The FTC’s case against Kevin Trudeau began in 1998 when it charged him with making false and misleading claims in infomercials. Mr. Trudeau had claimed, among other things, that various products he was selling could cause significant weight loss and cure addictions to heroin, alcohol, and cigarettes. This original case resulted in a stipulated court order that required, along with $500,000 in consumer redress and a $500,000 performance bond, that Mr. Trudeau could not make false claims regarding products in the future.
In 2003, Mr. Trudeau was again before the FTC on charges that he violated the 1998 order by stating in infomercials that a product called Coral Calcium Supreme could cure cancer. That case resulted in a court order entering a preliminary injunction that barred Mr. Trudeau from making these types of claims. Mr. Trudeau was found in contempt of that injunction when he continued to make the cancer cure claims. In 2004, a court order resolving the Coral Calcium matter required, among other things, that he “must not misrepresent” the content of his books. The Order presumably only applies to misrepresentations of books and not to the content of the book itself because of the FTC’s mirror image doctrine which allows advertisers to promote claims made in books without substantiation of those claims so long as the advertising only purports to express the opinion of the author or to quote the contents of the publication; the advertising discloses the source of the statements quoted or derived from the contents of the publication; and the advertising discloses the author to be the source of the opinions expressed about the publication.
In 2007, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, found Mr. Trudeau in contempt of the earlier issued injunction because of infomercials that misrepresented the contents of his book The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About. The court found that the infomercials contained a number of misrepresentations, among them were that it stated that a dieter could finish the program when the book states that “Phase 4 is for the rest of your life” and that dieters could eat “anything” they want when the book prescribes that the dieter should eat “only 100% organic food,” no “fast food,” and so on.
In an August 2008 ruling (FTC v. Trudeau, Memorandum Opinion and Order, Case No. 03 C 3904 (August 7, 2008)), Judge Robert W. Gettleman denied Mr. Trudeau’s motion to reconsider its earlier contempt finding, enjoined Mr. Trudeau (or any person or entity acting in concert with him) from participating in the production or publication of any infomercial in which Mr. Trudeau (or any related entity) has an interest for three years, and entered a judgment in favor of the FTC and against Mr. Trudeau for the sum of $5.173 million dollars.