The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, has reached a settlement with an Internet marketer and its manager that will put a stop to their alleged illegal practice of selling cosmetic contact lenses to consumers without prescriptions.
The settlement with Da Young Kim and Gothic Lens LLC requires them to pay a civil penalty of $50,000. Kim will sell her 2008 BMW in partial satisfaction of the judgment, and the rest will suspended because of the defendants’ inability to pay.
The defendants sold theatrical and Halloween-themed cosmetic contact lenses online. The FTC charged that they violated federal law by selling contact lenses without obtaining consumers’ contact lens prescriptions or verifying their prescriptions directly with the prescribers, and by failing to keep adequate records.
Under the Contact Lens Rule, which the FTC administers, sellers must verify that a consumer has a valid prescription for all contact lenses, including cosmetic lenses. The improper use of contact lenses, whether they are corrective or not, can cause corneal ulcers, corneal abrasions, vision impairment, and blindness. The settlement with the Gothic Lens defendants is the FTC’s sixth enforcement action since it issued the Contact Lens Rule in 2004.
The settlement order also prohibits the defendants from selling contact lenses without obtaining or verifying prescriptions directly from the prescribers, from failing to maintain records of prescriptions and verifications, and from violating the Contact Lens Rule. Under the settlement, if it is determined that the financial information the defendants gave the FTC was untruthful, the full amount of the judgment will become due. The settlement also contains various record keeping provisions to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendants’ compliance.
The FTC’s guidance for sellers on their obligations under the Contact Lens Rule includes "The Contact Lens Rule: A Guide for Prescribers and Sellers,”and "Complying with the Contact Lens Rule .” Consumers can learn more about cosmetic contact lenses in “Avoiding an Eyesore: What to Know Before You Buy Cosmetic Contacts,” and about their rights under federal law in “The Eyes Have It – Get Your Prescription .”
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint and settlement order was 5-0. The U.S. Department of Justice filed these documents on the FTC’s behalf in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on January 19, 2011.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. A consent decree is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. A consent decree is subject to court approval and has the force of law when signed by the judge. Copies of the complaint and proposed consent decree are available from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
(Gothic Lens NR.wpd)
(FTC File No. 102-3008)
(Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-0159)
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