The State AG Report Weekly Update

by Cozen O'Connor
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AG Elections

Democrat Aaron Ford Announces Bid for Nevada Attorney General

  • Democratic state Senate Majority Leader Aaron D. Ford announced his candidacy to become Nevada AG. He is the first major-party candidate to enter the 2018 Nevada AG race.
  • Senator Ford was first elected to the state Senate in 2012 and was later elected by his colleagues to serve as Majority Leader in 2016.
  • Incumbent Republican AG Adam Laxalt is widely speculated to run for Governor of Nevada in 2018.

Consumer Protection

New Jersey Attorney General Reaches Agreement with Major Technology Company Over Pricing Information Displayed in Brick-and-Mortar Stores

  • New Jersey AG Chris Porrino’s Division of Consumer Affairs has reached an agreement with technology company Apple Inc. (“Apple”) to resolve allegations that Apple’s digital pricing system in its stores violated state consumer protection laws.
  • According to the consent order, Apple allegedly used an in-store digital pricing system that provided price information through apps and notifications launched on the devices that were for sale, which were not physically and continuously available for in-store consumers to see.
  • Under the terms of the consent order, Apple must use physical price markers that contain the total selling price on each table where devices are sold and pay $24,000 in investigative costs and attorneys’ fees.

Texas Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against Three Businesses for Price Gouging

  • Texas AG Ken Paxton filed lawsuits against three Texas businesses—hotel company Robstown Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a Best Western Plus Tropic Inn, gas station Bains Brothers, and gas station Encinal Fuel Stop—for allegedly violating the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (“DPTA”) by engaging in price gouging during Hurricane Harvey, a declared state emergency and natural disaster.
  • According to the AG’s office, these businesses violated the DPTA by charging “exorbitant prices” for necessities such as gasoline and shelter to those coping with Harvey’s impact.
  • The lawsuits seek civil penalties up to $20,000 for each violation and up to $250,000 for incidents targeting victims 65 or older.

Texas Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against Reputation Management Company for Allegedly Abusing Legal System, Filing Fraudulent Lawsuits

  • Texas AG Paxton filed a lawsuit against online “reputation management” company Solvera for allegedly violating the DPTA by filing false and misleading lawsuits.
  • According to the petition, Solvera—a company that advertises its ability to remove negative comments about businesses from online review websites—allegedly filed deceptive lawsuits containing inaccurate information, purposely attempted to cause confusion for attorneys and judges, and improperly attempted to suppress legitimate internet comments and reviews.
  • The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation of the DPTA, attorney’s fees and court costs, and restitution.

Data Privacy

AGs Launch Multistate Probe of Consumer Credit Reporting Agency Over Massive Data Breach of Consumers’ Personal and Financial Information

  • Nearly 40 AGs are reported to have launched a multistate probe into consumer credit reporting agency Equifax Inc.’s (“Equifax”) recent data breach that allegedly exposed 143 million people’s personal and financial information.
  • Equifax allegedly experienced a data breach from mid-May through July 2017, when hackers accessed personal identifiable information including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and, in some instances, credit card numbers.
  • Separately, Massachusetts AG Maura Healey has notified Equifax of her intent to sue the company over the alleged breach of personal and financial information; the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act requires the AG’s office to send a five-day notice to companies it intends to sue.

Environment

Illinois Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against Process Pump Manufacturer for Allegedly Leaking Crude Oil

  • Illinois AG Madigan filed a lawsuit against process pump manufacturer TruFlo Solutions LLC (“TruFlo”) over an oil spill that allegedly contaminated a state waterway.
  • According to the AG’s office, TruFlo allegedly leaked crude oil—which eventually was released to a nearby creek—as a result of saltwater brine being pumped into an underground injection well at TruFlo’s pump house in Carmi, Illinois.
  • The lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction, civil penalties, and for TruFlo to conduct contamination sampling and provide clean-up status updates to the AG’s office and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Pharmaceuticals

New Mexico Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against Opioid Manufacturers, Distributors

  • New Mexico AG Hector Balderas filed a lawsuit against prescription opioid manufacturers Purdue Pharma LP, Johnson & Johnson, Allergan Plc, Endo Health Solutions Inc., and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd. and opioid distributors McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., and AmerisourceBergen Corp for allegedly violating the state’s Unfair Practices Act, Racketeering Act, Medicaid Fraud Act, Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, and Controlled Substances Act by engaging in false, deceptive and unfair marketing, and/or unlawful diversion of prescription opioids.
  • According to the lawsuit, the opioid manufacturers allegedly misrepresented to doctors the addictive risks of opioids and sought to persuade doctors to prescribe opioids, while the opioid distributors allegedly breached their legal duty to “monitor, detect, investigate, refuse and report” suspicious orders of opiates.
  • The lawsuit seeks to enjoin the opioid companies from engaging in unfair or deceptive marketing practices, and compensation for public nuisance, as well as civil penalties, punitive damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and investigation costs.

State AGs in the News

Michigan Attorney General Announces Bid for Governor in 2018

  • Michigan AG Bill Schuette, who is term limited in 2018, has announced his intent to seek the Republican Party’s nomination for the Governor of Michigan. Incumbent Republican Governor Rick Snyder is ineligible to run for reelection due to term limits.
  • AG Schuette previously served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Michigan State Senate. He was elected to serve as a judge in the Michigan 4th District Court of Appeals for six years and later worked in private practice. He also previously served as the state’s Director of Agriculture.
  • AG Schuette joins the race with state Senator Patrick Colbeck as the two compete for the Republican nomination for Governor.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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