Supreme Court Decides to Rule on FTC’s Disgorgement Authority
As previously blogged about here, the Supreme Court recently upheld the SEC’s disgorgement authority but imposed certain limits, including consideration of net profits. FTC defense practitioners immediately began to consider how the ruling might potentially impact FTC investigations and enforcement actions, including how it might bear upon other judicial challenges to whether Section 13(b) of the FTC Act authorizes the FTC to obtain equitable monetary relief.
On July 9, 2020, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the AMG Capital Management and Credit Bureau Center matters that should now decide the issues of whether Section 13(b) permits courts to award disgorgement.
In AMG v. FTC, the Ninth Circuit held that courts’ equitable powers include awarding equitable monetary relief, including disgorgement. In contrast, the Seventh Circuit in FTC v. Credit Bureau Center recently disregard years of precedent when it held that the express terms of Section 13(b) illustrate that Congress only authorized injunctive relief, not equitable monetary relief or disgorgement.
The two matters have been consolidated and with a total of one hour allotted for oral argument. The importance of these matters cannot be overstated as they conclusively resolve splits of authority relating to whether or in what circumstances FTC lawyers are entitled to seek equitable monetary relief in the form of disgorgement.