Brief Fact Summary. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a complaint upon Standard Oil Company of California (Socal) averring that the Commission had “reason to believe” and Socal the company was violating Section:5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (Act). Soscal filed a complaint in the District Court for the Northern District of California while administrative action was pending.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Agency action must be final before it is reviewable by the courts.
The cases dealing with judicial review of administrative actions have interpreted the finality element in a pragmatic way.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Was the FTC’s issuance of a complaint upon the oil companies a “final agency action” subject to judicial review before the administrative adjudication concluded?
Held. No. Reversed and remanded for a dismissal of the complaint. Because the Commission’s issuance of a complaint averring reason to believe that Socal had violated the Act was not a “final agency action” under Section:10(c) of the APA, it was not judicially reviewable before administrative adjudication concluded. Dissent. None. Concurrence. The initiation of a complaint is not “agency action” within the meaning of APA Section:551.
Discussion. The Commission’s issuance of a complaint was not a definitive ruling or regulation. It had no legal force or practical effect upon Sosal’s daily operation of business, other than the disruptions that accompany any litigation. Immediate judicial review would have served neither efficiency nor enforcement of the Act.