Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
- Several attorneys general applauded the Biden administration’s plan to expand competition in the meat processing industry. The presidential administration recently announced initiatives to increase competition, including stronger Packers and Stockyards Act rules, better coordination with the Department of Justice, and dedicating $1 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act to improve independent meat processing capacity. This announcement follows a letter sent by a coalition of 16 state attorneys general to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack seeking increased competition in this industry.
- Arizona Attorney General Brnovich announced that two software manufacturers, CDK and Reynolds and Reynolds, who had challenged the state’s consumer protection law protecting data that car dealerships obtain and keep, voluntarily dismissed their lawsuits with prejudice. A Ninth Circuit ruling recently upheld the law, which places data under the control of the dealerships instead of software companies, after a challenge based on federal and constitutional law.
- Arkansas Attorney General Rutledge announced a nearly $8 million civil false claims settlement with Empower Healthcare Solutions, LLC. The settlement resolves an investigation into how the company reported its expenses in 2020.
- California Attorney General Bonta filed a petition for rehearing en bancbefore the Ninth Circuit in its lawsuit challenging the Eastgate Air Cargo facility airport expansion project in San Bernardino. Attorney General Bonta is arguing that the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of the project, which would increase toxic air pollution in low-income communities and communities of color, conflicts with the law.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announced that addiction treatment center chain Total Wellness Centers, LLC, CleanSlate Centers, Inc., and CleanSlate Centers, LLC and its owner agreed to pay $4.5 million to MassHealth. The settlement resolves allegations that CleanSlate submitted false claims for urine drug tests illegally performed at the company’s laboratory and that were medically unnecessary. This settlement is the first civil settlement under Massachusetts’ 2014 law against clinical laboratory self-referral.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey issued a press release reminding employers and workers that the Massachusetts minimum wage increased to $14.25 per hour on January 1, 2022. The announcement also states that employers must display a wage and hour poster in both English and any other language that is spoken by five percent or more of the employer’s workforce. The poster is accessible via the Attorney General’s Office.
- New York Attorney General James announced a $6 million consent order against precious metals seller Lear Capital, Inc., resolving Attorney General James’ June 2021 lawsuit alleging that the company failed to disclose commissions it charged consumers. The consent order also requires the company to change its business practices, such as by providing clear and conspicuous fee disclosures and a 24-hour cancellation period for retirement and particular high fee transactions.
- New York Attorney General James announced that her office cancelled over $200,000 in housing debt and obtained $65,000 in restitution from private student housing provider Monarch 716. An investigation found that the provider violated tenants’ rights by deceiving students into signing leases, denying them access to housing, and referring them to debt collectors.
- Rhode Island Attorney General Neronha announced he would open an investigation into a data breach against the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority. The agency has been questioned, including by the ACLU of Rhode Island, as to why personal information of those with no connection to the agency was involved in the breach.