United States: State AGs In The News - January 2014

HOT NEWS

Patent Troll Roundtable with InsideCounsel and Dickstein Shapiro

  • InsideCounsel and Dickstein Shapiro are co-hosting a roundtable on February 4, 2014 in New York City that will focus on the rise of patent trolls.
  • The issue of patent trolls is an area of mutual concern for State AGs and corporate legal officers, and the roundtable will include panelists from both groups. Vermont AG Bill Sorrell and Nebraska AG Jon Bruning will join the panel to discuss their recent efforts to combat harmful business practices involving patent trolls in their states. The general counsels of DuPont, Rackspace and Walmart U.S. will also participate in the panel and speak about the impact patent trolls have had on their businesses.
  • Bernie Nash, practice leader of Dickstein Shapiro's State Attorneys General Practice, will moderate the panel.
  • Click here for more information about the event.

New York Attorney General Forms New Financial Crimes Bureau

  • New York AG Eric Schneiderman named veteran prosecutor Gary Fishman to serve as chief of the newly formed Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, which will focus on prosecuting complex and large-scale financial crimes.
  • The bureau will focus on criminal enforcement, including combating complex financial crimes in bank and financial institution fraud, securities and investment fraud, money laundering, tax crimes, mortgage fraud, investment schemes and insurance fraud. A Financial Intelligence Section within the bureau will be tasked with investigating and tracking suspicious financial activities and identifying trends that enhance the investigation and prosecution of financial crime schemes.
  • AG Schneiderman touted that the bureau will "ferret out the bad actors in our critically important financial sector in order to protect our economy and investors."

CONSUMER PROTECTION

Arizona Attorney General Sues Telemarketers for Alleged Business Opportunity Scam

  • Arizona AG Tom Horne obtained a temporary injunction in a state court case against several Arizona-based businesses and individuals for allegedly targeting consumers, including the elderly, in a work-at-home business opportunity scam.
  • The lawsuit alleged that defendants defrauded consumers out of millions of dollars after promising them that consumers that they could earn lucrative commissions through business opportunities.
  • The defendants were accused of violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act, the Arizona Telephone Solicitations Statute, and the Arizona Organized Crime, Fraud and Terrorism Act.

Oregon Attorney General Reaches Agreement with Telemarketers Over Alleged Work-at-Home Scam

  • Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum announced an agreement that prohibits New York-based The Tax Club, Inc. and its affiliates from telemarketing directed at Oregonians, alleging the company used deceptive tactics to sell products and services relating to building a home business.
  • The company and its affiliates will pay refunds of $23,492 for three identified Oregon consumers, full restitution to all other Oregon consumers who file complaints with the AG's office, and $50,000 to a consumer education fund, among other penalties.
  • "This is another victory in my office's aggressive campaign to protect Oregonians from telemarketers trying to dupe Oregonians with 'work-at-home' scams," AG Rosenblum said. "It's also a good reminder to hang up on any telemarketer trying to pressure you into one of these so-called 'opportunities.'"

ENVIRONMENT

Nebraska Attorney General Challenges EPA Greenhouse Gas Standards

  • Nebraska AG Jon Bruning filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) greenhouse gas standards for new power plants.
  • The EPA rule places limits on the amount of carbon dioxide new plants can emit, which allegedly requires any new coal-fired plants to install expensive carbon-capture technology.
  • AG Bruning claimed that the EPA "continues to overstep its authority at the detriment of Nebraska businesses," and in this case, "[t]he impossible standards imposed by the EPA will ensure no new power plants are built in Nebraska."

Illinois Attorney General Announces Civil Penalty Against Company for Hazardous Chemical Releases

  • Illinois AG Lisa Madigan obtained a $90,000 civil penalty from Honeywell International, Inc. for the release of hydrogen fluoride at its Metropolis, Illinois plant.  Hydrogen fluoride is used to produce uranium hexafluoride which is used in manufacturing nuclear reactor fuel.
  • AG Madigan stated that "[t]he dangerous air pollution from this plant posed a serious threat to Honeywell's neighbors," and that "[w]e took action to hold the company responsible for failing to prevent these incidents while ensuring new measures have been implemented to avoid them in the future."
  • According to the consent order, Honeywell has implemented comprehensive upgrades to its raw materials handling and emissions monitoring systems as directed by Madigan's office and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio AG Sounds the Alarm to Stop the Spread of Invasive Fish Species to the Great Lakes

  • Ohio AG Mike DeWine called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to "move to design the complete hydrologic separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River" to stop invasive species, specifically Asian carp, from reaching the lakes. Such non-native species can cause extensive damage to the existing ecosystem.
  • AG DeWine reportedly stated the economic impact on the Great Lakes States could be "conservatively estimated to be in the billions."
  • Since 2010, the AGs of Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have been in litigation seeking a court order that would require the federal government to develop a permanent ecological separation between the Mississippi River and Great Lakes basins, which are joined through the Chicago Area Water System.

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