Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
- A bipartisan coalition of 27 state attorneys general sent a letter to Congress, asking it to pass sweeping Right-to-Repair legislation related to automobiles, digital electronic equipment, and agricultural equipment. The coalition argues that the legislation would allow farmers to repair agricultural equipment at a reasonable cost, permit consumers to repair electronics instead of replacing them where appropriate, and allow small businesses to stay competitive against closed systems that Original Equipment Manufacturers prefer.
- A multistate coalition of state attorneys general sent a comment letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration applauding its proposed guidance geared towards reducing lead in processed food products for infants and young children. The letter also encourages the FDA to expand and bolster this guidance, by including foods intended for children 36 months and younger, applying it to grain-based snacks, and expressly providing that manufacturers of covered products must conduct testing of finished products before they are sold.
- A multistate coalition of state attorneys general sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeking nationwide restrictions on the use of the pesticide sulfoxaflor, which is known to be very toxic to bees and other pollinating organisms. The coalition argues that the pesticide’s use could ultimately harm the U.S. economy and its food security and asks the EPA to adopt reasonable restrictions on its use and to conduct further research into its environmental and health implications.
- A coalition of 17 state attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Estados Unidos Mexicanos v. Smith & Wesson Brands et al. In its brief, the coalition argues that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act does not exempt gun manufacturers and dealers from liability when they violate federal and state laws covering the marketing and sale of firearms.
- Alaska Attorney General Taylor announced a settlement with Bellissima Cosmetics, resolving allegations that the company solicited consumers to purchase cosmetics at the Alaska State Fair, but failed to honor consumers’ right to return the products within five days. This conduct violated state law that requires business representatives who solicit consumers to make a purchase over $10 who live outside of the seller’s place of business to give the purchaser written notice that they can revoke the purchase within five business days.
- Arkansas Attorney General Griffin announced a lawsuit against pool company H2O Pools and Supplies, LLC and its owner for violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act by, among other things, failing to provide purchased goods and perform services contracted for and harassing those who posted social media complaints. The lawsuit seeks an injunction, civil penalties, and restitution.
- Arkansas Attorney General Griffin filed three lawsuits against social media companies Meta, TikTok, and TikTok’s parent company ByteDance. The lawsuits accuse the companies of deceptive behavior in targeting children, by using addictive algorithms and misleading the public about the lack of availability of adult content to underage users.
- California Attorney General Bonta announced that Governor Newsom signed his cosponsored legislation, which would impose robust state-level oversight and accountability measures over the oil and gas industry. Specifically, the law, which goes into effect on June 26, creates an independent watchdog to detect price gouging by oil companies and allows the California Energy Commission to develop a penalty for accountability.
- Illinois Attorney General Raoul announced that the Illinois House of Representatives passed his proposed legislation, House Bill 1541, which would amend the Public Utilities Act to protect consumers from gas or electric utility service disconnection for nonpayment of bills when temperatures are 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, or when the National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat watch, heat advisory, or excessive heat warning. Attorney General Raoul also announced that the Illinois House of Representatives passed his proposed legislation, House Bill 2222, which would increase oversight of healthcare related transactions, specifically mergers and acquisitions that include health care facilities and large provider organizations, by ensuring their review at the state level.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Campbell announced a settlement with the owners and managers of single-occupancy apartment building Our Lady’s Guild House, resolving allegations that the defendants engaged in age and disability discrimination against long-term tenants. The settlement includes a $115,000 payment and deed restrictions.
- New Jersey Attorney General Platkin announced a lawsuit against the Dow Chemical Company, Ferro Corporation, and Vulcan Materials Company, along with other unnamed companies, for 1,4-dioxane contamination across the state, which damages natural resources. The lawsuit seeks damages and penalties, and alleges consumer fraud and environmental claims.
- New York Attorney General James announced a $200,000 settlement with law firm Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach LLP for failing to protect consumers’ personal and healthcare-related data in a 2021 data breach involving over 60,000 New Yorkers. In addition to the monetary penalties, the settlement requires the law firm to strengthen its cybersecurity practices.
- North Carolina Attorney General Stein applauded North Carolina General Assembly members for introducing the Unfair Real Estate Agreements Act, which would protect homeowners in the state from predatory, long-term real estate contracts.
- Pennsylvania Attorney General Henry announced a settlement with ticket reseller website www.boxofficeticketsales.com, which is run by Secure Ticket Purchase, LLC, for state consumer protection law violations including changing its policy to eliminate refunds for cancelled events and only offer “store credit” instead. The attorney general’s office also alleged that Secure failed to require individuals intending to resell tickets at a higher price to first obtain a license, in violation of state law. The settlement includes injunctive relief, consumer refunds, and restitution.
- South Carolina Attorney General Wilson announced that his office issued a cease and desist order against internet personality Michael T. Glaspie, also known as “Mike G.,” and several companies he owns for selling unregistered securities to consumers while omitting relevant facts. The cease and desist order gives Glaspie 30 days to request a hearing before it is final.