State AG Updates: March 3-9, 2022
Each week, Crowell & Moring’s team of state attorneys general highlights important actions taken by state attorneys general. Here are this week’s updates.
- A coalition of nine attorneys general succeeded disputed bankruptcy plan in the forty-eight state lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for misleading advertising of OxyContin. The bankruptcy plan was approved in September 2021. The nine states that challenged the plan settled an additional $1.175 billion. Purdue Pharma has appealed the original bankruptcy plan, and the proposed new settlement is dependent on approval of the bankruptcy plan. The money should be used to help states, cities and tribes fight the lingering harms of the opioid crisis.
- A bipartisan coalition of attorneys general spear a national survey to find out if ICT Tac operates and promotes its social media platform to children and adolescents in a manner that causes or exacerbates harm to physical and mental health. Various attorneys general have expressed concern about the negative effects of social media platforms on young adults. The survey will focus on the methods used by the platform to encourage engagement, increase the length of time spent on the platform and increase the frequency of use of the platform. The investigation is being led by attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee and Vermont.
- Many state attorneys general have issued notices alerting consumers to the 2021 T-Mobile data breach and highlighted steps for consumers to take to protect their personal information. The T-Mobile data breach occurred in August 2021 and compromised the sensitive personal information of millions of current, former and potential customers, affecting over 53 million people. Many states have warned consumers against possible identity theft attempts.
- A handful of state attorneys general have issued notices warning consumers of potential issues related to the Ukraine crisis. For example, New York Attorney General James Posted advice on potential price gouging and cybersecurity threats. Nessel, Attorney General of Michigan Posted a notice about fraudulent charities and reminded consumers to be vigilant before sending money to an unknown entity.
- Many state attorneys general have issued notices recognizing National Consumer Protection Week, offering consumers tips and warnings about common consumer protection issues, and highlighting resources provided by attorneys general’s offices. The notices highlighted common issues such as construction fraud, car fraud, telecommunications scams, consumer debt scams, online shopping scams and theft of identify.
- Colorado Attorney General Weiser announcement three settlements, based on its ongoing investigation into the automobile loan guaranteed auto protection (GAP) market. Ent Credit Union, Premier Members Credit Union and Denver Credit Union distributed refunds to tens of thousands of Colorado borrowers totaling approximately $6 million after failing to repay consumer GAP fees. GAP market investigations found lenders neglected to repay unearned fees, which is required by Colorado law.
- Colorado Attorney General Weiser announcement that he asked the US Department of Transportation to investigate Border airlines regarding flight change policies and customer service practices. Attorney General Weiser previously asked the Department of Transportation to investigate Frontier Airlines for similar issues and consumer complaints.
- Colorado Attorney General Weiser announcement that the Unemployment Fraud Task Force referred 17 criminal cases for prosecution to Colorado district attorneys, the attorney general’s office, and the U.S. attorney’s office in its first year. The task force was launched last year to combat pandemic-related fraud against the state and to investigate identity theft and employment fraud.
- Attorney General of Georgia Carr announcement a settlement with Evergreen Publishing Group, LLC, Reader Services, Inc.. and their owner, Chris Sidhilall resolving allegations of deceptive telemarketing activities in connection with the sale of magazine subscriptions. The settlement required the companies to stop telemarketing and collecting any payments, and pay approximately $100,000 to the Office of the Attorney General.
- Raoul, Attorney General of Illinois announcement that Edmund Kavanaugh pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and theft in connection with home repairs. The defendant, using his company, Goliath builddefrauded customers of thousands of dollars by not carrying out agreed-upon home repairs.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announcement GM Financial agreed to pay more than $1.8 million to resolve allegations that the company’s business practices violated state consumer protection laws. GM Financial allegedly failed to pay the legally required interest after delaying the reimbursement of the Secured Asset Protection registration fee.
- Missouri Attorney General Schmitt announcement a lawsuit against ProCare Pools, LLC for illegal business practices. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants received advance payments for pool facilities and maintenance services that were never provided.
- Missouri Attorney General Schmitt announcement a lawsuit against Rainworks Irrigation Co. for illegal business practices. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants received advance payments for irrigation system maintenance services that were never provided.
- Attorney General of New York, James announcement a rule-making process to determine whether companies are using the pandemic and inflation as an excuse to unfairly raise the price of commodities. This is the first process of developing rules on predatory pricing by the New York Attorney General’s office and it will review the evidence to determine whether recent price increases were designed to increase profits relative to the increased costs. The process may lead the Attorney General’s Office to implement new price gouging rules to combat corporate profiteering and greed.
- Attorney General of Washington, Ferguson announcement the state legislature passed House Bill 1616 to increase access to affordable health care. The bill will expand charity care eligibility to more than one million Washingtonians and guarantee free hospital care to an additional million Washingtonians who are currently eligible for discounted care. Attorney General Ferguson has already filed three lawsuits against Washington hospitals for alleged violations of the state’s consumer protection law to prevent low-income patients from accessing charity care. The bill was introduced as an “Attorney General’s Request” bill.
- Attorney General of Washington, Ferguson announcement the state legislature passed Senate Bill 5793 to reduce barriers for low-income people with relevant lived experiences to participate in state task forces and task forces by paying a stipend for their work. Attorney General Ferguson introduced this bill as an “Attorney General’s Request” bill.
- Attorney General of Washington, Ferguson announcement the state legislature unanimously passed Bill 1725, creating an alert in Washington state to help identify missing Indigenous women and people. The system would work similarly to “silver alerts” for missing vulnerable adults and would send broadcast messages through various public notification tools. Attorney General Ferguson introduced this bill as an “Attorney General’s Request” bill.