2016 AG Elections

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills Re-elected to Fourth Term by State Legislature

  • On December 7, the Maine legislature reelected Democratic incumbent Janet Mills to a fourth term as State AG. AG Mills defeated Republican nominee Joshua Tardy. AG Mills is a former legislator who was first elected to the office in December 2008 but lost a bid for reelection against a Republican nominee in 2010. Subsequently, she was elected again in December 2012, and then reelected in 2014 and now in 2016.
  • Maine is the only state in which the state legislature elects the AG. The Maine legislature is currently split along party lines with Republicans in majority control of the Senate and Democrats with majority control of the House.

Consumer Protection

Arizona Attorney General Settles with Auto Glass Company Over Alleged Marketing Violations

  • Arizona AG Mark Brnovich reached a settlement with Larmore Auto Glass, LLC, also operating under the name “Freedom Auto Glass,” (collectively, “Larmore”) for allegedly violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act when marketing its services.
  • According to AG Brnovich, Larmore allegedly placed illegal sales calls to market its windshield replacement services to Arizona consumers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry between 2013 and 2015.
  • Under the terms of the consent judgment, Larmore must pay $50,000 in civil penalties and must not make telemarketing calls for six years. If Larmore violates the agreement, it will be required to pay an additional $50,000.

DOJ and Dietary Supplement Retailer Reach Agreement Related To The Sale Of Third-Party Products

  • The U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) reached an agreement with GNC Holdings Inc. (“GNC”) which resolves DOJ allegations regarding GNC sales of allegedly misbranded dietary supplements manufactured by a third party.
  • According to the DOJ’s allegations, the manufacturer of the products at issue provided false assurances and fake documentation regarding ingredients to retailers, such as GNC. DOJ will file no enforcement action against GNC.
  • Under the terms of the non-prosecution agreement, GNC will launch voluntary initiatives such as suspending the sale of products that the Food and Drug Administration publicly announces are not legal or safe, creating “restricted” and “positive” (i.e., permitted) lists of ingredients for third-party supplements it considers for sale, and continuing to support elevated industry-wide quality standards, and it also will pay $2.25 million to the U.S. Government.

Florida Attorney General Settles with Travel Company Over Allegedly Misleading Marketing of Travel Service Products

  • Florida AG Pam Bondi reached a settlement with Grand Incentives, Inc. and related entities to resolve allegations that the travel company engaged in unfair and deceptive practices related to the marketing of its travel service products.
  • According to AG Bondi, Grand Incentives allegedly misled consumers to believe that they had to purchase travel upgrades and incentives to maintain travel club memberships, denied travel requests due to overly restrictive terms, and failed to refund consumers unable to redeem vacation certificates.
  • Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Grand Incentives must provide all relevant information about its products to consumers before seeking payments and issue refunds to consumers within thirty days of a request, among other things. Grand Incentives has provided consumers with over $450,000 in refunds since AG Bondi filed a civil action against the company in December 2015.

Massachusetts Attorney General Settles with Real Estate Company Over Alleged Failure to Accommodate Tenants with Disabilities

  • Massachusetts AG Maura Healey reached a settlement with Andover Portland Avenue Associates, LLC (“Andover”) to resolve allegations that the company violated state antidiscrimination and consumer protection laws by failing to accommodate two tenants with disabilities.
  • According to AG Healey, Andover allegedly failed to design and construct apartments to meet legal accessibility standards and rejected or ignored the requests of two tenants with disabilities for reasonable accommodations.
  • Under the terms of the consent judgment, Andover must pay each tenant $20,000 and the state $15,000, in addition to a suspended judgment of $15,000, pending compliance with the settlement. Additionally, Andover must develop a fair housing policy and train its staff on housing laws.

New Jersey Attorney General Sues Mortgage Foreclosure Rescue Services Provider Over Alleged Failure to Provide Advertised Services

  • New Jersey AG Christopher Porrino, along with the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, filed a lawsuit against mortgage foreclosure rescue services provider MVP Home Solutions LLC, related entities, and their owners (collectively, “MVP Solutions”) for allegedly violating the state’s Consumer Fraud Act, the Debt Adjuster Act, the Foreclosure Rescue Fraud Prevention Act, the Financial Institutions’ Advertising Act, and related regulations by failing to provide mortgage foreclosure rescue services that it marketed.
  • According to AG Porrino, MVP Solutions allegedly failed to obtain a required license from the Department of Banking and Insurance, charged consumers monthly fees for debt adjustment and foreclosure relief services it never provided, and failed to provide promised legal assistance to delay foreclosure proceedings.
  • The lawsuit seeks to compel the company to restore money taken from consumers and to prohibit MVP Solutions from providing debt adjustment services and foreclosure counseling.

New York Attorney General Settles with Medical Emergency Care Service and Car Ride Service for Allegedly Paying for Online Reviews

  • New York AG Eric Schneiderman reached separate settlements with medical emergency care service MedRite Care, LLC d/b/a Medrite Urgent Care (“Medrite”) and car ride service Baron T, Ltd. d/b/a Carmel Car & Limousine Service (“Carmel”) for allegedly violating New York’s Executive and General Business laws, as well as the Federal Trade Commission’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, by providing payments for positive online reviews.
  • According to AG Schneiderman, Medrite allegedly paid internet advertising companies to post consumer reviews on websites such as Yelp and contacted active Yelp users to solicit compensated reviews. Similarly, Carmel allegedly offered discounts on future rides to active Yelp users in exchange for positive Yelp reviews.
  • Under the terms of its settlement, Medrite must pay a $100,000 penalty, of which $50,000 is suspended if it follows the settlement terms and is also, among other things, prohibited from misrepresenting whether positive reviews were paid endorsements or written by independent customers. Under the terms of its separate settlement, Carmel must educate the for-hire car transportation industry about false advertising and online consumer reviews and, among other things, pay a penalty of $75,000.

Environment

Five Attorneys General Challenge EPA’s Update to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

  • Five AGs, led by Wisconsin AG Brad Schimel, filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s final update to the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule for the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
  • The challenged rule, which the EPA finalized in September 2016, would reduce summer nitrogen oxides emissions from power plants in twenty-two states in the eastern United States in an attempt reduce the air quality impacts from ozone pollution crossing state lines.
  • The AGs’ petition asserts that the rule is unlawful and exceeds the federal government’s statutory authority. The rule will become effective in 2017.

State AGs in the News

Oklahoma Attorney General Selected to be EPA Administrator by President-elect Trump

  • Republican Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt has been selected to serve as Administrator of the EPA by President-elect Donald Trump. The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold confirmation hearings for AG Pruitt early next year.
  • AG Pruitt was first elected Oklahoma AG in 2010 and was reelected in 2014. He is term-limited and cannot seek reelection in 2018. Prior to serving as AG, he was an Oklahoma state senator. Among the issues AG Pruitt has focused on during his tenure as AG, he has been a vocal supporter of the Keystone Pipeline and has led or joined lawsuits challenging the EPA’s climate rules, Clean Power Plan for power plants, and the EPA’s expanded definition of “navigable waters.”