United States: State AGs In The News - November 6th, 2014

Last Updated: November 18 2014
Article by Bernard Nash and Lori E. Kalani

AG Election Results

  • The results are in for the 2014 State AG elections. Incumbents running for re-election performed well, winning in all of their races. Overall, Republicans picked up two spots, bringing the balance of State AGs to 27 Republicans and 23 Democrats.
  • For a complete list of results, please see our recent blog post.

Consumer Protection

Maryland Attorney General Finds Multiple Violations of Consumer Protection Laws

  • Maryland AG Douglas Gansler issued a Final Order, finding that David Lee Mansel, Jr., doing business under various names including Maryland Appliance Repair Co., violated the Maryland Consumer Protection Act.
  • The Consumer Protection Division alleged that Mansel operated without proper licenses, recommended unnecessary repairs, and failed to carry out work after receiving payment.
  • The Order requires Mansel to make an initial restitution payment of $100,000 and any additional amount necessary to fully compensate affected consumers. The Order also requires Mansel to pay a civil penalty of $166,000.


Attorneys General Petition for Supreme Court Review of EPA Rule

  • Michigan AG Bill Schuette led a group of 23 states in petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on the legality of a recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule limiting mercury and other emissions from power plants.
  • A group of sixteen states and the District of Columbia intervened in support of the EPA at the D.C. Circuit, and now oppose the petition together with the EPA.
  • A divided D.C. Circuit found in favor of the EPA on the promulgation of its Mercury and Air Toxins Standards (MATS) rule for power plants. Specifically, the D.C. Circuit found that the EPA was not required to consider the industry compliance costs associated with the implementation of the MATS rule, which requires coal-fired power plants to cut mercury emissions by 90 percent in the next four years.
  • The case, State of Michigan et al. v. EPA, case number 14-46, is being considered together with Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA and National Mining Association v. EPA.

Health Care

State Attorneys General Argue in Support of Federal Assistance to Purchase Health Insurance

  • Virginia AG Mark Herring and 17 other State AGs filed an amici brief in support of provisions in the U.S. Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a forthcoming decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
  • The brief argues in favor of federal assistance credits for low- and moderate-income individuals who purchase health insurance through a federally-facilitated exchange. The AGs emphasize that without federal assistance the ACA would burden state insurance markets, and could be seen as unconstitutionally coercing states into building their own exchanges to comply with federal law.
  • The case, Halbig v. Burwell, is on appeal before the full en banc United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and is scheduled for argument December 17, 2014.
  • In King v. Burwell, a similar case decided the same day, a three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit found unanimously in favor of the federal assistance provisions of the ACA.


Vermont Attorney General Settles With Mortgage Servicer

  • Vermont AG William Sorrel settled with a national mortgage servicer, Green Tree Servicing LLC, on claims of unfair trade practices associated with debt collecting and late payment of property taxes.
  • AG Sorrel's investigation alleged that Green Tree called consumers while at work or after 9:00 PM, and, in addition, indicated to third parties that the consumer had debt.
  • The settlement agreement requires Green Tree to pay $55,250 to Vermont consumers and $176,750 to the state.

States v. Federal Government

States Argue in Support of Decision Barring Federal Court Jurisdiction Over State Tax Issues

  • A group of 25 AGs, led by Illinois AG Lisa Madigan, submitted an amici brief to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the U.S. Tax Injunction Act (TIA) precludes lawsuits in federal court over state law tax issues.
  • In 2010, Colorado passed a law that required out-of-state retailers to report information about Colorado consumer purchases to the Colorado Department of Revenue. The petitioner – a trade association of internet retailers and marketers – brought claims alleging that the Colorado law is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause because it discriminates against out-of-state retailers and imposes an undue burden on interstate commerce.
  • The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado granted the petitioner's request to enjoin the Colorado law on grounds that it violated the Commerce Clause. However, the Tenth Circuit vacated the injunction on appeal and ruled that the TIA precludes federal courts having jurisdiction to consider the petitioner's claims.
  • The case, Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl, is scheduled for oral argument on December 8, 2014.

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