35% stake in JUUL, that eliminated competition in violation of federal antitrust laws. According to the complaint, this series of agreements involved Altria ceasing to compete in the U.S. market for closed-system electronic cigarettes in return for a substantial ownership interest in JUUL, by far the dominant player in that market. In an initial decision announced on Feb. 24, 2022, Chief Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell dismissed the antitrust charges in the complaint.
American Future Systems, Inc.
In May 2020, the FTC sued the operators of a Pennsylvania-based telemarketing scheme, alleging that they charged organizations such as businesses, schools, fire and police departments, and non-profits for books and newsletter subscriptions they never ordered. The agency’s complaint also names the defendants behind a New York-based debt collection operation, alleging that they illegally threatened the organizations if they failed to pay for the unordered merchandise.
In April 2023, International Credit Recovery, Inc. (ICR), officer Richard Diorio, Jr., and manager Cynthia Powell, have agreed to a permanent ban from the debt collection industry after being charged with engaging in bogus debt collection efforts against businesses and non-profits.
HomeAdvisor, In the Matter of
In January 2023, the FTC issued an order requiring Denver-based HomeAdvisor, Inc. – a company affiliated with Angi, formerly known as “Angie’s List” – to pay up to $7.2 million for using a wide range of deceptive and misleading tactics in selling home improvement project leads to service providers, including small businesses operating in the “gig” economy. The Commission announced approval of the final consent order in April 2023.
Illumina, Inc., and GRAIL, Inc., In the Matter of
The Federal Trade Commission filed an administrative complaint and authorized a federal court lawsuit to block Illumina’s $7.1 billion proposed acquisition of Grail—a maker of a non-invasive, early detection liquid biopsy test that can screen for multiple types of cancer in asymptomatic patients at very early stages using DNA sequencing. Illumina is the only provider of DNA sequencing that is a viable option for these multi-cancer early detection, or MCED, tests in the United States.
The complaint alleges the proposed acquisition will diminish innovation in the U.S. market for MCED tests, which could be used to detect up to 50 types of cancer. Most of these types of cancer are not screened for at all today, and the MCED test could save millions of lives around the world. The trial began on Aug. 24, 2021. On May 20, 2021, the FTC authorized staff to dismiss its federal court complaint for Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order.
Microsoft/Activision Blizzard, In the Matter of
The Federal Trade Commission authorized an administrative complaint against the proposed merger between Microsoft Corp. and Activision Blizzard, Inc., a video game developer that creates and publishes games such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch. Microsoft sells the Xbox gaming console and also offers a video game subscription service called Xbox Game Pass, as well as a cloud-based video game streaming service. The agency alleges that the deal would enable Microsoft to suppress competitors to its Xbox gaming consoles and its rapidly growing subscription and cloud-gaming business. An evidentiary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 2, 2023 at 10 a.m. ET before an Administrative Law Judge at the FTC’s headquarters at 600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Room 532.
Meta/Zuckerberg/Within, In the Matter of
The Federal Trade Commission authorized an administrative complaint against the proposed merger between virtual reality (VR) giant Meta and Within Unlimited, the VR studio that markets Supernatural, a leading VR fitness app. Formerly known as Facebook Inc., Meta sells the most widely used VR headset, operates a widely used VR app store, and already owns many popular VR apps. The agency alleges that Meta’s proposed acquisition of Within would harm competition and dampen innovation in the U.S. markets for fitness and dedicated-fitness VR apps.
Fleetcor Technologies, In the Matter of
Nvidia/Arm, In the Matter of
The Federal Trade Commission filed a law enforcement action to block U.S. semiconductor chip supplier Nvidia Corp.’s $40 billion acquisition of UK-based semiconductor design firm Arm Ltd., the largest transaction in the history of the semiconductor industry. The FTC’s action seeks to preserve competition in markets for computer chips used in datacenters and in automotive advanced driver assistance systems. The complaint named Nvidia Corp., Arm Ltd., and Arm owner Softbank Group Corp. In February 2022, Nvidia Corp. announced that it had terminated its proposed acquisition of Arm Ltd. (Arm) from SoftBank Group Corp, and the Commission dismissed the complaint.
Health Research Laboratories, LLC, In the Matter of
In March 2022, the FTC announced that two Texas-based companies and their owner are banned from advertising or selling dietary supplements, and from making claims that their products treat, cure, or reduce the risk of disease, under a proposed settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. The agency announced final approval of the order in June 2022.
Treashonna P. Graham, et al, FTC and The State of Florida, v.
The operators of an alleged grant scam called Grant Bae that targeted minority-owned businesses will face a permanent ban from grant-writing and business consulting services as a result of a lawsuit brought against them by the Federal Trade Commission and the State of Florida.
In their complaint against Grant Bae, the FTC and Florida alleged that Grant Bae and its owner, Treashonna P. Graham, scammed businesses out of money, sometimes thousands of dollars each, with false promises of “guaranteed” grant funding and COVID-19 economic benefits that did not materialize.
Hackensack Meridian Health, Inc. and Englewood Healthcare Foundation, In the Matter of
The Federal Trade Commission filed an administrative complaint and authorized a suit in federal court, to block Hackensack Meridian Health, Inc.’s proposed acquisition of Englewood Healthcare Foundation. The complaint alleges that the merged healthcare system would control three of the six inpatient general acute care hospitals in Bergen County, New Jersey. The proposed acquisition would eliminate close competition between Hackensack Meridian Health and Englewood in Bergen County and leave insurers with few alternatives for inpatient general acute care services, which encompass a broad range of inpatient medical and surgical diagnostic and treatment services that require an overnight hospital stay. On Aug. 4, 2021, the FTC obtained a preliminary injunction halting the acquisition while the administrative trial is underway. On March 22, 2022, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the preliminary injunction. The administrative trial is scheduled to begin on April 22, 2022.
RWJ Barnabas Health/Saint Peter's Healthcare System, In the Matter of
The Federal Trade Commission authorized an administrative complaint and a suit in federal court to block the acquisition of Saint Peter’s Healthcare System by RWJBarnabas Health, or RWJ, which is one of the largest hospital systems in New Jersey. The complaint alleges that in Middlesex County, in the central part of the state, the acquisition will harm competition for inpatient general acute care services, which are a broad range of essential medical and surgical diagnostic and treatment services that require an overnight hospital stay. The FTC’s federal court suit seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the deal and maintain the status quo while the agency pursues an administrative trial on the merits of the case. On June 14, 2022, the parties announced that they had abandoned the transaction.
Axon Enterprise and Safariland, In the Matter of
The Federal Trade Commission issued an administrative complaint challenging Axon Enterprise, Inc.’s consummated acquisition of its body-worn camera systems competitor VieVu, LLC. Before the acquisition, the two companies competed to provide body-worn camera systems to large, metropolitan police departments across the United States. According to the complaint, Axon’s May 2018 acquisition reduced competition in an already concentrated market. Before their merger, Axon and VieVu competed to sell body-worn camera systems that were particularly well suited for large metropolitan police departments. The Commission vote to issue the administrative complaint was 5-0. On April 17, 2020, the Commission announced a proposed settlement with Safariland, which is one of the respondents and the parent company of VieVu. The final settlement was issued on June 11, 2020. The administrative trial was scheduled to begin on Oct. 13, 2020, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered a stay until further notice.
SPM Thermo-Shield, Inc.
The Federal Trade Commission sued SPM Thermo-Shield, Inc., and its principals Peter J. Spiska, and George P. Spiska, alleging they make false or unsubstantiated R-value and energy savings claims about their architectural coatings products. In July 2020, the FTC sued four companies that sell paint products used to coat buildings and homes, alleging that they deceived consumers about their products’ insulation and energy-savings capabilities. In complaints filed in federal court, the FTC charged that the companies falsely overstated the R-value ratings of the coatings, making deceptive statements about heat flow and insulating power. The FTC announced a summary judgment ending the litigation in June 2022.
HCA Healthcare/Steward Health Care System, In the Matter of
The Federal Trade Commission authorized an administrative complaint and a suit in federal court to block the proposed merger of two large healthcare systems in Utah, alleging the deal would lead to higher prices and lower quality of care in the region surrounding Salt Lake City, known as the Wasatch Front region. The deal would impact a broad range of essential medical and surgical diagnostic and treatment services that require an overnight hospital stay, known as inpatient general acute care, the FTC alleged.
The FTC’s federal court suit sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the deal and to maintain the status quo while the FTC pursues an administrative trial on the merits of the case. On June 16, 2022, the parties announced that they had abandoned the transaction.
Louisiana Real Estate Appraisers Board, In the Matter of
The Federal Trade Commission filed an administrative complaint against the Louisiana Real Estate Appraisers Board, alleging that the group is unreasonably restraining price competition for appraisal services in Louisiana, contrary to federal antitrust law. The complaint alleged that the appraisal board’s regulations exceeded the scope of the mandate outlined in the Dodd-Frank Act that required appraisal management companies to pay “a rate that is customary and reasonable for appraisal services performed in the market area of the property being appraised.” Specifically, the board required appraisal fees to equal or exceed the median fees identified in survey reports commissioned and published by the board. The board then investigated and sanctioned companies that paid fees below the specified levels.
Shortly before the administrative trial was set to begin, the FTC and the board reached a proposed settlement agreement.
On April 5, 2022, the Commission announced the final consent agreement in this matter.
Lifespan/CNE, In the Matter of
The Federal Trade Commission authorized an administrative complaint, and a suit in federal court blocking the proposed merger of Rhode Island’s two largest healthcare providers. The agency alleged the deal would lead to higher prices and lower quality care. The FTC, jointly with the Rhode Island Office of the Attorney General, filed a complaint in federal district court seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the deal and to maintain the status quo pending an administrative trial on the merits of the case. On March 2, 2022, the Commission issued a statement regarding the parties’ decision to abandon the transaction.
GDP Network LLC (YF Solution)
At the request of the Federal Trade Commission and the Florida Attorney General's Office, a federal court temporarily halted an alleged sham credit card interest rate reduction operation that often targeted financially distressed consumers and older adults in July 2020. In February 2022, the FTC announced that the operators are permanently banned from the debt relief industry as part of court orders resolving charges by the FTC and Florida AG’s Office.