AGs in The News
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Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. said Thursday it received a subpoena this week from the Ohio attorney general in connection with its advertising and marketing practices. At issue is whether a suit can be said to be on sale if it rarely sells at full price.
Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed an appeal yesterday against the recent ruling that took away $60 million the state was supposed to get from a landmark tobacco settlement in the 1990s. The money from large tobacco companies was to be used for health programs across the state, and the ruling will cost the state nearly half of the $131 million it was supposed to receive next year.
A government report said three of the nation’s biggest banks have again violated the terms of the $25 billion national mortgage settlement. The report, filed in federal court, raised many of the same concerns that settlement monitor Joseph A. Smith Jr. made in his June report. Of the 29 metrics that the monitor used to measure compliance with the 304 servicing standards outlined in the settlement, Bank of America failed three, and JPMorgan and Citigroup failed two.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman reached a $3.75 million settlement with Markel Insurance Company for allegedly overcharging on college student health plans. Markel Insurance Company allegedly charged close to $3 million in overcharges to approximately 22,000 students by failing to meet legal requirements for minimum loss ratios on health insurance, college accident insurance and sports accident insurance plans. Markel also allegedly paid improper broker bonuses, creating an incentive for brokers to keep loss ratios under the legal minimum.
Kentucky’s attorney general has taken action against another website for being “deceptively similar” to the state’s official health insurance exchange, kynect.ky.gov. The latest copycat website – kynect101.com – is the third website the attorney general’s Office of Consumer Protection has ordered removed, corrected or blocked.
ExxonMobil Oil Corporation will reimburse the State of New York $8.05 million for costs incurred by the state in investigating and remediating oil accumulations on Lighthouse Point, on the Oswegatchie and St. Lawrence rivers.
In 2001, petroleum contamination was discovered at the spill site when an investigators encountered contaminated soil on a parcel adjacent to the main terminal. Following the report of the spill, further investigation revealed widespread petroleum contamination in and around the former ExxonMobil main terminal facility and near underground pipelines connecting the terminal to the Oswegatchie River.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced that two banking companies have agreed to pay $1.95 million each to settle a suit alleging the unlawful sale of credit card payment protection plans.
Officials of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, the New York State Labor Department and the New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s Office signed memoranda of understanding to protect the rights of employees by preventing their misclassification as independent contractors or other nonemployee statuses. In the last two years, the Wage Hour Division has secured over $18.2 million in back wages for more than 19,000 workers where the primary reason for minimum wage or overtime violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act was that workers were not treated or classified as employees.
A number of states that use their own systems, including California, are on track to hit enrollment targets for 2014 because of a sharp increase in November, according to state officials. Several other states including Connecticut and Kentucky, are outpacing their enrollment estimates, even as states that depend on the federal website lag far behind. In Minnesota, enrollment in the second half of October ran at triple the rate of the first half, officials said. Washington state is also on track to easily exceed its October enrollment figure, officials said.
Attorney General Mike DeWine is creating a special unit within his office to focus on heroin use and abuse, with hopes of cracking down on peddlers and preventing Ohioans from becoming addicts. The "data our office has gathered suggests 11 people die in Ohio every week because of heroin overdose," DeWine said.
Minnesota's Attorney General, Lori Swanson is suing a Florida debt-buying firm for allegedly creating thousands of fake legal documents bearing the forged logos of banks including Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) and U.S. Bancorp (USB) to pursue consumers for past-due overdraft fees. A group of 13 state attorneys general are investigating debt-collection practices in the industry. That group is being led by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane is seeking the removal and reorganization of Conneaut Lake Park's board of trustees, citing the failure of on the part board to insure two historic park buildings lost in fires and fell $900,000 behind paying property taxes.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed suit against Adoption Network Law Center a California-based, for-profit adoption provider that matches prospective parents with birth mothers. Under Illinois law such ventures are illegal.
The Nebraska Attorney General is warning Nebraskans about a collection scam in which callers claim to represent state law firms collecting outstanding debts.
NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that four charities that raised money for Superstorm Sandy relief efforts have agreed to either accelerate spending or kick in more cash as a result of negotiations with New York state.
New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced $20 million in grants to fund housing counseling and legal services for homeowners across the state. Throughout New York State, 34 legal services organizations and 54 housing counseling agencies will receive funds to provide free foreclosure prevention services.
State AG Eric Schneiderman is raising antitrust concerns over a bill that would let Nassau Health Care Corp. join with North Shore-LIJ Health System to run certain facilities. Schneiderman is concerned that the partnership could violate laws meant to protect patients and prevent one entity from accumulating too much market power.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced the resolution of a civil Medicaid fraud investigation that netted $10 million for the State of Texas. The Office of the Attorney General determined that Fougera Pharmaceuticals Inc. fraudulently reported inflated drug prices to the Medicaid program. Under the settlement agreement, Fougera will pay the State of Texas and the federal government a total of $22.75 million. Because the Medicaid program is jointly funded by the State and U.S. taxpayers, the federal government is entitled to a percentage of the settlement proceeds.
According to a report issued by the court- appointed monitor of the national mortgage settlement, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup were more than halfway done with their requirements to offer borrowers aid in the form of loan forgiveness, short sales, forbearance or refinancing.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been asked to compel the Claims Conference to compensate perhaps thousands of families for the property they lost to the Nazis.
A growing number of health care professionals are urging patients to pay for treatment not covered by their insurance plans with credit cards and lines of credit that can be arranged quickly in the provider’s office. The cards and loans, which were first marketed about a decade ago for cosmetic surgery and other elective procedures, are now proliferating among older Americans, who often face large out-of-pocket expenses for basic care that is not covered by Medicare or private insurance. Many of these cards initially charge no interest for a promotional period, typically six to 18 months, an attractive feature for people worried about whether they can afford care. But if the debt is not paid in full when that time is up, costly rates — usually 25 to 30 percent — kick in. Attorneys general in a several states have filed lawsuits claiming that these health care professionals have misled patients about the financial terms of the cards, employed high-pressure sales tactics, overcharged for treatments and billed for unauthorized work.
New York Attorney General announced a new effort to ensure all U.S. military veterans receive state property tax exemptions to which they are legally entitled under New York law. Schneiderman said the section of New York law creating this valuable exemption is written in a confusing way that suggests the exemption does not apply to veterans who have served in the armed forces during recent conflicts. He issued a letter to county property tax officials across the state clarifying that veterans of the armed forces who served during the past 23 years do, indeed, qualify, and instructing them to ensure local officials are applying the exemption uniformly.
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King and billionaire media mogul Ted Turner went to court Thursday to overturn new state regulations on groundwater pollution by copper mines. Critics say the rules provide mining companies too much leeway to pollute groundwater and violate state law prohibiting water contamination above certain standards. "Ninety percent of New Mexicans rely on groundwater for drinking water and this new rule, if allowed to be implemented, could render our water undrinkable for hundreds of years," said AG King.
47 states and the District of Columbia reached a $30 million settlement with Connecticut-based Affinion, and its subsidiaries Trilegiant and Webloyalty over allegations that they misled consumers and trapped them into paying for services they didn't want and, in some cases, didn't know they had ordered.
Attorneys general from seven states including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Rhode Island, Oregon and Maryland are suing the federal government to begin regulating outdoor wood-burning boilers and to toughen regulations on residential wood-burning devices. The same suit was also filed jointly by the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Clean Air Council, and Environment and Human Health Inc.
“The EPA’s regulations simply haven’t kept pace with the proliferation of wood-burning devices or the availability of cleaner-burning units. Smoke from residential wood-burning heaters poses a serious health threat,” said Schneiderman. “This lawsuit aims to force the EPA to comply with the Clean Air Act and provide overdue leadership in requiring new wood heaters to meet stricter pollution standards — an action that will save consumers money, improve local air quality and safeguard public health.”
At issue are the provisions of Internet payday loans that have been known to carry interest rates as high as 342 percent, and whether or not the company can legally claim tribal immunity based on its ownership and management. In a statement, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel noted, “Though we have successfully eliminated storefront payday lending in Arkansas, some online lenders continue to offer the kinds of loans that often push consumers further into debt.” McDaniel further noted that some consumers in his state have been offered Internet payday loans ranging from $850 to $10,000, with annual rates of interest ranging between 89 and 342 percent.
The former head of a prominent South Bronx charity was arrested Wednesday morning for pilfering hundreds of thousands of dollars from the organization. This is the second charity head to be charged by Schneiderman's office in recent weeks. William Rapfogel, the now-former CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty and a close friend of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, was charged in a $5 million, two-decade kickback scheme.
Rhode Island's attorney general is warning residents of a scam in which callers claiming to be from the sheriff's office demand payment for skipping out on jury duty. The scammers accuse them of failing to show up for jury duty and are told they face immediate arrest unless they make a credit card payment.
New York Attorney General issued a subpoena for information about whether people who put units on the Airbnb website are complying with state rental laws. In many cases, renting out space in apartments for short amounts of time violates state hotel laws.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman charged an Astoria contractor for failing to pay the prevailing wage to employees working on various construction projects at city schools. “Paying workers less than the law requires and then lying about it on official government paperwork are criminal acts, plain and simple,” Schneiderman said. “My office will take aggressive action against intransigent employers who disregard the law — and we will put criminals behind bars.”
Attorney General Warns Of Collection Scams (October 7, 2013)
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is warning residents about telephone scams that ask people to send money to either pay a supposed debt or, as a fee, to receive prizes or merchandise. “These scams use fear and intimidation to trick people into thinking they owe money and to send payments quickly or they may lose an essential or highly-valued service,” said Strange. “I urge Alabamians to be suspicious of any such calls and to not be frightened into sending money they may not owe and which may be impossible to recover
The brothers were charged with trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, conspiracy to traffic persons for sexual servitude, deriving support from prostitution, and failing to register as a sex offender.
A Mendham, NJ -based company accused of running a work at home scam has agreed to a $130,000 settlement with NJ’s Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. The state found that, of approximately 13,000 customers, only 45 – less than 1 percent – ever made more than $100 from the envelope stuffing program. Approximately 11,000 made no money at all. The most any consumer ever made from work-from-home scheme was $520 over a 10-month period.
Maryland’s Attorney General announced new a cyberbullying initiative in partnership with Facebook. The initiative will give educators a direct connection to address issues of online bullying in their school systems. The project is designed to streamline reporting of cyberbullying that may not be resolved through Facebook’s normal reporting process.
Morrisey Opens Hotline for Health Insurance Enrollment Problems (October 2, 2013)
West Virginia’s Attorney General announced that his office has established an identify theft and fraud tip line for consumers to call if they run into problems when enrolling for health insurance.
“This tip line is not designed to take a pro or con view of the law, but rather help citizens if they encounter issues in enrolling, including people using high-pressure sales tactics or spreading false messages, such as the IRS sending bills,” Morrisey said. “Our office stands ready to protect consumers, regardless of my personal opinions of the law.”
Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, is suing the state of Georgia over its consumption of freshwater in a river system that serves Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. The dispute between Florida and Georgia centers around how much water each can take from the Appalachacola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin. Florida argues that Georgia is drawing growing amounts of water from the system resulting in a reduction in freshwater reaching Apalachicola Bay which they say, has caused its salinity to spike, spawning diseases and predators that kill off oysters.
New York’s Attorney General sues Wells Fargo over violations of the terms of the mortgage settlement agreement. The suit accuses Wells Fargo of violating the guidelines of a broad agreement reached last year between five of the nation’s largest banks and 49 state attorneys general.
Five Erie County companies that have been collecting debt on short-term “payday” loans will pay more than $300,000 in restitution and penalties and will cease making further collections in New York State, under a settlement with New York State Attorney General ,Eric Schneiderman.
Maine's Attorney General, Janet T. Mills warns job seekers about a scam that aims to steal money via pre-paid debit cards. The scammer uses false job postings on the Maine Job Bank, advertising for workers. When job seekers accept the referral from the job bank, the scammer contacts the worker, tells them they are hired and then tells them to purchase the debit card. The job seeker is told that the money on the card is to cover the expense of a uniform and training, which is a violation of both state and federal employment law. Once the worker has the card and contacts the scammer, the scammer asks the job seeker to read the card number over the phone, the job seekers then find that the debit card account has been wiped out and he or she has no job.
National Grid has agreed to pay nearly $7 million to settle investigations into employee complaints that the utility company failed to pay its New York and Massachusetts workers properly as required by law in the months after Hurricane Sandy, state attorneys general announced Thursday.
Pennsylvania AG Sues Telemarketing Firm, Firefighter Unions firm for allegedly lying to solicit charitable donations and failing to register with the state as charitable organizations.
Attorney General Mike Dewine filed suit against a Youngstown Ohio company that allegedly was using deceptive tactics to solicit donations for police and firemen. The Attorney General’s Office is seeking to shut down the enterprise and redistribute its assets to legitimate charities. “The telemarketers used misleading tactics to solicit donations from Ohio families under the pretense of supporting police and firefighters,” said Attorney General Mike DeWine.
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway announced that $750,000 from a lawsuit settled with a loan processing company will be provided to help displaced families, prevent foreclosures and create affordable housing.
Forty state attorneys general are urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate electronic cigarettes in the same way it regulates tobacco products.
Former Charity Head Arrested(September 24, 2013)
William Rapfogel, former head of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty was arrested for alleged financial impropriety based on an investigation by the NY State Attorney General and comptroller.
IN Attorney General Kicks Off Statewide Anti-Smurfing Campaign (September 23, 2013)
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller toughens laws on "smurfing." Zoeller says, "We want to give fair notice, so if people don't know that the new statute makes this process called smurfing a felony, they're now on notice."
Mass. AG Martha Coakley joins a list of state attorney generals and regulatory agencies investigating JPMorgan Chase for debt collection practices.
NY Attorney General Schneiderman orders contractor hired to clean up hospitals damaged by Superstorm Sandy to pay half a million dollars in back wages. The contractor failed to pay its workers the prevailing wage of $17 per hour, but instead paid $10 to $12 per hour.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller leads group of 13 states examining JPMorgan's debt-collection practices and industry-wide issues.
Facility fees are charges patients can receive if they have in-office procedures performed at medical offices owned by a hospital or that use hospital-owned equipment. The fees are in addition to the bill for the doctor’s services, and in some cases, have cost unsuspecting patients thousands of dollars. Attorney General George Jepsen announced that he plans to seek legislation requiring medical offices to clearly disclose if they’ll charge patients a facility fee.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is seeking the tightening of regulation and oversight of pharmacies. The bill would require pharmacies to have a “pharmacist-in-charge,” who is responsible for ensuring full compliance with state laws and regulations; maintain records for all sterile compounded drug products and the name of the person who prepared the compound, submit to criminal background checks for pharmacy owners, and submit to regular inspections by state authorities at least once every two years. This come a year after Michigan was hit hard by a fungal meningitis outbreak caused by a contaminated steroid used to ease back pain.
In August 2012 Attorney General Harris sued the charity’s leadership of Help Hospitalized Veterans , seeking the return of more than $4.3 million that was allegedly misused. Harris alleged that Chapin, the charity’s former president, received more than $2.3 million in excessive compensation over the last seven years of his tenure. The leadership will pay back to the charity $2.5 million in restitution and $1 million in legal fees under a settlement reached with the California Attorney General’s office.
Arizona Attorney General's Office has filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against a Phoenix-based mortgage company. The company is accused of misleading Spanish-speaking consumers into believing that the MAHA program would allow them to obtain principal and interest reductions on their home mortgages.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Nov. 6 on Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's price-fixing lawsuit against liquid crystal display screen manufacturers. Hood sued several major suppliers of LCD screens alleging that consumers paid extra because of price fixing in violation of the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act.
Attorneys general in 13 states sent a letter to Sebelius last month questioning whether there will be enough protection of consumer data in the program. On Oct. 1, millions of people without access to job-based health care will be able to enroll online through new state insurance markets for coverage effective at the start of next year. Adding millions more people to the health care system could create new opportunities for identity thieves and scam artists.
Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi sues 24 Boca Raton-based companies for failure to alert Floridians that they would be automatically billed for monthly memberships of books, games, posters, music they ordered via the internet.
AG Schneiderman will investigate a secret 1986 deal to sell the exclusive rights to the World Trade Center name for $10 to a non-profit; which has since made tens of millions off the brand.
S.F. Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Attorney General Kamala Harris launched the JusticeMobile mobile application. JusticeMobile gives law enforcement agents secure and immediate access to state and federal criminal justice information.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson warns consumers about a troubling practice by some individuals who solicit donations near retail stores on behalf of charities.
Jackley says people should beware of scams by out-of-state vendors who charge a lot of money but do poor work when repairing hail damage or doing paving jobs.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has warned citizens of potential healthcare schemes. There is concern over fraud aimed at capitalizing on possible confusion by those seeking to purchase health insurance under health reform beginning October 1. Cooper urges potential purchasers not to give out their social security numbers or bank account numbers.
Nebraska Joins Vermont and Minnesota in going after “patent trolling” companies.
FDA Decision Agrees with Attorney General Morrisey and 42 Other States to Add Better Warnings on Opid Prescriptions (September 12, 2013)
This past May Attorneys General from 43 states sent a letter to the FDA asking that it place “black box” warnings on opioid-based pain killers to alert pregnant women that using the medicine during pregnancy could cause significant problems in newborns. The FDA agreed and On September 10th issued its ruling that the new warning labels explain that chronic maternal use of extended-release opioid-based analgesics during pregnancy may “result in neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS), which may be life-threatening.
The proposed new rule would let copper mine operations contaminate groundwater without variances, as long as the contamination was contained and fully removed up to state standards before the mine closed. King said, “I am very disappointed by this decision of the Governor’s commission. It threatens the precious supplies of water we drink in New Mexico. Groundwater contamination is a serious public health challenge, and it puts our children and grandchildren’s well-being at risk.”
Attorney General Madigan Files Suit Over Illegal Eviction Practices (September 10, 2013)
The lawsuit charges Safeguard Properties LLC with breaking into legally occupied homes, changing locks and shutting off utilities well before a foreclosure is finalized.
Massachusetts recovers millions in revenue by reducing employer fraud and worker misclassification. (September 5, 2013)
Massachusetts has recovered more than $21 million over an 18-month period in owed revenue recaptured through the collaborative work of the state’s Joint Enforcement Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification. “The money recovered this year demonstrates both the scope of the problem and our aggressive response to combat fraud and abuse. As the state’s sole wage enforcement authority, our office will continue to take action to protect workers, stop unlawful business practices and level the playing field for all companies,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley.
View the press release:
View the report: http://www.mass.gov/lwd/eolwd/jtf/annual-report-2012.pdf
The Attorenys General of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin have signed a brief authored by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange in support of the National Rifle Associations appeal to the Supreme Court in N.R.A. v. A.T.F. , No. 2011-10959 (5th Cir. 2012), petition for cert. filed, (Jul. 29, 2013). The N.R.A. is appealing from a ruling that upheld the federal restriction of the sale of hand guns to 18-21 year olds.
Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard S. Manning granted North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper’s request for an order temporarily barring Thomas Healthcare Institute, Inc. from advertising or offering products and services. The Institute’s license was revoked by the North Carolina Board of Community Colleges for failing to meet standards. According to Cooper Thomas Healthcare Institute continued to advertise and offer vocational and exam preparation courses.
Donald Trump, and Michael Sexton, President of Trump U, are being sued by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for misleading more than 5,000 customers into purchasing expensive courses to learn Trump's investing secrets and techniques. Schneiderman criticizes Trump for using his celebrity status to preying on people who could not afford these programs and failing to deliver on what was promised. Education advocates support Schneiderman and hope this case will bring to light the recruiting tactics of for-profit schools that provide certificates with little value and no real job prospects.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a civil lawsuit against Walgreen Co. for false, misleading, and deceptive advertising. He says the suit comes after a two month investigation by his office which he says revealed "a pattern of advertising lower prices on display tags, but charging higher prices at checkout." "Consumers have a right to expect the price they will pay at the register is the same as the price displayed on the shelf," said Koster.
The Vermont Attorney General's Office is warning consumers not to respond to calls or texts about a debit card problem. Officials say this is a scam to try to obtain confidential personal information.
AG Zoeller introduced a new campaign in an attempt to get ahead of the growing prescription drug epidemic in his state.
Attorney General Pam Bondi sues company that preyed on distressed homeowners by defrauding them out of thousands of dollars in a mortgage relief scam.
Investigation found that the school had wildly exaggerated its job placement rates to lure in new students.
The attorneys general of 15 states are fighting for a return to state courts for lawsuits alleging that Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC issued inflated ratings for mortgage-backed securities leading up to the recession.
“Sharing our database of spam callers with private businesses allows us to help Indiana consumers who pay for additional call-blocking services and are tired of receiving annoying sales calls,” Zoeller said. “These new partnerships add another layer to the ongoing efforts of my office to cut down on the number of unwanted calls Hoosiers receive.”
Attorneys General from Texas, Arizona, Florida, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia join with the DOJ in blocking the merger of American Airlines and US Airways.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette charges physician assistant with over-prescribing drugs and fraudulently billing Medicaid.
Legislation in the U.S. Senate could preempt Vermont's efforts to place tougher regulations on toxic products, such as the fire retardant ban passed last session. Delegation silent on the issue.
The Colorado attorney general's office is investigating whether law firms specializing in foreclosures are inflating fees that homeowners must repay to avoid losing their houses.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel yesterday rejected the language of a proposed state ballot that would legalize the medical use of marijuana, calling its wording “confusing and ambiguous.”
The attorneys general in 12 states have filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency after claiming that consent decrees have led to new regulations for states without state attorneys’ general involvement.
New Mexico’s Attorney General will not defend gay marriage ban, stating such a ban is unconstitutional
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office has released a report outlining the Hurricane Sandy donations collected by 89 charities as well as the percentage of collected funds that each charity has distributed. The report criticizes a number of charities, including the American Red Cross, for insufficient distributions, the over-all percentage of which is 57%.
Program Director, Tierney comments on State Attorneys General who refuse to defend laws they deem unconstitutional.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller will take a trip down the Wabash river to raise awareness about the “invasive” Asian carp, which have become a serious environmental issue throughout the country.
40 Attorneys General Ask FTC to Stop Phone Cramming (July 13, 2013)
Florida AG Pam Bondi and 39 other state and territorial attorneys general have asked the Federal Trade Commission to take action to ban the placing of unauthorized charges on phone bills, otherwise known as “cramming.”
Arkansas’ AG Rejects Wording of Proposed Gay Marriage Ban Repeal (July 12, 2013)
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has rejected a measure to repeal the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage because the language could be “misleading” to voters.
Minn. attorney general sues California-based Internet lender over 'elaborate ruse' on rates (July 12)
The company uses an "elaborate ruse" to get borrowers on board before imposing illegally high rates on loans.
Colorado AG Investigates Inflated Foreclosure Fees (July 11, 2013)
The Colorado attorney general’s office has opened an investigation into whether homeowners have been forced to pay inflated fees to avoid losing their homes.
Move for Gay Marriage Gets a Lift in Pennsylvania (July 11, 2013)
Pennsylvania AG says she will not defend her states gay marriage ban.
AG Schneiderman Investigates Financial Data Providers (July 8, 2013)
Many of the top financial data providers are being investigating for providing certain investors early access to market data for a fee.
Vermont AG Challenges Patent Trolling Activities (July 7, 2013)
Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell has brought a lawsuit against MPJH Technology Investments LLC, alleging that the company is a “patent troll” infringing on the Consumer Protection Act.
Iowa AG Celebrates Consumer Protection Ruling (July 6, 2013)
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has called the recent consumer fraud ruling against a Delaware marketing company “a key victory.”
Arkansas AG Wants Death Row Lawsuit Dismissed (July 4, 2013)
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office has filed paperwork asking a judge to dismiss nine death row inmates’ lawsuit against the state’s new execution law.
State AG Koster Argues for Faster Capital Punishment System (July 3, 2013)
After becoming frustrated by Missouri’s slow process for completing state executions, Attorney General Chris Koster has floated the idea of switching from lethal injection and returning to death by gas chamber. Arguing that the drugs used in lethal injection are in short supply and constantly expiring, he is irritated that the Missouri Supreme Court refuses to set execution dates until all of the lethal injection issues are resolved.
Payroll Cards Are Under Scrutiny by New York’s Attorney General (July 2)
Montana AG Fox, Others: Internet Sales Tax Unconstitutional (July 1, 2013)
The attorneys general of Montana, Oregon and Alaska are opposing an Internet sales tax bill, the Marketplace Fairness Act, contending that it is unconstitutional. The bill would require businesses to collect sales taxes from out-of-state customers on behalf of almost as many as 10,000 other tax jurisdictions.
Mississippi AG Asks for Open-Carry Gun Law to Take Effect (July 1, 2013)
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has asked his state’s Supreme Court to overrule a judge’s order that is blocking the state’s new open-carry gun law from taking effect. Under the new law, House Bill 2, any state resident who is not a convicted felon would be able to carry a weapon openly without a permit.
19 AGs Examine American Airlines, US Airways Merger (July 1, 2013)
A group of state attorneys general are concerted about the ramifications that the AMR-US Airways merger could have on consumers. While the merger is expected to close in September of this year, it still needs government regulatory approval to go through.
New York AG Charges Four with Charity Fraud (June 27, 2013)
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has charged four Brooklyn residents with intentionally creating fraudulent charities with names similar to legitimate Israeli charities in order to solicit funds that they then used for personal expenses.
2 Attorneys General Emphasize DOMA Ruling’s Limitations (June 27, 2013)
Both the state attorneys generals of South Dakota and Idaho have released statements reminding that the Supreme Court’s recent ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act only applies in states that have already legalized same sex marriage.
NC Attorney General Opposes U.S. Supreme Court Voting Rights Act Ruling (June 27, 2013)
The North Carolina Department of Justice has released a statement regarding Attorney General Roy Cooper’s opposition of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.
Missouri AG Joins Call to Stop Mobile “Cramming” (June 27, 2013)
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has joined 39 other state attorneys general asking the United States Federal Trade Commission to find a solution to the placement of unauthorized third-party charges, or “cramming,” on mobile phone bills.
U.S. Supreme Court Grants Illinois AG Extension to Appeal Concealed Carry Law (June 25, 2013)
The US Supreme Court has given Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan until July 22nd to decide if she will ask for an appeal of the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling that the state must implement a system for concealed carry. This deadline is separate from Governor Pat Quinn’s deadline to act by July 9th on the issue.
Maine Attorney General Calls Governor’s Budget Plan Unconstitutional (June 25, 2013)
Although Governor LePage has announced his plan to pass a temporary, sixty-day budget to give him time to work out a deal with Democratic state lawmakers, Attorney General Janet Mills has called it unconstitutional.
MD AG Asks to Freeze Health Insurance Rates (June 25, 2013)
Attorney General Doug Gansler has asked the state insurance regulators in his state to freeze any health insurance rate increases above 5 percent.
AG: Mississippi Governor Lacks Legal Authority to Run State Medicaid (June 25, 2013)
In a recent nonbinding legal opinion Mississippi Attorney General expressed that Governor Phil Bryant does not have the authority to operate the state’s Medicaid division by executive order.
Oregon AG Endorses Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill (June 25, 2013)
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has sent a letter to state lawmakers encouraging them to pass HB 3460 which would create a registry of state-licensed medical marijuana retailers. While the state is already home to an estimated 53,000 patients who can obtain medical marijuana, the established outlets are not regulated by the state.
Attorneys General Target Internet ‘Safe Harbor’ Law (June 25, 2013)
Led by the AGs of South Dakota, Washington and Missouri, a group of state attorneys general is circulating a letter to the U.S. Congress calling for an amendment to the federal law that protects Internet service providers from responsibility for third-party content.
New York AG Announces Sweeping Non-Profit Reforms (June 24, 2013)
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has announced passage of the Nonprofit Revitalization Act, which institute a number of wide-reaching reforms in the New York non-profit sector. The act, which was widely supported by non-profits, will generally reduce the red-tape that has made non-profit administration difficult while simultaneously strengthening oversight over non-profit activities.
WV Attorney General Assess State Abortion Regulations (June 19, 2013)
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has announced the beginning of his office’s efforts to assess abortion regulations in the State. Morrisey said, “Regardless of one’s position on abortion, the State needs to evaluate” this issue.”
Ohio AG Successfully Prosecutes Man for Running Fraudulent Charity (June 17, 2013)
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced a two and a half year prison sentence for a man convicted for falsely telling donors that charitable funds were being used to support veterans.
New York AG Secures $4.6 Million From Fraudulent Cancer Charity (June 12, 2013)
NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has obtained an order from a NY Judge directing the fraudulent charity to pay $4.6 million in restitution and other damages.
NAAG Asks Google to Block Illegal Drug Ads (June 10, 2013)
The National Association of Attorneys General has invited Google CEO Larry Page to an upcoming association event to discuss the internet giant’s handling of intellectual property violations.
New Mexico AG Cautions against Issuing Same-sex Marriage Licenses, Calls State Statute “Vulnerable” (June 7, 2013)
While affirming that his state does ban gay marriage, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King recently seemed to invite a legal challenge by stating that there are constitutional issues with the state’s position.
New York Attorney General Requires Non-Profits to Disclose Political Spending (June 5, 2013)
NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has begun to require non-profits to disclose their donors and their spending if they spend at least $10,000 to influence New York campaigns at any level.
CT Attorney General Announces Settlement in Medicaid Lawsuit (June 5, 2013)
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen has reached a $9.9 million civil settlement with key defendants in a major Medicaid billing lawsuit.
Connecticut Attorney General clears Newtown Charity to Distribute Funds (June 3, 2013)
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen has authorized a charity that has collected approximately $7.7 million for victims of the Newtown shooting to begin distributing the funds. The charity has been criticized by some parents for the methods by which it was raised and is to be distributed, but Jepsen has determined that nothing impermissible has occurred.
AG Coakley Sues NOAA over Quota Cuts (June 3, 2013)
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has filed a suit against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration after new regulations have threatened the state’s fishing industry.
Tennessee AG: Gun Law Doesn’t Change Employment Law (June 3, 2013)
Despite a recent state measure that allows people with handgun permits to store firearms in their vehicles no matter where they are parked, Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper has written that the law does not protect employees whose employers prohibit firearms on company property.
Illinois AG Sues California Breast-Cancer Company for Charity Fraud (May 31, 2013)
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has sued ‘Boobies Rock’, a California based company for allegedly selling cancer-awareness merchandise under the guise of giving the money to charity. It is alleged that Boobies Rock sold the merchandise at bars and sporting events after asking ‘Would you like to donate to breast-cancer awareness?” while only turning over a small percentage of the proceeds to breast-cancer charities.
Madigan Joins 32 Other AGs in Price-fixing Settlement (May 23, 2013)
Pennsylvania AG Reminds Consumer to Home Contractor Registry (May 23, 2013)
Attorney General Kathleen Kane is minding consumers to check that their home contractor is registered by the state. The attorney general’s office received almost 5,000 complaints last year from people who were unhappy with their contractors.
AGs Warn of Tornado Relief and Repair Scams (March 22, 2013)
After the recent tornado in Oklahoma, state attorneys general of Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Kentucky are warning the public to beware of fake charitable groups that claim to offer tornado relief.
Georgia AG Talks on New Sex Trafficking Initiative (May 21, 2013)
Attorney General Sam Olens discussed his state’s new Georgia’s Not Buying It effort to combat sex trafficking of minors.
Indiana AG Reminds Consumers About Do Not Call Registry (May 20, 2013)
The Indiana Attorney General’s office is reminding consumers that the deadline is approaching to register phone numbers on the state’s Do Not Call Registry. Indiana’s Do Not Call law protects registered numbers from receiving some telemarketing calls.
AG Sorrell Calls for Congress to Combat “Elder Fraud” (May 20, 2013)
Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell has testified before a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives on the federal government’s current efforts to uncover financial scams that target senior citizens.
Pennsylvania AG Opposes Marijuana Legalization (May 19, 2013)
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane affirmed her resistance to legislation to legalize marijuana arguing that it often acts as a “gateway drug.” Although Kane, a former Lackawanna County prosecutor, argued against the drug for “criminal justice reasons,” she did not completely rule out supporting medical marijuana bills in the future.
California AG Meets With New Gun Task Force (May 18, 2013)
Attorney General Kamala Harris had her first two-hour meeting to discuss existing gun laws with 11 district attorneys and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. The group shared ideas for how counties can target gun violence and use the recent infusion of $24 million from state Legislature.
North Dakota AG Prepares Response to Abortion Suit (May 17, 2013)
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has until May 29 to respond to a recent complaint that North Dakota’s recent anti-abortion law violates the state constitution.
New York AG Announces Multi-Million Dollar Cigarette Smuggling Bust (May 16, 2013)
State Attorney General Schneiderman announced the uncovering of a cigarette smuggling ring responsible for costing the state an estimated $80 million in tax revenue. New York officials also allege that three of the 16 Palestinian immigrants charged have links to known terrorists.
NY AG Investigating Fast Food Industry Wage Theft (May 16, 2013)
Amid allegations by workers' groups of widespread wage theft across the state, the state attorney general's office has announced that subpoenas have been sent out to several franchises and one parent company. As many as 84% of surveyed workers replied that their employer had committed one form of wage theft in the past year.
Massachusetts AG Announces New Anti-Foreclosure Program (May 12, 2013)
Attorney General Martha Coakley has announced a new initiative to assist areas of the state that have a high rate of foreclosed home. The program is accepting applications for $1 million grants designed to return bank-owned properties to use.
AG Schneiderman to Unveil New Charities Regulation Bill (May 12, 2013)
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced plans to overhaul the regulations for non-for-profit charities in the state. The proposed bill not only would address financial abuses and poor management practices, but also make it easier for nonprofits to operate properly.
LA AG Asked to Issue Opinion on Gun Statute (May 10, 2013)
Due to a discrepancy between state firearm laws governing holders of concealed handgun permits, Attorney General has been urged to clarify the issue. Louisiana state police believes an older, more restrictive law takes precedence over a recent statute allowing handgun owners more latitude.
California AG Sues JPMorgan Chase over Used “Robo-Signing” (May 9, 2013)
California Attorney General Kamala Harris has filed a suit against JPMorgan Chase & Co. alleging that the bank engaged in widespread “robo-signing” of documents in credit card collection lawsuits.
Maryland AG Argues Maryland Gun Measure Constitutional (May 9, 2013)
Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler has outlined why Maryland’s proposed gun-control measure is constitutional in a 25-page letter to Governor Martin O’Malley. Gansler writes that the legislation is legally defensible and was written to “to balance the rights of legitimate gun owners with the need for increased public and law enforcement safety from gun violence.”
Attorney General Chiesa Defends Gun Buy-Back Program (May 8, 2013)
New Jersey AG Jeffrey Chiesa is defending the state’s gun-buyback program and arguing that it has removed thousands of weapons from the streets. The initiative pays $250 for each weapon turned in and over 10,000 firearms have been collected, 1,200 of which were illegal.
New York AG Plans to Sue Bank of America, Wells Fargo (May 7, 2013)
NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced plans to file suits against both Bank of America and Wells Fargo over claims that the banks breached last year’s agreement intended to end foreclosure abuses. The $26 billion dollar agreement, the National Mortgage Settlement, came after widespread accusations of shoddy paperwork, erroneous fees and wrongful evictions. Mr. Schneiderman maintains that the two banks did not follow guidelines regarding fielding and processing requests from homeowners to modify their mortgages.
Massachusetts AG Says Lenders Violating Deal (May 7, 2013)
Massachusetts state attorney general Martha Coakley alleges that some of the country’s biggest lenders are violating last year’s mortgage settlement. Among other issues, Coakley is arguing that banks are not offering assistance to homeowners in a timely fashion and sending borrowers inaccurate and confusing information.
U.S. Attorney General Holder Calls Kansas Gun Law Unconstitutional (May 3, 2013)
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has called Kansas’ new gun law unconstitutional in an open letter written to Governor Sam Brownback. The new Second Amendment Protection Act, which excludes from federal regulation any gun made or owned in Kansas, would allow state law enforcement to charge federal authorities with crimes if they attempt to enforce federal gun laws in the state.
AG Schneiderman Cracks Down on Gas Price Gouging (May 2, 2013)
After reaching settlements with 25 other gas stations, NY Attorney General Schneiderman is filing lawsuits against four stations for violating the state’s price gouging statute. The stations allegedly disproportionately hiked gas prices during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last fall.
AG DeWine Sues Contractor over Consumer Protection (May 2, 2013)
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has filed a consumer-protection lawsuit against a contractor for allegedly billing customers after failing to complete jobs.
Florida Attorney General Seeks $5.48 Billion From BP for 2010 Gulf Oil Spill (April 24, 2013)
Attorney General Pam Bondi is seeking $5.48 billion in a federal lawsuit against BP Exploration & Production In., BO America Production Co., and Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. for lost revenue to the state of Florida. The lawsuit seeks to recover actual and potential lost revenue from the impact of the spill that includes lost sales and taxes for expected economic losses. The lawsuit is separate from other litigation including Mississippi.
Maryland AG Releases 2012 Watersheds Audit (April 22, 2013)
Attorney General Doug Gansler released his 2012 Chesapeake Bay and Maryland Watersheds Environmental Audit. After his visits to four of the Bay’s tributaries AG Gansler highlighted the need for enhanced enforcement of pollution laws and increased public awareness of environmental issues.
North Carolina Attorney General Pushes for Tighter Control of Hospitals (April 19, 2013)
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has urged the state legislature to pass bills urged the legislature to make hospital bills easier to understand and to control in aggressive bill-collecting practices. Cooper also wants hospitals to notify his office and the Federal Trade Commission before they acquire other hospitals or physician practices, a frequent occurrence both nationally and in North Carolina. Cooper’s proposals were incorporated into a bill that was introduced last month to require hospitals to publicly disclose their prices on their most common medical procedures.
Tennessee State Senate Passes Constitutional Amendment on AG Selection (April 18, 2013)
By a vote of 22-9 the Tennessee Senate passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would change how the state selects an attorney general. The state Supreme Court justices currently select the AG, but if the amendment passes he or she would be appointed by a joint vote of both chambers of the Legislature.
State AGs Encourage Consumers’ Diligence When Donating to Boston Charities (April 17, 2013)
While applauding charitable contributions in the aftermath of the tragedy in Boston, multiple state attorneys general have joined Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley in urging the public to choose wisely. Oregon AG Rosenblum has advised contributors to beware of callers soliciting fast cash and Pennsylvania AG Kane has released a set of tips for donors to ensure their money is going to the right place.
19 AGs Join Facebook in Online Safety Campaign (April 16, 2013)
The attorneys general of 19 states have joined forces with Facebook to educate teens on how to control which information their share online.
Washington AG Files Consumer Protection Action (April 14, 2013)
Attorney General Ferguson has filed a consumer protection lawsuit against a florist in Richland, Washington. The shop, Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts, allegedly refused to provide wedding flowers to a customer because of the owner’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
Arizona City Revises Civil Unions Law after Pressure from AG Horne (April 13, 2013)
The city council of Bisbee, AZ has decided to reword their controversial ordinance which granted civil unions after state attorney general Tom Horne had advised city officials that including jurisdiction such as property, adoption and guardianship would bring it into conflict with state laws.
Calguns Foundation, 7 Californians Sue AG Harris Over Gun Delays (April 12, 2013)
The Calguns Foundation has filed a lawsuit on behalf of seven Californian residents against state attorney general Kamala Harris and the Bureau of Firearms. The suit alleges that the state makes firearm purchasers wait longer than the mandatory ten-day period and requires buyers to prove their legal standing.
LA AG Announces Jindal’s Hospital Plan Doesn’t Require Legislative Approval (April 12, 2013)
The Louisiana attorney general’s office released an opinion stating that after lawmakers amended a statute the LSU Board of Supervisors no longer need legislative approval for hospital leases. The opinion states that the governor would have needed such approval before 2003 and concludes that LSU-run public hospitals can now be privatized.
35 AGs Back Immigration Reform (April 11, 2013)
A bipartisan group of 35 state and territory attorneys general have sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and congressional leaders expressing their support for federal immigration reform.
AG Cuccinelli’s Request to Rehear Sodomy Ban Denied (April 11, 2013)
Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli was denied a rehearing of the decision to overturn the state’s ban on sodomy. After a three-judge panel ruled on March 12 to invalidate “Crimes Against Nature” statute, Cuccinelli asked for the full 15-judge 4th Circuit of Appeals to reconsider.
North Dakota AG Seeks Money for Abortion Battle (April 11, 2013)
The North Dakota Senate Appropriations Committee has approved state attorney general Wayne Stenehjem’s request for a $400,000 litigation budget to defend the state’s new abortion restrictions. The new measures make the state the hardest place in the U.S. to have an abortion and abortion-rights activists have promised a legal fight.
AG Delaney Announces Jury Verdict of $236 Million against ExxonMobil (April 10, 2013)
New Hampshire attorney general Michael Delaney and Commissioner Thomas Burack announced a jury verdict of $236 million in the suit the state brought against ExxonMobil. The oil company was deemed liable for water contamination caused by the gasoline additive MTBE.
Attorney General Bill Schuette Ask Judge to Dismiss Labor Suit (April 4, 2013)
Michigan AG Schuette filed a motion to dismiss a suit that would stop state officials from enforcing the right-to-work law that was enacted last week. The suit argues that the law violates the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution. A federal judge in Indiana recently dismissed a similar suit.
Wyoming AG Bans 11 Synthetic Drugs (April 4, 2013)
Wyoming state attorney general Greg Phillips has added 11 synthetic compounds to the Wyoming Controlled Substances Act. Under state law the attorney general is able to criminalize any substances except for distilled spirits, wine, malt beverages and tobacco.
AG Ken Cuccinelli Challenges Anti-Sodomy Ruling (April 3, 2013)
Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli is petitioning the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider a three-judge panel’s decision to strike down the state’s “Crimes Against Nature” law. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that most anti-sodomy laws are unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas.
Arizona AG Announces Extradition of Drug Cartel Member (April 3, 2013)
Arizona state attorney general Tom Horne announced the extradition of a high-ranking drug cartel member from Mexico. The successful extradition is the result of a joint effort between the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Department of Justice, a Federal Court in Mexico City and the Arizona attorney general’s office.
Arkansas Attorney General Investigates Mayflower Oil Spill (April 2, 2013)
Arkansas state attorney general Dustin McDaniel’s office announced the beginning of an investigation into the cause and impact of the Mayflower oil spill. Thousands of gallons of crude oil have leaked into a residential neighborhood near Lake Conway, significantly
damaging the state’s environment.
Attorney General Pruitt Warns New Mortgage Settlement Isn’t a Scam (April 2, 2013)
Although state attorneys general have recently been worried about consumer protection and financial scams, Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt was forced to issue an alert to his constituents that mail from a paying agent, Rust Consulting, is legitimate.
Texas AG Urges Obama to Reject UN Arms Treaty (April 2, 2013)
Arguing that it would threat constitutional liberties of U.S. citizens, Texas attorney general Greg Abbott is urging President Obama to reject a United Nations treaty regulating international arms trade.
Missouri AG Wants Clarification on Contraception Ruling (March 29, 2013)
After a federal judge struck down a Missouri law exempting moral objectors from mandatory birth control insurance coverage, state attorney general Chris Koster has asked the judge to clarify the intended scope of the decision. Koster’s office released a statement arguing that the ruling has created vague uncertainties for insurers and individuals.
Kansas AG to Rule on Hospital Sale (March 29, 2013)
Board members of the Providence Medical Center and St. John Hospital are urging state Attorney General Derek Schmidt to approve the hospitals’ sale to California-based Prime Healthcare Inc. Opponents argue that the labor disputes and federal investigations of the private hospital chain should derail the sale.
Maine Attorney General Backs Defense of Indian Child Welfare Act (March 28, 2013)
Supporting the full enforcement of the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, Attorney General Janet Mills has signed on to a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The act sets up federal standards to protect the rights of Native Americans in child custody proceedings. At least 11 other state attorneys general have also expressed support for the Supreme Court’s amicus brief.
Texas AG Warns of Medicare Scam (March 28, 2013)
Texas state attorney general Greg Abbott released a statement cautioning scam artists who are calling senior citizens and claiming that Medicare’s current identification cards are being phased out. The callers then ask for the citizens’ Medicare number and bank account information. The attorneys general of Texas and Illinois have recently issued similar warnings about identity theft.
13 AGs Ask HHS for Religious Exemptions in Affordable Care Act (March 28, 2013)
The state attorneys general of Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia have sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking that broaden the religious exemptions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Indiana AG Explains Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage (March 26, 2013)
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller released an explanation of why he and several other state AGs filed briefs in the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. AG Zoeller argued that he must defend Indiana’s authority and stated that his duty is “not to represent [his] personal views or what polls might suggest is popular opinion.”
AG Jackley Warns of Sweepstakes Scam (March 26, 2013)
South Dakota AG Marty Jackley’s office has put out a warning to senior citizens and their relatives to watch for a telemarketing scam that has targeted the elderly. One victim of the scheme reported a loss of more than $75,000 to the state’s Consumer Protection Division.
Oklahoma Attorney General Defends Water Rights (March 25, 2013)
Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt has filed three briefs in the environmental Tarrant Regional Water District vs. Herrmann, a case being reviewed before the Oklahoma Supreme Court that could affect interstate water allowances between Oklahoma and Texas.
Michigan AG Defends Affirmative Action Ban (March 25, 2013)
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that he would welcome a chance to defend the state’s affirmative action ban in the U.S. Supreme Court, stating that admission to college “must be based upon merit.” ACLU lawyers argue that the ban is discriminatory because schools are still allowed to give preferential treatment to “legacy” applicants.
Illinois AG Madigan Discusses Consumer Protection (March 23, 2013)
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan joined legislative leaders to talk the effect of consumer plans in the state, specifically focusing on debt problems and identity theft. She also reported that her office received 26,000 fraud complaints last year.
Assistant Secretary of State and Delaware AG Sign Agreement (March 22, 2013)
Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) William R. Brownfield and Delaware Attorney General Joseph “Beau” Biden signed an agreement that will have Delaware join more than 50 other state and local agencies in assisting foreign partners in law enforcement.
Arkansas AG Responds to Injection Filing (March 22, 2013)
The Arkansas Attorney General released a statement arguing that the state’s Supreme Court should decide the constitutionality of a new law detailing execution procedures before lifting stays of execution for sex death row inmates.
Georgia AG Launches Campaign against Sex Trafficking (March 19, 2013)
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens and other state law enforcement officials have recently started a new effort targeting sex trafficking. Employing the slogan “Georgia’s not buying it,” the public awareness campaign has a specific focus on those who pay for sex. The initiative is a public-private partnership between Olens’ office, law enforcement, nonprofit advocates Street Grace and youthSpark, and the Governor’s Office of Children and Families.
5 State AGs, Mexican AG Will Meet in Mexico City (March 19, 2013)
The attorneys general of Colorado, California, Idaho, Nevada and New Mexico will meet tomorrow with Attorney General Karam of Mexico to discuss human trafficking, drug trafficking, and judicial reform.
Judge’s Environmental Order Amended After Texas AG’s Stay Request Denied (March 19, 2013)
Texas State Attorney General Greg Abbott’s request to stay the ruling against the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality was denied, yet Judge Janis Jack’s original order was amended to allow the TCEQ to approve water permits deemed “necessary to protect the public’s health and safety.” Last week’s original ruling had found the state’s water management guilty for the death of 23 whooping cranes.
Wisconsin AG Won’t Seek Stay of Collective Bargaining Ruling (March 19, 2013)
State attorney general J.B. Van Hollen announced today that although a circuit court declared Wisconsin’s collective bargaining law unconstitutional, his office will not attempt to take the case to the Supreme Court. Van Hollen maintained that because the ruling was made in Dane County it does not apply statewide.
13 AGs Announce Support for Legislation to Forbid Spending of Student Aid on Marketing (March 19, 2013)
A group of state attorneys general announced their support for a bill currently in Congress that would ban colleges from spending federal aid dollars on marketing and recruitment. In a letter to key lawmakers in both the House and Senate, the AGs wrote that the measure is a “vital first step” toward ending deceptive practices by for-profit colleges.
Massachusetts AG Rules Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Allowed Statewide (March 14, 2013)
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced that medical marijuana dispensaries must be allowed statewide in order to provide “reasonable access.” In the past year several municipalities passed ordinances outright banning the sale of the drug. However, Coakley stated that towns may still set up specific zoning rules that limit where dispensaries may be opened
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn Fights for Appeal of Gun Ban Ruling (March 14, 2013)
Illinois Governor Quinn has stated that he wants state AG Lisa Madigan to appeal the 7th US Court of Appeals’ decision to strike down Illinois’ ban on carrying concealed weapons. A three-judge panel ruled last year that the ban was unconstitutional and gave state lawmakers until this summer to remove it.
Michigan AG Heads Up New Human Trafficking Commission (March 14, 2013)
It was announced today that State Attorney General Bill Schuette will head up a new human trafficking initiative in his state that will review state policies on the issue. The commission will include lawmakers, law enforcement and activists and is scheduled to report its findings in six months.
Google Settles $7 Mil. Street View Case with 39 Attorneys General (March 12, 2013)
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen announced a $7 million settlement between the attorneys general of 38 states and the District of Columbia and Google concerning a multistate probe over the collection of data from unsecured wireless networks across the U.S. by Google vehicles. Under terms of the agreement, Google agreed to institute stricter privacy policies including educating employees on the privacy and confidentiality of user data. Google also agreed to sponsor a national consumer outreach program to educate the public on securing their wireless networks.
48 Attorneys General Send Letter to FDA Urging Action on Prescription Drugs (March 11, 2013)
The Attorneys General of forty-eight states have signed a letter prepared by the National Association of Attorneys General urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to adopt design requirements for prescription pain medication. The attorneys general expressed concern of the possibility that generic versions of extended-release opioid prescription drugs and other non-tamper-resistant products may reach the market. The letter highlighted new physical and chemical features to prescription opioids that can be included in their design to deter abuse and thereby reduce misuse of the drugs and the possibility deadly consequences.
The original letter may be viewed here.
Oklahoma AG Supports Lawsuit Against Dodd-Frank (March 1, 2013)
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has joined attorneys general of ten other states in opposing a motion that the lawsuit calling for the Dodd-Frank financial reforms of 2010 be dismissed. The claim was first filed by several conservative policy groups and asserts that the reforms ignored several constitutional issues, specifically regarding the Financial Stability Oversight Council and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Human Trafficking Ban Signed by Wyoming Governor (Feb. 28, 2013)
Governor Matt Mead signed House Bill 133 after it passed through AG Greg Phillips’ office. International anti-human trafficking advocates had been lobbying intensely for a formal classification of human trafficking as a state crime. The governor agreed that although Wyoming’s cooperation with federal law enforcement has worked thus far, companion state laws are necessary for the future. According to lawmakers the bill also closes several loopholes in the federal system and provides better social support to victims. The bill can be found here.
Holder Speaks to State AGs on Obama Gun-Control (Feb. 27, 2013)
Attorney General Eric Holder defended President Obama’s proposed gun policies on Tuesday to National Association of Attorneys General. He argued that the actions taken by the President are necessary to strengthen gun laws and will not encroach on the rights legal gun owners. Holder stressed the importance of state attorneys general to utilize the National Crime Information Center for performing background checks when guns are sold.
14 Attorneys General Sue Standard & Poor’s For Deceptive Practices (Feb. 5, 2013)
The attorneys general of thirteen states and the District of Columbia have filed law suits against Standard & Poor’s alleging that the rating agency engaged in and used deceptive practices in rating certain complex securities and “operated with an inherent conflict of interest, prioritizing profits over objective ratings,” leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. The lawsuits came from the offices of the Attorneys General of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, North Carolina, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.
Arizona Attorney General to Probe Whether Marshals are Working With Polygamous Sect (Jan. 23, 2013)
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced a probe into whether marshals are working with the nation’s largest polygamous sect to prevent women from leaving the church run by imprisoned Warren Jeffs. The probe focuses on the Marshal’s Office of Colorado City, AZ, located near the Utah border and home to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Marshal’s Office serves as a small police force in the twin polygamous towns of Hildale, UT and Colorado City. Horne has unsuccessfully sought a bill from the Arizona Legislature to abolish the Marshal’s Office in Colorado City and replace it with deputies from the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office.
Maine Attorney General Warns of Medicare Scam (Jan. 22, 2013)
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills warned the public of a scam targeting Medicare recipients. Scammers have been contacting Medicare recipients claiming to be issuing new Medicare cards and asking for Medicare numbers and bank account information. Mills advised Mainers to “protect themselves by never giving any personal information to anyone over the phone," and to review their Medicare statements carefully and report any questionable calls to the Maine Attorney General Consumer Protection Hotline.
Vermont Yankee Licensure Case Arugued Before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Jan. 14, 2013)
Attorneys for the office of Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrel, argued that the Vermont Legislatures decision to close the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant was based on financial considerations and not safety. Federal District Judge Garvan Murtha had ruled that state lawmakers had overstepped their authority by considering the plant’s safety, which is exclusively regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Due to the complexity of the case a decision is not expected for six months to a year.
California Attorney General Releases Guidelines for Mobile App Privacy (Jan. 11, 2013)
Nine Attorneys General Urge Federal Government to Adopt New Standards for Particulate Matter (Dec. 10, 2012)
The Attorneys General of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington are supporting federal regulation of particulate matter in the air, a pollutant that leads to respiratory symptoms and diseases. The new annual standard would limit particulate matter to no higher than 12 micrograms per cubic meter and a daily standard not to exceed 30 micrograms per cubic meter. Under a consent decree the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) entered into with the states and several public health organizations, the agency is required to sign the final rule on a national ambient air quality standard for particulate matter by Dec. 14.
Michigan Attorney General Charges Ex-President of Mortgage Documents Processor with Racketeering (Nov. 26, 2012)
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announce that Lorraine Brown, former president of mortgage document processor DocX, has been charged with racketeering for her alleged role in authorizing fraudulent signing of mortgage documents filed in Michigan. An investigation conducted by Schuette’s office revealed the Brown allegedly started and ran a scheme of “robo-signing,” where employees are directed to fraudulently sign an authorized person’s name on mortgage documents in order to process the documents quickly. DocX called the signings “facsimile signing” or “surrogate signing.” The investigated uncovered more than 1,000 unauthorized and improperly executed documents filed with county registers of deeds in Michigan. The charge of racketeering (conducting criminal enterprise) carries a 20 year felony sentence.
38 State Attorneys General Announce Settlement with GlaxoSmithKline (November 16, 2012)
Attorneys General of 38 states announced a $90 million settlement with GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceuticals company, over allegations of unlawful promotion of the diabetes drug Avandia. The lawsuit alleged that GlaxoSmithKline engaged in unfair and deceptive market practices when it misrepresented the effects Avandia would have on patients’ cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health. Under the settlement GlaxoSmithKline is prohibited from: making false, misleading or deceptive claims about diabetes drugs; making safety claims not supported by substantial evidence or substantial clinical experience; presenting favorable information of drugs that have been proven invalid; promoting drugs before they have received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; or misusing statistics or otherwise misrepresenting the nature, applicability or significance of clinical trials. States included in the settlement are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
New York Attorney General Brings First Price Gouging Enforcement Actions after Hurricane (Nov. 16, 2012)
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced price gouging enforcement actions against 13 gas stations following hurricane Sandy for violations of New York State Price Gouging statute. The statute prohibits merchants from adjusting prices so that they are “unconscionably excessive” during a state of emergency or other “abnormal disruption to the market.” There are expected to be more actions as the Schneiderman’s office continues to investigate claims of price gouging in the aftermath of the storm.
New York Attorney General Settles $210 Million Lawsuit Related to Madoff Failures (Nov. 13, 2012)
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced a $210 million settlement with Ivy Asset Management, a subsidiary of Bank of New York. Ivy was charged with deliberately concealing negative facts it uncovered in its due diligence of Bernard Madoff in order to keep earning millions of dollars in fees and resulted in clients losing $236 million after the Ponzi scheme collapsed. The settlement ended the lawsuit by the New York Attorney General, the U.S. Department of Labor, and private plaintiffs.
Vermont Attorney General Prepares for Oral Arguments in Entergy Nuclear Case (Nov. 12, 2012)
The case is expected to be argued as early as November 26th before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York. The court granted Vermont’s motion to expedite oral arguments on October 3rd and Entergy submitted its reply brief on November 9th. The central question of the case is whether Vermont has the authority to not renew the operational license of Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant and thereby shutdown the plant, or whether that authority is preempted by the Federal Government which renewed the plants operating license for another 20 years.
Florida Attorney General Not Budging in Dispute With Legislature (Oct. 16)
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is holding to her position that her office does not need legislative approval of her plans for $300 million in funds awarded to the state as its share of a $25 billion national settlement with five of the country's largest mortgage lenders. Legislative leaders maintain that they must approve any proposal for spending that money. Bondi has recently filed her 2013 budget request with state legislators.
NY AG sues JPMorgan over Mortgage Securities (October 2, 2012)
New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, head of the President's mortgage fraud task force, filed suit against JPMorgan in New York State Supreme Court on Monday, alleging the fraudulent issuance of mortgage-backed securities amidst the 2008 financial crisis. The suit asserts that bankers from Bear Stearns, acquired by JPMorgan in 2008, "failed to fully evaluate loans, largely ignored the defects that their limited review did uncover, and kept investors in the dark about both the inadequacy of their review procedures and the defects in the underlying loans." The attorney general's complaint, the first such action filed by the task force, described the alleged scheme as a "systemic fraud on thousands of investors."
California and Mexico Attorneys General Partner to Combat Human Trafficking (September 22, 2012)
California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Mexico Attorney General Marisela Morales Ibáñez signed an agreement to expand and coordinate prosecutions and convictions of those engaged in human trafficking. The targets of the agreement are gangs that sell and traffic people across the Mexico-California border. The agreement aims to increase integration between the two offices for investigations, share best practices for law enforcement to recognize human trafficking, and to provide support for victims.
California Attorney General Investigating Hospital Mergers (September 15, 2012)
The Office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris, is seeking information regarding the increasing concentration of medical providers and subsequent effects. Increased consolidation has raised the concern that the mergers of hospitals and physician groups could raise the costs of treatment. While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act encourages medical providers to collaborate more on patient care in an effort to reduce costs, the increase in acquisitions raises the concern that consolidations will result in lesser competition in certain markets.
Maryland Attorney General Office Granted $717,000 in Health Care Reform Funds (September 12, 2012)
The Maryland Attorney General’s Office announced its receipt of $717,000 in federal grants to aid state residents make health care decisions. The grant is for the Health Education and Advocacy Unit of the Attorney General Office to start or bolster existing programs that allow consumers to have more influence on their health care decisions. The funds are part of the Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight’s (CCIIO) Consumer Assistance Program Grants. To date, the Health Education and Advocacy Unit has received a total of $1.5 million in funds from CCIIO.
E-Book Publishers Reach $69 Million Settlement with States (August 30, 2012)
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen announced that the attorneys general of 54 states, districts, and territories had reached an antitrust settlement with three publishers of e-books. The publishers, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers and Simon & Schuster agreed to the settlement while Apple, Penguin Group and MacMillan have not settled. The attorneys general had filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York following a two-year antitrust investigation by the US Department of Justice and the attorneys general of Connecticut and Texas. The investigation found that the publishers had worked with Apple to set prices for e-books and limit the discount available for retailers to provide.
Illinois AG Madigan Responds to First Progress Report on National Foreclosure Settlement (Aug. 30)
In response to the release of the first progress report on the $25 billion settlement reached earlier this year with five of the nation's largest mortgage servicers, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan stated that she was "cautiously optimistic" and outlined the benefits that Illinois borrowers have seen. The report was issued by an independent monitor established to oversee compliance with the terms of the settlement reached with Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Bank, formerly GMAC. According to the report, llinois consumers have received more than $357 million in relief, in the form of principal reductions and refinancing for underwater loans. The Attorney General’s office determined that Illinois ranks among the top five states for the amount of relief directed to homeowners.
Massachusetts Officials Announce Anti-foreclosure Grants (Aug. 20)
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has announced the award of HomeCorps grants to cities, towns and organizations across the state to assist communities and homeowners mitigate the impacts of the foreclosure crisis. Two of the grants will go to programs providing direct assistance to homeowners. Eighteen other grant recipients will apply funds to broader community revitalization efforts. The HomeCorps Program is funded by the state's share of a nationwide settlement with five of the country's largest mortgage servicers over their foreclosure and loan servicing processes.
Arizona AG Horne Sues Companies for Allegedly Targeting Distressed Homeowners (Aug. 15) Arizona AG Tom Horne has announced a lawsuit against three companies and the companies' owners for allegedly telling consumers that they offer favorable mortgage modifications when they in fact only provide information available for free on government websites. According to AG Horne, one of the companies posted fake customer testimonials on its website and charged a fraudulent 9.3% sales tax. Additionally, two of the companies are allegedly not licensed in Arizona to conduct the loan modification services they claim to provide.
Florida Attorney General to Investigate Allegations of For-profit Hospital’s Needless Cardiac Surgeries (Aug. 8, 2012)
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, has announced that her office will begin an investigation into allegations made in a New York Times report that at hospitals owned by Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), the nation’s largest for-profit operator of health care facilities, some cardiac surgeries were unjustifiable between 2002 and 2010. These allegations came to light as a result of a 2010 internal review which showed that half of the invasive diagnostic procedures were done on patients “without significant heart disease.” The internal review was prompted by a registered nurse who was later fired allegedly in retaliation for bringing the procedures to light.
Missouri AG Reaches $2 million Settlement With Mortgage Company (Aug. 2)
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has announced a settlement with now-closed mortgage services company DocX, over criminal allegations that the company applied fake signatures to documents in order to speed processing. Under the settlement, DocX's parent company, Lender Processing Services Inc., will pay $1.5 million to the state and $500,000 to the Missouri AG's office as reimbursement for costs of the investigation. The settlement also requires Lender Processing Services to submit quarterly reports on its compliance with a federal consent order under which the company must allow an independent consultant to review document services from 2008 through the end of 2010.
Minnesota AG Settles with Hospital Debt Collector for $2.6 Million (July 30, 2012)
Minnesota Attorney General, Lori Swanson, announced in a press release that her office had settled with Accretive Health Solutions a hospital billing and debt collection contractor over aggressive collection techniques. Swanson had brought suit against Accretive alleging that Accretive employees badgered patients over billing while still in hospital. As part of the settlement Accretive has agree to not do business in Minnesota for six years and has agreed to pay $2.6 million. Accretive does not admit to wrongdoing or liability and agreed to settle with Swanson to "prevent this matter from being a continued distraction."
Attorneys General to Continue With Lawsuit on Contraceptive Coverage Rule (July 13, 2012)
The Attorneys General of Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas have said that they will continue in a lawsuit against the Federal government concerning a rule issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services despite the Supreme Court recently upholding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The lawsuit argues that the rule requiring all employers, including church-affiliated hospitals, schools and outreach programs, to provide contraception coverage in health care plans violates the rights of employers that object to the use of contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. The attorneys general argue that the rule would effectively force religious employers and organizations to drop health insurance coverage, which will raise enrollment in state Medicaid programs and increase patient numbers at state-subsidized hospitals and medical centers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is named as a defendant.
N.J. Attorney General Calls on Law Enforcement to Increase Efforts Against Human Trafficking (July 12)
New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Cheisa has issued a directive calling for an increase in human trafficking investigations and prosecutions by law enforcement in the state. In addition to ordering better training and resources to identify and assist trafficking victims, Chiesa announced the establishment of a Human Trafficking Unit within the Attorney General Office's Division of Criminal Justice to help implement these measures. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center reports receiving nearly 500 human trafficking hotline calls in the past two years for New Jersey, more than all but seven states.
West Virginia Attorney General Files Suit Against 14 out of State Drug Distributors (June 26, 2012)
In an effort to combat prescription drug abuse, West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw announced lawsuits against 14 out of state drug distributors over their supplying certain drug stores with drugs that were over prescribed for non-legitimate medical purposes. McGraw stated, "These out of state drug distributors have substantially contributed to, benefited from and gained improperly from prescription drug abuse in West Virginia… We now ask them to accept responsibility and pay for their illicit actions just as our office has done with others."
Minnesota Attorney General Seeks to Expand Suit Against Accretive Health (June 19, 2012)
Minnesota Attorney General, Lori Swanson, has moved to broaden the lawsuit against Accretive Health over aggressive hospital bill collection methods after more patients have come forward. The Chicago-based Accretive handles billing and collections for hospitals and health systems including Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis. Swanson released a report in April outlining the extent of the alleged aggressive practices done on behalf of Accretive employees in collecting past due hospital bills.
Minnesota Attorney General Issues Report on Aggressive Collection Tactics in Hospitals (April 26, 2012)
Minnesota Attorney General, Lori Swanson, released a report focusing on the practices of an Illinois medical debt collection company in Minnesota. Swanson had filed a lawsuit against Chicago-based Accretive Health Inc. in January asserting misuse of private patient information and creating “high-pressure, boiler room-style sales atmospheres” in which employees were coached to aggressively collect debt. Accretive has contracts with two Minnesota based hospitals. The allegations are detailed in a six volume report release by the Swanson’s office.
Minnesota’s Compliance Review of Fairview Health Services' Management Contracts with Accretive Health, Inc.
Vol. 1 The Accretive Management Contracts
Vol. 2 Culture Wars
Vol. 3 The Attorney General Agreement
Vol. 4 Privacy Violations
Vol. 5 Violations of Federal and State Debt Collection Laws
Vol. 6 Compliance Issues
Ohio attorney general sues Morton Salt and Cargill, accuses them of road salt price-fixing (March 22, 2012)
Salt-mining companies Cargill and Morton Salt coordinated over the past decade to keep road salt prices artificially high, resulting in prices up to $50 million above market prices, according to an antitrust lawsuit filed Wednesday by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. The two companies divided the Ohio market, covertly agreeing not to compete, submitting bids designed to conceal their conspiracy and to prevent competitors from obtaining state business. The lawsuit seeks an order severing the companies' contracts with the state, as well as repayment of their “ill-gotten gains” to the Ohio Department of Transportation and other agencies.
Three companies settle with Mass. AG over wage violations (March 9, 2012)
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has announced a settlement with three companies over allegations of wage and hour law violations. The settlement includes over $2.8 million in penalties, fines and restitution. Tri State Drywall Systems LLC, National Water Main Clearing Company and Central Mass Disposal are alleged by AG Coakley to have violated Massachusetts prevailing wage laws and misclassification law, resulting in underpayment to workers of approximately $1.7 million. The companies were fined more than $1 million for the violations.
11 States Sues EPA to Set Soot Pollution Standards for Air (February 13, 2012)
A coalition of eleven attorneys general have filed a lawsuit in the federal district court of New York after the EPA failed to meet a deadline in October of 2011 setting new soot pollution standards. Soot pollution is also called fine particulate matter pollution and is a result of diesel engines and power plants. EPA last issued standards in 2006 that were deemed too lax following a lawsuit by 17 states in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The court remanded the standards to the EPA to issue new standards to better protect public health. The states that have filed the current lawsuit include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The case is U.S. v. Jackson, 2-cv-10064, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
49 Attorneys General Sign on to Mortgage Settlement with National Banks (Feb. 9, 2012)
After a year of negotiations, at least 49 state attorneys general have signed on to a settlement with five banks over alleged home foreclosure abuses. The agreement, worth approximately $26 billion, includes $5 billion in cash payments to states and federal authorities, $17 billion for homeowner relief, $3 for refinancing, and a final $1 billion would be paid to the Federal Housing Administration. Although the settlement will directly assist only a small percentage of one in five Americans who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, some analysts suggest that the deal could help turn around the housing market by giving banks certainty and sufficiently reducing the percentage of homes that are distressed to stabilize housing prices. The deal will additionally provide for limited release of banks from civil prosecution for actions related to the foreclosure process, such as robosigning, but prosecutors and regulators will still be able to investigate other wrongdoing by banks related to the housing crisis, including the assembly of risky mortgages into securities that were sold to investors and later soured, insurance and tax fraud, and any allegation of criminal wrongdoing..
Attorneys General of Massachusetts and Virginia Discuss Healthcare Reform (February 9, 2012)
The Attorneys General of Massachusetts, Martha Coakley, and Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, have led a National Press Club Newsmaker debate on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Four questions concerning the ACA will be present to the Supreme Court for oral argument from March 26-28. The attorneys general discussed several aspects of the ACA including the insurance coverage mandate, the tax basis, the general welfare aspect, expansion of Medicaid, severability, the law’s provisions and other areas.
Missouri Attorney General sues contractor for allegedly cheating tornado victims (Feb. 2, 2012)
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has filed a lawsuit against a construction company and its owner for failing to deliver goods and services paid for by victims of the Joplin, Missouri tornado disaster. The lawsuit against ABP Quality Construction, alleges that the company halted work on homes damaged by the tornado and refused to provide goods after victims had paid tens of thousands of dollars for them. The lawsuit seeks restitution for the company’s customers, a restraining order preventing the company from operating and civil penalties of $1,000 per violation.
Illinois Attorney General Sues Standard & Poor’s for Enabling Financial Meltdown (January 25, 2012)
Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, filed a lawsuit alleging that Standard & Poor’s, one of the nation’s largest credit rating agencies, compromised its independence as a ratings agency by doling out inflated ratings to risky investments in order to increase market share and revenue. Madigan says investors relied on S&P’s ratings due to the agency’s purported independence and objectivity, but that the agency misrepresented the rating of risky investments such as mortgage-backed securities to help drive profit margins and resulted in investors purchasing securities that were much riskier than the ratings suggested.
AG Promoting Awareness of Human Trafficking With Bus Ads, Billboards (Jan. 22, 2012)
In an effort to educate law enforcement and the public about the problem of human trafficking, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King has placed ads on buses and billboards featuring photos of men, woman and children with declarations such as “Stop Slavery,” and “We are not for sale.” The ads additionally urge viewers to contact a national hotline if they suspect someone is being enslaved. The New Mexico AG’s Office has initiated 12 trafficking cases since 2008, when New Mexico past a new law defining and outlawing trafficking. Ten of the twelve cases are tied to prostitution rings, while the final two involve forced labor. The ads aim to increase prosecutions of the crime by enabling the public and law enforcement to recognize signs of trafficking when they see them.
Eleven States and D.C. File Amicus Brief Supporting Health Reform Law (January 13, 2012)
The attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have filed a joint amicus curiae brief supporting the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with the Supreme Court. The brief focused on the constitutionality of the minimum-coverage provision, commonly called the individual mandate, requiring non-exempt individuals to have health insurance coverage or pay a penalty. Four questions are before the Supreme Court with oral arguments scheduled for March 26th to March 28th.
Federal Judge Rules in Favor of North Dakota on EPA Air Pollution Rules (December 23, 2011)
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announced a US District Court judge ruled in favor of North Dakota and a local power provider on a motion to resolve a dispute between the state and the Environmental Protection Agency on air quality rules. North Dakota argues that the new rules would require two power plants in the state to upgrade to expensive pollution-control technology that might not work. The federal judge held that North Dakota’s findings about the technology were not unreasonable and that the EPA, who had the burden of proof, did not meet their burden for the dispute resolution process. In a statement praising the ruling Stenehjem said, “These issues are about North Dakota's sovereignty, its authority, and its demonstrated commitment to protect its environment and economic well-being.” Stenehjem also said he hoped the ruling would encourage the EPA to adopt North Dakota’s proposal for the power plants.
Louisiana AG sues DOI over Petroleum Boundaries (December 22, 2011)
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell filed suit against the Department of the Interior over new petroleum drilling boundaries in the Gulf of Mexico. The new boundaries impact how the state will receive royalties from petroleum drilling. According to Caldwell, the new boundaries would require Louisiana to share petroleum royalties collected over the past 25 years with the states of Texas and Mississippi. Caldwell’s suit alleges that the boundaries could cost Louisiana $2.8 million immediately.
Supreme Court Schedules Week of Health Care Arguments Brought by Attorneys General (December 19, 2011)
The Supreme Court on Monday announced the schedule for oral arguments concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Arguments will take place over three days from March 26th to the 28th. Four questions are being presented to the court: whether the minimum coverage provision is constitutional, whether the minimum coverage provision is severable, whether the suit brough to challenge the minimum coverage provision is barred by the Anti-Injunction Act, and whether the Medicaid expansion provisions are constitutional.
California AG Unveils Cybercrime Task Force (December 14, 2011)
California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced a new “eCrime unit” in the state that will focus on the category of crimes using electronics and the internet, often called cybercrimes. According to Harris, this cybercrime unit will focus on child exploitation, Internet fraud, intellectual property violations, identity theft, and theft of computer parts and services. In the announcement Harris said, "I am creating the eCrime unit so that California can be a leader in using innovative law enforcement techniques to target criminals.” The unit already has several cases pending, including some involving ATM-based identity theft scams.
Missouri AG sues Fantasy Football Company over Prizes (December 13, 2011)
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced a lawsuit against Gridiron Fantasy Sports for failure to pay promised cash prizes to participants. According to Koster, Gridiron failed to pay $389,000 to 331 fantasy football participants by February 15, 2011 as the company had promised. Additionally, Koster alleges an investigation revealed entrance fees for a fantasy baseball game were used to pay prizes for fantasy football winners. The suit also alleges Gridiron used entrance fees for some non-contest purposes. Koster is asking the court for a preliminary injunction and for Gridiron to pay restitution.
Ohio AG Announces New Policy for Sexual Assault Evidence (December 7, 2011)
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced a change to policy in the state regarding sexual assault evidence kits. According to DeWine, all kits must now be submitted for DNA evidence processing, even if the case ultimately will not be prosecuted. In a statement DeWine said, “The new policy is fairly simple: if a crime was committed, the kit should be submitted.” The office estimates that under the new policy the percentage of sexual assault kits tested will rise from 50% to 90%.
Wisconsin AG Announces Crime Alert Network (December 7, 2011)
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced that the state is launching the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network, a new network to alert Wisconsin communities on important law enforcement messages. According to Van Hollen, citizens and businesses in the state are encouraged to sign up for the alerts, which will include messages by fax, text, or email to subscribers regarding stolen property, missing persons, or other incidents. Subscribers must pay an annual fee of $12, which covers the operational costs of the network.
Iowa AG sues Grain Processor over Pollution (December 1, 2011)
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has sued Grain Processing Corp. over alleged violations of state air and water pollution control laws. According to Miller, the company emitted more than the allowable amount of sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, failed to maintain equipment used to prevent excess emissions, failed to get proper construction permits, and failed to comply with notification and reporting requirements. The lawsuit seeks civil penalties for the violations and an injunction requiring the grain processor to comply with state law.
Michigan AG Charges Group for Human Trafficking Violations (December 1, 2011)
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that five people have been charged with human trafficking offenses and operating a prostitution ring. According to Schuette, the group offered prostitution services via a website, with one woman telling investigators she was only 15 when she worked for the alleged ring. The group also faces drug trafficking charges. The investigation was conducted through the Southeast Michigan Crimes Against Children Task Force and included investigators from the FBI and Michigan State Police.
North Carolina AG Opposes Duke Energy Rate Hike (November 28, 2011)
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has said he will fight the proposed electricity rate increase requested by Duke Energy. Recently Duke Energy requested an 18.6% increase for residential rates, but lowered that amount to 7.2%. Cooper says this amount is still too high. In a statement Cooper said, "Most working families and businesses would like to be able to have a 7.2 percent increase in income right now. But, in fact, many of them are having to deal with cuts. I think it's important for the company to have to deal with economic realities. Right now is not the time to get this money from consumers.”
Texas AG Charges Tire Storage Facility over Waste Disposal Violations (November 22, 2011)
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott charged the operator of a tire scrap facility for violating state waste disposal laws. According to Abbott, the operator of the facility failed to get the required permits to burn outdoors and scrap tires, prevent fire outbreaks, and remove the unauthorized tire collection. The charges follow a fire at the facility in early August that burned approximately 22,000 scrap tires. McGraw’s suit seeks a penalty of up to $25,000 per day the facility was in violation of the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act.
West Virginia AG Obtains Judgment Against Modeling Agency for Deceptive Practices (November 21, 2011)
Following charges by West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw that the owner of a modeling agency was conning clients out of money, a county court judge has ordered the business to shut down and bans the owner from opening any modeling agencies in the state. According to McGraw’s suit, the modeling agency owner charged clients thousands of dollars for photo shoots and portfolio building services but failed to follow through on these services. Additionally McGraw alleged that the owner violated consumer protection laws requiring him to warn clients of the right to cancel contracts within three days. In a news release McGraw said, "I caution those with dreams of becoming a model to do their homework before paying an agency upfront for their services.” The judge ordered the owner to pay $5,000 in restitution, as well as $25,000 in penalties.
Ohio AG Announces New Child Crimes Unit, Initiative to Fight Child Abuse (November 20, 2011)
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that his office is launching new initiatives to crack down on child sex offenders. As part of the new initiative, DeWine’s office is creating the Crimes Against Children Unit to focus on identifying offenders who use the internet to commit sex offenses involving children. Additionally, DeWine appointed two attorneys in the special prosecutions unit to address crimes against children, as well as create a team to help victims, help train local law enforcement, and publicly identify wanted sex offenders. In a statement DeWine said, "We're going to go after these predators and we're going to lock them up and we're going to keep them locked up…. We're going to find these child molesters and we're going to put them in jail."
State AGs ask FTC to Limit Alcohol Content in Four Loko (November 18, 2011)
State Attorneys General in 35 states have asked the Federal Trade Commission to limit the percentage of alcohol allowed in single-serving cans, specifically targeting the beverage Four Loko. The alcoholic beverage Four Loko contains 12 percent alcohol in a 23.5-ounce can, roughly equivalent to 5 beers. In a news release Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said, “The company claims that that you can safely drink one can of Four Loko in a single occasion, which is absurd.” The attorneys general are asking the FTC to limit the alcohol content of Four Loko to two servings per can.
DRBC Postpones ‘Fracking’ Vote, New York AG Approves (November 18, 2011)
The Delaware River Basin Commission has indefinitely postponed a meeting that was supposed to take place November 21st to vote on natural gas regulations that would lift the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Delaware River Basin. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman supported the move saying, “This delay further demonstrates that the proposed regulations for fracking in the Delaware River basin are not ready to see the light of day. Without a full, fair and open review of the potential risks of fracking in the basin, the public will continue to question the federal government's ability to protect public health and environment." Schneiderman has sued the federal government over alleged failures regarding fracking studies. The delay follows an announcement by Delaware Governor Jack Markell, who is a member of the Commission, that he would not support the regulations.
Missouri AG Secures TRO Against Foundry Owners for Water Violations (November 17, 2011)
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced a temporary restraining order against the owners of foundry Didion and Sons. According to Koster, the owners violated several Missouri environmental laws by illegally dumping and storing toxic substances. The owners were allegedly evasive about having their foundry inspected while in the middle of demolishing buildings on the site, prompting state Department of Natural Resource officials to obtain a search warrant, which revealed the alleged violations. In a statement Koster said “Taking care of our environment is a responsibility we all share. This office takes that responsibility seriously and will continue to vigorously enforce the laws governing the use of our natural resources.”
Court Decides Mississippi Lawsuit over BP Funds to be in State Court (November 16, 2011)
A federal district court judge ruled that Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s lawsuit against the administrator of BP’s oil spill fund will be heard in state court. This decision follows an earlier move by the fund’s administrator to have the lawsuit heard in federal court. According to Hood’s office, the lawsuit was filed in response to alleged failures on behalf of the BP fund administrator to provide documents regarding Mississippi claims.
New Hampshire AG Warns over Possible 'Women’s Expo’ Scam (November 16, 2011)
New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney issued a warning to consumers over an event advertising itself as “For Us Women’s Expo.” According to Delaney, his office was contacted by the Radisson Hotel in Manchester to notify the office that contrary to what the online ads for the Expo said there was no such event scheduled to take place at their establishment in December. The ads were allegedly selling tickets for $6 to $10 and booth space ranging from $565 to $1,000. The New Hampshire Department of Justice is attempting to identify the person or persons behind the ad to investigate.
California AG Subpoenas Mortgage Giants Fannie and Freddie Mac (November 16, 2011)
California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office has issued subpoenas to mortgage lenders Freddie and Fannie Mac as part of an ongoing investigation into mortgage lending practices in the state. According to an anonymous source, Harris’ subpoena asked the lenders questions regarding their business in California, including acting as landlords for foreclosed properties in the state. Additionally the subpoena allegedly requested information on their mortgage-servicing and foreclosure practices.
Louisiana AG sues to Regain 7th Congressional Seat (November 15, 2011)
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court over the loss of the state’s seventh Congressional seat following the 2010 Census. Based on the U.S. Census, which showed that Louisiana’s population growth was far exceeded by other states, the state lost their seventh seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The 2010 Census included illegal immigrants in their population counts. In a statement Caldwell said, "Louisiana's complaint simply asks the court to require the federal government to recalculate the 2010 apportionment of U.S. House of Representative seats based on legal residents — just as the Constitution requires.”
Supreme Court to Hear Healthcare Challenge Brought By Attorneys General (November 14, 2011)
The Supreme Court Order List issued Monday Morning included three petitions for certiorari concerning challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court has set a total of five and a half hours to hear three questions before the court: 1) Whether Congress had the power under Article I of the Constitution to enact the minimum coverage provision; 2) Whether the ACA must be invalidated in its entirety because it is nonseverable from the individual mandate that exceeds Congress’ limited and enumerated powers under the Constitution; and 3) Whether the suit brought by respondents to challenge the minimum coverage provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is barred by the Anti-Injunction Act, 26 U.S.C. 7421(a). To date three U.S. appellate courts have upheld the constitutionality of the individual and two have ruled it unconstitutional.
Missouri AG sues Bar Owner over Septic Violations (November 13, 2011)
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources filed suit against the owner of Missouri bar The Upper Deck. According to Koster’s office and the state DNR, the owner violated state clean water laws when he failed to register before operating his septic tank, among other related violations. The suit alleges the owner failed to renew his operating permit, illegally discharged into Missouri waters, failed to follow discharge limits, and failed to submit required annual sludge and discharge monitoring reports. The owner could be fined as much as $10,000 per day for each violation, though a spokeswoman for Koster’s office said the state would likely work with the owner to reduce the fine amount.
New York AG Criticizes Proposed Fracking Regulations (November 8, 2011)
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman took issue with new regulations on hydrofracking proposed by the Delaware River Basin Commission. The proposed rules would permit natural gas companies to collectively drill a maximum of 300 natural gas wells when the moratorium on drilling in the Marcellus Shale of the Delaware River Basin is lifted. Once the limit on wells is reached the Commission would have to vote to allow any additional drilling. According to Schneiderman, the regulations are inadequate given the lack of an environmental impact study. In a statement regarding the lack of an environmental impact study Schneiderman said the "federal government does not have a complete understanding of the health and safety risks fracking poses, even as it stands to open up the Delaware River Basin to thousands of new gas wells.”
In Kentucky’s Attorney General Race: Conway Wins Re-election over P’Pool (November 8, 2011)
Incumbent Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway was re-elected to the post after Tuesday’s election. In his victory speech Conway said “As Kentucky attorney general, I’m going to continue to stand up for people who need someone to stand you for them. I’m going to continue my efforts to go after the few, not all, of the for-profit colleges, that are more interested in getting their hands on federal student loan money than education.”
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood Wins Re-election (November 8, 2011)
Voters in Mississippi re-elected incumbent state Attorney General Jim Hood to the office in Tuesday’s election. Following his victory Hood said, “I’m honored the voters have chosen me again.” He also said he believes voters reelected him because “I’ve done what people expected our office to do — prosecuting cybercrimes, filling gaps where district attorneys can’t.”
Delaware AG Sponsors Foreclosure Prevention Workshops (November 8, 2011)
The Delaware Attorney General’s Office announced that their Mortgage Fraud Task Force is sponsoring free workshops in November on foreclosure prevention. According to the office, the workshops are aimed at providing information that will help residents keep their homes, assist with loan modifications, and generally reduce foreclosures. In a statement Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden said “Our goal is to make sure that homeowners who are seeking ways to meet their mortgage obligations are able to have meaningful conversations with their lenders and avoid being victimized by mortgage rescue scams that strip homeowners of their equity and their home.” The workshops will include mortgage service providers, state employees, and housing counselors.
Massachusetts AG Fines Distributor for Wetlands Violations (November 7, 2011)
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a settlement with high fructose corn syrup supplier Tate & Lyle Ingredients America LLC over alleged violations of state clean water and wetland laws. According to Coakley, the distributor dumped water used to clean the inside of corn syrup tanker trucks into a culvert behind their plant, which then flowed into a nearby swamp and caused vegetation in the swamp to turn black. Coakley’s office says rinse water caused approximately 12,000 square feet of damage to vegetated wetlands. Under the terms of the agreement Tate & Lyle will pay $105,000 in penalties and restore the damaged wetland.
NJ AG sues Philadelphia Attorney over Alleged Ponzi Scheme (November 6, 2011)
New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow filed suit against Philadelphia lawyer Michael Kwasnik over allegations he operated a Ponzi scheme that took money from the retirement accounts of elderly investors. According to Dow, Kwasnik told investors that money would be used to promote the business Liberty State Investments when some of the money was actually used to pay returns to other investors. In the lawsuit Dow’s office alleges, "Investor funds were partly used in a Ponzi scheme to pay existing investors and for other improper purposes, including the fraudulent and unjust enrichment of individual defendants and members of their families.” Dow’s suit asks the court to order restitution for investors and permanently bar Kwasnik and other members of the alleged scheme from selling investment securities.
Missouri AG sues CAFO over Wastewater (November 5, 2011)
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed suit against Charles Cooper LLC, a concentrated animal feeding operation or CAFO, alleging violations of the state’s Clean Water Law. According to Koster, the CAFO polluted a creek by applying wastewater to farm fields. Additionally, Koster alleges the CAFO breached an agreement to correct prior violations and pay a penalty. The suit asks the court to require the CAFO comply with the Clean Water Law, pay the $9,000 suspended from an earlier penalty, and assess a new penalty of up to $10,000 per day per violation.
Texas Fines BP over 2005 Refinery Explosion (November 3, 2011)
Oil giant BP has agreed to pay $50 million in fines to Texas following an explosion at an oil refinery in 2005 that unlawfully released pollutants into the air. According to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the fine will settle all state claims against BP over emissions at the refinery. At a news conference Abbott said, "This sends a strong, clear message ... that you don't mess with Texas air quality.” The fine against BP is the largest ever for a violation of the Texas Clean Air Act at a single facility.
North Dakota AG sues Minnesota over State Clean-Air Laws (November 3, 3011)
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announced the state is suing Minnesota over carbon dioxide emissions restrictions that could affect power sales in North Dakota. In a statement Stenehjem said “It is unfortunate it has come to this. As Minnesota seeks to rebuild its economy, it will need energy. Much of that energy will need to come from sources outside Minnesota. Over the last four years, we in North Dakota have made every effort to convince Minnesota officials to rescind this act.” Stenehjem filed after Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed a bill that would have overturned the restrictions.
Ohio AG Rules Water Permits were not Issued Legally (November 2, 2011)
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine determined that permits granted by the state Environmental Protection Agency to Patriot Water Treatment and the City of Warren to process gas and oil well brine were not legal. According to DeWine, the permits issued “did not have a basis in law.” In the ruling DeWine also stated, “The safety of Ohio's water is too important to put at risk as most wastewater treatment plants don't currently have the proper technology for adequately treating fracking fluids." DeWine has asked the Environmental Review Appeals Commission to dismiss Patriot’s appeals and send the permits back to the Ohio EPA director for further action. Ohio EPA says DeWine’s ruling on the permits was a declaration of error on behalf of the EPA and is consistent with their determinations.
Massachusetts AG Reviews Response of Public Utilities to Recent Outages (November 2, 2011)
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is reviewing utility companies’ responses to power outages after the October snow storm. According to Coakley, her office is investigating the reason behind the duration of power outages following the storm, as well as whether the companies prepared sufficiently for the storm and whether fines may be necessary. Additionally, Coakley is investigating how the utilities manage their resources when storms are not expected.
State AGs Sign Letter to Congress Urging Funds to Fight Human Trafficking (November 1, 2011)
Attorneys General from 44 states and territories signed a letter sent by the National Association of Attorneys General, urging the U.S. Senate and House to pass legislation aimed at combating human trafficking. The letter supports Senate Bill 1572 and House Resolution 2596, which would provide funding for a series of programs to combat slavery and human trafficking. In the letter the Attorneys General said "The fact that the enslavement and trade in human beings exists in our modern world has a disturbingly large, highly profitable illicit industry is unacceptable. Slavery damages our communities, taints the products and services we consume and the profits we earn, and is one of the most pressing human rights challenges of our time."
Illinois AG Sues over Violations in Train Derailment (October 31, 2011)
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed suit against Iowa Interstate Railroad, Ltd. alleging environmental violations following a train derailment in which ethanol-filled tankers caught fire. According to Illinois authorities, while the fire burned off much of the spilled ethanol an unknown quantity seeped into the soil. There are at least three wells for drinking water in the area around the spill. Madigan’s lawsuit asks the court to order Iowa Interstate completely cleanup the area and pay all costs associated with the cleanup. Additionally, Madigan and Iowa Interstate entered an agreement with the court, which the court granted, requiring Iowa Interstate to work with the state on cleanup while the lawsuit pends, including conducting surveys and reporting test results. In a statement Madigan said, “With an ethanol spill of this magnitude, we must ensure that the proper steps are taken to clean up the area and protect the public’s health and safety during that process.”
Oklahoma AG Warns over EPA Data on Natural Gas Emissions (October 28, 2011)
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is warning fellow state Attorneys General over data used by the Environmental Protection Agency to measure emissions from natural gas production. According to Pruitt, the EPA is relying on inaccurate methods to measure methane emissions into the atmosphere from natural gas production. Addressing the data collection methods Pruitt said, “This misstep or deception by the EPA has resulted in new figures that are faulty, unreasonable and based on a distorted understanding of how gas drilling operates.” Pruitt’s letter to other Attorneys General follows a letter he sent to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson earlier this month expressing concerns over the data collection methods.
State AGs Launch Campaign to Combat Teens Texting While Driving (October 27, 2011)
Attorneys General from several states have joined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Ad Council to launch a campaign aimed at educating teens on the dangers of texting while driving. The campaign is reaching out to teenagers through television, radio, social media, and public service announcements after studies showed 82% of young adults admitted to reading text messages while driving. Studies by the NHTSA also found that the number one killer of people under 20 is distracted driving. In a statement Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna said “The nation’s attorneys general join the Ad Council, consumer protection agencies and NHTSA in reminding young drivers to stop texts and stop wrecks. No text, Tweet or Facebook update is worth your life.” Emphasizing that texting is a dangerous distraction Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper said, “Reading a text message is no less dangerous than any other diversion that takes your eyes off the road, and it can carry deadly consequences.” The social media aspect of the campaign began this week.
California AG Sues Bottled-Water Companies over “Biodegradable” Labels (October 27, 2011)
California Attorney General Kamala Harris filed suit against a plastic bottling company and two bottled-water companies over allegations that designating their plastic containers as biodegradable is false and illegal. In California, it is illegal to label plastic food or beverage containers as biodegradable. In a statement Harris said, "Californians are committed to recycling and protecting the environment, but these efforts are undermined by the false and misleading claims these companies make.” Harris’ suit seeks to prohibit sale of the allegedly mislabeled products and up to $2,500 in penalties per violation.
Great Lakes State AGs Petition Supreme Court over Asian Carp Threat (October 26, 2011)
Five states—Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to review a case involving the threat of Asian Carp entering the Great Lakes. The states hope to force the Army Corps of Engineers to work faster to study permanently separating the Mississippi River and Great Lakes to prevent Asian Carp invasions. In a news release Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said, “Time is running out for the Great Lakes and we can’t afford to wait years before the federal government takes action.” The states previously appealed their case to the Supreme Court on a different legal theory but the petition for certiorari was denied.
Court Denies Appeal Request in Texas, Oklahoma Water Case (October 22, 2011)
The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit denied a request from a Texas water district to appeal an earlier decision upholding an Oklahoma law that restricts exporting stream water from the state. The Tarrant Regional Water District in Texas sought to have the courts overturn the Oklahoma law and require the state to allow them to purchase water. In a statement about the decision Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said that the decision “underscores that the people of Oklahoma should not be mandated through litigation to shape water policy. Water is an important resource that is vital to Oklahomans, and my office will continue to defend our state's interests.”
Seven States File Motion to Intervene for EPA over Cross-State Pollution Rule (October 21, 2011)
Seven states—Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia—filed a motion to intervene on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency in the legal challenge over the Cross-State Air Pollution rule. The rule would require some states to significantly reduce emissions of air pollutants that adversely impact pollution levels in downwind states and is being challenged by several states. In a statement Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said, "While Connecticut has stringent laws controlling sources of air pollution emissions, the same cannot be said of other states. The EPA proposed a rule that controls sources of pollution in other states, which would otherwise blow into our region. We are working to ensure that this rule is not overturned.''
California AG Warns Consumers over Breast Cancer Charity Scams (October 21, 2011)
California Attorney General Kamala Harris warns consumers to be cautious of scams capitalizing on Breast Cancer Awareness month. According to Harris, several “sound-alike” organizations and scam artists are attempting to take advantage of people hoping to contribute to breast cancer charities. Harris says consumers should follow several tips to avoid being taken advantage of, including not giving credit card numbers over the phone or email and researching organizations before giving money. Additionally, Harris suggests consumers inquire with the organization on what the funds will be used for, what percentage will be used for various purposes, and whether it only supports research. More information on giving to charities can be found on the California Attorney General’s website.
19 States ask Supreme Court to Review Stormwater Runoff Case (October 18, 2011)
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and attorneys general for 18 other states filed an amicus brief in the case of Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center. The amicus brief was filed in support of Oregon State Forester Doug Decker’s petition for certiorari to the U.S Supreme Court. The brief argues that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit failed to give deference to the Environmental Protection Agency’s interpretation of the Clean Water Act determining that logging roads are not point sources. In a statement about the brief Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said, “Congress has held that states are the appropriate entities to determine best management practices for protecting our waters and wildlife from stormwater runoff related to timber harvesting. The Ninth Circuit's ruling contradicts more than 30 years of practice and Congress' and the EPA's directives.”
Rhode Island AG Looks to Ban Bath Salts (October 18, 2011)
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin has called for the Rhode Island Department of Health to label “bath salts” as a controlled substance. The bath salts in question are a methamphetamine-like recreational drug. Labeling these bath salts as a controlled substance would effectively ban them in the state. According to Kilmartin, the bath salts pose a severe hazard to those who use them and poison control centers nationwide have received more than 4,000 calls involving bath salts this year. Twenty-nine states have already banned the substance.
Massachusetts AG Prepares to Sue Mortgage Lenders (October 18, 2011)
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is preparing to sue some mortgage lending companies for improper foreclosure procedures. Coakley is investigating allegations of foreclosure improprieties by the lenders, such as threatening homeowners with fees and property seizures despite having granted permanent loan modifications to the owners. In a statement Coakley said, “To the extent that banks are not meeting their obligations, this conduct is inexcusable and my office will work to hold them accountable.” Coakley did not reveal what banks her investigation or potential lawsuit target.
Connecticut AG Reaches Settlement with Major Credit Rating Agencies (October 14, 2011)
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and three major credit rating agencies—Moody’s Investor Service Inc., Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Inc.—reached a settlement over allegations the agencies misrepresented their ratings. Jepsen’s office filed suit against the agencies after receiving complaints that cities, towns, and school districts in the state were paying higher than necessary interest rates and bought unnecessary bond insurance. The settlement requires the agencies to give a $900,000 credit to the state to be used for future bond ratings and to meet with public bond issuers to explain their rating scales and factors.
Wisconsin AG Announces Fine for Shoreline Damage (October 13, 2011)
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced that a Wisconsin couple was ordered to pay $99,999 in fines by a judge for shoreline damage. According to Van Hollen, the couple built a stone wall without a permit which damaged more than 10,000 square feet of shoreline and lake bed on the Upper Nashotah Lake. The couple also allegedly dumped large amounts of sand into the lake without a permit. The judge also ordered the couple to buy $5,000 worth of native plants for their property on the lake.
Maryland AG Settles with Steel Mill over Emissions (October 13, 2011)
Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler’s office announced a settlement agreement with the Sparrows Point steel mill for alleged violations of Maryland pollution laws. According to Gansler’s office, the violations occurred when a blast furnace caught fire after gases escaped due to a pressure surge and forced a raw material into release valves, which then ignited. The agreement between Gansler’s office, the Maryland Department of the Environment, and Sparrows Point requires the mill to pay a $135,000 penalty and prevent unnecessary openings of the pressure relief valves.
Doctor Charged over Prescriptions After Pennsylvania AG Investigation (October 12, 2011)
After an investigation by Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly’s office, a doctor has been charged for allegedly giving prescriptions for pain medications in exchange for sexual favors. According to Kelly, the doctor gave prescriptions for oxycodone to a woman despite never conducting a full medical examination on her. The doctor is charged with unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance, not documenting prescriptions, and criminal conspiracy.
Kansas AG Defends Power Plant Permit (October 12, 2011)
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has filed a brief with the Kansas Supreme Court asking the court to uphold a permit to construct a power plant in the state. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued a permit allowing Sunflower Electric to build a coal power plant in the state and has since been sued by the Sierra Club. Schmidt’s office is defending the state and the Department in the suit. In a statement Schmidt said, “No law authorizes or requires KDHE to refuse to license an electric generating plant because its fuel source is coal.”
Massachusetts Chinese Restaurants Ordered to pay over Labor Violations (October 12, 2011)
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced that the owners of two Chinese restaurants in the state were ordered to pay $181,000 for labor violations. According to Coakley’s office the restaurants violated state labor laws by paying kitchen staff less than minimum wage and allowing staff to work more than 70 hours a week. Additionally Coakley’s office alleged that a 16-year-old worker was not paid for 9 months of work and many employees lived in an unsatisfactory rooming house owned by a former owner of the restaurant. The restaurant owners must pay more than $52,000 in restitution and $129,000 in penalties.
Rhode Island AG Holds Cell Phone Recycling Drive (October 10, 2011)
To benefit domestic violence victims, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is holding a drive to recycle old cell phones through October. People may drop off cell phones at the Attorney General’s Office in Providence, as well as various courthouses. The cell phones will then be donated for either 911 Emergency phones for local communities or to Verizon’s HopeLine program for domestic violence coalitions. Any phones that cannot be salvaged will be recycled in an environmentally friendly manner. In a statement Kilmartin said, “Cell phones can serve as a vital link to emergency or support services in a time of crisis or as a reliable, safe connection to employers, family and friends as survivors rebuild their lives. Through the simple act of donating an old cell phone sitting around your home or office, together we can use technology to empower domestic violence victims and help change lives.”
Florida AG Pushes for Tougher Time-Share Fraud Laws (October 9, 2011)
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is pushing for tougher laws to crack down on time-share resale fraud in the state. According to Bondi, her office has received 6,863 complaints involving unfair and deceptive timeshare telemarketing practice this year. Bondi, along with other Florida lawmakers, is pushing for legislation that would increase penalties for violations, require resale companies to recognize cancellations made within 7 days of a contract, and require companies to give a full refund within 20 days of contract cancellation.
Washington AG Warns Consumers on “Smishing” Scams (October 7, 2011)
Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna warned consumers to be cautious of text messages looking for their bank account information in a text message scam known as “smishing”. According to McKenna, people have been receiving text messages claiming to be from a bank but then ask people to hand over their bank account information. In a statement McKenna said, "If you don't wish to be smished, ignore text messages that look like they're coming from your bank or credit card. Flip over your credit or ATM card and call the number on the back. If there's a problem with your account, that's the best way to find out."
Texas AG says EPA Cross-State Pollution Rule Changes not Sufficient (October 6, 2011)
The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed changes to the Cross-State Air Pollution rule that the agency says will soften the rule. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is suing the EPA over the rule, said the revisions were minor. The revisions include allocating additional allowances for emissions in a state trading program, most of which will go to Texas for sulfur dioxide emissions. Abbott says his office will continue their legal challenge against the Cross-State rule.
Illinois AG Launches Initiatives to Fight Meth Production (October 5, 2011)
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced two initiatives to combat new methamphetamine production methods in the state. The state has seen a rise in small-scale methamphetamine production that makes the drug harder for authorities to detect. Madigan says she will work with state legislatures to amend an Illinois law to make a temporary program that tracks the sale of pseudoephedrine cold medicines permanent. Additionally, Madigan’s office is launching an awareness campaign aimed at those who buy pseudoephedrine pills to produce meth. In a statement Madigan said, “When meth first hit our communities, we hit back hard to drive meth makers and users out of Illinois. But meth is a unique drug. It’s like a virus that mutates, so we must retool our responses to how this drug is made.”
Florida AG Settles with Internet Advertiser over “Free” Gifts (October 3, 2011)
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has reached an agreement with internet advertiser SubscriberBASE Holdings, Inc. over allegations of deceptive practices. Bondi alleged that SubscriberBASE offered free gifts online but failed to “clearly and conspicuously” disclose the conditions of the offer. SubscriberBASE must pay $800,000 and disclose the proper information in all future free gift ads.
Massachusetts AG asks NRC to Review Nuclear Plant Safety (October 3, 2011)
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to withhold a 20 year operating permit to the Pilgrim Nuclear Station until the safety of the plant is confirmed. Coakley said that the radiation leak from the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, which shares the same basic design with the Pilgram facility, underscored the need for safety reviews of U.S. reactor pools. NRC has not indicated when it will make a decision on the future of the plant.
Montana AG Objects to Federal Gun Ban for Medical Marijuana Users (October 3, 2011)
Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder objecting to the federal policy banning the sale of guns and ammunition to medical marijuana users. In September the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives notified firearms dealers across the country that there was no exception to the federal law outlawing sales of guns or ammunition to drug users for medical marijuana patients. Bullock is concerned about constitutional and policy issues raised by ATF’s letter. In his letter to Holder Bullock cautioned that the federal government should act carefully “when its laws and policies involve conflicts with those of the states.”
Delaware City must Disclose Solar Power Pricing (October 1, 2011)
Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden’s office ruled that the city of Dover, Delaware must disclose the price citizens are paying for power from a new solar installation. The decision came after Biden’s office received complaints that the city released a redacted version of the power contract that excluded per-hour price for power. Dover allegedly stated that releasing the price would damage the competitive standing of LS Power Group. The city says it is making an unredacted copy available and LS Power has decided not to contest Biden’s decision.
Maine AG Announces Sentence for Mobile Home Sale Theft Case (October 1, 2011)
Maine Attorney General William Schneider announced Maine resident Tammy Barker's sentence for misappropriating proceeds from the sale of mobile homes on consignment, largely on the Brunswick Naval Air Station. Schneider’s office alleged Barker stole over $400,000 from the sales of 17 homes over 18 months to gamble at a local casino. Barker was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.