Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
Monday, November 8, 2021
- A bipartisan coalition of 26 attorneys general led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro and California Attorney General Bonta submitted a brief to the Third Circuit asking it to uphold a lower court decision that stopped a New Jersey hospital merger. The coalition is concerned about the anticompetitive effects of the merger.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announced an assurance of discontinuance against the Mildred Elley School, including a payment of more than $1 million in consumer relief. Among other things, the school allegedly failed to make required disclosures at least 72 hours before making enrollment agreements, advertised higher placement rates than were accurate, and engaged in high-pressure sales tactics when it contacted prospective students more than twice a week.
- Colorado Attorney General Weiser announced that SEMA Construction must pay over $63,000 and update its data security practices after a 2018 data breach. The settlement resolves allegations that the company failed to protect employees’ and consumers’ personal information and that it failed to notify consumers of the data breach in a timely manner.
- Washington D.C. Attorney General Racine announced the successful resolution of two environmental enforcement matters, including a judgment against Miss Dallas Trucking, LLC in a water pollution lawsuit and a settlement against local contractor Universal Flooring and Remodeling, LLC after a lead paint investigation. Miss Dallas Trucking must pay $30,000 in costs and a $50,000 civil penalty, and Universal Flooring must pay $25,000 in civil penalties and agree to injunctive relief. Attorney General Racine also announced a lawsuit against South Capitol Improvement, LLC over illegal water discharge.
- A multistate coalition of 18 attorneys general led by New York Attorney General James submitted a comment letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) in support of expanding eviction protection rules. Specifically, the coalition is asking HUD to halt evictions when there is a pending Emergency Rental Assistance Program application, require landlords supervised by HUD to seek money rather than possessory judgments against those who file federal emergency rent assistance applications, and remove late-payment fees during national emergencies.
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Antitrust and Competition
- New York Attorney General James announced an agreement with the owners of supermarket chains Price Chopper and Tops Friendly Market, securing the divestment of 11 stores in connection with their proposed merger. The agreement will help maintain competition and protect employee rights in the relevant areas.
- A bipartisan coalition of attorneys general sent a letter to Congress in support of the Bankruptcy Venue Reform Act, which would amend the Bankruptcy Code to limit where corporations may file bankruptcy to only the jurisdiction in which their principal place of business or their assets are located. The coalition believes this amendment will prevent corporations from forum shopping.
- Kentucky Attorney General Cameron announced a proposed settlement with Delta Natural Gas which is intended to save consumers more than $3.4 million in rate increases for natural gas.
- Connecticut Attorney General Tong issued a press release urging caution after a data breach against online stock trading platform Robinhood. According to the press release, a hacker has obtained access to five million people’s email addresses and two million people’s full names.
- Iowa Attorney General Miller announced that District Judge McPartland of the District Court for Linn County entered a consent decree against Abatement Specialties, approving a civil penalty of $40,000 and injunctive relief to resolve allegations of asbestos removal violations during a high school renovation.
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
- Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro announced that his office won two lawsuits against car title lenders. Attorney General Shapiro’s office obtained a judgment against Dominion Management of Delaware, Inc. and Dominion Management Services, Inc., d/b/a CashPoint, and a company principal, requiring the company to pay over $8.5 million for charging illegally high interest rates on its car title loans. His office also won a court ruling against Auto Equity Loans of Delaware, LLC, which had tried to stop a consumer protection investigation against it. The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania held that the Attorney General may investigate Auto Equity’s claims that none of its loan transactions occurred in Pennsylvania.
- Oregon Attorney General Rosenblum announced a lawsuit against opioid manufacturer Endo Health Solutions and Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for allegedly deceptively marketing Opana for more than 10 years. The lawsuit alleges that the company misrepresented Opana’s risks and benefits.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- New Jersey Acting Attorney General Bruck announced that printing companies Command Marketing Innovations, LLC and Strategic Content Imaging, LLC, which provide services to a managed healthcare organization, agreed to pay $130,000 in penalties and implement new security policies after allegations that they improperly handled medical and client information and when they failed to detect a printing error. $65,000 of the payment is suspended if the companies comply with the order.
- North Carolina Attorney General Stein announced that his office reached a $20,000 settlement with gas station Mansa Travel Center Charlotte LLC, d/b/a Queen’s Market, for allegedly violating the state price gouging law during the state of emergency in place over the Colonial Pipeline shutdown. The lawsuit alleged that the company increased gas prices by as much as 256%. The settlement also requires the company to implement software permanently that records gas prices and the number of gallons sold.
Thursday, November 11, 2021
Criminal Medicaid Fraud
- West Virginia Attorney General Morrisey announced two criminal convictions by his office’s Medicaid Fraud Unit, one for Medicaid fraud through the submission of forged claims for non-emergency medical transportation services and the other for financial exploitation of an elderly person by a nursing home employee. Both convictions also resulted in the payment of full restitution.
Friday, November 12, 2021
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed a lawsuit against pawn lenders FirstCash, Inc. and Cash America West, Inc. alleging that they violated the Military Lending Act by charging over 36% on loans to active duty servicemembers and their dependents. The lawsuit, which seeks injunctive relief, consumer redress, and civil penalties, also alleges that FirstCash violated a 2013 order against its predecessor.