Supreme Court Curtails the FTC’s Power to Seek Monetary Relief in Court

On April 22, 2021, the Supreme Court issued its decision in the closely watched AMG Capital v. FTC case. The Court held unanimously that § 13(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914 (“FTC Act”), which provides that the “Commission may seek . . . a permanent injunction,” does not authorize the FTC to seek, or a court to award, equitable monetary relief such as restitution or disgorgement.

The AMG Capital opinion upends the FTC’s decades-long practice of seeking monetary relief directly in district courts under § 13(b) without first conducting administrative proceedings. While AMG Capital involved a consumer protection action, the FTC has used § 13(b) to obtain substantial monetary remedies in high profile antitrust cases as well. This decision forecloses that avenue, at least for now.

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