A bipartisan executive committee of attorneys general from 13 states confirmed agreements in principle with CVS Health and Walgreens which could provide more than $10.7 billion to states and local governments. CVS expects to provide $5 billion in payments over 10 years, while Walgreens would make $5.7 billion in payments over 15 years according to statements by each company. Critical details of the settlements remain the subject of continuing negotiations.
A bipartisan executive committee of 13 attorneys general led by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced a $6.6 billion settlement with opioids manufacturers Teva and Allergan. In addition to providing much needed funds for addressing the opioids crisis, the settlement includes business practice changes and transparency requirements. There will be a 30-day sign-on period for states, followed by a 90-day sign-on period for units of local government. The settlement will be divided among sign-on states, local governments and tribes, and will prioritize abatement and remediation of the opioid crisis.
A bipartisan executive committee group of 16 attorneys general announced a $3.1 billion national settlement with Walmart over opioid epidemic allegations. The settlement would resolve allegations that the company contributed to the opioid addiction crisis by failing to appropriately oversee the dispensing of opioids at its stores. In addition to monetary relief, the settlement will require significant improvements in how Walmart’s pharmacies handle opioids. State attorneys general on the executive committee, attorneys representing local governments, and Walmart have agreed to the settlement, and it is now being sent to other states for review and approval.
Led by Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, a bipartisan group of 40 attorneys general announced a $392 million settlement with Google over location tracking practices. The attorneys general opened the Google investigation following press reports that revealed Google tracked users’ locations even when users told Google not to. The settlement requires Google to be truthful and more transparent with consumers about its practices.
Led by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, a bipartisan group of 36 attorneys general announced a $1 million national settlement with CarMax Auto Superstores Inc. that will require the retailer to disclose to consumers unrepaired recalls related to the safety of its used vehicles before vehicles are purchased. The settlement stems from an investigation opened due to concerns that consumers were not aware of unrepaired and potentially serious safety recalls in purchased used vehicles.
Led by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, a bipartisan coalition of 40 attorneys general obtained $16 million in settlements with Experian and T-Mobile regarding data breaches in 2012 and 2015 that compromised the personal information of millions of consumers nationwide. Under separate settlements, Experian will pay $12.67 million, implement heightened data security measures, and offer 5 additional years of free credit monitoring. T-Mobile will pay $2.43 million and implement a vendor oversight program. The settlement with T-Mobile does not resolve an ongoing investigation regarding an unrelated breach announced in 2021.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, on behalf of the Attorney General National Robocall Task Force, filed suit against two Voice Over Internet Providers (VoIPs). The suits against Michael Lansky LLC — doing business as Avid Telecom — and One Eye LLC, were filed to enforce civil investigative demands seeking information regarding potential violations of federal and state telemarketing laws. The petitions allege that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the VoIPs named in the petitions provided assistance to telemarketers who engaged in unlawful telemarketing activity, which in itself is a violation of law. Fifty-one (51) attorneys general are members of the task force which was organized to combat unlawful robocalls. This was the first announced joint action by the task force.
Led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, a bipartisan coalition of 34 attorneys general urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to account for consumer risks from online surveillance in comments addressing the FTC’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Commercial Surveillance and Data Security. In their comments, the attorneys general urged the FTC to acknowledge the heightened sensitivity around consumers’ medical data, biometric data, and location data, along with the dangers that arise from data brokers and the surveillance of consumers.
Individual Attorney General Actions
California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a $25 million settlement with Bosch for its role in the diesel emissions cheating scandals at Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler. This settlement resolves allegations that Bosch participated in misconduct by, among other things, providing hardware, software, and software programming or calibration services to Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler when it knew or should have known that the manufacturers were violating environmental and consumer protection laws. The proposed settlement also requires Bosch to notify the state if it concludes a manufacturer will use or has used a defeat device.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced three individuals pleaded guilty to felony and misdemeanor criminal charges related to the deceptive marketing and sale of a deodorizer they knew could not kill the coronavirus and prevent surface recontamination during the COVID-19 pandemic. The defendants were also ordered to pay $252,440 in restitution to the clients they defrauded. The defendants’ now-defunct business, Microforce, was criminally charged in the scheme and pleaded guilty to felony theft.
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine announced a $6.46 million settlement with Drizly, an alcohol delivery company, to resolve allegations that it failed to ensure delivery drivers received tips left by consumers and failed to pay required taxes. Under the settlement, $2 million in restitution will be paid to drivers, $3.7 million in unpaid taxes will be recouped, and the District will receive $750,000 for costs of the investigation. Attorney General Racine also sued the owner of the Washington Commanders for allegedly unlawfully retaining security deposits paid by season ticketholders. According to the lawsuit against Pro Football, Inc., which owns the team, the Commanders required a substantial security deposit be paid by purchasers of certain premium seats and violated the terms of the contract requiring return of the funds, despite alleged warnings from corporate employees that the practice violated the contract.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody sued MV Realty, a real estate listing service, for allegedly preying upon homeowners through a deceptive payment scheme. According to the complaint, MV Realty offers a small payment to consumers with the promise that there is no obligation to return the cash, and the homeowner will owe MV Realty nothing unless and until the home is sold. However, the company records a lien on the home so that if at any time within 40 years the home is foreclosed upon or transferred to heirs upon the homeowner’s death, or if homeowners simply wish to cancel the deal, MV Realty attempts to take 3% of the home’s value.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron launched a consumer protection investigation into the ESG-related investment practices of Vanguard and State Street Bank. The civil investigative demands to Vanguard and State Street include requests related to their use of ESG factors, fiduciary duties, and effects of reduced investment in fossil fuels on investment returns.
Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh announced the Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed a $3.5 million judgment against payday lender Cash-N-Go, for making unlicensed and usurious consumer loans. The court affirmed a final order requiring Cash-N-Go to pay over $2.2 million in restitution to Maryland consumers and a $1,200,750 penalty to the State of Maryland.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced a $600,000 settlement with payment processor Global Holdings LLC over claims it assisted with the unlawful business practices of DMB Financial, LLC, a debt settlement company that allegedly charged vulnerable consumers premature and inflated fees in violation of state and federal law.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison settled with Express Enrollment, LLC, doing business as SLFD Processing, which allegedly falsely promised federal student-loan forgiveness. The company allegedly illegally collected fees from customers and misrepresented its services to consumers. The settlement requires the company to cease operating in Minnesota and pay $50,000, which the Attorney General’s Office will use to provide restitution to consumers.
New York Attorney General Letitia James obtained a $5.1 million recovery against a Buffalo landlord for lead safety law violations. The court’s order against Angel Elliot Dalfin imposes penalties, restitution, and disgorgement remedies and follows an earlier ruling that the rental housing operation was liable for repeated fraud and illegality, and created a public nuisance. Dalfin and his affiliates were also permanently banned from renting or managing residential properties in New York state.
North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley obtained a judgment against an elevator service company and its owner for failing to complete work on residential and grain elevators. David Alex Hansen, d/b/a Hansen Elevator Service were ordered to pay restitution of $26,000, $4,000 in civil penalties, and the Attorney General’s costs in the amount of $1,400.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced a settlement with online food delivery marketplace, Grubhub. The settlement resolves allegations that Grubhub’s platform used deceptive elements that led consumers to sometimes be charged higher prices than they would be if they ordered from the restaurant directly. As part of the agreement, Grubhub will provide a total of $125,000 in donations to a number of food banks throughout Pennsylvania.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul announced a settlement with telemarketer N.C.W.C., Inc. for alleged violations of Wisconsin telemarketing laws in its marketing of extended vehicle service plans. The state’s complaint alleged that N.C.W.C. made thousands of telemarketing calls without being registered as a telephone solicitor and thousands of calls to consumers on the Do-Not-Call registry. The consent judgment requires payment of up to $350,000 and imposes injunctive terms correcting the company’s business practices. Attorney General Kaul also announced a $328,000 settlement with American Tax Solutions. The consent judgment resolves allegations the company sent consumers tens of thousands of illegal mailers designed to look like threatening notices from government tax collection authorities and operated as a debt adjustment service company in the state without a proper license.
Other articles in this edition include:
- Consumer Chief of the Month
- Federal Consumer Protection News: November 2022
- Shedding Light on Dark Patterns: Protecting Consumers from Digital Deception