(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost today joined a bipartisan coalition of 30 attorneys general urging the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm a decision upholding the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) authority to seek restitution for victims of a payday lending and debt collection scheme.
The coalition, led by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, filed an amicus brief in support of the FTC in AMG Capital Management, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission. In the brief, the coalition argues that the FTC’s authority to seek restitution for anticompetitive, unfair and deceptive trade practices when enforcing consumer protections is critical to combating anticompetitive, unfair and deceptive trade practices.
“This guy is claiming that even if he did scam consumers, the government doesn’t have the authority to make him give it back,” Yost said. “That’s seven kinds of wrong and we want the Supreme Court to say so.”
In April 2012, the FTC filed a lawsuit against Scott Tucker and several of his companies that provided high-interest, short-term loans online, alleging that the loan business violated Section 13(b) of the FTC Act.
The district court ruled in the FTC’s favor in 2016, ordering Tucker to pay approximately $1.27 billion in restitution. Tucker appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and argued that the FTC did not have the authority to demand restitution. The appellate court affirmed the district court’s decision, and Tucker appealed to the Supreme Court.
For decades, courts have recognized the FTC’s authority to seek restitution. The attorneys general argue in the brief that denying the FTC this authority will negatively harm states and their residents and will impede federal-state collaborations to combat anticompetitive, unfair, and deceptive practices. Between 2016 and 2019 alone, the FTC has mailed more than $1 billion in refunds to consumers affected by such practices.
States rely on partnerships with federal regulators, such as the FTC, to protect millions of Americans from monopolists and fraudsters. While state attorneys general regularly obtain restitution through their own enforcement actions under state law, states also benefit from the FTC’s independent authority to investigate and address violations of federal law.
If the FTC were prohibited from seeking restitution, the attorney generals argue, that would embolden those who seek to take advantage of vulnerable consumers. Restitution prevents wrongdoers from benefitting from their actions by requiring them to return ill-gotten gains to affected consumers. Without the FTC’s authority to seek restitution, these practices would erode consumer confidence and deter competition.
Joining Attorneys General Raoul and Yost in filing the brief are the attorneys general of Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.