California AG Announces New Privacy Enforcement Unit
- California AG Kamala Harris recently announced that her office has created a new Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit which will focus on enforcing state and federal consumer privacy laws.
- The stated mission of the Privacy Unit is to broadly enforce laws regulating all aspects of the collection, retention, disclosure, and destruction of private or sensitive consumer data in areas such as cyber privacy, health privacy, financial privacy, identity theft, government records, and data breaches.
- California is not the first AG’s office to open a privacy unit—Connecticut and Indiana also have opened units to focus on privacy issues affecting consumers. As we have reported previously, this trend is likely to continue given Maryland AG Doug Gansler’s NAAG Presidential Initiative for 2012-13 is “Privacy in the Digital Age.”
Eight States Settle with LC Manufacturers Over Alleged Price-Fixing Scheme
- AU Optronics Corp., LG Display Co., and Toshiba Corp. agreed to pay $571 million to settle a multistate action brought by eight State AGs alleging that the companies conspired to inflate prices for liquid crystal display screens used in televisions, computer monitors, and laptops.
- The settlement, which is awaiting court approval, requires the companies to pay $543.5 million to settle the antitrust claims, and $27.5 million in fines and penalties to the States. The companies also must engage in antitrust compliance programs.
Attorneys General Investigate Alleged Libor Manipulation
- State AGs from New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Florida, and Maryland are investigating the alleged manipulation of the London interbank offered rate (Libor) and whether the states have incurred any losses as a result of the alleged manipulation.
- The AGs are looking into a variety of issues, including whether state investments have declined in value as a result of the fall in the interest rates, and whether the states and municipalities have suffered losses on interest-rate swap agreements.
Arkansas AG Sues Debt Collection Agency Over Alleged Collection on Illegal Payday Loans
- Arkansas AG Dustin McDaniel recently announced that his office has filed a lawsuit against National Credit Adjusters LLC over allegations that the company violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practice Act in attempting to collect on payday loans, which are void under Arkansas law.
- The lawsuit is based on allegations that the debt collector misrepresented to Arkansas consumers that the debt originated by payday lenders is enforceable and collectable. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, the cancellation of usurious loan contracts, and restitution to consumers.
Massachusetts AG Seeks $4 Million Penalty Against Utility for Snowstorm Response
- Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley recently announced that her office is recommending that the State’s Department of Public Utilities issue a $4 million penalty against Western Massachusetts Electric Company based on allegations that the company failed to communicate adequately with residents and government officials during an October 2011 snow storm.
- In its brief filed with the Department, the AG alleges that the company failed to satisfy three standards of its emergency response planning by not communicating with customers and municipalities during the storm, failing to make direct contact with customers with medical needs, and failing to provide timely damage assessments.
Fidelis to Pay $14 Million for Consumer Restitution Fund as Part of Settlement with 12 State AGs
- 12 State AGs recently obtained a comprehensive settlement with US Fidelis, Inc., requiring the company to pay $14.1 million into a Consumer Restitution Fund to cover all consumer claims relating to the company’s alleged false and misleading solicitations of customers regarding vehicle warranty coverage.
- Between 2008 and 2010, Missouri and then 11 other states sued Fidelis alleging, inter alia, that the company misled consumers about the expiration of their vehicle warranties and the extent of repairs covered by the contracts they were buying. In 2010, Fidelis filed for bankruptcy.
- The settlement is the result of the multi-state (including Missouri, Ohio, Texas, and Washington) steering committee’s efforts to work with Fidelis, its creditors, and others in the bankruptcy case to reach an all-encompassing settlement.
Joint NJ and Federal Settlement Announced Against Chevron Over Air Pollution Allegations
- New Jersey AG Jeffrey Chiesa announced that the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency obtained a settlement with Chevron over allegations that the company violated both state and federal air quality laws at its asphalt refinery in Perth Amboy, NJ.
- As part of the settlement agreement filed in U.S. District Court, Chevron must pay a $231,875 civil penalty to the state and federal government.
Wisconsin AG Announces Settlement with Hazardous Waste Treatment Facility Over Alleged Environmental Protection Violations
- Wisconsin AG Van Hollen recently announced that his office has settled with WRR Environmental Services Company, Inc., a hazardous waste treatment and storage facility, over allegations that the facility violated state environmental protection laws by not having permits for its some of its construction and operations.
- As part of the settlement, the company will pay $80,000 in forfeitures, penalties, and attorneys’ fees, and may be subject to up to $60,000 in additional forfeitures and penalties if it fails to make the required corrections in a future environmental audit.