Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
- A bipartisan coalition of six attorneys general, led by Attorney General Shapiro, submitted a Borrower Defense Application to the U.S. Department of Education seeking cancellation of the federal student loan debt of thousands of students who attended the for-profit Brightwood Career Institute in Pennsylvania. The Borrower Defense Application alleges student borrowers were deceived when obtaining loans based on Brightwood’s misrepresentations regarding accreditation status, among other misrepresentations.
- Alaska Attorney General Taylor announced a settlement in a consumer protection case against Anchorage Auto Mart, LLC (“AAM”). The settlement included $35,000 in civil penalties and $60,000 for a restitution fund to address AAM’s alleged unfair and deceptive trade practices. AAM allegedly posted false advertisements, failed to disclose that vehicles lacked a valid title or had a reconstructed title, and misrepresented the accident history of vehicles.
- Arkansas Attorney General Rutledge filed a lawsuit against Family Dollar Stores, Inc. for selling potentially harmful or contaminated products following a massive rodent infestation at a West Memphis, Arkansas distribution center. The complaint alleges Family Dollar was aware of the rodent infestation for years, but continued to sell unsafe products at stores across Arkansas. The complaint seeks punitive damages, restitution, and civil penalties under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
- Colorado Attorney General Weiser testified before the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee on the Fentanyl Accountability and Prevention Act, HB22-1326. Weiser gave historical background regarding the opioid crisis, corporate pharmaceutical involvement and accountability, and the Office of the Attorney General’s efforts to date. Weiser highlighted various components of the bill including the dedication of resources to education and prevention, the inclusion of criminal penalties for fentanyl dealers, and the funding of harm reduction resources.
- Indiana Attorney General Rokita filed a lawsuit against Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (“BLM”) for failure to comply with an investigative demand served on BLM in an ongoing investigation of BLM’s use of donated funds contributed by Indianans. The civil investigative demand sought to determine if BLM’s actions constituted a violation of the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act or the Indiana Nonprofit Corporation Act.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announced agreements with two web-based property management companies selling software that allegedly discriminates against tenants who receive public assistance. The software provided by Buildium, LLC and Tenant Turner, Inc. allegedly falsely marketed fair housing-compliant software that explicitly offered options for landlords to exclude recipients of housing vouchers and applicants with certain felony convictions. These resolutions are part of Attorney General Healey’s ongoing investigation into the tenant screening and background check industry.
- New York Attorney General James announced an agreement with Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) resolving a pending lawsuit against PHEAA and securing potential student debt relief for thousands of New York borrowers. PHEAA allegedly mismanaged student federal loans and is required to audit thousands of accounts to identify errors in the management of the loans. Any errors identified will be corrected and the borrowers will receive monetary relief as restitution where appropriate.
- North Carolina Attorney General Stein filed a lawsuit against Dennis Daugherty, his Illinois-based company Green Lantern Services, and his North Carolina company Green Lantern Roofing and Restoration for defrauding customers attempting to make home repairs after Hurricane Florence in 2018. The complaint alleges Daugherty made false claims to customers and misleadingly convinced customers to sign a contract demanding immediate payment of insurance checks. The companies then performed minimal, poor quality work or abandoned projects without refunding the customer. The complaint seeks restitution, injunctive relief, civil penalties, and attorney fees.
- North Dakota Attorney General Wrigley filed a civil action against Glasser Images, LLC and its owner, Jack Glasser, for allegedly defrauding consumers in multiple states by falsely claiming the COVID-19 pandemic caused the company to close. The company had serious financial concerns for many years and continued to borrow money. Over 500 complaints were made against the company, claiming more than $1.4 million in damages.
- Washington Attorney General Ferguson filed a lawsuit against Postmaster General DeJoy and the U.S. Postal Service for violating federal environmental law when DeJoy replaced 165,000 vehicles with primarily gas-powered models rather than shifting to electric vehicles. The lawsuit alleges violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), such as ignoring key environmental impacts and failing to conduct a proper environmental review of the decision.