United States: State AGs In The News - August 28th, 2014

Hot News

States and Federal Government Reach Record $16.65 Billion Settlement With Bank of America

  • Following multiple state and federal investigations, the U.S. Department of Justice and the AGs of California, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, and New York settled for $16.65 billion with Bank of America Corporation and its current and former subsidiaries, including Countrywide Financial Corporation and Merrill Lynch, (collectively, Bank of America) to resolve state and federal claims. This is the largest civil settlement with a single entity in U.S. history.
  • The settlement resolves allegations related to Bank of America's packaging, marketing, sale, arrangement, structuring, and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and collateralized debt obligations and the underwriting and origination of mortgage loans. In the agreed upon statement of facts, Bank of America admits to selling RMBS without disclosing material facts about the quality of the loans to investors, originating risky mortgage loans, and making misrepresentations to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration.
  • Of the $16.65 billion, Bank of America will pay almost $9.2 billion to the state and federal governments, $7 billion in consumer relief, and $490 million to a tax relief fund. The consumer relief will include principal reduction loan modifications and donations to communities recovering from the financial crisis. Pursuant to the settlement, California and New York will each receive $300 million and Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, and Kentucky will receive $200 million, $75 million, $45 million, and $23 million, respectively.

2014 Election

Arizona Primary Election Results

  • Incumbent AG Tom Horne was defeated by Mark Brnovich in the Republican primary by a margin of 53.2% to 46.4%. Brnovich will face 2010 Democratic AG nominee Felecia Rotellini, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Florida Primary Election Results

  • Incumbent AG Pam Bondi received her party's nomination after running unopposed in the Republican primary. In the Democratic primary, George Sheldon defeated Perry Thurston by a margin of 60.7% to 39.3%.

Vermont Primary Election Results

  • Incumbent AG Bill Sorrell received his party's nomination after defeating H. Brooke Paige in the Democratic primary by a margin of 80.4% to 18.9%, with 89% of precincts reporting. AG Sorrell will face Liberty Union party candidate Rosemarie Jackowski in November's general election. There is no Republican candidate. If reelected, this will be AG Sorrell's 10th term.

Antitrust

Acting New Jersey Attorney General Settles With Hotel to Resolve Price Gouging Allegations Related to Superstorm Sandy

  • As part of a larger enforcement initiative following Superstorm Sandy, acting New Jersey AG John Hoffman announced a settlement with Amy Hotels, LLC, doing business as Econo Lodge, to resolve allegations that it engaged in unlawful price gouging during a declared state of emergency.
  • The state price gouging statute prohibits excessive price increases during a declared state of emergency. Amy Hotels allegedly increased its room rates by as much as 150 percent following the declaration of the state of emergency.
  • Under the settlement, the hotel will pay almost $65,000, including almost $25,000 in consumer restitution, $25,000 in civil penalties, and almost $15,000 in costs and fees.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Takes Action Against Auto Finance Company for Alleged Inaccurate Reporting of Consumer Credit Information

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau took action against auto finance company First Investors Financial Services Group Inc. for allegedly violating the Fair Credit Reporting, Dodd-Frank, and Consumer Protection Acts.
  • First Investors allegedly failed to fix known flaws in its computer systems that were used to report consumer credit information to credit reporting agencies, which caused reporting of inaccurate information and potential harm to its customers.
  • Pursuant to a consent order, First Investors will pay a civil penalty of $2.75 million, correct any errors on credit reports, help consumers obtain free copies of their credit reports, and establish new consumer safeguards.

Consumer Protection

Indiana Attorney General and State Lawmakers Propose State Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

  • Indiana AG Greg Zoeller and state lawmakers proposed the Indiana Service Member's Civil Relief Act to increase consumer protections for military servicemembers.
  • The act would complement and provide state remedies for violations of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which allows individuals that are serving to suspend or postpone certain obligations. Those obligations include debt collections, foreclosures, evictions, judicial and administrative proceedings, and certain lease or service terminations.
  • Illinois and Kentucky already have similar laws and we previously blogged about Delaware's similar proposed legislation.

Airbnb Produces Host Information to New York Attorney General

  • Pursuant to an agreement with NY AG Eric Schneiderman and as part of an ongoing investigation into potential violations of state tax and hotel laws, Airbnb, which provides an online accommodations marketplace, will produce unredacted information on 124 of its hosts to the AG.
  • In May, to comply with a subpoena issued by the AG, Airbnb agreed to provide information about approximately 16,000 of its hosts, redacted of personal information, to the AG. Under that agreement, the AG reserved the right to follow up and request unredacted information on any of those hosts. The production of unredacted information on 124 Airbnb hosts is in response to such a request.
  • In a blog post, Airbnb stated that the AG might still request additional information.

Employment

Illinois Attorney General and State Department of Labor Jointly Investigate Chinese Restaurants for Alleged Wage Violations and Discriminatory Practices

  • Illinois AG Lisa Madigan and the state Department of Labor announced a joint investigation into potential wage violations and discriminatory practices against minority and immigrant workers at Chinese restaurants.
  • Chinese restaurants across the state allegedly require immigrant and minority workers to work long hours without breaks, live in restaurant-owned housing with substandard conditions, work for less than minimum wage, and work under threats of abuse and violence.
  • As part of the investigation, the AG and the state Department of Labor jointly issued subpoenas regarding the workers' claims.

False Claims Act

New York Attorney General Settles for $1.56 Million to Resolve Whistleblower Lawsuit Brought Under State False Claims Act

  • New York AG Eric Schneiderman settled with appliance retailer Topline Appliance Center and its owner for $1.56 million to resolve a lawsuit brought by a whistleblower under the state False Claims Act.
  • After an investigation, the AG alleged that Topline knowingly failed to collect and pay state and local sales taxes and corporate franchise taxes over a ten-year period.
  • According to the AG, the state False Claims Act is one of the state's most powerful civil fraud enforcement tools and has been useful in obtaining other tax-related recoveries for the state.

Health Care

Oregon Sues Technology Company Over Health Insurance Exchange Website

  • Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum sued Oracle America, Inc., several of its executives, and a company that distributes and resells Oracle's products (collectively, Oracle) in state court alleging fraud, breach of contract, and violations of the state False Claims and Civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Acts.
  • Oracle allegedly failed to timely provide a functional health insurance exchange website. The complaint seeks substantial damages, penalties, interest, rescission, costs, and fees.
  • Earlier this month, Oracle had filed a lawsuit related to the website against the state in federal court alleging breach of contract and seeking $23 million in allegedly unpaid fees, interest, and an unspecified amount of damages.

Insurance

Louisiana Attorney General Sues Automobile Insurer Alleging Violations of Monopoly and Unfair Trade Practices Laws

  • Louisiana AG Buddy Caldwell sued State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, State Farm General Insurance Company, and State Farm Mutual Automotive Insurance Company (collectively, State Farm) alleging that they engaged in a pattern of unfair and fraudulent business practices meant to control the auto repair industry and resulting in unsafe vehicle repairs.
  • The complaint alleges violations of the state Monopolies Law and the Unfair Trade Practices Act. State Farm allegedly entered into service agreements with repairers that required the use of certain State Farm pricing structures for parts and labor. State Farm also alleged artificially decreased labor rates and mandated the use of substandard, inexpensive parts under these agreements. These practices purportedly resulted in unsafe repairs.
  • The AG seeks injunctive relief, restitution, civil penalties, and costs.

Marijuana

Washington Attorney General Files Brief in Support of City Ordinances Prohibiting Marijuana-Related Businesses

  • Washington AG Bob Ferguson filed a brief in MMH, LLC v. Fife supporting a grant of summary judgment to uphold a city's local ordinances prohibiting marijuana-related businesses.
  • Washington passed Initiative 502 (I-502), which decriminalizes the use of marijuana and establishes a state regulated system for the production, processing, and retail sale of marijuana. In his brief, the AG asserts that I-502 does not address its impact on the authority of local governments, rather, that continues to be governed by the state constitution, which allows local governments to make and enforce their own local laws. The AG asserts that state courts have adopted a strong presumption against state preemption of nonconflicting local authority and therefore the city's local ban should be upheld.
  • The AG alternatively argues that if the court rules that I-502 requires the city to allow marijuana-related businesses, the Court should reject the city's claim that such a requirement is preempted by federal law because there is a strong and established presumption against finding that federal law overrides state authority.
  • A hearing on cross motions for summary judgment are scheduled for August 29.

Arkansas Attorney General Rejects Proposed Marijuana Ballot Item

  • Arkansas AG Dustin McDaniel rejected a proposed popular name and ballot title of a potential ballot item to legalize the use of marijuana in the state due to "ambiguities and misleading tendencies."
  • According to formal opinion issued by the AG, the proposed popular name, "The Cultivate Hemp and Regulate Marijuana Amendment," is, among other things, confusing and inconsistent with the text of the proposal. The AG states that multiple additions and changes to the language of the proposal are necessary for further review and possible certification.
  • We blogged last week about two other ballot proposals to legalize marijuana that the AG certified.

Medicaid Fraud

New York Attorney General Settles Medicaid Fraud Allegations With Nursing Home

  • New York AG Eric Schneiderman and the U.S. Attorneys Office announced settlements with nursing home Ralex Services, Inc. and its owner to resolve allegations of Medicaid fraud.
  • Ralex and its owner allegedly submitted claims to the Medicaid program for services that were provided at artificially high rates.
  • Under the agreements, Ralex and its owner will return $2.2 million to the Medicaid program, which is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, with $1.32 million of that amount being returned to New York.

States v. Federal Government

Thirteen State Attorneys General Send Letter to EPA Demanding the Withdrawal of Proposed Carbon Emission Rules

  • Nebraska AG Jon Bruning, Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt, and West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey, joined by 10 other state AGs, sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator objecting to the EPA's plan to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing and modified power plants.
  • The letter states that the EPA violated the Clean Air Act because it failed to include required information in the regulatory dockets of two recent proposed rules relating to the carbon dioxide emissions for existing and modified sources. According to the AGs, information on which a proposed rule is based must be made available to the public at the time of the proposal to ensure meaningful comment and sound rulemaking.
  • The AGs state that because of the violations, the proposed rules need to be withdrawn because finalizing a rule without meaningful comment would be unlawful.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions