« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
Mr. SADOWSKI. I am afraid that we cannot continue much longer than 20 minutes, because after we complete the Consent Calendar, the House will take up consideration of the housing bill.
Mr. O'Hara. There will be quorum call on that.
Mr. SADOWSKI. Then we will have a quorum call. We might as well adjourn until tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock.
(Whereupon, at 12:25 p. m., Monday, March 4, 1946, the committee adjourned until 10 o'clock Tuesday, March 5, 1946.)
AMEND FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION ACT
TUESDAY, MARCH 5, 1946
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C. The subcommittee reconvened at 10 a. m., Hon., George G. Sadowski, chairman of the subcommittee, presiding.
Mr. SADOWSKI. The subcommittee will come to order.
STATEMENT OF RICHARD P. WHITELEY, ASSISTANT CHIEF
COUNSEL, FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
Mr. WHITELEY. Mr. Chairman, at the session last Thursday, just before the closing of the session, I gave my name and position with the Commission. I believe the record already contains that, and I will begin with my prepared statement.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I shall address myself primarily to the proposed section 2 of H. R. 2390, which deals with civil penalties and amends the present act so as to read as follows:
(1) Any person, partnership, or corporation who violates an order of the Commission to cease and desist after it has become final, and while such order is in effect, shall forfeit and pay to the United States a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 for each violation, not to exceed the sum of $10,000 in the aggregate, which shall accrue to the United States and may be recovered in a civil action brought by the United States.
Under the present law; that is, the Wheeler-Lea amendment adopted in 1938, there is a maximum penalty provided of $5,000 for each violation with no aggregate limitation. The proposed amendment would provide a maximum penalty of $1,000 for each violation, with a further provision that the aggregate civil penalty in any one case shall not exceed the sum of $10,000.
Since the passage of the Wheeler-Lea amendments, approved March 21, 1938, penalties and costs for the violation of cease and desist orders issued by the Federal Trade Commission have been assessed in 41 cases. As the committee is well aware, proceedings for the recovery of civil penalties are brought under the direction of the Attorney General by the several United States attorneys in Federal district courts.
The following table gives the name of the respondent in each of the 41 cases, the commodity involved, the United States district court in which the penalty proceeding was brought, the amount claimed in the bill of complaint, and the penalty and costs assessed in each case.
I ask that this table be incorporated as a part of my remarks at this point so that it will be available to the committee, but I shall not take the committee's time to recite the above-stated details of each
(The table referred to is as follows:)
United States district
and costs pleaded
1857 K & S Sales Co...
Northern district, Illinois.- $40,000 $4,500.00 3123 John Petrie.
30,000 2,500.00 2652 Holst Publishing Co.. Encyclopedia.
Southern district, Iowa..
50,000 2,000.00 1788 Elmer Candy Co.
1,000.00 3111 Deran Confectionery Co. do..
District of Massachusetts. 20,000
1,000.00 1579 Klimate Proof Manufac- Paints
Middle district, North 5,000 1,000.00 turing Co.
Carolina. 3059 Mells Manufacturing Co. Candy lottery.. Eastern district, New 15, 000 600.00
York. 3075 Herbal Medicine Co...... Proprietary medicine. District of Maryland. 20,000
100.00 2229 Joseph A. Piuma..
Southern district, Cali- 60,000 3,250.00
fornia. 2696 Walter T. Hall & Co... Candy lottery- Southern district, Iowa.-- 15,000 1,000.00 2939 Helena Rubinstein.. Cosmetics.
Southern district, New
15, 000 5,000.00
York. 2665 J. H. Casey Co.... Proprietary medicine. District of Oregon.. 40,000 40.00 2777 Plantation Chocolate Co. Candy lottery.. Eastern district, Penn
sylvania. 3440 Perfect Manufacturing Tire fluids.
Southern district, Ohio... 15,000 1,000.00 Co. 2319 Chesapeake Distilling & Whisky-.-
District of Maryland..... 20,000 100.00 Distributing Co. 3166 Mutual Printing Co... Sales promotion Northern district, Illinois. 20,000 1,500.00
plans. 2412 Montebello Distillers. Whisky.
District of Maryland.
10,000 100.00 3160 Oppenheim, Collins & Women's clothing.. Southern district, New 5,000 1,500.00 Co., Inc.
York. 2607 Levore Co.
Northern district, Illinois. 30,000 500.00 2529 American Beauty Prod- Cosmetics.
35,000 2,500.00 ucts Co. 3011 Midwest Studios.
District of Oregon.. 50,000 1,500.00 3042 Gynex Corp...
Contraceptives.. Southern district, New 30,000 500.00
York. 3261 Pioneer Advertising Co.. Sales promotion Northern district, Illinois. 35,000 525.00
plans. 3630 Midwest Sales Syndicate- Batteries, bulbs.
50,000 750.00 3617 Hiram E. Barber.
Automobile-testing District of Nebraska. 25,000 500.00
devices. 3045 Melster Candy Co..---- Candy lottery. Western district, Wiscon- 5,000 1,000.00
sin. 2959 Sweets Co. of America... do.
District of New Jersey 45,000 1,000.00 3060 American Television In- Correspondence Northern district, Illinois. 45,000 2,500.00 stitute.
school. 2621 Sweet Candy Co... Candy lottery
District of Utah
45,000 1,000.00 2874 Wilson Chemical Co.. Novelties
Western district, Penn
sylvania. 3073 Emile Carpentier... Proprietary medi- District of New Jersey.-- 15,000 15,029.21
cine. 3238 William C. Steffy et al.. Silverware sales pro- Northern district, Illinois 50,000 5,000.00
motion. 1880 Gellman Bros
District of Minnesota. 30,000 1,500.00 3075 Herbal Medicine Co.. Proprietary medi- District of Maryland...
500.00 cine. 3486 Certane Co...
Contraceptives..... Southern district, Califor- 15,000 774. 40
nia. 3198 Rogers Redemption Bu- Silverware sales pro- District of Minnesota...-- 20,000 400.00 reau.
motion. 3051 Lanteen Laboratories, Contraceptives.. Northern district, Illinois. 40,000 2, 526. 22
Inc. 4193 Kongo Chemical Co.---- Hair dye.
Southern district, New
York. 2132 Irving Roy Jacobson.. Books.
Western district, Wiscon- 40,000 1,000.00
sin. 2480 G. Leach & Co..
Eastern district, Pennsyl- | 20,000 1,033. 40
vania. 2641 Rango Tablet Co.... Nostrums..
Southern district, Califor- 5,000 5,023. 10
Mr. WHITELEY. I do desire to call the attention of the committee to the fact that in only one of the 41 cases has the penalty assessed by the district court exceeded the aggregate of $10,000 which is sought to be imposed as a limitation in the proposed amendment. This was in a particularly aggravated case in which an individual in Bergen County, N. J., who called himself “Dr. Emile Carpentier,” manufactured and sold a product called “TB compound," a proprietary preparation, advertised as a cure for tuberculosis of the lungs, larynx, bones, intestines, kidneys, and brains, and as a cure for chronic bronchitis, colitis, chronic gastritis, and for ulcerated duodenum, stomach, and intestines. The Commission found that this so-called TB compound had no curative, remedial, or therapeutic value in the treatment of the various types of tuberculosis, or in the treatment of the other ailments for which it was recommended, that no one had been cured of tuberculosis by its use, and that physicians had not successfully prescribed it in the treatment of patients, all of which claims had been made by respondent. The Commission further found that the respondent was not a doctor of medicine, had never had any medical training, had never served as an interne in any hospital, or been connected with the medical profession in any way other than as an orderly in hospitals. It also found that he maintained no office or place of business where the condition of purchasers or prospective purchasers of his compound might be determined. The bill of complaint filed by the United States attorney asked the imposition of penalties totaling $15,000, and the court assessed aggregate penalties of $15,000, plus court costs of $29.21.
In every other case, although the amounts claimed for violations extended from $5,000 in several cases to as high as $95,000 in one case where there were numerous and constant violations, the aggregate penalties assessed varied from as low as $40 to as high as $5,000. Manifestly, had the limitation sought to be imposed by the pending amendment been a part of the present law, the amounts claimed in the several bills would have been much smaller and the penalties assessed would have been correspondingly less. The Carpentier case referred to above and one other involving a medicine falsely advertised were the only 2 of the 41 in which the amount sought in the bill of complaint was allowed by the district court.
I think these figures show conclusively that there is no fear that the courts will “run wild” and assess huge amounts as penalties, or that, as one witness before the committee stated, "astronomical figures could be assessed.” The courts take into consideration before assessing penalties both the gravity of the offense and the ability of the defendant to pay. This accounts for the rather small penalties assessed in several of the cases listed above.
On the other hand, if the maximum penalty for each violation were reduced from $5,000 to $1,000, with an aggregate limitation of $10,000 for all vlolations, however numerous and continuous they may have been, the courts would be powerless to assess adequate penalties against large corporations and others engaged in price-fixing or other activities in restraint of trade for violations of the Commission's orders to cease and desist. In some of such cases whole industries are involved, and the practices sought to be prohibited might easily have resulted in very considerable profits. In such a case, the public interest would be served only if penalties sufficiently substantial to constitute a real deterrent were assessed. Penalties as small as the proposed amendment provides would only lend encouragement to continuing violations, and in effect operate as a license to violate the law.
I think it is not necessary to make any further reference to the proposed change with respect to civil penalties. The pending bill does not provide any amendments to section 13 with respect to temporary injunctions and section 14 with respect to criminal prosecutions, but I want to make a very brief reference to those two sections, to show that the Commission and the Attorney General have been very reasonable in the application of the provisions of those two sections.
One of the provisions in the amendments adopted by Congress to the Federal Trade Commission Act in 1938 was section 13, with respect to the securing of a temporary injunction in cases where the Commission, pending the trial of a case before it, has reason to believe that the injunction of the dissemination of any false advertisement of a food, drug, device, or cosmetic in violation of section 12 would be in the interest of the public.
The Commission has used this injunction authority sparingly, and has applied for it in 38 instances only. Thirty-seven of the applications were granted, and that the thirty-eighth should have been granted was demonstrated by the fact that as the result of the Commission's trial of the case, an order to cease and desist was issued against respondent, which order has since become final.
Under section 14 of the Commission's act, also one of the provisions of the Wheeler-Lea amendments of 1938, it is provided that any person violating any provision of section 12 (a) with respect to the dissemination of a false advertisement shall, if the use of the commodity advertised may be injurious to health because of results from such use under the conditions prescribed in the advertisement thereof or under such conditions as are customary or usual, or if such violation is with intent to defraud or mislead, be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine or imprisonment or both. In one instance only has the Commission applied to the Attorney General for criminal prosecution under section 14, and in that case the defendant was convicted and a fine of $1,000 was imposed.
I make these references both to the injunction and criminal proceedings to show that the Commission has been very sparing in exercising the authority granted it under its act, and has never sought the institution of proceedings in any injunction or criminal case, with the single exception of the injunction above referred to, in which the prosecution was not successful, and all of these proceedings in the civil penalty cases and the injunction cases and in the single criminal prosecution were proceedings before Federal district courts.
At this time I should like to correct a misunderstanding that may have arisen in the minds of the committee as the result of the testimony of one of the witnesses who appeared in support of the provisions of the bill, Mr. Isaac W. Digges, attorney, of New York City. In response to a question by a member of the committee as to whether, in the trial of cases before the Commission, the employees of other Federal agencies are equally available to the Commission and the respondent, Mr. Digges replied that he had had only one experience in that regard; that he had desired in behalf of a respondent to secure the testimony of a representative of the Bureau of Standards which was