I have been with the District of Columbia Attorney General’s Office (DC OAG) since June 2021. I initially joined as a Senior Trial Counsel, handling a variety of DC OAG’s affirmative cases. In March 2022, I became Deputy Director of DC OAG’s Office of Consumer Protection. Soon after, when Ben Wiseman left our office to join the Federal Trade Commission, I stepped in as director (with some very large shoes to fill).
Despite our jurisdiction’s small size, we have a large and growing team of 20 dedicated, talented attorneys and professional staff. We are also fortunate to have some of the broadest and strongest consumer laws in the country, which allow us to go after misconduct across a wide variety of subject matters—from data privacy to housing to predatory lending. Our goal is to bring matters that will have the greatest impact and that will protect the District’s most vulnerable residents. We also seek to maintain a balanced caseload between purely local matters and those that may have a national impact.
Our team has worked hard to secure some great results for District consumers, even during my relatively short tenure. Last August, we prevailed on summary judgment against Polymer80 for its unlawful and deceptive advertisements and sales of untraceable “ghost guns” to District residents—securing maximum civil penalties of more than $4 million, along with robust injunctive relief. And we’ve obtained some significant settlements over the past few months, including a $9.5 million settlement with Google for its geolocation practices, a $3.5 million settlement with Grubhub for a variety of deceptive practices, and a $2.5 million settlement with Instacart for its deceptive service fees and other misconduct. We also brought several recent cases against companies that target low-income, vulnerable residents—such as our lawsuit against Liberty Tax for its deceptive “Cash in a Flash” promotion.
While I enjoy managing these interesting and complex litigation matters, I especially appreciate the non-litigation work our section does. Particularly as COVID restrictions have lifted, we have prioritized community engagement and consumer education events. For example, over the past year, we’ve focused on building relationships with the returning citizen community, so that we can address the issues they face after returning home from incarceration. In addition, we have a robust mediation program that has returned millions of dollars to District residents over the past few years, without the need to resort to litigation or even formal investigations. We have also been heavily involved in legislative efforts to protect consumers. This past year we introduced, and helped pass, a critical update to our debt collection law, as well as an emergency baby formula price-gouging bill. And we’re currently working on a bill that would fill some important gaps in our consumer protection statute, including by expressly prohibiting deceptive conduct in the course of charitable solicitations, clarifying the types of merchants covered by our statute, updating OAG’s pre-suit investigative tools, and strengthening its remedies provisions.
While I haven’t been in this role for very long, I can unequivocally say it’s the best job I’ve ever had—the most challenging, the most satisfying, and the most fun. I’ve been doing consumer work for about five years; prior to DC OAG, I was a consumer attorney at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office. I love that consumer laws are flexible and allow for creative solutions to problems that affect so many aspects of everyday life—from renting an apartment, to purchasing a coffee, to logging onto an app. I’m also lucky to have worked in offices that are willing to take risks and bring righteous cases, particularly on behalf of those unable to advocate for themselves, even where success isn’t guaranteed. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored with this kind of work, particularly while I’m surrounded by such motivated, talented colleagues.
Other articles in this edition include:
- Attorney General Consumer Protection News: January 2023
- Federal Agency and Other Consumer Protection News: January 2023