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 23 attorneys general sent a comment letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in support of its proposed rule that strengthens the Affordable Care Act’s anti-discrimination protections. The rule would implement the ACA’s Section 1557, which prohibits discrimination against, and strengthens protections for, LGBTQ+ individuals, women, those with disabilities, and those with limited English proficiency in the provision of healthcare in the federal government.
- California Attorney General Bonta filed an amicus brief in Raines v. U.S. Healthworks Medical Group before the California Supreme Court in support of the application of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act’s anti-discrimination protections to companies acting on behalf of employers. The lawsuit involves allegations that occupational health services provider U.S. Healthworks Medical Group illegally required job applicants to answer discriminatory and intrusive health questions on behalf of potential employers.
- California Attorney General Bonta announced that his office secured a guilty plea against a yacht dealer for engaging in tax evasion which defrauded the state of more than $1.3 million. The defendant withheld sales tax revenue she obtained from her yacht sales and leasing companies for three years from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.
- Colorado Attorney General Weiser announced that his office’s proposed Colorado Privacy Act rules were published in the Colorado Register and on the Secretary of State’s website. The press release states that the Attorney General’s Office is seeking feedback from the public on the contents of the rules, in particular in areas such as definitions, personal data rights, opt-out mechanisms, entities’ duties, loyalty programs, consent, data protection assessments, and automated profiling.
- Florida Attorney General Moody announced that her office is sending consumer protection investigators to Lee County, where many consumers do not have phone or internet access after Hurricane Ian, to help consumers report scams and price gouging during Florida’s state of emergency.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announced that her office reached a $430,000 settlement with home health care company Allied Health Systems and its CEO, resolving allegations that they falsely billed the state Medicaid program for services that were not authorized by a physician. The settlement also includes a mandatory three-year compliance program.
- Minnesota Attorney General Ellison announced that his office entered a settlement with student loan debt relief company Total Rain, Inc., doing business as Student Aid Group, resolving allegations that the company illegally collected fees from and misrepresented its services to consumers. The settlement includes full consumer refunds and requires the business to stop operating in Minnesota.
- Minnesota Attorney General Ellison filed a lawsuit against firearms dealer Fleet Farm for allegedly negligently selling firearms to straw purchasers. The lawsuit accuses Fleet Farm of aiding and abetting criminals and contributing to gun trafficking in the state. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, including strengthened oversight and training, as well as monetary relief, including disgorgement.
- New York Attorney General James announced the recovery of $3 million from luxury residential property developer Heatherwood Communities LLC, resolving allegations that it withheld prevailing wages and benefits from employees. These benefits and wages were required to be paid to the employees by the tax credit program through which the developer received tax emptions on two properties.
- New York Attorney General James announced a $753,457 agreement with HQRC Management Services LLC, its owner, and affiliated dentistry locations. The settlement resolves allegations that the dentistry group performed and billed the New York and New Jersey Medicaid programs for medically unnecessary pediatric “baby root canals.”
- New York Attorney General James announced a settlement with ambulance company Mobile Life Support Services, Inc., resolving allegations that the company unlawfully billed patients for emergency medical services through “balance billing,” or charging patients for the difference between their insurance payments and the cost of their services. The settlement includes a $100,000 penalty, full restitution plus interest, closure of all accounts with debt collectors, and updated billing practices.
- New York Attorney General James announced a settlement with school bus company Hoyt Transportation, Inc., resolving allegations that the company excessively idled at bus yards, creating air pollution and health and wellness issues. The settlement includes a $38,850 penalty, monitoring, and an anti-idling training program.
- North Carolina Attorney General Stein announced that his office won a consent judgment for over $23 million against debt collection companies Turtle Creek Assets Ltd., Turtle Creek Rentals LLC, Royal Park Holdings Inc., and their owner for conducting illegal debt collection practices and taking advantage of consumers. In addition to the monetary relief, the consent judgment bans the defendants from debt collection in North Carolina and includes several other requirements such as clearing negative credit lines, giving up property claims, and vacating civil judgments.
- North Carolina Attorney General Stein announced that his office won default judgments that permanently ban two contractors who previously defrauded consumers from ever conducting home repair and contracting work in North Carolina. One contractor had misled consumers related to Hurricane Florence repair work, and the other contractor scammed elderly consumers over home repair work.
- Ohio Attorney General Yost filed a lawsuit against pole barn and garage builder Clear View Construction, LLC and its owner, accusing them of accepting over $174,000 from consumers but failing to complete and sometimes even start construction work. The lawsuit seeks consumer restitution, declaratory and injunctive relief, and penalties.
- Washington Attorney General Ferguson announced the results of a consumer protection survey, which revealed that 59% of consumers in the state may have been unintentionally enrolled in a subscription service or plan while thinking they were making a one-time purchase. The survey also indicated that pre-check boxes are a large source of the problem and revealed that about 100,000 people may have been unable to cancel their subscriptions. The survey was part of Attorney General Ferguson’s Honest Fees Initiative and included responses from 1,207 adults.
- West Virginia Attorney General Morrisey filed a lawsuit against a wedding planner and disc jockey for allegedly failing to provide advertised services to many clients in violation of the Consumer Credit and Protection Act and for failing to register her business with applicable state entities. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and maximum civil penalties.