distributor of Brake Guard aftermarket braking devices has settled
with the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice over
charges he made false and unsubstantiated safety and performance
claims for the product, according to the FTC.
settlement with the distributor, Larry Jones, would prohibit him
from making false and unsubstantiated performance claims for aftermarket
braking products and contains a $100,000 civil penalty for violations
of an earlier FTC order barring those claims.
FTC will not make Jones pay the penalty as long as financial information
he provides the agency is truthful and complete. If officials find
he omitted anything or lied about his finances, he will have to
pay the $100,000, the FTC statement said.
1995, the FTC charged that Brake Guard and its owner, Ed Jones,
Larry’s father, made false and unsubstantiated advertising claims
that the Brake Guard Safety System, also known as Advanced Braking
System or Brake Guard ABS, is an antilock braking system as effective
as manufacturer-installed ABS brakes. The commission said those
claims violated federal law.
Law Judge Lewis F. Parker upheld the charges in a May 1997 decision.
Brake Guard and Ed Jones appealed Judge Parker’s decision to the
full commission, which upheld his opinion.
order, which became effective March 30, 1998, barred Brake Guard or those
who represent or work for them from making the prohibited claims about
the Brake Guard Safety System, Advanced Braking System, Brake Guard ABS.
May 2001, the Department of Justice, at the FTC’s request, filed
suit in U.S. District Court in Seattle against the Brake Guard companies,
Ed Jones and Larry Jones, who has set up a distributor network and
makes sales presentations in seminars throughout the country.
complaint alleged that their promotional materials, including a
Web site, contained claims that violated the FTC’s 1998 order.
Department of Justice and the FTC asked the court to stop the defendants
from violating the order, to impose civil penalties, to bar the
defendants from violating the FTC Act and to order consumer restitution.
Jones died shortly after the complaint was filed. The court entered
a default judgment on July 31, 2002, against Brake Guard Products
Inc., Brake Guard LLC of Nevada, Brake Guard LLC of Washington and
Kimberly Bennett in her capacity as representative of the estate
of the late Ed Jones.
settlement, which was filed with the court for its approval July
7, ends the litigation. It bars Larry Jones or those who represent
or work for him from making false or unsubstantiated claims about
aftermarket braking products. It also requires him to substantiate
any claims he makes about his company’s braking devices. He also
has to send information about the court order to his distributors
and to ensure they comply with the order.
settlement also contains bookkeeping and record keeping requirements
to allow the commission to monitor compliance with its order.
the consent decree, Larry Jones’ attorney, Brian Ritchie, questions
the FTC’s involvement in the case since it involved no consumer
has never been one single consumer complaint to the FTC or Department
of Transportation,” Ritchie said. “Larry Jones had scientific testing
done. The government has the test results. We have repeatedly shown
the product performs as advertised.”
to Ritchie, the consent decree allows Brake Guard to remain in business
and to continue selling its products with a slight change in the
way it markets its products.
believe we would have prevailed at trial, but Mr. Jones had already
spent $100,000 plus on legal fees and testing,” Ritchie added. “And,
the consent decree allows Jones to continue selling his product
as he has.”
René Tankersley, feature editor
Tankersley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.