On October 22, 2018, DIRECTV achieved total trial victory against the Federal Trade Commission when the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed with prejudice the FTC’s $4 billion false advertising case against it. Sidley lawyers, which led the investigation and defense of the company since 2010, also co-tried the case in August and September 2017. After the FTC rested its case-in-chief, Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. suspended the trial and ordered briefing on whether the FTC had introduced sufficient evidence that DIRECTV’s advertising and subscription processes were likely to deceive consumers. On August 16, 2018, Judge Gilliam ruled that the FTC had failed to prove the vast majority of its claims and questioned whether any restitution or injunctive relief would be appropriate at all. Trial was set to resume on the defense case on October 29, 2018, but the FTC elected to abandon its few remaining claims. The FTC originally charged DIRECTV with deceptive advertising in TV, in print and on the web regarding its discounted television programming packages by failing to adequately disclose a two-year commitment to the service, the package pricing after a year one discount, early cancellation fees, and the terms under which new subscribers received a trial subscription for premium channels.
The Sidley litigation and trial team was led by Chad Hummel, and included Clay Friedman (who has been DIRECTV’s chief regulatory counsel for over a decade), Peter Keisler, Bridget Johnsen, Ryan Sandrock, Michael Yaghi, Benjamin Mundel, Renée Pesiri, Naomi Igra, Denise Brown, Angie Machorro and Hazel Ebalo-Gillespie.