Circuit Court Upholds Garvey Infomercial Ruling

Share this content:
Former Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey did not violate federal trade regulations while appearing in two infomercials for a weight-loss product whose manufacturer claimed would work even if dieters continued to eat fatty food.

A three-judge panel in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, CA, ruled Sept. 1 that Garvey was not liable for statements he made while appearing in the infomercials. This limits the circumstances in which an advertising spokesman is held responsible for product claims.

"The court set a very high standard of liability regarding celebrity endorsements and testimonials," Edward Glynn, a partner at Garvey's law firm, Venable LLP, said in a statement.

The circuit court said U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess of the Central District of California was correct in deciding Garvey's endorsement was within the meaning of a Federal Trade Commission guidebook.

The FTC in 2000 sued Garvey and the producers of DRTV spots for Enforma Natural Products, Encino, CA. The agency alleged infomercial producer Modern Interactive Technology Inc. made false advertising claims when it aired the spots 48,000 times between December 1998 and May 2000.

The FTC claimed false advertising and other violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act in connection with the infomercials for Fat Trapper and Exercise in a Bottle, weight-loss supplements that were part of the Enforma System.

Garvey endorsed Exercise in a Bottle and Fat Trapper, which is made from seafood shells and, according to the court, "surrounds the fat in the food you eat and entraps it." He was paid $1.1 million for the infomercials.

Glynn said the Garvey decision is the highest court ruling covering FTC policies on celebrity endorsements. It is also one of the most notable since a legal settlement involving singer Pat Boone for his endorsement of an acne medication in the 1970s. However, endorsers must always be aware of potential pitfalls.

"This isn't carte blanche," Glynn stated. "If you're a celebrity spokesperson, you have to take at least sufficient steps so someone won't be able to say you were recklessly indifferent to the truth of product claims. You can't just show up and say, 'Where's my script?' "

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

Brightcove is the world's leading video platform. The most innovative and respected brands confidently rely on Brightcove to solve their most demanding communication challenges because of the unmatched performance and flexibility of our platform, our global scale and reliability, and our award-winning service. With thousands of customers and an industry-leading suite of cloud video products, Brightcove enables customers to drive compelling business results.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above