Institution of proceedings.
(a) Informal complaints.
Any interested person (including any officer or agency of any State or Territory having jurisdiction over commission merchants, dealers, or brokers in such State or Territory, and any employee of the Department) desiring to complain of any violation of any provision of the Act by any commission merchant, dealer, or broker may file with the Deputy Administrator an informal complaint. Informal complaints may be made the basis of either a disciplinary complaint, or a claim for damages, or both. If the informal complaint is to be made the basis of a claim for damages, it must be received by the Deputy Administrator within 9 months after the cause of action accrues; if the informal complaint is not to be made the basis of a claim for damages, it may be filed at any time within 2 years after the violation of the act occurred: Provided, That the 2-year limitation herein prescribed shall not apply to complaints charging flagrant or repeated violations of the act.
Informal complaints may be made in writing by telegram, by letter, or by facsimile transmission, setting forth the essential details of the transaction complained of. So far as practicable, every such informal complaint shall state such of the following items as may be applicable:
The name and address of each person and of the agent, if any, representing him in the transaction involved;
Quantity and quality or grade of each kind of produce shipped;
Shipping and destination points;
If a sale, the date, sale price, and amount actually received;
If a consignment, the date, reported proceeds, gross and net;
Amount of damages claimed, if any; and
Statement of other material facts including terms of contract.
The informal complaint should, so far as practicable, be accompanied by true copies of all available papers relating to the transaction complained about, including shipping documents, letters, telegrams, invoices, manifests, inspection certificates, accounts sales, and any special contracts or agreements.
The informal complaint shall be accompanied by a filing fee of $100 as authorized by the Act.
(b) Investigations and disposition of informal complaints.
Upon receipt of all the information and supporting evidence submitted by the person filing the informal complaint, the Deputy Administrator shall cause such investigation to be made as, in the Deputy Administrator's opinion, is justified by the facts. If such investigation discloses that no violation of the Act has occurred, no further action shall be taken and the person filing the informal complaint shall be so informed.
If the statements in the informal complaint and the investigation thereunder seem to warrant such action, and, in any case except one of wilfullness or one in which public health, interest or safety otherwise requires, which may result in the suspension or revocation of a license, the Deputy Administrator, in an effort to effect an amicable or informal adjustment of the matter, shall give written notice to the person complained against of the facts or conduct concerning which complaint is made, and shall afford such person an opportunity, within a reasonable time fixed by the Deputy Administrator, to demonstrate or achieve compliance with the applicable requirements of the Act and regulations promulgated thereunder.
[10 FR 2211, Feb. 27, 1945, as amended at 12 FR 1025, Feb. 13, 1947; 56 FR 174, Jan. 3, 1991; 60 FR 8459, Feb. 14, 1995; 64 FR 38106, July 15, 1999; 73 FR 31017, May 30, 2008]