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FTC v. Omics Grp. Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

June 10, 2020, Argued and Submitted, San Francisco, California; September 11, 2020, Filed

No. 19-15738

Opinion

MEMORANDUM2

OMICS Group Inc., Conference Series LLC, iMedPub LLC (collectively OMICS) and Srinubabu Gedela (collectively Defendants) appeal the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). ] We review summary judgment orders de novo, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party to determine whether genuine issues of material fact exist and whether the district court correctly applied the law. FTC v. Stefanchik, 559 F.3d 924, 927 (9th Cir. 2009). We review the district court's [*2]  award of equitable monetary relief for abuse of discretion. Id. at 931.

Violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The record contains ample evidence of Defendants' deception regarding its journals' peer review practices, publishing fees, impact factors (a common rating metric for journals in the academic publishing industry), and editorial board membership. OMICS also made false representations regarding the attendees and organizers of its academic conferences when marketing these events. OMICS's misrepresentations were material and their net impression was likely to, and did in fact, deceive ordinary consumers. See id. at 928-29. Defendants made only general denials in response to the FTC's overwhelming evidence against them, and they did not present contrary evidence sufficient to create any genuine disputes of material fact as to their liability. Thus, we affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment to the FTC concluding that Defendants violated Section 5(a) of the FTC Act. 15 U.S.C. § 45(a). See FTC v. Cyberspace.com LLC, 453 F.3d 1196, 1201 (9th Cir. 2006).

Gedela's Personal Liability. The district court properly concluded that Gedela is personally liable for OMICS's violations because he had authority over OMICS and either had knowledge of the companies' misrepresentations or [*3]  was recklessly indifferent to their truth or falsity. Stefanchik, 559 F.3d at 931. It is undisputed that Gedela was the sole owner and CEO of OMICS. Gedela also admitted that he responded to complaints about OMICS's operations and received weekly updates from management about all business operations.

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2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 28921 *

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. OMICS GROUP INC., DBA OMICS Publishing Group; et al., Defendants-Appellants.

Notice: PLEASE REFER TO FEDERAL RULES OF APPELLATE PROCEDURE RULE 32.1 GOVERNING THE CITATION TO UNPUBLISHED OPINIONS.

Prior History:  [*1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada. D.C. No. 2:16-cv-02022-GMN-VCF. Gloria M. Navarro, District Judge, Presiding.

FTC v. Omics Grp., 374 F. Supp. 3d 994, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54975, 2019 WL 1442174 (D. Nev., Mar. 29, 2019)

CORE TERMS

unjust, deception, calculation, misrepresentations, monetary

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Antitrust & Trade Law, Consumer Protection, Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices, Federal Trade Commission Act, Regulated Practices, Trade Practices & Unfair Competition