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 25 attorneys general filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in support of the Federal Trade Commission’s attempt to block Meta from acquiring virtual reality fitness company Within Unlimited and its app “Supernatural.” The coalition argues that the acquisition would lessen competition and potentially create a monopoly in the virtual reality fitness arena.
- The attorneys general of California, the District of Columbia, and Illinois asked a D.C. District Court to temporarily halt Albertsons’ planned $4 billion special dividend payment to shareholders after concerns that the payment would negatively affect workers, consumers, and competition in the three markets. The attorneys general seek to delay the payment pending regulatory review of the proposed merger between Albertsons and Kroger.
- The state attorneys general Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force, made up of 51 state attorneys general, announced enforcement actions against voice service providers Avid Telecom and One Eye because of their roles in illegal robocalls. The task force alleges that Avid Telecom knowingly accepted and routed illegal robocalls, and that One Eye was run by an individual whose other voice service provider was shut down by the Federal Communications Commission.
- A bipartisan coalition of 35 attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in support of Oklahoma’s laws that seek to regulate pharmacy benefit managers’ abusive practices. The coalition argues that states have the power to protect consumers by regulating these business practices.
- A bipartisan group of state attorneys general reached a $10.7 billion settlement in principle with CVS and Walgreens for allegedly failing to detect and prevent opioid abuse. The settlement proceeds will help state and local governments address the opioid crisis.
- Arkansas Attorney General Rutledge announced a lawsuit against Young’s Outdoor Solutions for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act when it advertised and accepted money from consumers to install in-ground swimming pools and then failed to complete them. The company also allegedly outsourced work to and failed to pay subcontractors, which resulted in the issuance of collection letters to customers demanding payment and the filing of liens against consumers’ homes.
- California Attorney General Bonta and the California Air Resources Board announced a $25 million settlement with Bosch for its role in the Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler diesel emissions scandals. The settlement resolves allegations that Bosch violated consumer protection laws and provided software programming or calibration services, software, and hardware to Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler when it knew or should have known that they were violating consumer protection and environmental law. The settlement also includes injunctive relief.
- California Attorney General Bonta sent letters to six plastic bag manufacturers requiring that they substantiate their claims that the bags are recyclable by November 16, 2022, as required by California Law, SB 270.
- California Attorney General Bonta announced a settlement with the former Paul Blanco’s Good Car Company, a network of auto dealerships, and its principal executives, resolving allegations that the defendants engaged in unlawful business practices including false advertising and statements that misled customers into purchasing add-on products.
District of Columbia
- Washington D.C. Attorney General Racine announced that his office is investigating D.C. restaurants who use GratShare, an app for the administration and distribution of tips, because the app illegally charges workers to receive their tips.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announced a settlement with payment processing company Global Holdings LLC over claims that it helped with a debt settlement company’s unlawful business practices of charging vulnerable consumers illegally inflated and premature fees. The settlement includes a $600,000 penalty and requires changes to the company’s business practices.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announced that her office reached an agreement with The Berkshire Gas Company, which reduces its proposed distribution rate increase for residential, commercial, and industrial gas customers by over $1.7 million and prevents further rate increases before November 1, 2025. The agreement also includes a $125,000 contribution to fund residential assistance programs.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announced a settlement agreement with nursing home Sea View Retreat, Inc. and its owner, which resolves allegations that they did not implement appropriate infection control procedures during the pandemic. The settlement requires the company and owner to pay $175,000 in penalties and agree not to own, operate, or manage a long-term care or assisted living facility in the state.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announced a settlement with Pharmacy Benefits Manager Express Scripts, Inc., that includes an agreement from the company to pay $3.2 million in penalties after it allegedly failed to follow prescription pricing practices as outlined in regulatory benchmarks to prevent overcharges in the workers’ compensation insurance system. The settlement also requires that the company implement new procedures to prevent overcharges and also ensure regulatory compliance.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey filed a complaint and consent judgment against home health and hospice care company Aveanna Healthcare, LLC after allegations that it failed to implement adequate security measures to protect patients’ and employees’ personal information. The consent judgment includes a $425,000 penalty, and requires a security and training program.
- Minnesota Attorney General Ellison announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture granted the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Rural Finance Authority $15 million to create a Meat and Poultry Revolving Loan Fund that would increase competition and economic opportunities for poultry and meat processors in the state.
- New York Attorney General James announced that her office secured a $523 million settlement with Teva Pharmaceuticals, Ltd., its American subsidiary Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, and its affiliates. This is the largest settlement reached with an individual opioid defendant by Attorney General James and resolves her litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
- New York Attorney General James announced a $30.5 million settlement with CBS and its former President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves for hiding sexual assault allegations against Mr. Moonves, misleading investors about the allegations, and insider trading. The settlement also requires CBS to reform its sexual harassment investigation policies and procedures, and provide biannual reports; and it requires that Mr. Moonves must obtain written approval from the Attorney General’s Office before he accepts an executive or officer position at a public company in New York for the next five years.
- Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro announced that his office filed suit against Fluent, Inc., which connects advertisers to potential new customers through their personal data, for allegedly causing unwanted robocalls to consumers by selling personal information to telemarketing companies. The information sold allegedly included consumers who were registered with the state Do Not Call List.