Monday, June 7, 2021:
- June 7, 2021, the New York Senate passed the 21st Century Antitrust Act, S.933-A, which, if passed by the Assembly and signed by the governor, would be New York’s first major antitrust law update in the past century, and which reports indicate would be the strongest antitrust law in the United States. Among other things, the bill would create an “abuse of dominance” standard for conduct that limits competitors’ incentive or capacity to compete, would not allow pro-competitive effects to be used as a defense, and states that companies are dominant if they have over a 40% share of the market as a seller or over 30% as a buyer.
- New York Attorney General James announced that she won her request for an injunction against the Rensselaer County Board of Elections for failing to provide voters in the county with equitable and sufficient access to early voting poll sites. The Board must select a reasonable site by June 9, 2021, ahead of the June 2021 primary election.
- Washington D.C. Attorney General Racine announced that more D.C. households are now eligible for utility assistance programs after the Public Service Commission granted an Attorney General’s Office motion. About 50,000 more households will now be able to receive discounts on electric, gas, water, and sewer bills.
- Michigan Attorney General Nessel is asking the Michigan Public Service Commission to reduce a rate increase request from DTE Gas Co. The gas company is asking for a $195 million increase, which is more than an 11% increase for residential consumers. Attorney General Nessel is arguing that the company should only receive a $19 million annual increase, which should also be equally distributed.
- A coalition of attorneys general led by California Attorney General Bonta and Massachusetts Attorney General Healey reached a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) which requires the EPA to initiate a rulemaking to gather data on and eliminate exemptions for the reporting on uses of asbestos. The EPA will publish a proposed rule no more than nine moths after the settlement’s effective date and a final rule no more than 18 months after the effective date.
- New Jersey Attorney General Grewal announced that the payroll manager for construction company UniMak, LLC was sentenced for violating prevailing wage rules on public works projects. The sentence includes, among other things, five years of probation and a payment of $23,913 in back taxes. The company previously entered a non-prosecution agreement and agreed to pay $1 million to employees.
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
- New York Attorney General James announced that her office entered an agreement with Con Edison of New York resolving an investigation finding that the power company did not pay reimbursements for food spoilage after a power outage in accordance with its claim form instructions. The agreement will provide over $530,000 in consumer refunds.
- Ohio Attorney General Yost filed a lawsuit in Delaware County Court asking the court to declare Google a public utility/common carrier subject to government regulation and alleging that Google has a duty to offer competitors or sources rights equal to its own rights. Attorney General Yost’s lawsuit does not seek money damages.
- Rhode Island Attorney General Neronha applauded the Rhode Island Senate’s passage of five bills, including S 684, which would strengthen Rhode Island’s consumer protection law by limiting exemptions to business activities regulated by the state or federal government and expressly authorized by law or regulation, and by providing for a $10,000 civil penalty per violation of an injunction.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey issued an alert urging businesses and government entities to immediately take steps to protect their operations from ransomware attacks through security systems and practices.
- Washington Attorney General Ferguson announced that collection agency Machol & Johannes must return about $475,000 to consumers, forgive up to $250,000 in fees and costs, and pay $414,000 to the Attorney General’s Office to resolve allegations of unlawful debt collection practices. According to Attorney General Ferguson, the company violated the Washington Consumer Protection Act and Collection Agency Act when it failed to offer garnishment exemptions and illegally assessed fees and costs to consumers from whom it did not collect money. The settlement also includes injunctive relief.
- California Attorney General Bonta warned financial institutions, debt collectors, and creditors that in California federal Child Tax Credit payments are exempt from garnishment for individual debts.
- North Carolina Attorney General Stein announced that the former owner and operator of Nu Look on Life, LLC pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud, specifically obtaining property by false pretenses. In addition to her sentencing, she must pay $27,033.28 in restitution and is barred from working as a health care provider in a government health care benefit program in the future.
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Elder Fraud & Abuse
- Florida Attorney General Moody announced the conviction of a former convenience store employee on multiple counts of credit card fraud and identity theft, including against senior victims. The defendant obtained the victims’ information from credit card transactions and then used it for personal gain.
- Ohio Attorney General Yost announced his filing of a temporary restraining order against the owner of a dairy farm for leaking waste into a nearby stream, violating Ohio’s Soil and Water Conservation laws.
- New Jersey Attorney General Grewal issued a directive setting a 60-day deadline for law enforcement agencies to publish public reports identifying those police officers who committed serious disciplinary violations between June 15, 2020 and December 31, 2020.
Thursday, June 10, 2021
- Washington Attorney General Ferguson issued a consumer alert warning consumers to be aware of marketing websites which state or imply that they are neutral sources of information about addiction treatment facilities. The alert states that this week Attorney General Ferguson resolved a case against Recovery Worldwide, which branded its websites as impartial without clearly disclosing that a lot of its content was from paid advertising. The settlement requires the company to pay $64,130 to the Attorney General’s Office as well as to change its practices.
- Arkansas Attorney General Rutledge filed a lawsuit against Flowmatic Technical Solutions, LLC and its owner for failing to provide a reliable internet service in rural communities, as well as for failing to give refunds, repair defective products, and in some cases to provide any internet service. The lawsuit seeks restitution, damages, and civil penalties.
- California Attorney General Bonta announced a settlement against Lake Bowl Cardroom for violating the California Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. The company was previously ordered to cease gambling operations for violating the guidelines. The settlement allows it to resume operations if it complies with the settlement’s conditions, which include following health and safety guidelines as well as a suspension and fine.
Friday, June 11, 2021
- On June 11, 2021, bipartisan lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation geared towards restoring competition in digital markets, which includes provisions prohibiting technology companies from giving their own services preference, allowing regulators to force technology companies to sell parts of their business that could create a conflict of interest, and increasing filing fees for mergers.
- On June 11, 2021, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) released its spring 2021 rulemaking agenda, including an announcement that it is no longer planning to conduct consumer testing on payday loan disclosure options, a policy goal from the last administration.
- Nevada Attorney General Ford announced the passage of three of his bills, all of which will enhance state consumer protection laws. Among other things, the legislation establishes a price gouging prohibition for up to 75 days during a state of emergency, increases penalties for conduct targeting minors, strengthens charity laws, and prohibits the application of noncompete agreements to hourly employees.
- A coalition of 22 attorneys general led by California Attorney General Bonta and the California Air Resources Board sent a letter to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) asking the NHTSA to repeal the “Preemption Rule,” which ostensibly preempted California’s emissions standards. The coalition is arguing that the Energy Policy and Conservation Act did not give the NHTSA the power to promulgate the rule and that it must be repealed.
- Connecticut Attorney General Tong announced an amended settlement with United Illuminating (“UI”) and state entities that will provide savings and stability for UI consumers by offsetting what would have been a five to eight percent rate increase due to a power purchase agreement and federally-mandated transmission charges.
- A proposed class action lawsuit in the District of New Jersey filed on June 10, 2021 is alleging that debt collection law firm Weltman Weinberg & Reis violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by representing a creditor in a lawsuit seeking to collect an obligation released in bankruptcy and by sending unclear communications.
- Attorneys general from California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, New York, and Texas, along with the federal government, took part in a $2 million national settlement against medical device maker Medicrea USA, Inc. and its parent company, resolving allegations that the company violated the federal Open Payment Program and Anti-Kickback Statute, as well as state false claims law, by illegally paying physicians to use its medical devices in surgical procedures.