Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
- A coalition of 50 attorneys general formed the Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force, which will investigate scammers operating outside of the United States. With the goal of cutting down illegal robocalls, the task force has already issued 20 investigative demands to 20 gateway providers and other entities that are allegedly responsible for a majority of foreign robocall traffic.
- A coalition of 39 attorneys general sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, urging the agency to repeal telemarketing exemptions and add measures to protect consumers from scams and unwanted calls. The letter asks for a requirement that negative option sellers and telemarketers provide cancelation options and keep records of consumer consent for “negative option offers.”
- A coalition of 17 attorneys general called on the Federal Trade Commission to strengthen and update its guidance on digital advertising disclosures. In particular, it recommends improvements to address the emergence of deceptive design tactics known as “dark patterns” in the online and digital marketplace.
- A coalition of 43 attorneys general urged the Federal Trade Commission to increase obligations on telemarketers by requiring them to keep additional records about their activities so that law enforcement can hold them accountable if they fail to comply with the law.
- A coalition of 10 state attorneys general submitted a comment in support of the USDA’s proposed rule, Transparency in Poultry Grower Contracting and Tournaments, to increase transparency and reduce the information imbalance between farmers and processors in the poultry industry, which would make it easier for small poultry farmers to compete for fair pricing terms from large poultry processors.
- Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced that his office has obtained a consent judgment against the Center for COVID Control, LLC, its owner Aleya Siyaj, and her husband Akbar Syed. The defendants advertised that consumers would receive RT-PCR test results within 48 hours and rapid antigen test results within 15 minutes. However, many Arizona consumers did not receive results within this timeframe, while some never received results and others received inconclusive results.
District of Columbia
- D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine publicized that he joined AARP D.C. State Director Louis Davis, Jr. and more than a hundred D.C. residents for a conversation about combatting the exploitation of older District residents, and how to support them as they face financial abuse and scams. AG Racine also noted some of the office’s initiatives and programs dedicated to protecting D.C. Elders and Vulnerable Adults.
- Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, as part of the Summer Scam Series, highlighted seven common summer schemes: vacation rental scams, free wi-fi scams, front-desk and fake-menu scams, online “summer deals” scams, storm-preparation scams, low-cost moving scams, and summer-employment scams.
- Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced that Borin Khoun has pleaded guilty to multiple counts of Theft by Taking relating to his involvement in cyber fraud scams targeting older adults. Attorney General Carr recognizes this plea as the direct result of public reporting tips and the efforts of the Cyber Fraud Task Force.
- Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita finalized a $2 million settlement with ImmediaDent of Indiana P.C., a chain of dental clinics that closed in March of 2020. The entirety of the settlement will be paid in refunds to more than 22,000 Hoosiers who, according to the state’s allegations, paid for treatments they never received.
- Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh publicized that his Consumer Protection Division has reached a settlement with online puppy retailer Maryland Puppies Online, LLC and the company’s owners, Sara and Nathan Bazler, after previously alleging that they continued to sell puppies after the No More Puppy Mills Act banned such sales in January 2020. The settlement provides restitution to Maryland consumers, imposes civil penalties, and bans the company from selling dogs in Maryland.
- Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued the owners of a garage door company alleging that they accepted nearly $182,000 in down payments from consumers but provided no doors or other service. The lawsuit, filed recently in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, contends that Matthew Petroff, Joshua Robertson and Thomas DiNardi, as operators of CLE Door Co., violated both the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and Ohio Home Solicitation Sales Act.
- Alongside United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced that five individuals and two for-profit skilled nursing facilities in Southwestern Pennsylvania have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and related health care fraud charges
- Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III filed a lawsuit against Walgreens in Knox County Circuit Court for violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act and Tennessee’s public nuisance statute, and for creating a common law public nuisance through its unlawful sale and distribution of opioids. The complaint alleges that Walgreens, which has one of the largest market shares in Tennessee, had unique and superior knowledge of the volume of opioids flowing through its stores because of its dual role in the marketplace.
- The Vermont Attorney General’s Office announced a settlement with heating woodchip supplier Limlaw Pulpwood Inc. and its related businesses for violating the Vermont Consumer Protection Act by falsifying the weight of its woodchip loads. The settlement requires Limlaw to reform its business practices, pay a penalty of $100,000 to the State of Vermont, and provide $1,000 restitution credits to approximately 30 Vermont consumers.
- Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a court order that will require Chuck’s Towing, a Clark County towing company, to pay three service members for illegally selling their cars at auction and implement specific policies. This case is part of Attorney General Ferguson’s Military & Veterans Initiative, through which he is working to reform Washington’s towing industry to ensure that tow companies comply with legal protections for active duty military.
- Attorney General Ferguson also publicized that he expanded his lawsuit against 14 Providence-affiliated hospitals, including five Swedish hospitals, by adding two collection agencies that worked for the hospitals. The Attorney General’s underlying lawsuit stems from Providence’s charity care and collections practices impacting tens of thousands of patients and hundreds of millions of dollars in medical debt.