Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
Saturday, July 24, 2021
- California Attorney General Bonta issued a consumer alert for Plumas, Butte, Lassen, and Alpine counties, which are under states of emergency due to wildfires, reminding consumers that California’s price gouging law is in effect during a state of emergency.
Monday, July 26, 2021
Americans with Disabilities Act
- Illinois Attorney General Raoul led a coalition of 18 Attorneys General in asking Congress to pass legislation, The All Stations Accessibility Program Act of 2021, that is intended to give people with disabilities equal access to public transportation. Specifically, the Act would create a federal grant program to support local public transportation authorities so they may upgrade existing stations in order to meet or exceed Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility standards.
- Georgia Attorney General Carr released an overview of Georgia’s top consumer complaints from 2020, based on a Consumer Federation of America report. The top issue in 2020 was debt-related complaints, followed by used car sales and then price gouging and/or state of emergency related concerns. According to the press release, these issues were also among the top 10 nationwide complaints in 2020.
- New Jersey Acting Attorney General Bruck announced that the owner of real estate improvement company Mulberry Management, L.L.C. was charged with insurance fraud for allegedly making false and misleading statements to the New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group to receive lower workers’ compensation premiums.
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Breach of Agreement
- Michigan Attorney General Nessel announced that her office reached a consent judgment with car rental company Executive Car Rental, which allegedly breached a March 2019 assurance agreement with her office related to the return of damage deposits. The consent judgment requires the company to pay $17,500, as well as meet its obligations under the assurance agreement. Certain consumers are also protected from paying for damages or other issues.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) announced that consumer applications for revolving credit cards, auto loans, and new mortgages have returned to close to pre-pandemic levels as of May 2021. However, there are differences for borrowers with subprime and deep subprime credit scores, whose applications are still down, which the CFPB is monitoring.
- Florida Attorney General Moody announced an agreement with Florida Neurological Center, LLC and its owner for allegedly submitting false claims for unreasonable and medically unnecessary prescription drugs to Florida’s Medicaid program. The agreement requires the company and owner to pay $800,000.
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) announced the launch of the Rental Assistance Finder, which is intended to help renters and landlords who have been impacted by the pandemic to easily apply for federal payment assistance for expenses such as rent and utilities.
- Florida Attorney General Moody filed a lawsuit against landscaping company Good Neighbor Services and its owners and managers for allegedly failing to provide landscaping and pest control services and misrepresenting the timing and quality of its services through deceptive advertising and statements. The press release notes that the majority of complaints received were from seniors and military service members. The lawsuit seeks to permanently ban the owners and managers from participating in landscaping or pest control services, as well as restitution and up to more than $1.8 million in civil penalties.
Vulnerable Adult Protection
- South Carolina Attorney General Wilson announced the passage of a new law protecting vulnerable adults, including the elderly, from financial exploitation. Specifically, the law allows financial institutions to delay transactions if there is a reasonable belief that financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult is occurring. During the delay period the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Social Services may investigate the transaction.
Thursday, July 29, 2021
COVID-19 Fee Cap Statute
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey sued Grubhub for allegedly charging illegal fees to Massachusetts restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic by exceeding a price cap of 15% of an item’s menu price. The lawsuit seeks investigation and prosecution costs, as well as refunds for restaurants and civil penalties of $5,000 per violation.
Department of Education
- A coalition of Attorneys General filed an amicus brief in the Second Circuit supporting the New York Legal Assistance Group’s (“NYLAG”) lawsuit challenging a Department of Education rule that repealed and replaced “borrower defense” regulations for federal student loan borrowers who are victimized by a school. The coalition is supporting NYLAG’s argument that the regulations should not have been repealed.
- A coalition of Attorneys General led by New York Attorney General James announced an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) that will, if approved, commit the EPA to taking action on “good neighbor” plans from several states to limit the spread of downwind emissions that cause smog.
Friday, July 30, 2021
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that two of its final rules issued under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act will take effect on November 30, 2021 as planned, rather than being extended until the end of January 2022. The two rules are related to debt-collection communications and disclosures.
Child Tax Credit
- A coalition of 23 Attorneys General is asking Congress to permanently extend the expanded Child Tax Credit in its reconciliation package in order to address child poverty. The coalition is also asking Congress to provide enough funding to raise public awareness about the credit and to make the sign-up process more streamlined.
- Connecticut Attorney General Tong announced a $400,000 settlement with electric supplier Town Square Energy resolving allegations that the company engaged in deceptive marketing, such as by misrepresenting the standard service rate, enrolling consumers without consent, and soliciting services in the presence of “no trespassing” signs. The settlement also requires the company to stop marketing in person for 15 months.