Withdraw Bogus Lawsuit Against Lamb & Stop Harassing Small Businesses & American Families
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FTC Attorney Collot Guerard: "You have a beautiful daughter..."
James Lamb: "You mean the one you almost starved to death by freezing my assets?"
FTC Attorney Collot Guerard: "Well, I hope she's still alive..."
Dear Acting FTC Chair Maureen K. Ohlhausen:
This is in reference to the September 2016 Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") action against James Lamb and his partner and his and his partner's common motor carrier registration companies (CIVIL ACTION NUMBER: 0:16-cv-62186-WJZ).
Mr. Lamb argues that the FTC's charges of deceptive business practices and unlawful negative option marketing, which revolve around the assistance he provides to common motor carriers with respect to their MCS-150 Biennial Report filings and his Unified Carrier Registration ("UCR") "SafeRenew" automatic renewal program (which ensures truckers and carriers don't forget to renew their UCRs and then get hit with a fine up to $1,100 on January 1st) are false, politically motivated, and stem from just three consumer complaints filed directly with the FTC over a 4 1/2 year period, not even one per year; three complaints out of more than 200,000 transactions conducted by Lamb during the same period.
To put the matter in perspective, the FTC receives 3.5 million consumer complaints every year, 350,000 of which, are considered "government impersonation" complaints according to the FTC's annual report. FTC argues that Lamb's companies fall within this category; and out of that 15.75 million complaints over that 54 month period, those mere 3 complaints were somehow deemed so more worthy than all those others by the FTC to justify launching an apparent year-long investigation and bringing civil charges against Lamb last September.
During that year, the FTC was able to stir up 15 more for their complaint to the court 5 from government officials and 10 from the Better Business Bureau's ("BBB") files allegedly against Lamb's businesses to 'widen the net;' FTC collected 18 affidavits in total to support its lawsuit; according to Lamb, only 13 were actually consumers, and of them... only 9 were actually his clients.
After a year of wasting taxpayer money, this all boils down to nine unhappy people, three who complained to FTC on their own, and another six that the FTC solicited to complain to them and who agreed to complain, out of Lamb's 210,000 clients; and not one has complained of having not received the UCR credential they paid Lamb for, yet the word "fraud" has been used liberally by the media due to the defamatory spin of an FTC press release and blog posts that appear to try to infer criminal conduct in this civil matter.
To make the case even more interesting, Lamb points to knowing of three other truck permit companies who have been impersonating his company and brand "DOT Authority" in violation of his registered service mark, to ride his coat tails.
A Federal Judge ordered Lamb last September to contact his entire book of residual business to make sure that they all knew he was a third party and that they really wanted to be in his renewal program, a mere 5% dropped out. Many advised they had gone out of business since the previous year or had changed the scope of their operation from interstate to intrastate so that they no longer needed UCR credentials.
After that Judge prescribed an enhanced third party disclaimer at the behest of the FTC, new clients, mostly one-man motor common carrier outfits, still continued to flock to Lamb in masses in the fourth quarter of 2016 to secure their UCR credentials because they choose to outsource their compliance to his companies in order to minimize their risk exposure and focus on what they do best: driving.
The same logic applies to carriers' MCS-150 biennial reporting obligations and the FTC objects to Lamb charging carriers for assistance with meeting their reporting obligations on time (to avoid losing their USDOT number under the new Unified Registration System ("URS") rule), because they can do these reports without Lamb on their own for free.
A number of lawyers following the case have suggested this case really deals with whether Lamb's original standard disclaimer on his homepage which has appeared on the site for years --"DOTAuthority.com is a consulting firm. It is not the Department of Transportation."-- was "adequate" under a reasonable consumer standard.
Lamb argues that if you dig deep enough-- and put all the cards on the table, it becomes apparent that he is currently the subject of government retaliation by virtue of a conspiracy of Federal and State regulatory officials to violate his First Amendment rights, who are simply jealous of his success --or otherwise scorned-- and some lobbyists he took on who were quick to regurgitate the FTC's press release and have ganged up on him through --or in response to --the FTC action.
Lamb has asserted from the onset "the FTC was asked to make a case against me by someone" due to his ongoing watchdog and whistle blower activities, like in the case of Lamb (1) exposing Missouri's UCR overcharge scheme back in 2011; (2) confronting Maine for collecting duplicate UCR payments from carriers in 2012; (3) demanding in 2012 that Iowa DOT (with copies to all of the 41 participating states) stop their apparent practice of unlawfully detaining trucks and collecting second UCR payments from carriers on the basis they didn't have their UCR receipt in their truck; (4) lodging a 2013 antitrust complaint to the FTC and the Department of Justice which the FTC ignored; and (5) filing two lawsuits he brought under his original non-profit trade group Association of Independent Property Brokers & Agents ("AIPBA") --which has since been absorbed by his Small Business in Transportation Coalition ("SBTC") founded in 2014 (Lamb's SBTC founded the 'Trucker Lives Matter' trucker gun rights movement)-- against the U.S. Department of Transportation's ("DOT") Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") as president of the trade group; lawsuits which from 2013-2015 challenged the Constitutionality of the $75,000 freight broker bond provision hidden deep within the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act ("MAP-21") and the legitimacy of FMCSA's rulemaking activities with respect to the implementation of that MAP-21 broker bond (click here and see page 38).
Just six months after Lamb's non-profit group's last lawsuit against FMCSA ended, Lamb's 15 year old for profit-business suddenly got hit with a lawsuit by the FTC ironically painting him out to be the bad guy.
The FTC alleged in 2016 through a press release and blog that Lamb was a "government imposter" who "scam(med)" carriers in reference to the UCR program and passed his all inclusive fee, which included his third party fees, off as the actual state fees, yet this 2015 Internet TV episode from Lamb's show "The Authority" recently re-released by Lamb through social media depicts Lamb clearly holding himself out as an industry expert as he educates the industry on the UCR program, the actual state fee brackets promulgated by FMCSA through rulemaking, and clearly explaining motor carriers' choices in terms of filing UCR through their state, the Central UCR Board-managed depository run by the state of Indiana, or third-party permit companies like Lamb's DOTAuthority.com.
In terms of his character, Lamb is a former New York State Department of Transportation Motor Carrier (consumer complaint) Investigator and is admitted to practice as a non-attorney layman practitioner before the U.S. Surface Transportation Board ("STB") since 1999. His community service includes serving as Deputy Inspector of a county Auxiliary Police program to help fight crime and Vice Commander of a United States Coast Guard Auxiliary flotilla.
Lamb even assisted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency in identifying and determining the location of an American Air Force officer who was convicted, after Lamb's 2001 testimony, of espionage, for which he was awarded the "Exceptional Service in the Public Interest" award by the FBI Director.
In the interest of transparency, Lamb's website DOTAuthority.com has always disclosed the actual state fees on his UCR information page, in addition to the all-inclusive service fees he offered to file owner-operator and small motor carriers' UCRs and they accepted as a matter of contract law.
Lamb's 15 year old company's name is a "double entendre" because it plays on the fact that he is the "authority" on the DOT (thus the show name) because he used to be a DOT regulator on the one hand (think the brand "Sports Authority"), and, on the other, his company name is a matter of what he does, namely... help truckers get their own operating authority from the DOT.
In January 2017, the FTC let the cat out of the bag and disclosed to Lamb, albeit perhaps by "loose lips," that the FMCSA is the agency that asked them to target him corroborating Lamb's claim that the FTC case against him was indeed politically motivated and was an act of revenge more than a bona fide consumer protection investigation as the FTC purports.
Lamb suggests that his recent fundraising activities for a Republican candidate for president during the last presidential election cycle, which started in April 2015, just 5 months before the Democrat-controlled FTC opened its "investigation" into Lamb's business activities, may have been the real, fear-driven basis for FMCSA to ask the FTC to investigate him.
Lamb has stated: "The last thing FMCSA --and some other folks in the industry who I have challenged-- would want back in 2015 is for me to become a possible candidate for Secretary of Transportation, and their boss... despite the fact that, in reality, I have no aspirations or interest in that position whatsoever and there would be many more qualified candidates to choose from. But, a 'hit piece' like this to make sure that didn't happen is not too far-fetched."
It would appear FMCSA neglected to mention to the FTC that Lamb operates one of hundreds of permitting companies that service the motor carrier industry, which are an industry in and of themselves within the industry.
Lamb also published this political post about a competing trade group's PAC donations to mostly Democrats in August of 2015, apparently just days before the FTC opened their investigation into his activities.
State UCR officials who were issued a "cease and desist" letter by Lamb's AIPBA back in 2010 for allegedly charging carriers and brokers illegal extra fees not duly promulgated by regulation also apparently stepped up to try and take him down and just as Lamb was charged, they finally ceased imposing one of those fees on the industry after 10 years.
Disturbingly, the FTC tricked a Federal Judge into freezing Lamb's personal and business assets and taking over his business through a temporary receiver without a hearing so that he couldn't pay his lawyers or buy baby formula for his infant daughter.
Once the Judge learned the truth at a hearing during Lamb's testimony, testimony which FTC tried unsuccessfully to block, his accounts were unfrozen and his business was returned to him and the FTC was scolded for initially misrepresenting the facts and trying to jamb the court.
The FTC essentially "nuked" Lamb with a surprise attack instead of serving a civil investigative demand, as is usual in these matters, or simply calling him to discuss their purported concerns.
Lamb argues his disclaimers were ever present and adequate in his solicitations, websites, and shopping cart order pages, and that if the consumer missed it in one place, there were still two other safeguards in place to ensure a reasonable consumer understood he was a third party and those few consumers who complained were either not reasonable consumers or simply experienced buyer's remorse.
The law on negative option marketing states:
15 USC § 8403. Negative option marketing on the Internet
It shall be unlawful for any person to charge or attempt to charge any consumer for any goods or services sold in a transaction effected on the Internet through a negative option feature (as defined in the Federal Trade Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule in part 310 of title 16, Code of Federal Regulations), unless the person—
(1) provides text that clearly and conspicuously discloses all material terms of the transaction before obtaining the consumer’s billing information;
(2) obtains a consumer’s express informed consent before charging the consumer’s credit card, debit card, bank account, or other financial account for products or services through such transaction; and
(3) provides simple mechanisms for a consumer to stop recurring charges from being placed on the consumer’s credit card, debit card, bank account, or other financial account.
... and Lamb argues he did not violate the law because he met all three conditions.
Lamb has filed complaints against the FTC lawyers with the FTC Inspector General, the FTC lawyers' applicable bar associations, members of Congress and Congressional oversight committees, Small Business Administration and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel asking for investigations into the FTC's draconian practices and alleged FTC attorneys' abuse and misconduct.
Lamb has moved the Court for leave to countersue the FTC for defamation and tortious interference related violations of the Federal Administrative Procedure Act.
Lamb believes he is exempt from FTC jurisdiction because he acts as the agent of common carriers with respect to biennial reports and UCR filings and the FTC has no jurisdiction over common carriers.
The FTC was aware of this before it filed the case against Lamb because the FTC was ruled against by the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on August 29, 2016 in the AT&T Mobility case, yet filed against Lamb just 15 days later nonetheless.
Worst of all, one FTC attorney egregiously brought up his infant daughter --who was never introduced into the proceeding by Lamb-- out of the blue at the end of a court-ordered mediation session in January 2017, in an apparent attempt to bully, intimidate and coerce him into agreeing to a proposed permanent injunction to prevent him from testifying in his own defense at trial.
That callous exchange went like this...
FTC Attorney Collot Guerard: "You have a beautiful daughter..."
Lamb: "You mean the one you almost starved to death by freezing my assets?"
FTC Attorney Collot Guerard: "Well, I hope she's still alive..."
...and Lamb immediately got up and walked out of the meeting.
Although Lamb cannot figure out how this lawyer could possibly know what his daughter looks like, he received the FTC's scary and threatening message that they are watching him and his family loud and clear, and this has caused him and his partner severe emotional distress.
That same FTC attorney Collot Guerard has disturbingly been accused in a publicly posted YouTube video of "witness tampering" in a past FTC case by threatening to put a witness' six children in a shelter if she did not lie for the FTC in an affidavit.
The LabMD case suggests there is a pattern of the FTC abusing and destroying or trying to destroy small businesses beyond Lamb's case worthy of a Congressional oversight inquiry.
This is apparently the American Government's response to an American businessman fighting corruption, attacks on small business, his petitioning the government for redress of grievances and his exercising his free speech on behalf of the industry.
Accordingly, we the undersigned citizens of the United States of America --and other defenders of freedom-- hereby endorse this petition and call for the reconsideration of the charges against James Lamb, his partner, and his and his partner's carrier registration companies by the FTC Commissioners and the immediate withdrawal of said charges by the FTC.
And we call for the FTC attorneys Collot Guerard Karen Hobbs Danielle Estrada and Connell McNulty who we believe have engaged in abuse and misconduct be reprimanded by the FTC Commissioners.
And we call for the FTC Commissioners to direct FTC staff to respect the First and Fourth Amendments moving forward, provide remedial training, and generally be more sensitive to the rights afforded to American citizens by the United States Constitution when dealing with targets of investigations.
And, finally, we call for Congressional oversight committees to take whatever other action they deem just and proper.
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