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United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
May 14, 2009, Argued; August 27, 2009, Decided
[*756] TINDER, Circuit Judge. If you have a problem, chances are Kevin Trudeau has an answer. For over a decade, Trudeau has promoted countless "cures" for a host of human woes that he claims the government and corporations have kept hidden from the American public. Cancer, AIDS, severe pain, hair loss, slow reading, poor memory, debt, obesity--you name it, Trudeau has a "cure" for it. To get his messages out, Trudeau has become a marketing machine. And the infomercial is his medium of choice. He has appeared in dozens of them, usually in the form of a staged, scripted interview where Trudeau raves about the astounding benefits of the miracle product [**2] he's pitching. But Trudeau's tactics have long drawn the ire of the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC"). By promoting his cures, Trudeau claims he is merely exposing corporate and government conspiracies to keep Americans fat and unhealthy. But the FTC accuses Trudeau of being nothing more than a huckster who preys on unwitting consumers--a 21st-century snake-oil salesman. For years Trudeau has dueled with the FTC in and out of court.
Trudeau's latest run-in concerns his cure for weight loss, which he explains in his book, The Weight Loss Cure "They" Don't Want You to Know About. By the time Trudeau began promoting the book, courts had sharply curbed his marketing activities. A consent decree banned Trudeau from appearing in infomercials for any products, except for books, provided that he did not "misrepresent the content of the book."
That proviso forms the basis for this latest lawsuit. The FTC claimed that Trudeau's Weight Loss Cure infomercial misled consumers by describing a weight loss program that was "easy," "simple," and able to be completed at home, when in fact it was anything but. The program requires a diet of only 500 calories per day, injections of a prescription hormone [**3] not approved for weight loss, and dozens of dietary and lifestyle restrictions. The district court sided with the FTC, concluded that Trudeau had misrepresented his book, and held Trudeau in contempt. As sanctions, the court ordered Trudeau to pay $ 37.6 million and banned Trudeau from appearing in any infomercials, even for books, for the next three years.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
579 F.3d 754 *; 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 19318 **; 2009-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) P76,718
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. KEVIN TRUDEAU, Defendant-Appellant.
Subsequent History: Related proceeding at United States v. Trudeau, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10717 (N.D. Ill., Jan. 29, 2014)
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 03-C-3904--Robert W. Gettleman, Judge.
FTC v. Trudeau, 567 F. Supp. 2d 1016, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85214 (N.D. Ill., 2007)
infomercial, consumers, contempt, Cure, district court, weight loss, diet, eat, ban, civil contempt, sanctions, protocol, food, misrepresent, injunction, coercive, compensatory, contemnor, contempt sanction, sales, Phase, organic, fine, per day, restrictions, advertising, compliance, courts, compensate, injections
Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Sanctions, Contempt, Civil Contempt, Judgments, Entry of Judgments, Consent Decrees, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Clear & Convincing Proof, Antitrust & Trade Law, Consumer Protection, False Advertising, US Federal Trade Commission, Constitutional Law, Freedom of Speech, Commercial Speech, Misleading Speech, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Affirmative Defenses, Estoppel, Governments, Federal Government, Claims By & Against, Laches, Clearly Erroneous Review, De Novo Review, Criminal Contempt, Burden Shifting, Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices, Federal Trade Commission Act, Jury Trials, Right to Jury Trial, Actions in Equity, Relief From Judgments, General Overview, Remedies, Injunctions