Tampa, Florida - The Department of Justice, together with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), announced today that the government will collect $105,319.56 in civil penalties from Lithionics Battery LLC and its general manager, Steven Tartaglia (together, Lithionics), as part of a settlement to resolve allegations that Lithionics violated the FTC’s “Made in USA” Labeling Rule and the FTC Act in connection with marketing its battery products.
In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, the government alleged that Lithionics violated the rule by improperly labeling and advertising batteries, battery modules and battery management systems as “Made in USA,” even though key components of the products — including the lithium ion cells that powered the batteries — were imported. This is the first action under the FTC’s new “Made in USA” rule.
“The Department of Justice will not tolerate companies who deceive customers by falsely claiming that their products were made in the United States,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The department is committed to protecting consumers from the deceptive practices of companies who hope to gain an unfair advantage through dishonesty.”
“As our country works to onshore production of lithium ion batteries, it’s critical that honest businesses have a chance to compete, and that consumers can buy American,” said Director Sam Levine of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Falsely labeling batteries as made in the United States is against the law, and the FTC is using its new Made in USA rule to make sure this misconduct comes with a price.”
In addition to the civil penalties, the stipulated order entered by the court today prohibits Lithionics from making “Made in USA” and other unsubstantiated origin misrepresentations in the future. The stipulated order also requires Lithionics to notify affected customers and to submit compliance reports to the FTC for over a decade.
This matter is being handled by Trial Attorneys Deborah Sohn and Zachary Cowan of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch. Julia Ensor represented the FTC.