Antitrust

17 Attorneys General and DOJ File 2 Suits to Prevent Health Insurance Mergers

  • 17 AGs and the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) filed two lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to prevent Cigna Corporation’s acquisition by Anthem, Inc., and Humana Inc.’s acquisition by Aetna Inc., alleging the acquisitions would violate federal antitrust laws by substantially limiting competition in the national health insurance marketplace.
  • The complaints filed against Anthem and Cigna and against Aetna and Humana allege that the mergers would reduce competition and cause customer prices to increase and quality to decrease.
  • In both suits, the DOJ and the AGs seek to permanently enjoin the companies from merging.

Texas Attorney General Settles with Software Resellers Over Antitrust Allegations

  • Texas AG Ken Paxton reached separate settlements with two software resellers, MCCi, LLC, and VP Imaging Inc., d/b/a DocuNav Solutions, to resolve allegations that the companies violated antitrust laws by signing anticompetitive agreements that allegedly limited competition and increased public contract costs.
  • According to the AG’s office, the companies, whose customers included government entities, agreed to avoid competing with each other in the state, including refraining from soliciting or hiring each other’s employees.
  • Under the terms of the settlement, the companies will pay a total of $55,000 to the state and refrain from entering into similar agreements.

Charities

Vermont Attorney General Settles with Two Obituary Websites Over Alleged Violations of Charitable Law

  • Vermont AG William Sorrell reached separate settlements with two online obituary website companies, Legacy.com, Inc. and Tributes, Inc., to resolve alleged violations of Vermont’s Consumer Protection Act.
  • According to the AG’s office, the two companies utilized software in online obituaries that, without the consent of the deceased, their families, or benefitting charities, directed consumers to a third-party website run by Givalike.org, LLC, which charged consumers fees to make donations to select charities on behalf of the deceased. In addition, the two companies allegedly did not register as paid fundraisers in the state and did not disclose that fact to consumers.
  • Under the terms of the Assurances of Discontinuance for Legacy.com, Inc. and Tributes, Inc., the companies must, among other things, pay $15,220 and $15,311, respectively, to the state, disclose their use of third-party websites in their online obituaries, disclose all fees charged for donations to non-profits, and register with the state as paid fundraisers.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

CFPB Settles with Bank for Allegedly Illegal Overdraft Practices

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) reached a settlement with Santander Bank, N.A. (“Santander”) over allegations that it violated the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Financial Protection Act and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act.
  • According to the CFPB, Santander allegedly used third-party telemarketers to enroll customers in overdraft services for ATM and debit card transactions without obtaining consent and led customers to believe that the services were free despite potentially large fees.
  • Under the terms of the consent order, Santander must, among other things, pay a $10 million penalty to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund, stop utilizing vendors for telemarketing overdraft services, and increase oversight of third-party telemarketers.

Consumer Protection

New Jersey Acting Attorney General Files Complaint Against Contracting Company Over Alleged Consumer Fraud Violations

  • New Jersey Acting AG Christopher Porrino filed a complaint against contracting company Price Home Group LLC and two of its owners (collectively “PHG”) over alleged violations of the state’s Consumer Fraud Act, its Contractor’s Registration Act, and related regulations.
  • According to the complaint, the company allegedly entered into contracts with Superstorm Sandy victims that lacked necessary information, including work start and end dates, failed to begin or complete the contracted work, or performed contracted work in a substandard manner. The company allegedly received $1.1 million from victims, including $898,000 in federal relief funds, to elevate or replace homes damaged by the storm.
  • The complaint seeks, among other things, civil penalties, consumer restitution, disgorgement of government funds, and permanent revocation of the company’s registration as a home improvement contractor.

New York Attorney General Settles with Two Direct Marketing Companies to Resolve Deceptive Advertising Allegations

  • New York AG Eric Schneiderman reached a settlement with direct marketing companies Tristar Products, Inc., and Product Trend, LLC, to resolve allegations that the companies used deceptive advertising and sales tactics in infomercials for exercise equipment, clothing, and kitchen appliances.
  • According to the AG’s office, the two companies allegedly offered “Buy One, Get One” promotions for products in infomercials that were subject to undisclosed processing and handling charges that substantially increased the cost of the products, devaluing the offers. Customers seeking warranty service also faced difficulties obtaining assistance.
  • Under the terms of the settlement, Tristar and Product Trend must, among other things, pay $700,000 and $175,000, respectively, in restitution, penalties, cost, and fees.

North Carolina Attorney General Settles with Record Service Over Allegedly Misleading Mailings

  • North Carolina AG Roy Cooper settled with The Mandatory Poster Agency, Inc., d/b/a Corporate Records Service, North Carolina Labor Law Poster Services (“CRS”), and its owners over allegations that the company violated the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
  • According to the AG’s office, CRS allegedly sent deceptive mailings that misled businesses into providing corporate information and paying $125 to purportedly satisfy state corporate records laws.
  • Under the terms of the consent judgment, CRS must, among other things, refrain from sending future misleading mailings by not using words or symbols in the mailings that give the impression that the company is connected to the government, offer refunds within thirty days, and pay $10,000 to the state.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Settles with Third-Party Billing Company Over Cramming Allegations

  • Pennsylvania AG Kathleen Kane reached a settlement with Billing Services Group North America, Inc. (“Billing Services”) over allegations that the company added unauthorized charges to consumers’ home telephone bills – a practice commonly known as “cramming.”
  • According to the AG’s office, Billing Services allegedly billed Pennsylvania consumers for third-party services such as internet hosting, voicemail, and email services to their landline telephone bills when the consumers had not authorized or accepted the charges.
  • Under the terms of the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, which follows an earlier action by the FTC and Kansas AG Schmidt, Billing Services agreed to cease charging for unauthorized services to consumers’ bills and pay $53,000 in restitution.

Labor & Employment

Massachusetts Attorney General Settles with Restaurant Company Over Alleged Wage Violations

  • Massachusetts AG Maura Healey reached a settlement with Bloomin’ Brands, Inc., d/b/a Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar (collectively “Bloomin’ Brands”) over allegations that it violated the state’s labor laws.
  • According to the AG’s office, Bloomin’ Brands allegedly underpaid employees by failing to pay for hours spent in workplace training. The alleged underpayments purportedly resulted from a faulty computer system that failed to incorporate training hours into payroll, a problem that was allegedly not remedied in a timely fashion.
  • Under the terms of the settlement, Bloomin’ Brands must pay $210,000 in restitution and penalties and, among other things, provide payroll and timekeeping records to the AG’s office.

State AGs in the News

Hawaii Attorney General to Serve as Chair of CWAG

  • The Conference of Western Attorneys General (“CWAG”) chose Hawaii AG Doug Chin as its new Chair at their Annual Meeting, which took place from July 17 to July 20 in Sun Valley, Idaho. AG Chin will serve as Chair of CWAG for the 2016-2017 term.
  • As Chair, AG Chin will sit on the Executive Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General (“NAAG”) and will host the CWAG Chair’s Initiative Meeting and Western Pacific Attorneys General Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, in March 2017 to discuss open government and sustainable energy.
  • Arizona AG Mark Brnovich will serve as Vice Chair, and Colorado AG Cynthia Coffman will serve as 2nd Vice Chair for CWAG’s 2016-2017 term.