Amazon lawyers don't think former and current CEOs should have to testify in FTC investigation

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,572   +1,075
Staff member
In context: It's no secret that FTC Chair Lena Khan does not like Amazon. Her academic article "Amazon's Antitrust Paradox" makes it abundantly clear that she views the company as a monopoly or, at the very least, a potential antitrust fiasco. Amazon has taken issue over her stance on multiple occasions. Its latest legal wrangling says her serving of CIDs to executives and calls for individual hearings are nothing but "burdensome harassment" in the FTC's broad-scoped "open-ended" investigation into Amazon Prime.

This week the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released an August 5 filing by Amazon that looks to excuse former CEO Jeff Bezos and current CEO Andy Jassy from supplying testimony in an investigation. The legal team calls the probe "burdensome" and says that the civil investigative demands (CIDs) served to Bezos and Jassy were intended to harass the executives.

The motion seeks to quash or limit the "Individual CIDs." Amazon feels that holding individual hearings (IHs) for each executive is unnecessary and would not be conducive to the discovery process. The lawyers contend that Bezos and Jassy have no "unique knowledge" of the matters at hand. That is to say that the FTC would get no useful information from them that it could not gather from other personnel or departments at Amazon.

Furthermore, Amazon counsel feels that the CID's "open-ended" list of questions falls well outside the probe's scope.

"Staff's demand that Mr. Bezos and Mr. Jassy testify at an IH (individual hearing) on an open-ended list of topics on which they have no unique knowledge is grossly unreasonable, unduly burdensome, and calculated to serve no other purpose than to harass Amazon's highest-ranking executives and disrupt its business operations," the filing reads.

The document does not go into specifics, but Bloomberg notes that the investigation started back in March 2021 when the FTC began looking into the enrollment and cancelation processes for Amazon Prime. Then in June 2022, it expanded the probe to include five unrelated subscription services, one of which is operated by a third-party provider but is facilitated through Amazon.

"The June 2022 CID is unworkable and unfair, reflecting less of a responsible effort to collect the facts about a variety of longstanding and highly popular subscription programs than a one-sided effort to force Amazon to meet impossible-to-satisfy demands," the lawyers said. "The June 2022 CID 'goes beyond Prime sign-up and cancellation to sweep in at least five additional subscription programs, each with their own unique facts, history, and personnel."

The broad scope and complexity of the inquiries led the legal team to conclude that no witnesses could be reasonably prepared to help in the discovery process in individual hearings. Thus, the FTC's CIDs only amount to the harassment of staff.

Whether the motion to quash will be granted remains to be seen. These challenges are routine in situations like this and often only buy the defendant more time to prepare.

Last year, Amazon filed a motion demanding that newly appointed FTC Chair Lina Khan recuse herself from any proceedings against Amazon on the grounds that she is biased and seeks to break up the company she views as a monopoly by any means. That petition was denied.

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waclark

Posts: 543   +342
The document does not go into specifics

What do you mean by that? The motion is 49 pages long. That seems pretty specific to me. There's quite a lot of info in the filing, a lot of who-what-when-where kind of info.
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 759   +1,201
While I may want to avoid shopping at Amazon, that doesn't make it a monopoly. In the cloud side, you have Microsoft, Google, Linode, and plenty of others it competes with and it is not cheating in competing with them. In the retail side, there's Walmart, Alibaba, Ebay, and plenty of others again who it competes with. Walmart also has its own supply chain like Amazon and is probably the closest competitor to it as it also has an "all-in-one" retail subscription service called Walmart+. Google and Apple also have similar "all-in-one" subscription services that compete with Amazon Prime's software offerings. Google has Pixel Pass (includes premium music, video, gaming, cloud storage, and more) and Apple has Apple One (premium music, TV/movies, gaming, and cloud storage).
 

MSIGamer

Posts: 75   +88
Jeff bezoz didn't become a CEO to be held accountable for anything. He became the CEO to earn money. Therefore he should not testify, any criticism towards Amazon is a harassment and cannot pertain to the CEO. What an inspirational and smart man. /sarcasm.
 
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waclark

Posts: 543   +342
Amazon lawyers don't think former and current CEOs should have to testify in FTC investigation

This is an outright, false statement. From the motion:

Certain current and former Amazon employees also petition to quash or limit the Civil Investigative Demands served on them individually ("Individual CIDs"),' not for the purpose of preventing their testimony from being taken, but rather (1) to prevent the improper limitations that staff seeks to place on counsel's obligations to its clients and the witness' right to counsel of his or her choice, and (2) to compel FTC staff ("staff") to negotiate reasonable alternative Investigational Hearing ("IH") dates that fit with the witness' schedule and permit adequate time for preparation rather than insisting upon dates that staff unilaterally selected.

The motion says it's because the FTC wants to limit their access to counsel and won't negotiate on a more favorable schedule. I know people think CEOs spend the day on the golf course or at the country club, but they are busy people and if you want them to participate, you need to work within their schedules.

A better and more accurate title for this article should be:

FTC wants to deny right to counsel and refuses to accommodate work schedules with CEO witnesses.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,070   +8,100
Pure BS. They built it, they profit from it, they own it with all the liabilities that come with it.
 

OortCloud

Posts: 792   +776
When's Jeff going to f**k off to space and let us try to sort out the mess that his insatiable greed has caused on this planet? I hear the sun is lovely and warm this time of year Jeff, so get in your ****-rocket and p1ss off.
 

waclark

Posts: 543   +342
Jeff bezoz didn't become a CEO to be held accountable for anything. He became the CEO to earn money. Therefore he should not testify, any criticism towards Amazon is a harassment and cannot pertain to the CEO. What an inspirational and smart man. /sarcasm.
You do realize that Bezos doesn't approve every operational decision made at Amazon, right? If you're trying to get the facts of the matter, why not engage with the people who are directly making the decisions? Asking the CEO to come and testify about something he may not be directly knowledgeable about and not wanting to work around the CEO's schedule does sound a little bit harassing.
 

sdms96825

Posts: 412   +144
Amazon lawyers don't think former and current CEOs should have to testify in FTC investigation

This is an outright, false statement. From the motion:

Certain current and former Amazon employees also petition to quash or limit the Civil Investigative Demands served on them individually ("Individual CIDs"),' not for the purpose of preventing their testimony from being taken, but rather (1) to prevent the improper limitations that staff seeks to place on counsel's obligations to its clients and the witness' right to counsel of his or her choice, and (2) to compel FTC staff ("staff") to negotiate reasonable alternative Investigational Hearing ("IH") dates that fit with the witness' schedule and permit adequate time for preparation rather than insisting upon dates that staff unilaterally selected.

The motion says it's because the FTC wants to limit their access to counsel and won't negotiate on a more favorable schedule. I know people think CEOs spend the day on the golf course or at the country club, but they are busy people and if you want them to participate, you need to work within their schedules.

A better and more accurate title for this article should be:

FTC wants to deny right to counsel and refuses to accommodate work schedules with CEO witnesses.

Thanks, Jeff.
 

MSIGamer

Posts: 75   +88
You do realize that Bezos doesn't approve every operational decision made at Amazon, right? If you're trying to get the facts of the matter, why not engage with the people who are directly making the decisions? Asking the CEO to come and testify about something he may not be directly knowledgeable about and not wanting to work around the CEO's schedule does sound a little bit harassing.
Certainly, and do you realize that without Jeff bezoz Amazon wouldn't even exist and neither the people making those operational decisions? As company head he is end responsible and he should, of all people, know what's going on in his company and be able to take responsibility for the course the company is taking.

But apparently in some people's view the CEO is just there to rake in all the cash and whatever his workers do is not his problem. Instead we need to stop harassing him and hurting his feelings and accommodate to his schedule. What a joke.
 

waclark

Posts: 543   +342
Certainly, and do you realize that without Jeff bezoz Amazon wouldn't even exist and neither the people making those operational decisions? As company head he is end responsible and he should, of all people, know what's going on in his company and be able to take responsibility for the course the company is taking.

But apparently in some people's view the CEO is just there to rake in all the cash and whatever his workers do is not his problem. Instead we need to stop harassing him and hurting his feelings and accommodate to his schedule. What a joke.
No doubt that Bezos knows the direction of the company and probably knows a lot about the high-level operations. But, day to day decisions are not made by him in every case. It would be like going to the CEO of Ford and asking why they chose a certain color of blue for a particular model of car. He might or more likely, might not know the reasons behind the choice. Why not go to the guy who decides car colors?

The CEO is there to drive the overall direction of the company and the business. He's not there to pick the carpet for the headquarters building or the type and supplier of toilet paper. A good CEO relies on his people and when he needs information he calls them and asks them for it.

You may not remember, but we are not here at the beck and call of Congress, they work for us. Congress is hell bent on deconstructing Amazon and other larger businesses. The bill they are working on now, if passed, will very likely end Amazon Prime, or greatly reduce its value to customers. Yeah, I call that harassment and the joke is those lunatics in DC.
 

terzaerian

Posts: 1,472   +2,146
You do realize that Bezos doesn't approve every operational decision made at Amazon, right? If you're trying to get the facts of the matter, why not engage with the people who are directly making the decisions? Asking the CEO to come and testify about something he may not be directly knowledgeable about and not wanting to work around the CEO's schedule does sound a little bit harassing.
I guess it all depends on their management style. CEOs set the culture and in the case of micromanagers, then their involvement is even more directly relevant. And I for one generally approve of micromanagers getting their just deserts.
 

waclark

Posts: 543   +342
I guess it all depends on their management style. CEOs set the culture and in the case of micromanagers, then their involvement is even more directly relevant. And I for one generally approve of micromanagers getting their just deserts.
It does depend, but with an organization as large as Amazon I can't imagine that Bezos has his hand in everything that goes on there. And, in the context of this article, I think the motion filed indicates that due to the broad nature of the possible questions that no one person knows all of that any way, especially not Bezos.

I think this is just Congress trying to flex their muscles and force Bezos to come to DC to participate in a dog and pony show that will have no real impact on anything.