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 18 state attorneys general, filed an amicus brief in support of the District of Columbia in District of Columbia v. Exxon Mobil. In this case, D.C. alleges Chevron and others engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices in violation of D.C.’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act, and misled the public about their harmful contributions to the climate crisis. The amicus brief explains that states are responsible for protecting their citizens from consumer deception and that D.C.’s claims are about deceptive marketing and therefore do not arise under federal common law nor raise any substantial federal issue.
- A coalition of 20 state attorneys general sent letters warning more than 50 of the Nation’s largest asset managers with $40 billion or more in assets about making Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investments. The attorneys general cite concerns that asset managers may be pushing the political goals of Climate Action 100+ and the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative rather than acting in the best fiduciary interests of their clients, which is their legal obligation.
- Attorney General Rob Bonta, and Assembly member Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego), announced new legislation, Assembly Bill 1366 (AB 1366) to protect victims of predatory businesses that have violated California consumer protection laws. The legislation would establish a new Victims of Consumer Fraud Restitution Fund in the state Treasury that would be funded by the penalties paid by businesses that violate the law, and would be used to help make victims whole. Specifically, AB 1366 would allow the Attorney General to seek the remedy of disgorgement in actions brought under the Unfair Competition Law and False Advertising Law. These funds would be held in the new Restitution Fund as a future source of funding to help provide restitution to victims who cannot otherwise be made whole by the defendant who defrauded them.
- Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell announced a settlement with the owners of three C-Mart, supermarket stores, which specialize in the sale of Asian cuisine. The settlement resolves allegations that the defendants violated state labor laws, including failure to pay overtime and premium pay to its workers. The defendants were issued a number of citations, the result of an investigation by the AG’s Fair Labor Division which concluded that C-Mart stores failed to furnish true and accurate payroll records, failed to post required workplace notices, including earned sick time posters, and did not properly pay workers for overtime hours or for hours worked on Sundays. According to the settlement, C-Mart is required to pay $800,000 in restitution and civil penalties.
- Attorney General Dave Yost announced a lawsuit against 614 Custom Homes, Inc., a home remodeling company, and its owner. According to the complaint, the defendants failed to deliver services after taking consumers’ deposits or, in other instances, performed shoddy and incomplete work before abandoning the projects. The complaint seeks, injunctive relief, restitution, and civil penalties.
- Attorney General Dave Yost announced a lawsuit against Ohio Clean Water Fund and its owner for allegedly falsely claiming to collect donations to benefit residents of East Palestine following the Norfolk Southern train derailment. According to the complaint, the defendants have pocketed at least $131,000 of the roughly $141,000 raised from more than 3,000 donors. Attorney General Yost is seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, restitution, and civil penalties.
- Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a settlement for $35 million with 19 different chicken producers, resolving allegations that the defendants price-fixed chicken products.
- Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a lawsuit against Puppyland, a breeder, and its owners for allegedly failing to honor advertised health guarantees and channeling customers into predatory loans with illegal terms restricting truthful reviews. According to the complaint Puppyland misrepresented the breeding standards of puppies it sold and the health guarantees they offered, while unfairly maneuvering buyers into signing predatory loans with interest rates approaching 200% without adequate time to understand the terms. The complaint alleges violations of the state’s deceptive and unfair advertising and sales practices laws.
- Attorney General Brian L. Schwalb announced a settlement with Pro-Football Inc., the corporation that owns the Washington Commanders, resolving allegations that the team failed to return ticket holders’ deposits and intentionally created hurdles for fans seeking to collect refunds. According to the settlement, the company will return over $200,000 to affected customers and $425,000 to the District.
- Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced a settlement with Juul, the e-cigarette company, resolving allegations that the company engaged in unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the manufacturing, sale, and marketing of the product, especially in its marketing targeting underage users. Juul is required to pay a total of $7.9 million.