Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
- A multistate coalition of state attorneys general announced a $19.2 million settlement with Ford Motor Company. The settlement resolves allegations that the company made misleading statements about the fuel economy of its 2013–2014 C-Max hybrids as well as misrepresented the payload capacity of model year 2011–2014 Super Duty pickup trucks. The settlement includes injunctive terms in addition to the payment.
- A bipartisan coalition of 41 attorneys general sent a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, asking it to support the Debt Bondage Repair Act’s intent in its rulemaking implementing amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The Debt Bondage Repair Act bans credit rating agencies from providing consumer reports containing negative items about survivors of human trafficking during the time in which they were being trafficked.
- Colorado, Vermont, Arizona, and Kansas announced a settlement with Pfizer, resolving allegations that it failed to honor copayment coupons for three of its medications, Estring, Quillivant, and Flecto0r Patch. Pfizer offered these coupons, which were intended to help patients with out-of-pocket costs, from at least 2014-2018. However, patients ended up paying more than the guaranteed amount. The settlement includes restitution to consumers and payments to the attorneys general offices.
- A bipartisan coalition of attorneys general filed two amicus briefs, defending the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in cases that were filed by Sanofi SA, Novartis Pharmaceutics, United Therapeutics Corp and NovoNordisk, who are refusing to comply with the federal 340B discounted drug program. The attorneys general are defending the program, arguing that it ensures access to discounted prescription drugs for low-income and underserved communities.
- Florida Attorney General Moody and Nevada Attorney General Ford announced partnerships with the Federal Communications Commission to fight robocalls. These partnerships are intended to allow for information sharing and cooperation that will create more efficient and effective enforcement.
- State attorneys general applauded the Federal Communications Commission for adopting rules that would prevent illegal robocalls originating abroad from using the United States phone network. A coalition of 51 attorneys general previously sought rules such as this one.
- New York Attorney General James and New Jersey Acting Attorney General Platkin announced investigations into social media platforms including Discord and Twitch following the Buffalo supermarket shooting. The investigations center around whether the platforms violated consumer protection laws by neglecting to moderate harmful content, after reports that the shooter used the platforms to plan and publicize the attack.
- State attorneys general continued to warn consumers about the impact of the baby formula shortage. For example, North Carolina Attorney General Stein, California Attorney General Bonta and New Hampshire Attorney General Formella warned of scams related to baby formula sales and potential price gouging, encouraging consumers to report deceptive conduct.
District of Columbia
- Washington D.C. Attorney General Racine filed a lawsuit against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly participating in decision-making that permitted the Cambridge Analytica data breach and for allegedly misleading users about data protection and privacy.
- Florida Attorney General Moody announced a judgment of over $20 million against several moving companies involved in a deceptive moving scheme. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants engaged in several misleading acts, including deceptive pricing and falsely advertising the companies as professional services with well-trained employees, when the contractors were actually untrained and used rented trucks. The judgment also includes a lifetime ban.
- Illinois Attorney General Raoul announced a settlement with Sodexo Inc., including the company’s agreement to stop using “no-hire” clauses in client contracts. Attorney General Raoul previously alleged that the company used these clauses without notifying its employees. The settlement also requires Sodexo to notify affected employees and rescind the clauses at issue.
- Michigan Attorney General Nessel announced that she is sending investigators to look into reported instances of price gouging in Gaylord after a tornado occurred there last week. Attorney General Nessel stated, “My department’s investigators are on the ground in Gaylord to ensure the price of goods and services are fair and not artificially inflated to take advantage of the circumstances.”
- New Jersey Acting Attorney General Platkin announced a settlement with Weichert Co. and affiliated real estate and financial companies related to allegations of insufficient cybersecurity safeguards, which allowed unauthorized network access and resulted in three data breaches exposing consumers’ and employees’ personal information. The settlement includes a $1.2 million payment and requires new security policies to be implemented.
- New York Attorney General James announced that her office recovered $36 million from H&M for unlawfully retaining millions of dollars in unused gift cards that should have gone to the Office of Unclaimed Funds. The agreement requires the company to pay a penalty and transfer the money it owes to New York’s Abandoned Property Fund.
- New York Attorney General James and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that they ended a predatory debt collection operation including JPL Recovery Solutions and other companies, which threatened consumers with consequences if they did not pay, inflated the amount of owed debts, and contacted third parties to harass consumers. The debt collection operation must pay $4 million, and its principals are permanently banned from the industry.
- Washington Attorney General Ferguson announced that one of the chicken producers in his antitrust lawsuit, Mar-Jac Poultry, will pay $725,000 to resolve the Office’s claims against it, as well as cooperate with the Office to provide information and agree to conduct internal training. This is the first such resolution of the lawsuit.