Crowell attorneys attended the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) 2024 Consumer Protection Spring Conference in San Francisco, California on May 15. As usual, the conference included receptions and other networking events allowing the Crowell attorneys in attendance to engage with multiple attorneys general and a host of their respective staff members. The Consumer Protection Spring Conference included a panel session where esteemed panelists spoke on ways to improve the multistate investigation process.  Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, moderated the panel of two speakers: Kwame Raoul, Illinois Attorney General and Co-Chair, National Association of Attorneys General Consumer Protection Committee, and Edward Manibusan, Northern Mariana Islands Attorney General. Below are some of the major takeaways from the discussion.

  • Attorneys General in Multistate Investigations Stand to Benefit from Increasing Collaborative Efforts. The panelists expressed concern that multistate executive committees sometimes decide on settlement distribution plans that lead to unfair results for other states in the multistate group.  The power in a multistate investigation lies in the state attorneys general collaborating to ensure fair results for most instead of favorable results for a select few.  The panelists encouraged states to look to allow fair monetary relief to all states as well as broad injunctive relief.  They also noted that this can be challenging to execute in cases where states are working with or alongside private trial lawyers who are focused on monetary gains rather than injunctive relief. But this is a great opportunity for state attorneys general to mindfully tip the scale.
  • Multistate Investigations Could Move More Quickly, but Complex Matters Require Time.  The panelists agreed that, in general, multistate investigations could move faster. But this perspective was balanced against the understanding that these investigations, by nature, are incredibly complex and require multiple layers of review and oversight. Overly speeding up investigations could ultimately be a disservice to both sides. Reaching settlements early in an investigation can expedite the process, but so to can efforts by companies to be forthcoming and provide information that will allow the multistate group to resolve certain issues more quickly.
  • Proactive and Frequent Communication is Key.
    • Improving Internal Communications Within OAGs. The panelists emphasized the importance of attorneys general communicating with the staff leading investigations.  Often, parties to an investigation will attempt to communicate directly with the attorney general and it is crucial that the attorney general be aware of what staff has been doing and the state of the major issues in the investigation.  Such improved communication can also lead to improved ideas and perspectives. For instance, Illinois Attorney General Raoul’s staff attorneys have helped him think more broadly about how allocations of settlement funds should be distributed, leading to more creative and consumer-focused solutions.
    • States Should Improve Communications with Investigation Targets. Multistate executive committees need to do a better job ensuring consistent communications with the targets of investigations so that target companies know what they are looking for and why.  They should also encourage more back and forth communication with target companies to ensure productions and other parts of the investigation proceed efficiently. 
    • Companies Should Consider Improving Communications as well. Companies undergoing investigation can speed the investigation process by improving their communications with the multistate group. Proactively communicating disputes and changes in circumstances that may affect the investigation will allow for a more organized and focused investigation.