Nicholas Alford

Nick Alford represents clients in complex litigation, including product liability, mass torts, class actions and state attorney general actions.

View the full bio for Nicholas Alford at the Faegre Drinker website.

Articles by Nicholas Alford:


FTC Continues Crack Down on Unfounded COVID Claims

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Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it “ordered more than 20 marketers nationwide to immediately stop making baseless claims that their products and supposed therapies can treat or prevent COVID-19.” Like prior rounds of cease-and-desist demands, the letters warned that the alleged violators could be subjected to monetary penalties under the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Act, which Congress passed in 2020. Specifically, the letters warned that businesses engaging in a deceptive act or practice associated with the treatment, cure, prevention, mitigation, or diagnosis of COVID-19 or a government benefit related to COVID-19 could be subjected to penalties of up to $43,792 per violation.

As the FTC points out, however, “there’s a key point that differentiates these Demands from the more than 400 letters that preceded them.” Namely, copies of the recent round of letters were also sent to the social media platforms used by the advertisers, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Etsy, LinkedIn, Shopify, and TikTok. The FTC found that nearly all of the marketers used social media to convey their claims, with many companies utilizing multiple platforms. A recent FTC analysis on the alleged role of social media platforms in the spread of disinformation related to COVID found that deceptive marketers are able to “extend[] the reach of their deceptive COVID claims by using major social media platforms.” The FTC observed that social media’s design helps scammers amplify their deceptive messages while also identifying users most likely to be receptive to those messages. It cautioned, “[b]ogus claims of miracle cures may be successful in attracting consumers’ eyeballs, but they can have devastating consequences for Americans who forgo needed treatment or part with hard-earned money in pursuit of false cures.”

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Foreign Manufacturer Dismissed for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction in the Southern District of Indiana

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Case:

Patterson v. Chiappa Firearms, USA, LTD, No. 1:20-cv-01430-JPH-MG, 2021 WL 4287431 (S.D. Ind. Sept. 21, 2021).

Significance:

  • First Indiana case to apply the “relate to” standard articulated in Ford Motor Co. v. Mont. Eighth Jud. Dist. Ct., 141 S. Ct. 1017 (2021).
  • Rejects a broad, unlimited stream of commerce theory for establishing personal jurisdiction.
  • Denied plaintiff jurisdictional discovery, noting that foreign nationals should not be subjected to extensive discovery in order to determine whether personal jurisdiction over them exists.

Case Analysis:

In Patterson v. Chiappa Firearms, the plaintiff, an Indiana citizen, bought a handgun from an online gun seller in Kentucky and had it delivered to Indy Arms Company in Indianapolis. The gun subsequently exploded in Indiana when the plaintiff test-fired it, fracturing the plaintiff’s finger. The gun was manufactured by Chiappa Italy and distributed by Chiappa USA.

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Summary of HB1125: Deceptive Lead Generation

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Lawsuit advertisements—specifically ones that target prescription drugs and medical devices—can be dangerous.  Nationwide, dramatized and exaggerated legal ads have flooded both televisions and the internet, often masquerading as “medical alerts.”  Some estimates have total spending on legal advertisements at around $1 billion annually.  As a result, state legislatures are beginning to take action to combat deceptive advertising and come up with solutions, including in Indiana, which recently passed House Bill 1125.  House Bill 1125 places several limitations on the practice of lead generation – the use of commercial communications to initiate consumer interest or inquiry into legal services intended to redress an alleged injury from a medical device or legend drug – and provides a private right of action for manufacturers and sellers of medical devices and legend drugs against deceptive lead generators.

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