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 8 state attorneys general and the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit to block JetBlue’s purchase of Spirit Airlines, alleging that the deal would lower competition, increase costs, and potentially harm reliability for fliers. JetBlue proposed a $3.8 billion takeover of Spirit. Spirit is the largest and fastest-growing budget airline. The lawsuit alleges that if JetBlue buys Spirit, it will create a larger airline that has less incentive to offer cheap flights.
- A coalition of 22 state attorneys general announced support of a Biden Administration proposed policy to abandon the current approach used to determine the eligibility of members of the LGBTQ population’s ability to donate blood. The current policy recommends barring gay and bisexual men from donating blood within three months of their most recent sexual contact, regardless of risky behavior and context. In January, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed guidance that would instead use a risk-based analysis for all donors, regardless of gender and sexual orientation. This policy update will increase the available blood supply and reduce stigmatization.
- A bipartisan coalition of 45 state attorneys general and the federal government negotiated a payment of more than $12.6 million in damages nationwide in a multistate action against Advanced Bionics Corporation, a manufacturer and distributor of cochlear implants. Advanced Bionics Corporation allegedly violated the federal and various state False Claims Acts by submitting false or fraudulent claims for reimbursement to federal health programs, including Medicaid. The action resolves allegations that Advanced Bionics Corporation knowingly submitted false or fraudulent claims for reimbursement for cochlear device systems during a nine-year period, specifically the allegation that the company misled the Food and Drug Administration to receive approval of the Neptune and Nadia sound processors.
- Arizona Attorney General Brnovich filed a civil lawsuit against Pearl Bridal and its owners for allegedly using false advertising and deceptive practices to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in prepayments for wedding dresses before abruptly shutting down the business. Pearl Bridal had almost $300,000 in unfulfilled customer orders. The complaint alleges Pearl Bridal lured consumers into their Phoenix storefront and required upfront payments, promising a dress in six to nine months.
- Hawaii Deputy Attorney General Kimura received the 2023 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Attorneys General Antitrust Task Force. The highly prestigious award is given for exemplary service to the Antitrust Task Force, which is made up of antitrust attorneys from across the country responsible for coordinating multistate antitrust litigation efforts. For almost thirty years, Kimura has been the primary, and at times sole, antitrust enforcer for the state of Hawaii.
- Missouri Attorney General Bailey announced twelve felony counts of deceptive business practices against an individual for criminally defrauding five Franklin County consumers in connection with his businesses, Concrete Impressions and All Pro Concrete. The individual promised concrete services and other exterior remodeling work in exchange for large sum down payments, but minimal amounts of work were completed. The losses totaled over $50,000 for consumers.
- New York Attorney General James announced an agreement to end anti-worker practices by Fidelity National Financial, Inc., the nation’s largest title insurance company. An investigation by the Office of the Attorney General found that Fidelity and its competitors entered into illegal no-poach agreements where they would not solicit each other’s employees. The agreement requires Fidelity to terminate any existing no-poach agreements, pay New York $3.5 million, and cooperate with the Office of the Attorney General in ongoing investigations in the title insurance industry.
- Ohio Attorney General Yost sued a Wapakoneta construction company for accepting approximately $200,000 in payments from consumers who complained that the work was either never started or not finished properly. The lawsuit contends that Grizzly Buildings violated Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act, Home Solicitation Sales Act and Home Construction Service Suppliers Act. The lawsuit requests that Grizzly Buildings be ordered to reimburse consumers and pay civil penalties.
- Pennsylvania Attorney General Henry filed a petition seeking sanctions against Aptive Environmental, LLC, a Utah-based pest control company. The sanctions include an action to prevent Aptive from conducting business in the state of Pennsylvania. The petition alleged that Aptive violated the terms of a 2019 settlement agreement ordering Aptive to comply with Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Law. The Petition alleges that Aptive went door-to-door soliciting work without permits and did not abide by customers’ request to cancel services.
- West Virginia Attorney General Morrisey filed a lawsuit against two California attorneys, who were not licensed to practice in West Virginia, for allegedly deceiving West Virginia consumers regarding debt relief services. The attorneys allegedly failed to settle customer accounts, refusing to return tens of thousands of dollars to clients.