FTC Appeals Garvey's Celebrity Endorsement Ruling

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The Federal Trade Commission last week appealed a U.S. District Court decision that cleared former baseball star Steve Garvey of liability for his celebrity endorsement of an infomercial diet supplement.

Further information about the appeal was not disclosed. The FTC's appeal of the case continues a landmark battle over how much responsibility celebrity endorsers bear for statements they make about products.

In November, following a trial, U.S. District Court Judge Gary Allen Feess of Los Angeles dismissed charges brought against Garvey by the FTC. The agency initially charged in 2000 that Garvey could not have reasonably believed statements he made in a 30-minute infomercial in support of "Fat Trapper" and "Exercise in a Bottle" weight-loss supplements marketed by Enforma Natural Products.

The FTC sought to have Garvey pay $1.1 million to compensate consumers who bought the weight-loss supplements. Attorneys for Garvey countered that celebrity endorsers are paid spokespeople and not required to substantiate claims.

Venable LLP, the Washington law firm that represented Garvey in the case, did not immediately respond to requests for comment late last week.

Encino, CA-based Enforma settled out of court with the FTC prior to the agency bringing charges against Garvey.

The FTC's first effort to target celebrity endorsers came in the 1970s when it tried to hold singer Pat Boone liable for his endorsement of an acne product. Boone agreed to pay compensation to consumers who bought the acne product while his endorsement ran.

However, in November, Florida dropped charges against Youree Harris, who as Miss Cleo endorsed the now-defunct Psychic Readers Network.

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