NEWS RELEASE
Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.


December 17, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES MOTION TO PREVENT BANKRUPT COMPANY FROM SELLING CUSTOMER INFORMATION

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that the Consumer Protection Division of his office has asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware to reconsider its decision to allow garden-products seller MySeasons.com to sell its customer list despite its promise to keep customer information confidential.

Curran, in a motion joined by the States of California, Delaware, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont, told the Bankruptcy Court that allowing MySeasons.com to violate its privacy promise would be considered a deceptive practice under the consumer protection laws of Maryland and the other States. According to the motion, the Court approved the sale on October 5, 2001 without considering whether it would violate State laws and without providing notice to the States.

"Consumers who transact business with a company that promises not to share information collected about them and what they buy should be able to rely on that promise even if a company files for bankruptcy," Curran said. Curran said previous efforts by his Consumer Protection Division, working together with other States, have successfully prevented other bankrupt companies, including Toysmart.com, eToys.com, and Egghead.com, from selling customer lists in violation of their privacy promises to consumers.

Despite the privacy promise, the Court permitted MySeasons.com, an affiliate of the now-defunct Michigan Bulb Company, to sell its customers’ personal information to Vermont-based National Gardening Association, which sells gardening products and generally promotes gardening. A hearing on Curran’s motion is scheduled for January 4, 2002.

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