Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
Monday, September 27, 2021
- New York Attorney General James announced a $6 million agreement with National Grid, resolving allegations that it knowingly provided false reports to the Long Island Power Authority on the amount of electricity delivered but not billed for. The $6 million payment will be used to subsidize heat pump modernization and replacement for low- and moderate-income individuals.
Environmental – “Defeat Devices”
- New Hampshire Attorney General Formella announced a settlement agreement with Volkswagen Group of Americaand related companies for using “defeat devices,” which resulted in excess Nitrogen Oxide emissions of up to more than 30 times the legal limit. The settlement includes a $1.15 million payment and the installation of a fast charging station in New Hampshire.
- Vermont Attorney General Donovan applauded Facebook’s announcement that it will pause its “Instagram Kids” app designed for children. Attorney General Donovan stated that he is still concerned about social media companies’ actions to protect children.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- A coalition of 22 state attorneys general and several cities and counties, led by California Attorney General Bonta, sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, asking it to adopt stricter greenhouse gas emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks. The coalition believes automakers are well-positioned to meet these standards and that the stricter standards better advance the Clean Air Act’s objectives.
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
- Washington Attorney General Ferguson announced a consent decree against timeshare exit company Reed Hein & Associates LLC, which includes a guaranteed $2.61 million payment and a potential additional $19 million if it violates the consent decree’s terms. The consent decree resolves a lawsuit over a deceptive 100% money-back guarantee offer. In addition to the monetary payment, the consent decree includes injunctive relief and requires the company to retract statements it made in response to the Attorney General’s lawsuit.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey issued an advisory to automobile dealers and consumers about auto dealers’ obligations surrounding vehicle advertising and pricing. For example, the advisory reminds auto dealers that they are required to accurately advertise prices, honor the prices advertised, and comply with provisions in consumer lease contracts.
- It was reported that Colorado Attorney General Weiser announced that Compass Bank and Air Academy Federal Credit Union must refund borrowers after they failed to return guaranteed automobile protection fees that they improperly retained. In total, Compass Bank must refund about $1.68 million, and the Credit Union is still determining the amount it owes.
National Association of Attorneys General Conference
- The National Association of Attorneys General announced a conference it is hosting from October 7-8, 2021 in conjunction with Vermont Attorney General Donovan on the surveillance economy. The conference will include remarks by several attorneys general and federal, state and local partners, and it will be about balancing technology advances with individuals’ rights to privacy.
- California Attorney General Bonta announced that the state price gouging law is in effect in Shasta County following a declaration of a state of emergency because of the Fawn Fire.
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
- Michigan Attorney General Nessel announced a settlement against Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation Slater Farms for causing pollution and failing to comply with permit requirements. The settlement includes a partially waived $120,000 penalty and requires Slater Farms to accept additional oversight and permit conditions over the storage, management, and disposal of waste.
- Washington D.C. Attorney General Racine announced a final judgment against landlord Jefferson-11th Street, LLC, including over $422,000 in rent restitution and $215,000 in penalties for housing code violations, including mold contamination, lack of heat, and vermin infestations. The judgment also requires the landlord to create policies and trainings to prevent this conduct from reoccurring and to hire a new management company.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- A coalition of 16 attorneys general sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, objecting to new standards on greenhouse gas emissions from 2023 and later model light-duty vehicles. The coalition is arguing that the standards disregard individual states’ conditions and economies, as they are based on California priorities.
Thursday, September 30, 2021
- Minnesota Attorney General Ellison announced a bankruptcy court’s approval of a settlement including $23.6 million in debt relief and $15.8 million in restitution for former students of Minnesota School of Business and Globe University. The original lawsuit alleged that the institutions made false claims about criminal justice programs and charged illegal interest rates.
- Michigan Attorney General Nessel announced that the Michigan Public Service Commission approved a net under-recovery of $145,023 in DTE Electric’s 2019 Reconciliation case, agreeing with Attorney General Nessel’s arguments and analysis. This creates up to $3,157,764 in savings for DTE consumers.
- North Carolina Attorney General Stein applauded Duke Energy’s decision to voluntarily extend its moratorium on utility disconnections until March 2022 for those customers who qualify for funding assistance.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announced that the former executive director of non-profit homeless shelter Casa Nueva Vida was indicted for allegedly stealing almost $1.5 million from the organization and lying under oath.
Healthcare – Removing Race Formulas
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey is urging health care providers to remove race from formulas they use to estimate kidney function. The formulas determine the health care services patients will receive and have been criticized for limiting access to care for patients of color.
- Virginia Attorney General Herring announced the filing of the first lawsuit under the Virginia Fair Housing Law’s systemic discrimination provision. The lawsuit, which seeks $8 million in tenant compensation, civil penalties, and attorneys’ fees, was filed against a landlord for allegedly discriminating against tenants through abusive language and conduct.
Friday, October 1, 2021
Environmental Protection Bureau
- New York Attorney General James announced a lawsuit against Endzone Properties, Inc. and a landlord for violating lead paint laws and failing to address and disclose hazards at properties where at least 18 children were poisoned. The lawsuit seeks disgorgement, civil penalties and fines, and injunctive relief.