Secret FTC Investigation of Car Dealers Rejecting Truecar Revealed by Ralph Paglia

page1image5760

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION, Petitioner,

v.

RALPH PAGLIA, Respondent.

JONATHAN E. NUECHTERLEIN General Counsel

LESLIE RICE MELMAN
Assistant General Counsel for Litigation

IMAD D. ABYAD Attorney

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. Washington, DC 20580 Telephone: (202) 326-2375 Facsimile: (202) 326-2477 Email: iabyad

Attorneys for Petitioner Federal Trade Commission

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEVADA

Case No. Case 2:14-cv-01480-GMN-CWH

PETITION OF THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
FOR AN ORDER ENFORCING CIVIL INVESTIGATIVE DEMANDS

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC or Commission), pursuant to Section 20 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act), 15 U.S.C. § 57b-1, respectfully petitions this Court for an order requiring Respondent, Ralph Paglia, to comply with two civil investigative demands (CIDs) issued in an FTC investigation. The CIDs seek documentary materials, responses to interrogatories, and oral testimony relevant to an ongoing investigation into whether certain participants in the retail automotive industry, including dealers and consultants, may have engaged in “unfair methods of competition” in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45, by means of their participation in a concerted refusal to deal (a group boycott).

The Commission submits herewith the Declaration of Melissa Westman-Cherry, designated as Petitioner’s Exhibit (Pet. Exh.) 1, to verify the allegations herein, and alleges as follows:

Jurisdiction and Venue

This Court has jurisdiction to enforce the Commission’s duly issued CIDs under Sections 20(e) and (h) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 57b-1(e), (h). This Court also has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1337(a), and 1345.

2. Venue is proper in this judicial district pursuant to Section 20(e) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 57b-1(e), because Respondent, Ralph Paglia, is found, resides, or transacts business in this District. Venue is also proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391.

The Parties

3. Petitioner, the Federal Trade Commission, is an administrative agency of the United States, organized and existing pursuant to the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 41 et seq. Section 5 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45, prohibits “unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce,” and authorizes and directs the Commission to prevent such conduct. Sections 3 and 6(a) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 43 & 46(a), authorize the Commission to “prosecute any inquiry necessary to its duties in any part of the United States,” and to “gather and compile information concerning, and to investigate from time to time the organization, business, conduct, practices and management of, any person, partnership, or corporation” subject to the Commission’s jurisdiction. Section 20(c) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 57b-1(c), authorizes the Commission to issue CIDs that require the recipients to produce documents, prepare answers to interrogatories, or provide oral testimony under oath, relating to the subject of any Commission investigation.

4. Respondent Ralph Paglia resides or is found in this District, and transacts business in this District and throughout the United States. He is President of Automotive Media Partners LLC, which has its principal place of business in Las Vegas, Nevada. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.), ¶5.

The Commission’s Investigation and Civil Investigative Demands

5. On January 17, 2014, the Commission issued a Resolution Authorizing Use of Compulsory Process in Non-Public Investigation, File No. 131-0206 (Pet. Exh. 2). The Compulsory Process Resolution sets forth the nature and scope of the investigation as [t]o determine whether firms in the retail automobile industry, including automobile dealers and industry consultants, may be engaging in, or may have engaged in, conduct violating Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. §45, as amended, by agreeing to restrain competition, including by agreeing to refuse to deal with TrueCar, Inc.

Pet. Exh. 2, at 1.
6. TrueCar, Inc. is in the business of helping auto dealers market their cars by operating websites that provide extensive information about specific vehicles to prospective car buyers, and that seek to match buyers and sellers. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶2. As part of the investigation, FTC staff is examining whether certain persons or businesses may have organized or participated in a group boycott of, or a concerted refusal to deal with, TrueCar, thereby unlawfully restraining competition. See Pet. Exh. 2 (Compulsory Process Resolution), at 1; Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶¶2-4. Mr. Paglia provides auto dealers with consulting services, information, and training relating to online marketing. Id. ¶¶5-6. Information related to the subject of the investigation has appeared on websites and web logs (blogs) that Mr. Paglia operates or administers. Id.

7. On May 2, 2014, under the authority of the Compulsory Process Resolution, the Commission issued a CID (Pet. Exh. 3), requiring Mr. Paglia to produce specified documents and to respond to written questions, no later than May 21, 2014. See Pet. Exh. 3, at 1. To date, Mr. Paglia has not produced any documents or information in response to the May 2 CID. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶¶8-10.

8. On June 18, 2014, under the authority of the Compulsory Process Resolution, the Commission issued another CID (Pet. Exh. 4), requiring Mr. Paglia to appear and provide oral testimony under oath at an investigational hearing, which was set for July 10, 2014, in Las Vegas. See Pet. Exh. 4, at 1. Mr. Paglia failed to appear at the investigational hearing at the specified time and place. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman- Cherry Decl.) ¶¶11-13.

9. Mr. Paglia’s failures to comply with the May 2 CID and June 18 CID have impeded the Commission’s ongoing investigation. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶14.

Prayer For Relief

WHEREFORE, the Commission invokes the aid of this Court and prays for:

  1. Immediate issuance of an order, substantially in the form attached,

    directing Mr. Paglia to show cause why he should not comply in full with the Commission’s CIDs, and setting forth a briefing schedule pursuant to LR 16.1(c)(4); and

  2. A prompt determination of this matter and entry of an order:
    1. (i) Compelling Mr. Paglia to produce the documents and information specified in the May 2 CID within ten (10) days of such order; and
    2. (ii) Compelling Mr. Paglia to appear and testify under oath, as directed by the June 18 CID, ten (10) days from the date of issuance of such order, or at such later date as the FTC may establish; and

      (iii) Granting such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper.

Respectfully submitted,

About Ralph Paglia

Ralph Paglia; President of ADM Consulting, LLC former Vice President - Digital at Tier10 Marketing. Director - Digital Marketing at ADP Dealer Services from 2007 through end of 2010 where he was responsible for industry vertical thought leadership and solution creation while establishing new ADP digital marketing solutions. For many years, Ralph has created automotive marketing business models that support business revenue growth and generate shareholder value, while building a network of relationships and partnerships resulting in alliances that support revenue growth.

Posted on September 20, 2014, in Automotive Social. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Volkswagen Utah

Volkswagen History, Volkswagen News, Volkswagen Models, and everything else Volkswagen

BlabberCash.com

"Your Express to Success!"

Dad Swagg

for the dad that still has swagger

frasesemersonnatal

Frases Por Emersonnatal.

Pine Belt Auto

Put The Power of Pine Belt To Work For You

crazycarguy

A topnotch WordPress.com site

craigjdesmarais

Just another WordPress.com site

Gary Rome Hyundai

We Treat You Like Family

Schmit Bros Auto

The oldest family run dealership in Wisconsin!

HCM Geek

Global Human Capital Management Geek

William E. Lewis Jr. - Bill Lewis - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

William E. Lewis, Jr. & Associates - (954) 337-1530

HealthyorNot Blog

You Only Live Once

San Diego Coastal Real Estate Report

San Diego Coastal Real Estate Report offering news, information, and market updates by San Diego Coastal Realtor, Alvin Newton, and The RE/MAX Collection

Derek Stone's Blog

Just another WordPress.com site

LinkyBird

The aviation news release network

Grainger Honda

Just another WordPress.com site

My Blog

Just another WordPress.com site

%d bloggers like this: