Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AG’s have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
- North Carolina Attorney General Stein announced that his office obtained a consent judgment against Stephen Gould Corporation in a price gouging lawsuit. The consent judgment requires the company to pay $150,000 in civil penalties and other fees, and the company is barred from engaging in unfair and deceptive practices and from selling or advertising PPE at unreasonably excessive prices. The lawsuit alleged that the company offered 7 million masks to healthcare organizations at a markup of over 100%, misleading the potential customers about the drastic nature of the markup.
- It was announced that a National Association of Attorneys General (“NAAG”) working group submitted its report to Congress about efforts to prevent illegal robocalls. In the report, the NAAG working group notes that members have taken actions to implement its recommendations, such as filing enforcement actions against individuals and entities for illegal robocalls, identifying and warning voice service providers that facilitate illegal robocalls, and implementing technology that blocks robocalls as well as caller ID authentication.
- Minnesota Attorney General Ellison announced that his office reached a settlement agreement with a hospital, Hutchinson Hospital, requiring it to reinstate favorable hospital billing terms that it terminated for many patients, increasing their bills beyond what they had previously agreed to pay. The hospital’s termination of the billing terms violated a regulatory agreement that exists between the Minnesota Attorney General’s office and nonprofit hospitals.
- New Jersey Attorney General Grewal announced that the State Board of Medical Examiners permanently revoked the license of a physician who allegedly traveled once a week from her home in Rhode Island to her office in New Jersey to prescribe large amounts of opioids and other addictive medications to patients without conducting the required examinations and screenings. The physician must also pay $50,000 in costs and penalties under the Final Consent Order.
- New Jersey Attorney General Grewal announced a seven-count lawsuit against a financial consultant and his business, alleging that the business defrauded at least 57 investors out of almost $2.2 million through fraudulent sales of unregistered securities. The owner then allegedly used these funds for his own personal benefit.
- Florida Attorney General Moody announced an agreement resolving a review of a proposed merger between Waste Management, Inc. and Advanced Disposal Services Inc., two of the largest waste disposal and collection service providers in the United States. The agreement requires the two companies to divest key assets across several Florida markets to environmental services company GFL Environmental, which allows GFL to serve as a competitor. The agreement is also with the US DOJ, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Illinois. The agreement is here.
- A bipartisan coalition of 38 attorneys general filed an amicus brief in Supreme Court case Facebook v. Noah Duguid, which will determine the scope of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). Facebook is arguing that because its dialing technology stores and dials pre-existing telephone numbers rather than using a random number generator, its text messages do not violate the TCPA. The attorneys general are arguing that Facebook’s requested narrowing of the TCPA’s definition of auto-dialers would limit the Act’s protection of consumers. The brief is available here.