The Federal Trade Commission today filed a petition seeking a federal court order to force Total Wine to comply with an FTC civil investigative demand (CID), which is a type of administrative subpoena that seeks documents and other information related to an ongoing antitrust investigation. The CID issued to Total Wine is part of an FTC investigation into a different company, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits LLC.
The FTC’s petition notes that it has tried to work cooperatively with Total Wine, but the company has failed to comply with the Commission’s CID for more than four months. Total Wine has categorically refused to search any employee-maintained files for documents and information needed to address the FTC’s CID and has failed to assert any valid reason for its refusal to comply. Total Wine’s actions have impeded and delayed the FTC’s investigation, forcing the Commission to seek federal court enforcement.
“A civil investigative demand issued by the FTC is not a voluntary request, it is a demand made by the federal government that companies must comply with,” said Henry Liu, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “Failing to comply with a CID ultimately hinders the FTC’s ability to protect consumers and businesses from anticompetitive practices. The FTC will not hesitate to use the full force of the law and take companies to court if they fail to comply.”
The Commission is requesting that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia order Total Wine to appear before the Court and demonstrate why it should not be required to comply with the CID. Otherwise, the FTC is asking that the Court order Total Wine to produce specified documents and information within 20 days.
The Commission issued the CID to Total Wine as part of its investigation into whether Southern Glazer’s, a distributor of wine and spirits products, has engaged in discriminatory practices in its sales to retailers like Total Wine in violation of the Robinson-Patman Act or engaged in other unfair methods of competition in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.