Notable Cases

Here are a few of the major cases of interest within the state Attorneys General community that are receiving significant press coverage.

AG Racine Sues JUUL for Creating a Teen Public Health Crisis and Deceiving District Residents About E-Cigarettes

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine joined most other state Attorneys General in announcing a lawsuit against JUUL Labs, Inc. for violating the District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Acts by deliberately targeting underage consumers; failing to verify ages of purchasers; and deceiving consumers about the content, strength and safety of its products. The FDA has ruled teenage vaping an “epidemic,” citing that 3.6 million children in the United States currently use e-cigarettes. Attorney General Racine wants to hold JUUL accountable for dragging a new generation into nicotine addiction.

Michigan Goes After Opioid Distributors; Files Lawsuit Under Michigan Drug Dealer Liability Act

On December 17, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that Michigan sued the major opioid distributors – Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Walgreens –  over the deadly painkiller epidemic. Although 49 states have already sued these distributors, Michigan is the first state to sue the opioid distributors under a liability law that was enacted to combat drug trafficking and is ordinarily used in charges against drug dealers. This is the first time that Michigan is suing over the opioid epidemic, but Nessel is part of about half of the attorneys general that have reached a settlement proposal with the OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma.

Massachusetts Becomes Second State to Sue Exxon for Climate Fraud

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy filed a state lawsuit on October 24 against ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, accusing it of both consumer and investor fraud. The lawsuit alleges ExxonMobil engaged in fraud by misleading consumers with deceptive advertisements and engaging in “green-washing” – using unsubstantiated claims to deceive consumers into believing that a company is environmentally friendly. ExxonMobil used “synergy” and “green” to advertise Mobil 1 oil, when in reality its products contribute to transportation-sector emissions – the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts.

Trial Begins for State Attorney General’s Lawsuit over T-Mobile and Sprint 'Megamerger'

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra led a coalition of 14 states and the District of Columbia in a trial that began on December 9, 2019, suing to block T-Mobile and Sprint from merging into one of the nation’s largest wireless carriers. In October, the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department approved the merger, leaving this lawsuit as the last obstacle for T-Mobile before it can move forward in buying Sprint for $26 billion. This sale would cut the number of leading telecommunications companies from four to three. The state Attorneys General argue that a massive reduction in competition will hurt consumers, especially those in low-income and minority communities that rely on prepaid mobile services.

AG Kaul: Agreement with PayPal Charitable Giving Fund

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, along with a coalition of 22 Attorneys General, reached an agreement with PayPal’s nonprofit Charitable Giving Fund that will ensure that donors receive adequate information and disclosures when making charitable donations through PayPal’s online fundraising platform, PPGF. The states initiated an investigation into the charitable arm’s disclosures, vetting practices and treatment of charitable contributions in 2017. To address the states’ concerns, PPGF agreed to adopt new practices in regards to its disclosures and agreed to provide regulators with future data to ensure compliance.

Attorney General Becerra Secures $23 Million in Settlements with Auto Parts Manufacturers for Violations of Antitrust Law

On December 4, 2019, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the $23 million in settlements recovered from 52 auto parts manufacturers. The auto parts manufacturers violated antitrust laws by illegally rigging bids responsive to bid requests from automobile companies. Automobile manufacturers took part in these conspiracies with the corrupt goal to suppress and eliminate competition by agreeing to fix, stabilize and maintain prices for automotive parts, leading to increased prices for consumers and a less competitive market. Most recently, a $4.25 million settlement with DENSO was filed on December 3, 2019.

24 State Attorneys General Step Up to Defend CFPB

On January 27, 2020, a coalition of 24 state Attorneys General led by New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing to protect the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s regulatory powers. In 2017, the CFPB began investigating California law firm Seila Law for its debt-relief practices. Seila Law responded by filing a lawsuit to block the investigation, arguing that CFPB’s structure was unconstitutional by violating the separation of powers clause. After being rejected by both the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Seila Law has moved to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, arguing that the CFPB violated Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act. The coalition of attorneys general disputes Seila Law’s claim and argues that the CFPB’s structure is constitutional.

Additional links to recent notable cases:

AGs Launch Investigation Into E-Cigarette JUUL Marketing

Coronavirus price gouging, scams hit Kentucky. Here's what you can do to protect yourself

Juul Labs Sought to Court AGs as Teen Vaping Surged

39 States To Investigate Juul's Marketing Practices

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill Sues Wildlife in Need

Google antitrust probe expands as bipartisan state AGs beef up staff and resources

Former Taro Pharmaceutical VP Of Sales And Marketing Indicted for Price Fixing

March 26, 2020 | Issue No. 2
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