Recording of “A Conversation with State Attorneys General” Webcast Now Available
On April 18, 2012, State AG Practice Partner Divonne Smoyer was joined by Maryland AG and National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Incoming President Doug Gansler. AG Gansler provided insightful commentary about his experience as an AG and the considerations AGs face when undertaking their various roles. Please click here to access a recording of the webcast.
Oregon AG to Leave Office This Summer
- Oregon AG John Kroger announced that he would depart office in summer 2012, before his term ends, in order to accept a position as president of Reed College.
- AG Kroger, who announced last year that he would not seek a second term, vowed to work with the governor in order to prepare a smooth transition for his successor, who will be elected in November 2012.
Wisconsin AG Creates New Consumer Protection and Antitrust Unit
- Wisconsin AG J.B Van Hollen announced the creation of a new Consumer Protection and Antitrust Unit within the AG’s office that will focus on mortgage-related complaints as well as other consumer protection and antitrust matters.
- The AG Office’s Criminal Litigation Unit has long enforced State consumer protection, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and antitrust laws, but this shift is intended to give new emphasis to such laws by tasking a specific unit with full-time enforcement.
MetLife Reaches Settlement with 30 States over Life Insurance Payouts
- Life insurer MetLife has reached an agreement with 30 States resolving a multi-state investigation into allegations that the company improperly retained unclaimed life insurance payouts potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
- Under the agreement, which results from a three-year investigation into claims that MetLife and other insurers should have taken more direct steps to track down beneficiaries of life insurance policies, MetLife will pay $40 million to the States and distribute as much as $438 million in proceeds to beneficiaries or escheat those funds to the States as unclaimed property.
Massachusetts AG Settles Deceptive Marketing Claims against Health Plan
- Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley announced a settlement with Texas-based health plan provider Careington International resolving allegations that the company deceptively marketed its discount health plans to Massachusetts consumers.
- Under the settlement, the company will pay $190,000 in restitution to resolve allegations that it gave consumers misleading descriptions of the provisions of its health plans and failed to properly disclose that those health plans are not the same as health insurance.
New York AG Alleges Fraud against Credit Card Machine Leasing Company
- New York AG Eric Schneiderman filed suit against Northern Leasing Systems, which leases credit card machines to small businesses, alleging that it attempted to extract unauthorized fees from thousands of customers.
- The lawsuit alleges that the company, which leases machines to thousands of sole proprietors and small businesses, debited former customers with expired contracts, including many who had received releases from their contracts, allegedly resulting in more than $10 million in unauthorized payments.
Virginia AG Sues Former Reality Star over Cancelled Wine Tours
- Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli has sued Tareq Salahi over allegations that a company that he owned and operated defrauded consumers by failing to provide promised tours of Virginia vineyards and failing to provide refunds to consumers after those tours were canceled.
- The lawsuit against Mr. Salahi, who is known for crashing a White House State Dinner for the Prime Minister of India while starring in a reality television show, seeks to enjoin the company from offering tours, restitution for consumers, and civil penalties under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
Arizona AG Sues Mortgage Modification Company over Alleged Deceptive Practices
- Arizona AG Tom Horne sued Mortgage Relief Group and its owner for allegedly making false promises and urging consumers to pay upfront fees for mortgage modification services.
- The lawsuit seeks restitution and penalties of up to $10,000 on allegations that consumers paid between $1,000 and $3,300 for the company’s assistance in negotiating modifications for homeowners facing foreclosure, but failed to perform those services or to keep homeowners informed of the status of their applications for modification.
New Jersey AG and U.S. DOJ Reach $46 Million Settlement with Oil Refiner over Emissions
- New Jersey AG Jeff Chiesa and the U.S. Department of Justice reached a settlement with Hess Corp. over alleged violations of state and federal laws regulating the emission of gases and particulates from one of the company’s oil refineries.
- The settlement, under which Hess will pay a $850,000 fine and spend $45 million to improve its facilities, resolves a lawsuit filed earlier this week that alleged that the company inappropriately made major modifications to its facilities that lacked proper pollution controls, resulting in significant net increases of gases and particulates.
Missouri AG Settles Environmental Claims with Mine Operator
- Missouri AG Chris Koster announced a settlement with mine operator Doe Run over alleged risks for lead contamination from its Sweetwater Mine and Mill, one of the largest metal mines in the country.
- The settlement addresses a large waste pile at the mine which contains sandy, lead-containing materials that the AG is concerned can blow off-site and contaminate surrounding areas, and the agreement requires the company to develop procedures and engage in work at the site to prevent such potential contamination.
Wisconsin AG Resolves Licensing Claims with Well-Drilling Company
- Wisconsin AG J.B. Van Hollen announced that the State settled a lawsuit with a water well-drilling company and one of its employees over allegations that the company operated without a proper license and violated other regulations.
- The lawsuit, which the company and its employee have agreed to pay $24,000 in fines to resolve, alleged that, in addition to failing to have a Wisconsin license, the Minnesota-based company failed to adhere to regulations and filed false statements that its operations were supervised by an employee that no longer worked at the company.