Squire Patton Boggs’ State Attorneys General Practice Group is comprised of lawyers who have served at senior levels in state AG offices around the country and whose practices focus, to one degree or another, on representing clients before these increasingly assertive and powerful, yet often overlooked, government agencies, as explained in detail here.
In these updates, we will call attention to the most noteworthy state AG news or developments emerging in the previous week.
Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro has announced a settlement with Radiate Athletics, a sports apparel business that, through the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, “raised $579,000 online from more than 8,500 consumers to create athletic shirts that purportedly changed colors in response to body temperatures – but failed to deliver the shirts as promised to many consumers,” according to a Pennsylvania AG press release. The press release notes that the company’s “initial goal was to raise $30,000 to finance the shirts,” but the financing campaign was left open until it had “raised $579,000 from 8,556 consumers.” Consumers that purchased the shirts claimed they “received defective shirts which were not as advertised or never received them at all.” Under the settlement, Radiate is required to “deliver the shirts this month” to consumers who paid for shirts but did not receive them, to pay restitution to consumers who received “defective” shirts, and to pay civil penalties and costs of $10,000 to Pennsylvania.
Attorneys general from 20 states and the District of Columbia, together with the Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection (OCP), have issued a letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to “express [their] profound concern regarding the Department of Education’s revocation of critical student loan servicing reforms.” Specifically, the “memoranda withdrawn by the Department on April 11, 2017 provided guidance designed to reform the student loan servicing industry in order to protect student loan borrowers and help these borrowers find affordable ways to repay their debts and avoid default,” according to the letter. The letter notes that investigations and enforcement actions undertaken by the state AGs have “repeatedly revealed the havoc that student loan servicers’ poor practices and servicing failures wreak on the lives of borrowers.” The AGs and Hawaii OCP state that “[a]t a time when the need for common-sense federal student loan servicing reforms is undeniable, the Department’s decision to roll back essential protections imperils millions of student loan borrowers and families,” and they “urge [the Department] to reconsider immediately.”
A coalition of AGs from 15 states and the District of Columbia, together with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, have issued letter to Congressional leadership opposing the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017 (H.R. 806 and S.263), a bill they say would “be a significant step backward in combatting the dangers of ozone and other criteria pollutants.” According to the letter, the bill would “delay implementation of more protective ozone air quality standards” and would “undermine the mandate in the Clean Air Act . . . that the national ambient air quality standards for ozone and other criteria pollutants be based on up-to-date scientific evidence and focus solely on protecting public health and welfare.” The letter states that the “scientific evidence of harm to public health from ozone pollution is well established,” including that “[p]eople exposed to elevated levels of ozone suffer from lung tissue damage, and aggravation of asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, and emphysema.” The coalition urges Congressional leaders to oppose the bill.
On April 28, Texas AG Ken Paxton issued a statement “applaud[ing] today’s appeals court decision that should allow the Trump administration to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) so-called Clean Power Plan.” AG Paxton’s statement explains that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit “placed the case on hold for 60 days, giving the EPA time to review the Obama-era plan.” AG Paxton’s statement also notes that on March 28, “President Trump signed an executive order directing the EPA to unwind the plan.” AG Paxton said of that review: “Dismantling the Clean Power Plan will help prevent higher electricity costs and avert weakening the nation’s power grid. We look forward to restoring balance and cooperation between the states and the EPA.”