DOTAuthority.com and Affiliates File A Counterclaim Against the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) for Defamation and Tortious Interference
March 21, 2017 – Fort Lauderdale, FL – Gordon Law Group has moved the court on behalf of clients DOTAuthority, Inc. et al.(“Plaintiffs”) for leave to file a counterclaim against the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) alleging defamation and tortious interference (CIVIL ACTION NUMBER: 0:16-cv-62186-WJZ) in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Business to FTC: Derogatory Alerts Caused Undue Harm
On March 20, 2017, the Plaintiffs filed an action for declaratory and injunctive relief against the FTC to correct press releases, blog posts, a scam alert listing, and public comments by the FTC and its designated representatives. The materials at issue allegedly injured the Plaintiffs’ reputations and revenue streams. The Counterclaim also asserts a cause of action for the FTC’s alleged tortious interference with Plaintiffs’ business relationships.
Business to FTC: We Used Proper Disclaimers
The newly filed countersuit arises from the FTC’s September 2016 lawsuit accusing DOTAuthority.com and its affiliates of deceptive business practices. Specifically, commissioners argued that DOTAuthority.com purposefully tried to mislead consumers into believing it was a government entity (CIVIL ACTION NUMBER: 0:16-cv-62186-WJZ). The Plaintiffs’ court filing states thatDOTAuthority.com’s marketing materials, websites, and shopping carts featured pre-existing, adequate good faith disclaimers explaining that the company is a third party and “not the Department of Transportation.”
On September 15, 2016, the FTC obtained an ex parte temporary restraining order without DOTAuthority.com’s knowledge. The agency froze the personal and business assets of DOTAuthority.com and its owner James Lamb. The court also appointed a receiver to wrest control of the company away from Lamb during the proceeding’s pendency.
Overruling the FTC’s objections, on September 28, 2016, the Federal court took witness testimony from Lamb and heard arguments. In defense of Lamb and his business, the Gordon Law Group argued that:
- The FTC’s ex parte request for an asset freeze and receivership was improvident;
- The FTC inappropriately implied that exigent circumstances existed when, in fact, there was never an emergency;
- DOTAuthority.com was an established, bona fide business that was both legitimate and helpful to hundreds of thousands of customers nationwide who relied on it for interstate common motor carrier registrations and annual permits.
Gordon Law Group Convinces Court To Unfreeze Client’s Millions
Gordon Law Group prevailed at the September 29, 2016 hearing. The court immediately unfroze $4 million in assets and terminated the receivership.
Ultimately, the FTC issued a significantly modified preliminary injunction, which the Plaintiffs accepted. In fact, the revised order was nearly identical to the original restrictions voluntarily offered to the FTC.
Did The FTC Commit An Act of Defamation?
Specifically, DOTAuthority.com’s March 20, 2017 counterclaim against the FTC alleges that several of the agency’s pre-trial publications falsely characterized the Plaintiffs as “scammers” and “crooks” and exaggerated their culpability by using inflammatory language in the absence of a final judgment.
The countersuit explicitly alleges that the FTC’s publications intentionally mischaracterize the substance of the September 29, 2016 court order, causing proximate and irreparable injury to the Defendants’ reputations and revenues.
According to one of the members of DOTAuthority.com’s legal team, Attorney Andrew Gordon:
“The FTC’s publications at issue in the Counterclaim collectively mischaracterize the substance of the preliminary injunction order. The language caused proximate and irreparable injury to the Defendants’ reputations and revenues.”
Attorneys Andrew Gordon, Aaron Wiener, and Bradley Gross represented DOTAuthority.com. Attorneys Karen S. Hobbs, Danielle Estrada, Connell McNulty and Collot Guerard represented the FTC. The case is expected to go to trial in October 2017.