A Utah federal court jury decided last week that the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) claims against Forrest S. Baker, and his film firms, Feature Films for Families, Inc., Corporations for Character, L.C., and Family Firms of Utah (collectively ‘companies’), engaged in deceptive and unlawful telemarketing campaigns and that they made illegal calls to consumers in violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR). This case was filed back in May 2011, and is now the first ever jury verdict in a case seeking to enforce the TSR and FTC’s Do Not Call (DNC) Registry rules.
Not only did the court and the jury find that the companies’ telephone calls qualified as illegal telemarketing calls (as opposed to surveys, fundraising and informational calls), the jury also found that the companies’ used deceptive sales tactics when making many of these calls by promising that “all of the proceeds” from sales of DVDs it was pushing would be used to complete a recommended list of movies for the nonprofit Coalition for Quality Children’s Media, but instead 93% of the sales went directly back to the companies.
The testimony also revealed that the companies were responsible for over 117 million violations of the TSR (including 99 million illegal calls to telephone numbers listed on the DNC Registry) and more than 4 million calls where the companies made misleading statements.
The jury also found that the companies had ‘actual or implied knowledge’ of these violations, which will allow the court to assess civil penalties under the FTC Act of up to $16,000 per violation. No civil penalties have been assessed at this point.