California Gets A New AG | $188.6 Million Surgical Mesh Settlement | Keystone Pipeline Litigation

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State AGs in the News

Governor Newsom Nominates Rob Bonta for California Attorney General

  • Governor Gavin Newsom nominated California Assemblyman Rob Bonta to replace Xavier Becerra as California AG. Bonta’s appointment will need to be confirmed by the California legislature.
  • According to Governor Newsom, Bonta’s work in the California Assembly focused on fixing systemic injustices, including taking on “big polluters,” fighting for a fairer criminal justice system, and protecting renters.
  • Becerra stepped down as AG after being confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Biden administration. Prior to being confirmed by the Senate, Becerra named Matthew “Matt” Rodriquez chief deputy attorney general, and Rodriquez will continue to be the acting California AG until Bonta is sworn into office.

2022 AG Elections

Civil Rights Attorney Enters 2022 Race for Texas Attorney General

Consumer Protection

Boston Scientific Agrees to Pay $188.6 Million in Multistate Surgical Mesh Settlement

  • A bipartisan group of 48 AGs, led by former California AG Xavier Becerra and Washington AG Bob Ferguson, reached a settlement with Boston Scientific Corporation to resolve allegations that it falsely and deceptively marketed its surgical mesh products for women in violation of the settling jurisdictions’ consumer protection laws.
  • The states’ complaints alleged that Boston Scientific deceptively marketed transvaginal surgical mesh devices to patients and healthcare providers by touting the devices’ unproven efficacy while misrepresenting the safety of these devices and the risk of serious and permanent complications such as urinary dysfunction, chronic inflammation and pain, and risk of infection.
  • Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Boston Scientific will pay $188.6 million to the states. Boston Scientific will also undertake reforms of its marketing, training, and clinical-trial practices, including disclosing to consumers in understandable terms the inherent significant risks of complications, maintaining policies for the adequate reporting of patient complaints and adverse events to the company, and registering all Boston Scientific-sponsored mesh clinical studies in the Food and Drug Administration’s clinical trials portal, ClinicalTrials.gov.
  • As previously reported, AG Becerra obtained a $344 million judgment in civil penalties against Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon, Inc., and related defendants over similar allegations.

Not in New Jersey: Online Gun Retailer Agrees Not to Ship Ghost Guns into Garden State

  • New Jersey AG Gurbir Grewal reached a settlement with online gun retailer James Tromblee, Jr. d/b/a U.S. Patriot Armory and individuals and corporations involved in the alleged conduct (collectively, “U.S. Patriot Armory”) to resolve allegations that it violated the state’s Consumer Fraud Act, regulations regarding hazardous products and advertising, and a 2018 cease and desist letter from the AG’s office.
  • As previously reported, the complaint alleged that U.S. Patriot Armory advertised and sold unregistered and unserialized “ghost guns”—partially assembled guns that are sold with the parts needed to create a fully-operational gun—to New Jersey residents, where ghost guns are illegal to manufacture, purchase, or possess. The complaint further alleged that U.S. Patriot Armory misrepresented ghost guns as being legal in the state.
  • Under the terms of the consent order, U.S. Patriot Armory will pay $70,000 to the state and will be enjoined from advertising and shipping ghost guns and untraceable parts to New Jersey consumers. It will also be required to conspicuously note that these products are not available for shipment to New Jersey in any online advertising.

False Claims Act

Subcontractor Nabbed Submitting Invoices with Inflated Work Hours, Pays $1.875 Million to Settle with Three States

  • New York AG Letitia James, Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, and New Jersey AG Gurbir Grewal reached a settlement with public works contractor V.J. Associates Inc. and its affiliates (collectively “VJA”) to resolve allegations that it submitted inflated time-and-expense reports on state projects.
  • According to the settlement agreement, a whistleblower complaint alleged that VJA submitted bills to prime contractors on certain time-and-expense public works projects where VJA was a subcontractor in which it billed for more hours on projects than its employees actually worked, including billing for unrelated administrative tasks.
  • Under the terms of the settlement agreement, VJA will pay $1.875 million, of which approximately $1.3 million will be paid to New York, $151,800 to Massachusetts, $16,400 to New Jersey, and $422,000 to the whistleblower. VJA also voluntarily agreed to be debarred from bidding on contracts with the three settling states for a period of five years.

State v. Federal

Republican Attorneys General Sue Biden Administration over Revocation of Pipeline Permit

  • A group of 21 Republican AGs, led by Montana AG Austin Knudsen and Texas AG Ken Paxton, sued the Biden administration over its revocation of a cross-border permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, alleging that the revocation of the permit is an unconstitutional encroachment on the power of Congress to regulate international and interstate commerce and violates the Administrative Procedure Act.
  • The complaint alleges, among other things, that Congress expressly permitted the pipeline in the 2011 Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act, which required President Obama to grant the cross-border construction application or report within 60 days to Congress why he thought the pipeline did not serve the national interest. The complaint argues that, because President Obama denied the application without providing a national interest determination within 60 days, the permit went into effect by operation of law. The complaint further notes that the construction of the cross-border section of the pipeline is already virtually complete following its formal approval by the Trump administration, and that the revocation of the permit would cause the plaintiff states significant economic injury from the loss of tax revenue and jobs directly and indirectly related to the pipeline.
  • The complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

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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