Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
- California Attorney General Bonta filed an amicus brief in support of local prosecutors’ authority to enforce state consumer protection laws against national banks in People v. Credit One. Credit One filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to throw out a California state court lawsuit alleging Credit One violated California’s Unfair Competition Law relating to illegal debt collection. Attorney General Bonta urges the Ninth Circuit to uphold the district court’s ruling dismissing Credit One’s federal challenge to the district attorneys’ state court unfair competition case.
- California Attorney General Bonta emphasized health apps’ obligations under California law to protect and secure reproductive health information. The Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA) applies to mobile apps that are designed to store medical information. The CMIA is a state law that applies to businesses that offer a mobile application or other related device, like wearable technology, that is designed to maintain medical information, even if these businesses do not have similar obligations under federal health privacy laws.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey filed a lawsuit against thirteen manufactures of “toxic forever” chemicals (poly- and perfluoroalkyl, PFAS) for causing millions of dollars in damages to Massachusetts residents by contaminating Massachusetts drinking water and damaging natural resources. The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina and alleges repeated violations of state and federal laws protecting drinking water and prohibiting consumer deception.
- Michigan Attorney General Nessel issued a Notice of Intended Action (NIA) to a tree-trimming company, Canary Tree Service, following complaints of price gouging. Attorney General Nessel stated the Office had probable cause to believe the company is violating the Michigan Consumer Protection Act by misleading consumers about agreements, costs of services, and financial responsibility for costs not paid by insurance. This NIA comes after Attorney General Nessel announced her office was investigating potential price gouging related to the tornado in Gaylord.
- Missouri Attorney General Schmitt filed a lawsuit against fencing contractor Joseph Murray, operating as Affordable Fence, for unlawful business practices violative of Missouri consumer protection laws. The fencing contractor took advance payments for multiple fencing installation projects that never occurred, totaling more than $18,000 in losses for consumers.
- Acting New Jersey Attorney General Platkin announced that a lawsuit by the State resulted in New Jersey-based timeshare rental and resale services company, William Andrews Burns LLC (WAB), being ordered to pay over $10 million in damages and being permanently barred from doing business in New Jersey. The lawsuit alleged that WAB operated a telemarketing scheme that preyed on elderly timeshare owners and convinced those owners to pay large advance fees for renting and/or reselling services.
- New York Attorney General James issued warnings to more than thirty online and brick-and-mortar retailers across the state to stop overcharging for baby formula. New York’s price gouging statute prohibits merchants from charging excessive prices for essential goods and services during market disruptions. Attorney General James ordered the businesses to immediately stop overcharging for baby formula and warned that overcharging for baby formula may result in legal consequences for price gouging.
- Washington Attorney General Ferguson announced his office recovered an additional $6.6 million in stolen unemployment money in a massive fraud scheme perpetrated across many states. The Washington Attorney General Office has now used forfeiture laws to recover a total of $18.8 million stolen from the Employment Security Department. The fraudulent scheme used identity data harvested from data breaches to steal billions of dollars from at least 11 states during the pandemic.
- West Virginia Attorney General Morrisey announced a tentative $161.5 million settlement with Teva Pharmaceuticals Inc., AbbVie’s Allergan, and their family companies directly ahead of closing arguments after a seven-week trial. The judge agreed to put the trial on hold and allow the parties an opportunity to negotiate a complete settlement agreement. West Virginia would receive $134.5 million in cash and $27 million worth of Narcan under the tentative settlement.