Consumer Fraud

Judge says light bulb maker must pay FTC $21.2 million for false product claims

LED light bulb Judge says light bulb maker must pay FTC $21.2 million for false product claimsLight bulb manufacturer Lights of America Inc. violated Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules by lying about the output and life-expectancy of some of its LED (light emitting diode) bulbs, a federal judge in California ruled on Tuesday, Sept. 16. The ruling resulted in a $21.2-million judgment against the Los Angeles-based bulb maker.

In a 122-page ruling, Judge James Selna found that Lights of America exaggerated claims to consumers about light output and longevity of some of its bulb products, saying they would last a “lifetime” of up to 30,000 hours when it knew that product tests and other scientific data contradicted those claims.

“In advertising and marketing its LED Lamps with false and unsubstantiated claims, LOA misrepresented the light output and lifetime of its LED Lamps,” Judge Selna wrote in his ruling. “Those misrepresentations are claims consumers rely upon in selecting lighting products. Because LOA’s LED Lamps did not perform as advertised, consumers were harmed because what they purchased was something different than advertised.”

Judge Selna determined that Lights of America earned $21.2 million by selling the light bulbs wholesale to several retailers. He also found that the company and its two owners “are likely to commit repeated violations of the FTC Act … entitling the agency to injunctive relief,” Law 360 reported.

The FTC lodged its lawsuit in September 2010 as companies began marketing LED bulb products to consumers as longer-lasting alternatives to incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs while being comparable in brightness.

In April 2012, Judge Selna found the manufacturers’ claims that various alternative bulb models could effectively replace incandescent bulbs of similar wattage with the same lumen output violated FTC regulations because the companies possessed evidence that the bulbs emitted only a fraction of the light of conventional bulbs.

Lights of America said it was disappointed with the judge’s ruling and said it would appeal his decision. The company faces a consolidated class action lawsuit brought by consumers in the same federal California court.


Law 360