April 22, 2021
Decided April 22, 2021
AMG Capital Management v. FTC, No. 19-508
Today, the Supreme Court held 9-0 that Section 13(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which authorizes federal courts to issue “permanent injunction[s]” in FTC enforcement actions, does not include the power to award equitable monetary relief such as restitution.
Scott Tucker owned several businesses that provided high-interest, short-term loans over the Internet. The Federal Trade Commission sued Tucker and his businesses under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices.” The FTC sought a “permanent injunction” under Section 13(b) of the Act, as well restitution and disgorgement of Tucker’s monetary gains. The district court granted the FTC’s requested relief, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed, relying on its precedent holding that Section 13(b) “empowers district courts to grant any ancillary relief necessary to accomplish complete justice, including restitution.”
Whether the authorization of a “permanent injunction” in Section 13(b) of the Act also authorizes federal courts to award equitable monetary relief such as restitution and disgorgement.
Section 13(b) does not authorize federal courts to award equitable monetary relief, because a “permanent injunction” is distinct from equitable monetary relief and other sections of the Act expressly authorize the FTC to seek monetary relief if it follows certain procedures not required under Section 13(b).
“The question presented is whether th[e] statutory language authorizes the Commission to seek, and a court to award, equitable monetary relief such as restitution or disgorgement. We conclude that it does not.”
Justice Breyer, writing for the Court
What It Means:
The Court’s opinion is available here.
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