Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
Monday, October 4, 2021
- New Jersey Acting Attorney General Bruck announced that the Division of Consumer Affairs reached a settlement agreement for over $138,000 with five gas stations that were overcharging consumers, including by selling regular gas as premium. In addition to the monetary payment, the settlement includes injunctive relief.
- Connecticut Attorney General Tong is requesting that TikTok’s leadership meet with educators and parents in Connecticut to explain its policies to prevent platform misuse and to commit to reforms that stop dangerous and harmful content.
Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Healthcare Rights and Access
- California Attorney General Bonta announced his conditional approval of the sale of acute psychiatric inpatient hospital Adventist Health Vallejo to Acadia Healthcare Company Inc. The sale is contingent on conditions that address the risk of price increases in a limited market and ensure the availability of high-quality services. Some of the conditions include a price freeze, a monitor, and an evaluation team.
- A bipartisan coalition of 52 attorneys general expressed their support for hearings the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security is conducting about mental health harm to children from social media. The coalition is hoping the hearings uncover more about the business practices social media companies are employing to gain the attention of young people on their platforms and argues that the government should hold these companies accountable.
Wednesday, October 6, 2021
- Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro announced a lawsuit against Great Conventions LLC and its owner for allegedly violating state consumer protection law by canceling the Great Philadelphia Comic Con without issuing refunds. The lawsuit seeks restitution, civil penalties, and a permanent injunction from selling tickets to or operating public events in the state.
- Florida Attorney General Moody issued a press release warning consumers about a 16% increase in robocalls in 2021, as compared to last year. The press release states that Attorney General Moody is working with attorneys general nationwide to combat call-related scams.
Criminal Fraud Schemes
- Virginia Attorney General Herring announced the first worker misclassification charges his Worker Protection Unit has brought. The charges were brought against GTO Drywall, LLC and Richmond Drywall Installers Constructors, Inc., which were indicted on counts of felony embezzlement related to misclassifying employees as independent contractors.
Thursday, October 7, 2021
- Oregon Attorney General Rosenblum announced an increase in data breaches reported to the Attorney General’s Office. There have been 131 reported breaches so far in 2021, compared with 110 last year. The press release also includes Oregon’s $50,000 September settlement with public accounting firm Gustafson & Company LLC over a 2020 data breach.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announced a lawsuit against the owner and former managers of MRM Project Managementfor allegedly conducting illegal asbestos work, illegally disposing of waste, and demolishing buildings and bridges without filing the proper notifications. The lawsuit alleges that this conduct violated several state environmental laws and regulations.
Online Charitable Fundraising
- California Attorney General Bonta applauded that Governor Newsom signed into law his sponsored legislation that will provide oversight of internet-based charitable fundraising. Among other things, the new law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2023, authorizes attorney general regulations beginning on January 1, 2022, creates clear definitions of conduct subject to regulation, and requires meaningful disclosures and prompt distribution of donations.
U.S. Postal Service
- A coalition of 20 attorneys general led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro and New York Attorney General James submitted a formal complaint asking the Postal Regulatory Commission to order the U.S. Postal Service to request an advisory opinion on the Postmaster General’s plan to change the Service. The coalition is arguing that the plan does not have meaningful oversight and thus undermines public accountability, particularly after 2020 operational changes resulted in widespread mail delays.
Friday, October 8, 2021
- Michigan Attorney General Nessel issued a notice of intended action to King Crawford Enterprises, LLC, which is conducting business as Nano Hearing Aids, in response to a large quantity of Better Business Bureau complaints alleging unlawful business practices related to hearing aid sales. Among other things, the business is being accused of failing to make proper disclosures and causing misunderstanding over goods or services’ source, approval, sponsorship, or certification.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) filed a complaint and proposed consent order against reverse mortgage lender American Advisors Group, alleging that it used deceptive and inflated home estimates to induce consumers to take out reverse mortgages. The CFPB is also alleging that the company violated a 2016 consent order with this conduct. The consent order includes a $1.1 million civil penalty, $173,400 in restitution, and injunctive relief.
- New Jersey Acting Attorney General Bruck announced seven new environmental enforcement actions. Five of these focus on harmful contamination in overburdened communities, one focuses on underground fuel storage tanks, and the last concerns an abandoned gasoline filling station with unregistered and unmonitored fuel storage tanks.
Labor and Employment
- New York Attorney General James issued a statement in support of Catholic Health System employees who are currently on strike, saying she supports their demands for a fair wage and safe work environment.