Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
- A bipartisan coalition of twenty-three attorneys general filed an amicus brief in support of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s suit against the National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts (including fifteen trusts) for allegedly engaging in illegal debt collection of student loans. Specifically, the attorneys general support the interpretation that student loan trusts are “covered persons” under the Consumer Financial Protection Act, arguing the National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts are liable under the Consumer Financial Protection Act for misconduct in servicing student loans.
- A bipartisan coalition of twenty-one attorneys general filed an amicus brief challenging “no-poach” provisions used by McDonalds in franchise agreements. These provisions allegedly restrict the rights of workers to move from one franchise to another in the same restaurant chain. The brief argues that no-poach provisions violate federal antitrust law and interfere with workers’ ability to seek better employment opportunities, wages, and benefits.
- The Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force via Georgia Attorney General Carr announced that the national Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force has taken enforcement action against two voice service providers for alleged involvement in illegal robocalls. The two providers are Michael Lansky LLC, d/b/a Avid Telecom, and One Eye LLC. The Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force was created in August of 2022 and is comprised of 51 attorneys general. The State of Indiana is enforcing civil investigative demands against each company.
- California Attorney General Bonta announced the release of checks to consumers in relation to the Provigil settlement, a drug widely prescribed for the treatment of sleep disorders. The money is from the $69 million settlement with pharmaceutical company Teva, which was secured by the California Department of Justice. Californians who filed verifiable claims should receive a check in the coming weeks.
- California Attorney General Bonta filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as PFAS, for allegedly endangering public health, causing irreparable harm to the state’s natural resources, and engaging in a widespread campaign to deceive the public. The manufacturers include companies such as 3M and Dupont and the complaint alleges that the companies knew or should have known that PFAS are toxic. PFAS are widely used in common consumer products such as food packaging, cookware, clothing, shoes, paints and cleaning products.
- Idaho Attorney General Wasden was recognized by the National Association of Attorneys General this week for his commitment and leadership in reducing youth tobacco usage. Wasden is a five-term attorney general and a leader on tobacco issues within the attorney general community and worked on the national settlement, known as the “Master Settlement Agreement,” with the tobacco industry, which restricted marketing and advertising of tobacco products.
- Maryland Attorney General Frosh announced that the Health Education and Advocacy Unit within the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General closed 1,695 cases in the 2022 fiscal year, which included assisting patients in recovering over $2.4 million. The Health Education and Advocacy Unit provides mediation services to consumers with health insurance and medical billing issues, hospital financial assistance applications, medical debt collection, and access to medical records issues.
- Michigan Attorney General Nessel issued investigative subpoenas requesting testimony and documentation to a tree removal company for allegedly violating the Michigan Consumer Protection Act. Michigan’s Choice Tree Service, LLC allegedly overcharged customers for emergency tree services and engaged in patterns of intentional consumer confusion related to payment and insurance coverage.
- New York Attorney General James conducted an investigation regarding online ammunition sellers illegally shipping ammunition to New York. The investigation found that thirty-nine ammunition sellers have been shipping ammunition directly to New York residents in violation of New York’s SAFE Act, which prohibits direct online sales of ammunition to New York residents. Attorney General James sent cease and desist orders to each of these ammunition sellers demanding each immediately ceases shipment of ammunition directly to residents.
- Oregon Attorney General Rosenblum sued AbbVie, ABBOTT Laboratories, Unimed Pharmaceuticals, and Besins Healthcare for using sham patent litigation to monopolize the market for testosterone replacement gels leading to exorbitant pricing. The lawsuit alleges that the four pharmaceutical companies, which hold the exclusive patent for brand AndroGel, filed lawsuits to prevent competitors from bringing a generic version of AndroGel to market. The AndroGel product has had annual U.S. sales of more than $1 billion.
- Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro filed charges against a medical assistant for allegedly stealing patient information for personal use. The medical assistant allegedly collected patient records to open credit cards, purchase goods, and lease apartments.
- Washington Attorney General Ferguson announced a Washington Superior Court judge rejected PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and subsidiaries of the Progressive Corporation’s attempt to stop Attorney General Ferguson’s investigation into potential race discrimination by those companies against Washington drivers. The investigation focuses on the companies use of credit histories to derive insurance “scores” despite evidence that this practice disproportionately harms people of color. The companies brought the matter to court, which made the investigation public.