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 five state attorneys general sent a letter demanding that Albertsons delay a $4 billion payout to stockholders until state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission complete their review of its proposed merger with Kroger. The state attorneys general are dedicated to ensuring that the proposed merger of these grocery behemoths does not result in higher prices for consumers, suppressed wages for workers, or other anticompetitive effects.
- The Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force, which fifty-one attorneys general participate in, is asking a court to require two voice service providers to cooperate in multistate investigations over alleged involvement in illegal robocalls. Its targets, Avid Telecom and One Eye LLC, are alleged to have accepted and routed fraudulent robocalls, including government imposter scams, fake legal threats, and phony offers purporting to be from businesses like Amazon and Apple.
- Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich posted consumer protection tips regarding over-the-counter hearing aids, which are now available for sale under the Food and Drug Administration Rules.
- California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a legal alert reminding urban and community water providers of requirements under the Water Shutoff Protection Act to protect California tenants and homeowners facing water shutoffs. Since the beginning of 2022, the cost of water has increased by an estimated 40%, making it difficult for many Californians to stay on top of their water payments.
- Attorney General Bonta and the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement with Ygrene Energy Fund, Inc., a clean energy financing company, resolving allegations of misconduct relating to its administration of the Property Assessed Clean Energy program. This program is a form of home-improvement financing offered by some California local governments in partnership with private investors that can provide loans to help property owners pay for home-improvement projects, such as the installation of solar panels.
- Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody posted a consumer alert highlighting online cyber safety tips for Floridians during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and the Baker-Polito Administration celebrated plans to renovate the historic Stone Mill building in Lawrence, using funds from a $56 million settlement that their offices reached with Columbia Gas in 2020 for its role in the Merrimack Valley gas explosions that devastated thousands of homeowners and businesses in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover in 2018.
- New Hampshire Attorney General John M. Formella announced that Brian Jeffrey Strouth of Pittsfield, New Hampshire, pleaded guilty and was sentenced yesterday in the Belknap County Superior Court to one class A misdemeanor count of unfair or deceptive acts or practices in violation of New Hampshire’s Consumer Protection Act.
- New York Attorney General Letitia James publicized the sentencing of Thomas Parsons and his window manufacturing company Litex, Inc. for altering and falsifying laboratory performance test reports for windows that were commonly purchased and installed in K-12 public school buildings and college dormitories throughout upstate New York. Judge Susan Eagan sentenced Mr. Parsons to five years’ probation and Litex to pay $3 million dollars in restitution to property owners who purchased the substandard windows.
- Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued Dollar General for allegedly advertising goods for one price on shelves and charging a higher price at the register. Ohio Department of Agriculture rules permit stores to have up to a 2% error rate on overcharges, but recent testing done by the Butler County auditor’s Department of Weights and Measures found error rates ranging from 16.7% to 88.2% for 20 Dollar General stores. Furthermore, from March 2021 to August 2022, the Attorney General’s Office received 12 complaints detailing similar unfair and deceptive practices by Dollar General stores in Cuyahoga, Franklin, Highland, Lucas, Madison, Richland, Summit and Trumbull counties.
- Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares encouraged parents and guardians to be on the lookout for counterfeit tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) laced edibles. These products are designed to resemble popular brands of candy and snacks, making it difficult for children, and even adults, to differentiate between legitimate food products and copycat THC-infused products—the latter of which are illegal in Virginia.
- Following Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s 2020 campaign finance transparency lawsuit in King County Superior Court, Judge Douglass North ruled that Meta intentionally violated Washington law 822 times and ordered Meta to pay the maximum penalty of $24,660,000.
- Following Attorney General Ferguson’s lawsuits in March against Florida-based CA Certificate Service and Labor Poster Compliance and their owners, a King County Superior Court judge has ordered the two companies and their owners to pay more than $24.8 million for their unlawful conduct targeting small business owners. The judge determined that both companies’ “entire business model was based upon deceiving small business owners.”
- Attorney General Ferguson also publicized that former Spokane County worker Rhonda Sue Ackerman has pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree theft. Ackerman was employed as a liability claims technician and stole $1.38 million over the course of a decade from Spokane County by filing fake claims.
- Attorney General Ferguson filed a lawsuit to block Albertson Companies Inc. from enriching its shareholders with a $4 billion payout before a proposed merger with The Kroger Co. can be reviewed by state and federal antitrust enforcers. The “special dividend” payment, Ferguson argues, risks severely undercutting the grocery giant’s ability to compete during the lengthy time period government regulators — including Washington — will be scrutinizing the merger.