California Attorney General Investigates Hospital and Doctor Consolidation
- California Attorney General Kamala Harris has issued civil investigative demands to several large hospital operators in California as well as major California health insurers as part of an investigation into whether the consolidation among health care providers violates the antitrust laws.
- Specifically, the AG’s investigation seeks to determine whether recent consolidation among hospitals and health care providers is increasing health care prices and reducing competition.
Washington Attorney General Fines Health Club for Alleged Consumer Protection Violations
- Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna recently announced that his office has obtained a consent decree against local health club Physzique over allegations that the company violated state consumer protection laws and deceptive marketing laws with respect to its customer contracts.
- The complaint alleges that Physzique’s contracts with consumers did not satisfy several state requirements for health club contracts, including, inter alia, notification to customers that their fees could not be raised more than once a year, and that the health club used deceptive advertising to solicit customers.
- Under the terms of the consent decree, Physzique will pay $15,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs, as well as $20,000 in civil penalties, which are suspended as long as the health club abides by the terms of the agreement.
New York Attorney General Settles with Company Over Deceptive Text Messages
- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a $500,000 settlement with San Jose, California-based Game Theory LLC, which the AG’s office alleged had sent more than 150,000 spam text messages to mobile phone customers in New York.
- According to the AG’s office, the company sent text messages to consumers saying that they had a “secret crush” and instructing them to follow a set of instructions to reveal the crush, which resulted instead in a $9.99 per month charge being added to their monthly phone statements.
- The AG urged consumers to monitor their bills each month for unauthorized charges and never reply to unsolicited text messages.
Missouri Attorney General Settles Allegations of Deceptive Practices with Missouri Hotel
- Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster reached a settlement with Tiger Hotel of Columbia, Missouri, under which the hotel agreed to reimburse consumers who were charged more for their rooms than that hotel promised in online offerings.
- Consumers had made formal complaints that the Tiger Hotel had offered customers one rate for weekends during which the Missouri Tigers football team played home games in Columbia, only to attempt to charge consumers higher rates when they arrived.
- AG Koster urged consumers who had paid a higher rate than they had been offered online to contact his office, which would forward the request on to the hotel for reimbursement to the consumer.
Massachusetts Attorney General Opposes Gas Rate Increases
- Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filed a brief with the state Department of Public Utilities opposing a proposed $29 million fee increase by Columbia Gas.
- In the opposition, AG Coakley questioned the company’s stated bases for the rate, which allegedly included $114,000 in corporate travel expenses, and also questioned other costs asserted in the rate filing.
- The AG instead urged a $28 million rate decrease for the company’s 300,000 customers in the Brockton, Lawrence, and Springfield areas of the state.
Illinois Attorney General Obtains Injunction against Pipeline Companies Over Fuel Spills
- Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a preliminary injunction obtained against two pipeline companies requiring them to clean up a jet fuel spill from their pipeline that occurred in August 2012.
- According to the AG, a pipeline owned by West Shore Pipe Line Co. and operated by Buckeye Pipe Line Co., L.P., was discovered to be leaking jet fuel along a state road, resulting in more than 29,400 gallons of fuel soaking into the ground and entering a drainage ditch into a nearby channel.
- The injunction obtained by the attorney general requires the companies to fully investigate the spill and the repairs, document the proper disposal of contaminated water and soil, and submit a remediation plan for the site.
Missouri AG Sues Mobile Home Parks Over Alleged Water Pollution
- Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed suit against a Columbia mobile home park owner alleging multiple violations of the state’s clean water laws.
- The lawsuit alleges that Payne Enterprises Inc., which owns and operates a wastewater treatment facility for two mobile home parks in the state, failed to maintain current permits for waste treatment, failed for years to submit monitoring and operations reports, and allowed untreated wastewater to reach a creek.
- The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent future violations, as well as civil penalties and unpaid permit fees, along with interest and penalties.