Publishers Reach Tentative Settlement with 15 AGs over E-Book Price-Fixing Claims
- 15 AGs have reached a tentative settlement with HarperCollins Publishers and Hachette Book Group to resolve a lawsuit claiming that the companies conspired with other publishers and Apple to raise the prices of e-books.
- The two publishers already had settled similar allegations with the federal government, and a third publisher, Simon & Schuster, is reported to be nearing its own settlement; meanwhile, litigation filed by the AGs and the U.S. Department of Justice against two other major publishers, Penguin and Holtzbrinck Publishers (which operates Macmillan), and Apple remains pending in federal court.
Texas AG Investigates State Farm over Non-Renewal of Gulf Coast Insurance Policies
- Texas AG Greg Abbott is investigating State Farm over allegations that the company may have misled policyholders regarding its decision not to renew thousands of residential and commercial insurance policies along the Gulf Coast.
- In response to the investigation, State Farm has filed a lawsuit to prevent the AG from enforcing a request issued in April seeking documents related to the company’s decision not to renew the more than 11,000 contracts.
West Virginia AG Sues Chemical Manufacturer over Products Allegedly Used in Designer Drugs
- West Virginia AG Darrell McGraw sued chemical-maker Nutragenomics Manufacturing under the State’s consumer protection law, claiming that the company falsely claims that its products, which the AG alleges are used to manufacture synthetic “designer” drugs, such as “bath salts” and synthetic marijuana, are safe and legal under state law.
- The lawsuit seeks to prevent the company from advertising its products as legal and safe and to force the company to identify West Virginians who purchased its products, and it also seeks penalties under the consumer protection law.
Judge Dismisses Virginia AG’s Currency Exchange Lawsuit against BNY Mellon
- A state judge has dismissed Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli’s lawsuit against Bank of New York Mellon alleging that the bank defrauded state pension funds by failing to provide those funds with the best exchange rates for foreign currency trades.
- The judge ruled that the State could not proceed on the suit, one of several qui tam actions filed against BNY Mellon under various state false claims acts, because the lawsuit did not allege that the company submitted a false claim for payment, which the judge said is required to state a claim under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.
Arizona AG Settles with Mortgage “Rescue” Company over Alleged Deceptive Practices
- Arizona AG Tom Horne reached a settlement with Underwater Property Solutions, a mortgage “rescue” company that offered to assist homeowners facing foreclosure to modify the terms of their mortgages by encouraging them to retain a law firm, operating as The Mortgage Law Group, which the AG also is suing over alleged deceptive foreclosure services.
- The settlement, under which the company is barred from operating in Arizona and must provide restitution to consumers, resolves allegations that the company collected fees upfront for its services, which is prohibited by state law, and made false claims that modification was guaranteed and would save consumers hundreds of dollars a month.
New York AG Settles with Construction Companies over Alleged Unpaid Wages
- New York AG Eric Schneiderman announced that a group of construction companies owned by a husband and wife will pay $500,000 in restitution to workers who allegedly were not paid the hourly prevailing wage required by the State.
- The settlement also requires the companies and owners to provide the AG’s Office with advance notice about any bids to perform work, as well as documentation showing payment of prevailing wage for any such accepted bids.
North Carolina AG Report Urges Legal Protections for Landowners Impacted by Fracking
- North Carolina AG Roy Cooper released a report recommending legislative measures to strengthen protections for property owners and consumers who enter agreements to permit natural gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” on their property.
- The report, conducted by the AG’s Consumer Protection Division, proposes such measure as requiring leases to include written disclosures for consumers on the impact fracking will have on their property and require approval by their mortgage lender; imposing a mandatory cooling off period for landowners who sign a lease to combat high-pressure sales tactics; requiring registration of lease brokers; and expanding potential compensation for damages to land and water from fracking.
Washington AG Leads Effort to Compel NRC to Complete Review of Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Storage Facility
- Washington AG Rob McKenna’s office is leading an effort before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to compel the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to complete the review process for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Storage Facility in Nevada.
- The Washington AG has been litigating the NRC’s termination of the development of Yucca Mountain since 2010, alleging that the Nuclear Waste Policy Act requires the agency to reach a final decision on the merits of that application within a certain timeframe.
New Hampshire AG Obtains Penalty against Petroleum Storage Company for Alleged Non-Compliance with Court Order
- New Hampshire AG Michael Delaney announced a $192,000 fine against a petroleum storage company over its alleged failure to take measures to minimize the risk of oil seepage from the company’s above ground tanks.
- The company was subject to a 2010 court order, which the AG alleged it had violated, requiring it to bring its storage tanks into compliance with state laws mandating technology to prevent oil from leaking into nearby rivers in the case of a breach or leak.