Led by California Attorney General Bonta, Florida Attorney General Moody, Massachusetts Attorney General Mara Healey, Nebraska Attorney General Dog Peterson, Tennessee Attorney General. Slatery, and Vermont Attorney General Donovan, a bipartisan coalition of 52 attorneys general sent a letter to the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security. The letter expresses support for the committee’s hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower” as well as concern for the well-being of children and the negative impact social media may have on mental health.
Led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a coalition of 23 attorneys general petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to protect babies from toxic heavy metals in baby food. The petition responds to rising alarm about the health hazards posed by dangerous heavy metals in these foods as documented in a House committee report that also urged FDA to set limits for arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury in baby foods.
Individual Attorney General Actions
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich obtained a consent judgment with Dr. Steve Fanto, a Scottsdale-based pain management doctor in the office’s ongoing litigation related to Insys Therapeutics (Insys). The settlement resolves the state’s claims that Dr. Fanto took hundreds of thousands of dollars in sham educational “speaker fees” from Insys in exchange for prescribing Subsys, a highly addictive opioid prescription drug that contains fentanyl. Brnovich’s consumer fraud lawsuit continues against John Kapoor, the founder and former President of Insys.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the filing of a lawsuit against Med-Care Health Link, LLC of Virginia and others for failing to provide more than $10 million worth of personal protective equipment and 560 ventilators to University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences as Arkansas and the country prepared for the growing COVID-19 pandemic.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced that Westerra Credit Union has refunded Colorado borrowers more than $846,000 after failing to return unused GAP fees. Guaranteed automobile protection (GAP) is an add-on product sold to car buyers who finance their purchase. Westerra provided the refunds to 3,422 consumers in April of 2021 and agreed in a settlement to submit to additional auditing of its handling of its GAP product. The refunds were allegedly owed to consumers who had paid off their loans prior to maturity or whose vehicles had been repossessed.
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine added Mark Zuckerberg as a defendant in his office’s suit against Facebook. According to Racine, his “continuing investigation revealed that Zuckerberg was personally involved in decisions related to Cambridge Analytica and Facebook’s failure to protect user data.”
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shut down three fraudulent websites attempting to steal driver license information. The scam involved text messages sent to Floridians asking for personal information in order to remake driver licenses that show COVID-19 vaccination status. Attorney General Moody also sued a Florida pool company and its owner for taking upfront payments and leaving jobs incomplete. According to the complaint, Olympus Pools, Inc. and owner James I. Staten, Jr. allegedly accepted payments from hundreds of consumers in exchange for contracted pool services, then failed to perform the services as promised—sometimes leaving consumers with giant holes on their property.
Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors partnered with the Federal Communications Commission to host a webinar on spoofing and robocalls. The event followed up on Connors’ spoofing alert issued last month, and featured state government officials and other Hawaii-based partners, providing tips consumers can use to protect themselves from scams.
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden obtained a judgment against an Idaho appliance repair business, Appliance Corral Service and its owner Michael Scott. The judgment requires the company to provide refunds to consumers who filed complaints. Scott also must pay $10,000 in civil penalties and reimburse the Office of the Attorney General for fees and costs related to the case.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita filed a lawsuit against an Indiana company that allegedly acted as a gateway into the United States for robocallers in India, the Philippines and Singapore. The company, Startel Communication LLC, was owned and operated in Evansville by Wanda Hall and Abhijit Chowdhury, an Indian national. The robocallers allegedly made hundreds of millions of calls into the United States operating a variety of imposter scams.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced the resolution of a lawsuit against Sparboe Farms, a Minnesota-based egg producer, related to alleged excessive pricing of its eggs in March and April 2020. Under the terms of a Consent Judgment, Sparboe will donate 90,000 dozen eggs — more than 1,000,000 eggs in total — to Minnesota nonprofit organizations for the purpose of combatting hunger and food insecurity throughout Minnesota.
New Jersey Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck resolved a data breach case and obtained a $495,000 settlement with healthcare provider, Diamond Institute for Infertility and Menopause, LLC, following a data breach in 2016-17 that compromised the personal information of 14,663 patients, including 11,071 New Jersey residents. In addition to the monetary payment, the settlement requires implementation of extensive reforms designed to strengthen data security system and encryption protocols.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh obtained a settlement with Just Puppies of Maryland, Inc., Just Puppies, Inc., and Mitchell Thomson, the companies’ owner concerning their sale of puppies to consumers that allegedly violated Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act and the No More Puppy Mills Act. The settlement prevents Just Puppies from selling dogs in Maryland, provides restitution to Maryland consumers who purchased puppies that had a congenital disorder or hereditary condition or illness at the time of purchase, and imposes civil penalties of $500,000 which could be reduced to $100,000 if the defendants comply with all the settlement terms.
New York Attorney General Letitia James obtained $4.4 million in refunds for consumers who had events cancelled due to COVID-19. The agreement with Ticket Fulfillment Services, L.P. (TFS) and five ticket resale websites resolves claims the companies failed to provide legally-mandated refunds to more than 11,000 affected consumers who purchased tickets through one of TFS’s affiliate marketers.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro took action against a Philadelphia Comic Con organizer for failing to issue refunds following COVID-19 cancellations. After repeatedly rescheduling the event, defendants Great Conventions LLC and its owner, Christopher Wertz, effectively cancelled the event in March 2021 and allegedly have made no effort to either reschedule the convention or give consumers their money back.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson took action against a company, and its owner for allegedly robocalling Washingtonians with deceptive recorded messages, that, ironically, attempted to sell a purported robocall-blocking service. The company allegedly made more than 46,000 robocalls to Washington telephone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry to advertise its service.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, in partnership with the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), announced a free, online course for parents and caregivers on how to help keep kids safe online. The course comes as the Department of Justice and DPI recognize October as Keeping Kids Safe Online month in Wisconsin.
Other articles in this edition include: