California Attorney General Sues JPMorgan Chase Over Debt Collection
- California Attorney General Kamala Harris has announced that she has filed suit against JPMorgan Chase alleging the company engaged in fraudulent debt-collection practices.
- The complaint alleges that the company engaged in widespread, illegal robo-signing, among other unlawful practices, to commit debt-collection abuses against approximately 100,000 California credit card borrowers over at least a 3-year period.
- The suit seeks a permanent injunction barring the unlawful practices as well as restitution for injured consumers.
Maryland Attorney General Urges Advertisers to Cease Advertising on Ask.fm
- Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler is urging several major advertisers to pull support from the Latvia-based, ad-supported website Ask.fm.
- The site has become a forum for anonymous attacks on children and has allegedly been linked to multiple teen suicides.
- In a letter sent to advertisers, the AG says that the website “not only allows ‘anonymous publication of malicious personal attacks on teenagers and children as young as 8 years old,’ but also appears to collect personal information about children in ways that violate the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).”
California Attorney General Won’t Back Down in Delta Privacy Suit
- Last week, citing federal preemption of the issue, a California judge tossed the state’s first attempt to sue Delta Airlines over alleged violations of state’s new data privacy statute requiring app manufacturers to clearly post privacy policies.
- Attorneys caution that this setback will not deter California Attorney General Kamala Harris from aggressively enforcing the state’s privacy laws. She has been a national leader in the data privacy field, and she is expected to continue her efforts.
- Dickstein State AG Practice partner Divonne Smoyer was quoted in a Law360 article on the California suit, stating that “State Attorneys General across the U.S. have picked up the topic of data security as a major issue, and have been urged on by federal regulators like the Federal Trade Commission to start exercising their authority. While this may be a hiccup and may cause them to take a look at things a little more closely, it won’t be a game changer or a game stopper.” Smoyer further noted that “states that have issues with loss of private information or companies that maintain inadequate security practices can use UDAAP statutes that are not very specific to sweep that up.”
Forty-three Attorneys General Send Letter to FDA Urging New Prescription Warnings
- Forty-three State Attorneys General sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging the FDA to adopt new black box labels for opiate-based prescription medications warning of the risk of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) caused by maternal opiate use while pregnant.
- Symptoms of NAS include malfunctions of the autonomic nervous system, respiratory system, and gastrointestinal tract, and occur after the baby is born and goes through opiate withdrawal.
- The AGs urge the warning to read: WARNING: USE OF NARCOTIC ANALGESICS IN PREGNANT WOMEN MAY CAUSE NEONATAL ABSTINENCE SYNDROME.
Pharmaceuticals and False Claims Act
Ranbaxy Settles with 50 States and the U.S. FDA
- Ranbaxy has reached a $500 million settlement with all 50 states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over allegations that the company sold subpar generic drugs.
- The company has not sold drugs produced at the relevant Indian factories since 2008.
- The company also pleaded guilty to three felony counts of violating the federal drug safety law and four for making false statements to the FDA.
- The whistleblower that initially brought suit under the federal False Claims Act will receive close to $49 million.
- The settlement is the largest in history against a generic drug maker.
Dickstein Shapiro Launches New Insurance Coverage Blog, Policyholder Informer
- Our Insurance Coverage Group has launched Policyholder Informer, a new legal blog that offers commentary and insight on insurance law by exploring it through recent rulings and judgments, news stories, and pop culture events.
- You can visit the blog or follow this helpful resource for policyholders on Twitter @PolicyholderLaw.
Illinois Attorney General Sues Auto Dealer
- Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced that she has sued Carterville RTA Auto Sales for deceptive sales practices.
- AG Madigan alleges that the company sold used cars “as is” and falsely promised either that vehicles were in good condition or that it would fix those with mechanical problems.
- The AG’s Office received nine complaints against the dealership with customers reporting losses of $500-$3,500.
- AG Madigan is seeking a permanent injunction against the dealership as well as customer restitution, a $50,000 civil penalty, and an additional $50,000 penalty for each violation of the Consumer Fraud Act with intent to defraud.
California Attorney General Sues Food Retailers for Lead Found in Candies
- California Attorney General Kamala Harris has sued Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and other food retailers, alleging that they are selling ginger and plum candies tainted by lead without appropriate warnings.
- The suit alleges that the retailers and candy makers “knowingly and intentionally” exposed consumers to lead in violation of Proposition 65, which requires businesses to warn of even minute amounts of chemicals deemed harmful. If found guilty, the retailers and candy makers face fines of up to $2,500 per day for each violation.
Connecticut and Maryland Attorneys General Scrutinize LivingSocial
- Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler are looking into the privacy policies of LivingSocial following a data breach that compromised the information of as many as 50 million accounts.
- The AGs have requested a detailed timeline of the incident, as well as a breakdown of the number of affected accounts in each state and the type of information compromised.
- They have also requested LivingSocial’s privacy policies, any security or forensic reports related to the breach, and an outline of any plan developed to prevent the recurrence of a breach.
Three Democratic State Attorneys General Take Stand Against IT Theft
- California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson were praised in an Op-Ed published in the National Law Journal for their actions against companies that gain unfair competitive advantages through the use of pirated information technology.
- The opinion piece lists recent actions taken by the three AGs targeting companies that steal information technology. The piece urges other State AGs to follow the example set by these three and target companies that harm competition by stealing information technology.
13 Attorneys General Write to EPA About Hydraulic Fracturing
- Thirteen Attorneys General have sent a letter to the FDA warning the agency not to employ backdoor “sue and settle” tactics to regulate hydraulic fracturing and oil production.
- The letter follows another sent to the EPA by the AGs of northeastern states threatening to sue the agency for not taking over regulatory responsibility of oil and gas production.
- The 13 states that joined the most recent letter are: Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming
Attorney General News
Democratic Attorneys General Association (“DAGA”) Hosts Policy Conference
- The Democratic Attorneys General Association is hosting a policy conference in Newport, Rhode Island this week.
- DAGA is a political organization formed to support the work of Democratic State Attorneys General. DAGA also raises and contributes funds and support to Democratic candidates for Attorney General.
- Conference topics include “Powering the Future: a discussion about how electric utilities are transitioning to cleaner generation and utilizing advanced technologies to power our economy,” the status and prospect of marriage equality in the states, and an update on 2013-2014 Attorney General races.
- Fundraisers for Rhode Island AG Peter Kilmartin and Missouri AG Chris Koster will also be held.
The State AG Enforcement Era Has Begun
- Practice group Partners Bernie Nash, Milton Marquis, and Divonne Smoyer published the article, “The State Attorney General Enforcement Era,” in Corporate Counsel.
- The article details several ways State AG authority is expanding, including multistate actions, federal co-enforcement authority, and False Claims Acts and qui tam and reverse qui tam actions. The article also outlines the evolving areas of interest to State AG offices.
Texas Attorney General Shuts Down Unauthorized Legal Services Provider
- Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott secured a court order against Just for People, Inc. ordering the company be dissolved and cease offering unauthorized immigration consulting services.
- The company will pay $480,000 in civil penalties and must provide more than $195,000 in restitution for violations of the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
- Attorney General Abbott has shut down more than 75 unauthorized legal services providers since 2002.
Massachusetts Attorney General Settles with Auto Emissions Inspectors
- Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced that she settled with William and Michael Daly resolving allegations that they conducted fraudulent inspections at Bill’s Auto Center.
- The AG alleged that between 2008 and 2010 the employees conducted fraudulent inspections by testing vehicles they knew would pass the emissions test, printing passing certificates for those vehicles, and using those certificates to represent vehicles with failed emissions tests.
- The process is called “clean scanning” and allegedly violates the state’s Clean Air Act, state Regulation of Business Practices, and the Consumer Protection Act.
- Under the settlement, the Dalys and the auto center must pay up to $116,000 in civil penalties, which will be waived if the Dalys and the auto center comply with the settlement agreement.
- This is the 11th judgment AG Coakley’s office has obtained against stations and inspectors related to emissions fraud claims since 2009.
Thirty-Six Attorneys General Settle with Amgen
- Several State Attorneys General Offices announced a multistate settlement between Amgen, Inc. and 36 State AGs resolving claims brought under state False Claims Acts.
- The AGs allege that Amgen inflated pricing data for its prescription drugs, allegedly causing state Medicaid programs to overpay for the drugs.
- Amgen has agreed to pay approximately $11 million to settle the claims.
State v. Federal
Republican State Leadership Committee Releases Paper on State Attorneys General
- The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) published “Federalism’s Top Cops: The Role of Today’s Republican State Attorneys General.”
- Written by RSLC President Christopher Jankowski, the article references increasing litigation by Republican AGs to defend “federalism” including litigation challenging the Affordable Care Act and numerous Environmental Protection Agency regulations that may encroach upon state rights.
State AGs Focus on Food and Beverage Industry
- AGs in the past have transformed how entire industries operate, from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement to lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies to the most recent AG litigation to transform the mortgage and financial service industries.
- AGs have turned their attention to the food and beverage industry and business practices are already changing as a result.
- For more information about how State AGs are focusing on the food and beverage industry, visit our blog.
New Jersey Attorney General Announces Price-Gouging Settlements
- New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa announced that he has settled with two gas stations to resolve allegations of price gouging during and following Superstorm Sandy.
- Under the agreement, the stations will collectively pay $46,000 to resolve the allegations.
- The stations are among the 24 businesses AG Chiesa sued for alleged price gouging following the storm.
AGs Encouraged at Summit to Take More Action on Data Privacy
- Last week, more than 20 AGs and senior staff gathered in Maryland to attend a summit hosted by the National Association of Attorneys General on “Privacy in the Digital Age.”
- Attendees heard various viewpoints on the issue, from business interests, state and federal enforcement and regulatory agencies, academia, and consumer advocacy groups.
- For more information about the summit and AGs’ attention to data privacy, visit our blog.
Ten AGs Sue EPA Over Plant Emission Rules
- Nine states and the District of Columbia joined the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Environmental Defense Fund in their intended suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- The states will allege that the EPA failed to issue timely rules capping greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants.
- Last week the EPA missed an April 13 deadline to finalize the rule.
- Along with the District of Columbia, the states joining the suit are New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Illinois Attorney General Sues Food Processor over Wastewater
- Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced that she has sued Avanti Foods alleging that the food processor discharged wastewater into a local sewer and dumped dairy waste on public property.
- AG Madigan has requested that the court impose the statutory maximum penalty on all 10 counts against Avanti Foods.
- The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency issued violations to Avanti over similar allegations in 2011.
State AG Political News
New Hampshire Executive Council Approves Joseph Foster’s Nomination for AG
- Last week, the New Hampshire Executive Council approved Governor Maggie Hassan’s nominee for Attorney General, Joseph Foster, to replace Michael Delaney, who is returning to private practice.
- Foster is a Democrat and has served as the chair of the management committee of one of the state’s largest law firms, where he currently chairs the bankruptcy practice. He has said he will not handle any cases involving clients of his law firm.
- The Council peppered the nominee with questions about his lack of criminal law experience and his time serving as a state legislator in both chambers.
- A swearing in date has not yet been set.
Tennessee Senate Approves Resolution Allowing General Assembly to Select Attorney General
- The Tennessee Senate has passed a resolution that will shift the authority for naming the state’s top lawyer from the state Supreme Court to the General Assembly.
- Tennessee is the only state in which the Supreme Court selects the AG.
- If enacted, Tennessee will join Maine as the only states in which the Legislature fills the office.
State Attorneys General (AGs) are bringing their considerable consumer protection and law enforcement authority to bear on the business practices of the food and beverage industry. AGs in the past have transformed how entire industries operate through similar actions, from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement to lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies to the most recent AG litigation to transform the mortgage and financial service industries. Awareness of AGs’ interest and scope of authority and proactive planning to identify and address concerns are essential for food and beverage companies to adapt to similar industry changes that AGs can cause.
AGs have begun by scrutinizing food and beverage marketing practices, particularly companies that tout unproven health benefits or that target or appeal to children. Thirty-nine AGs investigated Dannon in late 2010 regarding its marketing of products that it claimed improved consumers’ digestion and enhanced their immune systems. The company ultimately was required to pay a multi-million dollar penalty and alter its marketing practices. A coalition of AGs also examined sellers of alcoholic energy drinks, pursuing allegations that those companies improperly marketed to minors, misrepresented the energizing effect of the products, and further alleged that the formulation of the products themselves posed a danger, ultimately leading to the discontinuation of many alcoholic energy drinks.
Even when the industry has attempted self-regulations, AGs have looked closely at the sufficiency of those efforts, including their scrutiny of the accuracy of the “Smart Choices” product labeling initiative which resulted in the discontinuation of that program. Individual AGs also have taken action. The Oregon AG investigated and settled with Kellogg’s over its claims that its cereals could boost children’s immune systems. More recently, the New York AG subpoenaed several companies that make energy drinks, seeking information regarding marketing efforts and the ingredients used, particularly caffeine.
State AGs’ ability to affect industries extends beyond the investigation and litigation context. In a specific example, Vermont Attorney General Sorrell demonstrated a keen interest in food and obesity-related issues and attempted to impact the industry through policy changes and initiatives. He has proposed that the state legislature undertake numerous measures that include: enacting a soda tax, requiring calorie counts on menus, and using deceptive trade practice laws to curb food marketing aimed at children. In addition, he has encouraged other AGs to undertake similar initiatives. AGs also work closely with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to police consumer protection, and accordingly AGs are likely to be further prompted to act by the FTC’s 2012 study closely examining various aspects of child-focused marketing by food and beverage companies.
Plaintiff’s lawyers and health advocacy groups are prompting AGs to focus even more on these issues. Enterprising attorneys have pitched alleged links between food marketing and obesity as the “next tobacco” to several AGs offices and have suggested pursuing litigation against food and beverage companies on a contingency fee basis as they did in the tobacco cases. Advocacy groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Rudd Center, Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and the National Policy & Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity, have also conducted a significant campaign. They are encouraging AGs to use their stature as public officials and their consumer protection authority in novel ways to regulate food and beverage companies, often invoking parallels similar to the tobacco litigation. These groups attend conferences, draft white papers, and make panel appearances at national AG events, such as those sponsored by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) and Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG).
AGs are already active in regulating the food and beverage industry, and the pressures from anti-industry advocates and the general public focus on healthcare issues will only drive their interest further. Countering that messaging requires companies to account for and understand AGs, their authority and processes, and their concerns. AGs have driven change in other sectors, but a proactive strategy can help food and beverage companies manage what the future holds for their own industry.
Earlier this week, more than 20 Attorneys General (AGs) and senior AG staff gathered at National Harbor, Maryland to learn about “Privacy in the Digital Age,” the Presidential Initiative Summit topic of Maryland Attorney General and current National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) President Doug Gansler. This summit was part of a year-long focus on the issue of data privacy by NAAG, during which AGs and their staffs discussed and debated a variety of issues related to data privacy and cybersecurity. Given the heightened interest in these issues, that focus likely will continue, both by NAAG and by individual AGs.
Attendees at the Summit heard from speakers representing business interests, state and federal enforcement and regulatory agencies, academia, and consumer advocacy groups on a variety of topics, such as:
1) protecting business and government from cyber-risks (including cyber-criminals, cyber-terrorists, and “hacktivists,” among others);
2) how to protect the privacy of consumers, especially children, on the Internet, and whether the proper method to do so is industry “self-regulation” or through direct intervention by state and federal regulators;
3) “big data” and its impact on consumer privacy; and
4) the relationship between market power and consumer privacy.
Although numerous viewpoints were represented, one of the largest takeaways was the request for AGs to be more active enforcers of consumer data privacy, coming both from consumer advocates and current and former federal regulators. If businesses have not already been put on alert by the recent activity by Maryland AG Gansler and California AG Kamala Harris, this conference and the focus that it will generate from AGs should serve as another wake-up call that data privacy is an important and relevant issue. Companies that are not buttoned up on data privacy will likely face scrutiny from both state and federal regulators.
New York Attorney General Sues Company over Deceptive Credit Card Offerings
- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that his office has sued Dallas-based Union Workers Credit Services Inc. and its president for allegedly targeting union members with solicitations and advertisements claiming to offer a general purpose credit card.
- After paying an upfront fee of $37-$95, consumers allegedly learned that the card could only be used to purchase items from the Union Workers Credit Service’s limited merchandise catalogue.
- The suit seeks full restitution for consumers, a court order prohibiting the company from engaging in unlawful business practices, and penalties of up to $5,000 for each deceptive solicitation sent by the company.
Ohio Attorney General Sues Used Car Dealer
- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced his office has sued Dads Car Lot, Inc., alleging multiple violations of Ohio’s consumer protection laws, including conduct related to misrepresentations, repossessions, certificate of title, and repairs and services.
- The lawsuit seeks full reimbursement to the Title Defect Rescission Fund (TDR Fund), civil penalties, and injunctive relief.
- The AG’s office has already provided consumers with more than $9,000 in restitution from the TDR Fund.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Settles with Used Car Dealer
- Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced that her office has settled with Olympic Motors, Inc., resolving allegations of Consumer Protection Law and Auto Regulations violations.
- The Attorney General alleges that the company failed to: honor advertised prices; inform consumers of defects in the vehicles that rendered them unsafe for the road; sell cars as advertised; and make repairs to consumer’s vehicles as guaranteed at the time of sale, among other allegations.
- Under the terms of the voluntary compliance agreement, the company must pay civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and pay $3,000 for affected consumers over the age of 60.
- The agreement does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Olympic Motors.
Facebook Partners with Nearly 20 Attorneys General to Protect Teens’ Privacy
- During the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) summit on privacy, hosted by current NAAG President and Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, AG Gansler announced that a coalition of AGs has joined with Facebook to launch a program to educate teenagers and their parents with how to manage online visibility.
- The program consists of a series of state-specific public service announcements that will begin running Tuesday, April 23, 2013.
- The announcements, titled “What you can do to control your information,” will introduce an internet safety video answering top questions about privacy, bullying prevention, and Internet safety.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
The CFPB Alleges Four Mortgage Insurance Firms Owe $15 Million in Fines
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau slapped four of the nation’s largest mortgage insurance firms, Genworth Mortgage Insurance Corporation, United Guaranty Corporation, Radian Guaranty Inc., and Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation, with more than $15 million in fines for alleged kickbacks they paid to lenders in order to boost business.
- The CFPB alleges that the practice exacerbated the foreclosure crisis.
- The practice, according to the CFPB allegations, involved the use of bogus reinsurance contracts and dates back to the early part of the last decade.
Washington Attorney General Settles with Financial Planning Companies
- Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson settled with four financial planning companies resolving allegations that the companies targeted senior veterans with asset management schemes.
- Kansas-based American Benefits Advocates worked with three companies, Financial Concepts, Senior Advisory Services, Inc., and Equity Financial Freedom, doing business as American Veterans Financial, allegedly violating several Washington laws.
- Under the terms of the consent decree, the companies paid attorney fees and provided restitution to customers. Civil penalties are suspended as long as the companies comply with the order, which also permanently prohibits the companies from advising people about estate documents in Washington.
Washington Attorney General Sues Florist for Consumer Protection Violations
- Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that his office has sued Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts for refusing to provide flowers for a customer’s same-sex wedding.
- AG Ferguson said, “[I]t is my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington. Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation. If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide same-sex couples the same product or service.”
- The AG seeks a permanent injunction requiring the florist to comply with consumer protection laws and seeks $2,000 fines for each violation of the law.
New Hampshire Attorney General Announces $700,000 Settlement with Concrete Company
- New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney announced that his office and the state Department of Environmental Services settled with Torromeo Industries, Inc., a concrete and gravel company, resolving allegations of improper wetlands filling.
- Torromeo Industries allegedly engaged in the unpermitted filling of approximately 12.5 acres of wetlands and diverted more than one mile of perennial streams at its gravel mine.
- The unpermitted fill is thought to be the largest in the state’s history.
- Under the settlement, Torromeo has agreed to pay a $700,000 civil penalty, of which $225,000 will be suspended once the company completes restoration of the wetlands. The state accepted $175,000 in cash and more than 8,000 tons of stone as payment of the non-suspended fine.
Massachusetts Attorney General Focuses On For-Profit College
- Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has announced that her office is conducting “an extensive investigation” into the for-profit school industry. Generally, the AG is concerned that some for-profit colleges have made false and deceptive statements in advertising and enrollment materials, and misled website users about the rate at which its students were able to obtain employment.
- AG Coakley believes that these practices violate consumer protection laws and have left graduates with large amounts of debt and few opportunities.
- In addition to investigating industry practices, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office also launched an initiative to educate students about the for-profit school industry. As part of that initiative, the office has launched a new website offering resources for consumers related to for-profit schools.
State AGs in the News
Joseph Foster Tapped To Be New Hampshire Attorney General
- New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan announced that former state Senator Joseph Foster is her top choice for the position.
- If the Executive Council confirms the nomination, Governor Hassan will formally nominate Foster.
- Foster currently leads the bankruptcy practice for the McLane Law Firm.
- Last week, New Hampshire AG Michael Delaney announced that he will return to private practice after 14 years of public service, serving as AG since 2008.
Ohio Attorney General Settles Claims That Veteran Services Groups Misused Donations
- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that a state investigation revealed that AMVETS Department of Ohio, AMVETS Career Center, and AMVETS Department of Ohio Service Foundations misused $10 million.
- The money was to be used to create satellite offices to provide veterans with training and employment services. Instead, the investigation allegedly found that many of the satellite offices were merely facades. AG DeWine alleged that across a six-year span, nearly $1.8 million was diverted to subsidize non-charitable activities, such as travel reimbursement.
- The AG reported that AMVET officials have cooperated and started implementing a number of reforms. No criminal charges have been filed so far.
Ohio Attorney General Files Suit Against Pole Barn Company
- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that his office has sued MidOhio Buildings, Inc., doing business as Mustang Building Corp., for allegedly violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act.
- Seven consumers filed complaints either with his office or the Better Business Bureau alleging more than $100,000 total in losses.
- Mustang allegedly entered into contracts with consumers to build pole barns and similar buildings, but did shoddy work, misled consumers, operated without proper licensing, and failed to deliver promised services after tender of payment.
- The suit seeks restitution, injunctive relief, and civil penalties.
Missouri Attorney General Sues Landfill Owner
- Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced that his office filed suit against Republic Services, Inc., owner of the Bridgeton Landfill in St. Louis County, alleging that the company violated several of the state’s environmental protection laws.
- The alleged violations are related to an underground landfill fire burning since January, causing violations of Missouri’s air, hazardous waste, solid waste, and clean water laws.
- The lawsuit also seeks restitution for neighbors of the landfill, alleging that the odors have significantly impacted their ability to go about day-to-day activities.
Arkansas Attorney General Requests Exxon Preserve Spill Records
- After the Exxon Mobile Corp. Pegasus Pipeline ruptured, causing thousands of gallons of crude oil to leak into a residential neighborhood, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has requested that Exxon preserve all records related to the spill.
- AG McDaniel states that his office will open an investigation into the cause of the spill and the extent of the damage.
- AG McDaniel asks the company to require all employees to preserve “all documents, data compilations, tangible objects, or other information.”
- AG McDaniel expects Exxon to cooperate with the request.
CFPB Finalizes Revision to Credit Card Rules
- The CFPB announced that it has finalized a change to Regulation Z of the Truth in Lending Act, modifying the credit card rule so that the limit on credit card fees applies only during the first year the account is open.
- The rule is the CFPB’s response to a federal court case that blocked an earlier rule from taking effect.
Contingency Fee Counsel
West Virginia Attorney General Proposes Outside Counsel Hiring Policy
- West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced a proposal intended to increase fairness and transparency in the state’s hiring of outside counsel to represent the state or agencies in legal proceedings.
- The proposed policy outlines a bidding process and contingency fee agreements with outside counsel. It also ensures that all outside counsel will work under the direct supervision of the Attorney General’s Office.
- Attorney General Morrisey seeks public comment on the proposal.
Missouri Attorney General Settles with Fitness Center
- Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced that his office has settled with Cape Girardeau Family Fitness Center, resolving allegations that the center violated the state’s Safe Drinking Water Law.
- The settlement follows an investigation commenced after several children in a neighborhood fell ill after drinking water contaminated with E. coli. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services allegedly traced the contamination back to the center.
- The center will pay a civil penalty of $22,500, with $15,000 suspended upon compliance of the consent judgment, which requires the center to come into compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Law.
State AGs in the News
New Hampshire Attorney General to Leave Office
- New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney announced that he will leave the Attorney General’s Office after serving for 14 years.
- Governor Patrick Lynch appointed General Delaney in 2009.
- He intends to return to private practice.