New York-based supermarket operators The Golub Corp., which owns the Price Chopper chain, and Tops Market Corp. have agreed to divest 12 Tops supermarkets to C&S Wholesale Grocers to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that their proposed merger would likely be anticompetitive in 11 local markets in New York and Vermont. In those markets, according to the complaint, without a remedy the merger is likely to allow the newly merged company to increase prices above competitive levels, unilaterally or by coordinating with competitors. The merger is also likely to diminish the combined company’s incentives to compete on quality and service in its stores. The Decision and Order requires Price Chopper and Tops to divest the 12 Tops stores and related assets to C&S on a rolling basis, beginning by Jan. 17, 2022, at a rate of two stores pe week for six weeks. On Jan. 24, 2022, the Commission announced the final consent agreement in this matter.
Every year the FTC brings hundreds of cases against individuals and companies for violating consumer protection and competition laws that the agency enforces. These cases can involve fraud, scams, identity theft, false advertising, privacy violations, anti-competitive behavior and more. The Legal Library has detailed information about cases we have brought in federal court or through our internal administrative process, called an adjudicative proceeding.
Concurring Statement of Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, Joined by Chair Lina M. Khan, Regarding the 2022 Revised Clayton Act Thresholds
The Federal Trade Commission is returning more than $10 million to consumers who were charged undisclosed fees by online lender LendingClub Corporation. The FTC is distributing refunds directly to more than 15,000 LendingClub customers and encouraging additional LendingClub customers to apply for refunds.
The FTC sued LendingClub in April 2018, charging that the company falsely promised loan applicants that they would receive a specific loan amount with “no hidden fees,” when in reality the company deducted hundreds or even thousands of dollars in hidden up-front fees from the loans. The FTC also alleged that LendingClub told consumers they were approved for loans when they were not and took money from consumers’ bank accounts without authorization.
Statement of Commissioners Noah Joshua Phillips and Christine S. Wilson Regarding the Request for Information on Merger Enforcement
The Federal Trade Commission and a group of seven state enforcers filed a complaint in federal district court against Vyera Pharmaceuticals, LLC, alleging an elaborate anticompetitive scheme to preserve a monopoly for the life-saving drug, Daraprim. The Commission vote to issue the complaint was 5-0. The complaint was filed on Jan. 27, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In a Jan. 14, 2022 ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote found Shkreli’s conduct “egregious, deliberate, repetitive, long-running, and ultimately dangerous.” Judge Cote banned Shkreli for life from the pharmaceutical industry.
Statement of Chair Lina M. Khan on the Ruling by Judge Denise L. Cote Regarding Federal Trade Commission et al v. Vyera Pharmaceuticals, LLC et al Regarding
The Federal Trade Commission required generic drug marketers ANI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Novitium Pharma LLC to divest, to Prasco LLC, ANI’s development rights to one generic drug and assets with respect to another generic drug as part of a settlement resolving charges that ANI’s $210 million acquisition of Novitium likely would be anticompetitive. According to the complaint, without a remedy, the acquisition would likely harm future competition in U.S. markets for both of these generic products. The order requires ANI and Novitium to divest ANI’s rights and assets to generic SMX-TMP oral suspension and generic dexamethasone tablets to Prasco within 10 days after the acquisition is final. On Jan. 12, 2022, the Commission announced the final consent order in this matter.
The FTC filed a complaint against RCG Advances, LLC—formerly known as Richmond Capital Group, LLC, and also doing business as Viceroy Capital Funding and Ram Capital Funding—and a related entity and individuals. The complaint alleges that, since at least 2015, the defendants have deceived small businesses and other organizations by misrepresenting the terms of merchant cash advances they provided, and then used unfair collection practices, including threatening physical violence, to compel consumers to pay. The FTC also alleges that defendants have made unauthorized withdrawals from consumers’ accounts.
RCG Advances, LLC and Robert Giardina are permanently banned from the merchant cash advance industry for deceiving and threatening small businesses and their owners. In addition, the court ordered RCG Advances and Giardina to make an upfront payment of $1.5 million and subsequent payment of more than $1.2 million to refund consumers.
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 names Nvidia Corp., Arm Ltd., and Arm owner Softbank Group Corp. The administrative trial is scheduled to begin on Aug. 9, 2022.
Global Partners LP and Richard Wiehl have agreed to divest to Petroleum Marketing Investment Group, LLC, seven stores that sell gasoline and diesel fuel in five local markets in Connecticut, to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that Global’s proposed acquisition of 27 retail gasoline and diesel outlets owned or operated by Wiehl violates federal antitrust laws. The complaint alleges that the acquisition will harm competition for the retail sale of gasoline in and around the Connecticut towns and cities of Fairfield, Bethel, Milford, Wilton, and Shelton. In all of these local markets except Wilton, the acquisition will also harm competition for the retail sale of diesel fuel. Under the terms of the proposed consent order, among other stipulations, Global and Wiehl must divest to Petroleum Marketing Investment Group six Global retail fuel outlets and one Wheels retail fuel outlet.
Ascension will be required to implement a comprehensive data security program as part of a settlement resolving FTC allegations that the firm failed to ensure one of its vendors was adequately securing personal data about tens of thousands of mortgage holders.
Restaurant chain owner and investment fund operator Biglari Holdings Inc. will pay a $1.4 million civil penalty to settle charges that two acquisitions it made on March 26, 2020 of shares of restaurant operator Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. violated the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act. According to the complaint, these two acquisitions, together with Biglari’s prior holdings of Cracker Barrel, caused it to exceed an HSR filing threshold, triggering its obligation to file an HSR Form and wait before completing the acquisition. Failing to do so violated the HSR Act.
Clarence L. Werner, founder of the Omaha, Nebraska-based truckload carrier Werner Enterprises, Inc. will pay a $486,900 civil penalty to settle charges that certain of his acquisitions of company stock while he was a director of the company violated the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act. The HSR Act requires companies and individuals to report stock purchases over a certain threshold to the FTC and DOJ and wait before closing the transaction so that the federal agencies can investigate the potential competitive impact of the acquisition. Smaller transactions may also be reportable under the Act due to the need to aggregate the new purchase with all current holdings.
To settle FTC charges that its actions violated the antitrust laws, the Board of Dental Examiners of Alabama agreed to stop requiring on-site supervision by licensed dentists of alignment scans of prospective patients’ mouths seeking to address misaligned teeth or gaps between teeth. According to the complaint, the board amended a rule to prohibit dental hygienists and other non-dentist practitioners from performing scans inside a patient’s mouth without on-site dentist supervision. The complaint alleges that the Board unreasonably excluded from competition providers of teledentistry-based teeth alignment products and services, and that it did this without adequate active supervision from neutral state officials, in violation of the FTC Act. On Dec. 21, 2021, the FTC announced the final consent agreement in this matter.