Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
- Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford and Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings, co-chairs of the Democratic Attorneys General Association, released a statement regarding the Democratic Attorneys General efforts to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Attorneys General reaffirmed their commitment to continue defending the ACA and thanked the Biden-Harris Administration “ensuring that affordable health care is a right for every American.”
- A coalition of 23 Attorneys General, led by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, filed a motion to intervene in defense of federal greenhouse gas emissions standards (GHG) for light-duty vehicles. The coalition argues that the GHG standards are critically important to states, which are already experiencing the economic, public health, and environmental impacts of climate change.
- A coalition of 14 Attorneys General, led by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, filed a complaint requesting that the Biden administration respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed last fall on behalf of various states. The FOIA requests seek federal officials’ communications preceding an Oct. 4 Department of Justice memo that called for FBI surveillance of parents expressing opinions at school board meetings and other forums.
- Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced his agreement to enter a consent judgment, pending court approval, with home security company Vivint, Inc., which allegedly made false representations, primarily through door-to-door salespeople, to induce consumers to sign contracts. Under the consent judgment, Vivant will pay $75,000 for restitution to Arizona consumers.
- Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced a proposed consent judgment that will require CashCall, Inc., its owner, and a wholly-owned subsidiary WS Funding LLC for allegedly providing personal loans at interest rates as high as 169 percent. Under the consent judgment the defendants will be required to pay $4.8 million in restitution to Arizona consumers.
- Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced a consent judgment against a number of telemarketing companies PublisherTech, LLC d/b/a Above CMS, Publisher Wealth Corporation, and Upstarter, LLC, which allegedly solicited consumers by falsely promising substantial income from selling merchandise online. The defendants are required to pay up to $500,000 in restitution and up to $900,000 in civil penalties.
- Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced the resolution of a lawsuit filed against auction companies Auction Nation, LLC and Auction Yard, LLC, and their owners for allegedly engaging in “house bidding,” a practice where sellers and auctioneers place bids, typically to raise auction prices up to a “reserve price.” Under the consent decrees (pending court approval), Auction Nation will be required to pay $210,000 and Auction Yard will be required to pay $50,000 in consumer restitution.
- Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed an amicus brief in Arizona Republic Party v. Hobbs urging the Arizona Supreme Court to ensure that there is an election manual in place for the 2022 election.
- California Attorney General Bonta announced a $3.25 million settlement with senior living operator Brookdale Senior Living, Inc., resolving allegations that Brookdale’s California skilled nursing facilities failed to adequately notify and prepare residents for both transfers and discharges and misrepresented its quality of care to the public by reporting false information, including over-reporting the number of hours that nurses provided care to residents, to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid. The settlement also requires Brookdale to appoint a monitor to oversee compliance at its Kern County Facility and to cease engaging in the illegal practices alleged in the complaint.
- California Attorney General Bonta issued a statement following the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final action restoring California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act for its greenhouse gas and zero-emission vehicle programs.
- California Attorney General Bonta announced the arrests of 14 individuals charged in connection with hospice companies New Hope Hospice, Inc. and Sterling Hospice Care, Inc., which allegedly stole over $4.2 million from the federal and state Medicare programs. For example, the defendants allegedly enrolled individuals who were not terminally ill into hospice care, many times without the individuals’ knowledge or consent.
- California Attorney General Bonta released an alert reminding employers and workers that noncompete agreements are not enforceable in California and urged individuals who are wrongfully presented with a noncompete agreement to know their rights.
- Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced an arrest of the owner and COO of Cornerstone Community Mental Health Services for allegedly defrauding the Medicaid program out of more than $148,000. The defendants are facing felony charges and penalties.
- New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a settlement with energy services company, Family Energy for allegedly deceiving and misleading thousands of consumers in the state with false promises of savings, and then charged them significant early termination fees when they tried to cancel their contracts. The settlement requires Family Energy to pay $2.15 million in restitution.
- New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a coalition of 30 national, state and local advocacy groups calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to launch a federal investigation into Texas Governor Gregg Abbott’s recent directive to treat gender-affirming care for transgender children as child abuse. Their letter to the Department of Justice argues that the Texas order is discriminatory, potentially unlawful, and does untold harm to trans youth in Texas.
- Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced six settlement agreements with owners of the furniture store Ashley HomeStore for alleged “Hang Tag” law violations. The Hang Tag law requires that, if a retailer offers rental purchase agreements, basic terms of the transaction must be displayed to consumers on a hang tag that is physically attached to the item offered for rental purchase. All Ashley HomeStores in Pennsylvania are now required to provide consumers with clear information, including “hang tags” on rent-to-own items displayed in stores.
- Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against US Stemology and its owner for deceptively marketing stem cell treatments for COVID-19 and dozens of other serious medical conditions, including asthma, lupus, Parkinson’s, congestive heart failure, and multiple sclerosis. The lawsuit seeks restitution of at least $748,250 and $12,500 in civil penalties, including enhanced civil penalties of $5,000 per violation.