Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
Monday, October 25, 2021
- New York Attorney General James announced the launch of a new online filing portal charities may use to report their annual financial disclosures. The system is intended to increase the efficiency of filing for charities that are required to register with the Office of the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau.
- Washington D.C. Attorney General Racine announced a lawsuit against event venue the Loft at 600 F and its owner, who allegedly refused to provide refunds or reschedule events, including weddings, which were canceled during the space’s closure due to the pandemic. The lawsuit is seeking restitution, damages, refunds, and civil penalties.
- Minnesota Attorney General Ellison announced a consent judgment against egg producer Sparboe Farms, resolving allegations that it excessively priced eggs in March and April 2020. The consent judgment requires the company to donate 90,000 dozen eggs to nonprofit organizations within 18 months. The company must use eggs that are the same quality as those it sells at retail and assume all costs.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)
- A coalition of 20 states led by Arizona Attorney General Brnovich filed a brief in support of Ohio’s lawsuit against the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan Act Tax Mandate, which requires states not to lower taxes in order to receive COVID-19 relief funding. The coalition is asking the Sixth Circuit to uphold an injunction against the mandate.
- Washington Attorney General Ferguson announced a lawsuit against 19 chicken producers and an industry data reporting service, alleging a conspiracy to inflate and manipulate prices, coordinate industry supply reductions to maximize profits, and rig contract bids. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, restitution, and civil penalties.
- A coalition of 22 states, six cities, and the District of Columbia, led by California Attorney General Bonta, sent a letter of support to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s proposal to strengthen requirements for corporate average fuel economy standards for model year 2024-2026 vehicles. The coalition is arguing that improved fuel economy saves money for consumers, improves national security, improves air quality, combats climate change, and allows for public health benefits.
- A multistate coalition led by California Attorney General Bonta sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asking it to quickly adopt regulations limiting oxides of nitrogen emissions from model year 2027 on-road heavy-duty trucks. The coalition is arguing that these regulations are needed to protect vulnerable communities and to improve air quality
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
- Kentucky Attorney General Cameron announced that his Office of Rate Intervention reached a proposed settlement with Columbia Gas of Kentucky, Inc. The agreement will save consumers more than $8 million in natural gas rate increases and includes a provision requiring the company not to seek a further base rate increase for at least three years.
- Arkansas Attorney General Rutledge announced a lawsuit against Med-Care Health Link, LLC and others for failing to provide over $10 million worth of personal protective equipment and 560 ventilators to University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. The lawsuit seeks a refund and civil penalties for each violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
- New Jersey Acting Attorney General Bruck announced that the Bureau of Securities issued orders to five companies that were offering fraudulent investment opportunities for cryptocurrencies. The orders require the companies to stop violating New Jersey law.
- A coalition of 25 attorneys general filed an amicus brief in Doe v. Facebook, Inc., arguing that the Supreme Court of Texas interpreted Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act overly broadly to immunize Facebook from liability for failing to warn of and benefitting from human trafficking on its platform. The coalition is arguing that the interpretation leaves victims with no avenue for recourse against platform operators.
Thursday, October 28, 2021
- California Attorney General Bonta announced court approval of a $3.5 million stipulated judgment against Pong Game Studios Corporation for an illegal gambling operation that was set up to appear as a legal sweepstakes. The settlement also requires the business to halt its gambling operations in the state.
- Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro announced settlement agreements with Arrowmistic, LLC, d/b/a Wicca Movement and Cultured Quotes, LLC for allegedly posting deceptive advertisements for “free jewelry” on Facebook without disclosing that accepting the offer meant enrollment in a membership club and paying a $19.99-$25 recurring fee unless and until the membership was cancelled. Under the settlement, the companies paid $25,000 and must not bill consumers for any membership fees from a promotional offer between January 1, 2017 and the settlement’s filing date unless they have proof of adequate consent.
- California Attorney General Bonta issued an alert including tips for businesses and consumers to defend against cybersecurity threats. The alert reminds businesses in California that they have a legal obligation to maintain data security. Some of the business tips include training employees using data security principles, using updated software, providing firewall security, securing Wi-Fi networks, and limiting employee access to information and data.
- A coalition of 21 state attorneys general led by West Virginia Attorney General Morrisey filed a petition requesting that the U.S. Supreme Court clarify the definition of “waters of the United States” in the interest of protecting state sovereignty over water and land within state borders. The coalition is arguing that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has defined the phrase overly broadly.
- Florida Attorney General Moody announced the arrest of the owner of Villa Pavers and Pools for allegedly participating in a scheme to defraud homeowners of over $1 million. Specifically, the company allegedly charged at least 40% upfront fees without intent of completing the jobs for which it was paid.
- New Hampshire Attorney General Formella announced that the Director of Charitable Trusts will host a public hearing over a proposed transaction between Home Health & Hospice Care and SolutionHealth. The hearing will take place on November 18.
Friday, October 29, 2021
- New York Attorney General James announced a settlement with Ticket Fulfillment Services, L.P. and five ticket resale websites for failing to provide refunds to over 11,000 consumers who purchased tickets to events that were cancelled due to the pandemic. Under the agreement, the company must guarantee refunds to consumers in New York and out-of-state purchasers who bought tickets for New York venues if the event was cancelled, totaling about $4.4 million in refunds. The company must also discontinue affiliates’ right to sell tickets on the platform if they do not have or fail to honor a refund policy.
- The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation reported a data breach involving health care network UMass Memorial Health between June 2020 and January 2021