Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AG’s have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
Thursday, November 12, 2020
- District of Columbia Attorney General Racine filed a lawsuit against Capitol Petroleum Group, LLC (“CPG”), one of the District of Columbia’s leading retailers and distributors of gasoline, as well as affiliated companies, for price gouging during the COVID-19 crisis. The press release states that Attorney General Racine’s investigation “revealed that even as wholesale gas prices dropped when the economy slowed in March and April 2020, CPG unlawfully doubled its profits on each gallon of gas sold to consumers at 54 gas stations in the District.” CPG and its affiliates also allegedly unfairly increased profit margins when they distributed gas to other retailers. The lawsuit is seeking injunctive relief, restitution, and civil penalties.
- Tennessee Attorney General Slatery reached a settlement with DOC Disinfectant, which allegedly made deceptive and misleading claims related to its cleaning products and services. DOC allegedly falsely claimed that its products and services were FDA and EPA approved and could eliminate COVID-19 as well as protect against its presence on surfaces for up to 90 days. It also included the logos of companies it had never worked with on its website. The settlement includes provisions requiring DOC to cease its deceptive claims and pay $5,000.
- Law360 announced that the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) is considering ways to open its merger review process to deals that are below the financial reporting thresholds. This announcement, which includes potential antitrust scrutiny over “major firms that scoop up so-called nascent competitors,” comes from statements made by FTC Office of Policy Planning Director Bilal Sayyed and FTC Chairman Joseph J. Simons at the America Bar Association’s antitrust fall forum.
Monday, November 9
- Law360 reported that the head of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) Andrea Coscelli argued that antitrust enforcement in the UK needs updates, such as more direct regulation instead of a case-by-case approach, and that it needs “a few extra layers of regulation.” Coscelli also stated that more regulation is needed over technology
Friday, November 6
- New York Attorney General James announced a lawsuit against international auction house Sotheby’s for violating the False Claims Act. Sotheby’s allegedly violated the Act by creating and using false tax exemption resale certificates for an art collector client, knowing the art collector was not eligible to claim the exemption because the art was not for resale and was actually for personal use.
- Law360 reported that the CFPB is suing Florida fintech company Driver Loan LLC for allegedly misleading consumers with its bank-like deposit program used to fund short-term rideshare driver loans. The company allegedly charged annual percentage rates of nearly 1,000% but told consumers the annual rate was 440%. The company also allegedly misrepresented that consumers’ deposits were Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insured with guaranteed returns. The lawsuit is seeking injunctive relief and damages.
- Law360 reported that Google will not file a motion to dismiss the DOJ’s antitrust suit but will instead answer the complaint by December 21, 2020, based on a Friday filing to the DC District Court. The parties also told the judge that they have agreed on many provisions and terms, though some significant issues are still in dispute. The parties will submit position statements by November 13, 2020.
- Law360 reported on November 4, 2020 that California voters approved ballot measure Proposition 22, exempting Uber and other app-based delivery and ride-hailing companies from California’s 2019 revised worker classification test and allowing these companies to treat their workers as independent contractors. Proposition 22 still provides some requirements for these employers, such as setting an earnings floor of 120% of the minimum wage for time the workers spend serving customers, providing subsidies for state health care insurance, and requiring them to insure workers for injuries on the job.