Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
- A coalition of 23 state attorneys general filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration’s “Waters of the United States” rule, which would expand federal authority over bodies of water across the United States. The lawsuit, which seeks a preliminary injunction against the rule’s enforcement, alleges that the President’s interpretation of the rule goes beyond the power Congress gave to the federal government in the Clean Water Act and violates the Administrative Procedure Act.
- A coalition of 14 state attorneys general submitted comments against Gas Innovations LNG Refrigerants Inc.’s request for a special permit to ship cryogenic liquefied ethane in rail tank cars from its Pennsylvania facility across the United States. The coalition is urging the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to deny the application because it does not provide certain information, such as destinations for the cargo and safety measures that would be put in place to ensure protection of affected communities.
- A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general filed an amicus brief in U.S. Supreme Court cases United States ex rel. Tracy Schutte, et al v. SuperValu, Inc. and United States ex rel. Thomas Proctor v. Safeway, Inc., asking the Court to adopt a robust reading of the False Claims Act to protect publicly funded programs from fraud. Specifically, the coalition is arguing that the Court should interpret “knowingly” under the Act to allow evidence of what a provider knew or should have known based on relevant Medicaid guidance.
- Several state attorneys general are asking the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to review a Securities and Exchange Commission rule that mandates that investment managers make additional disclosures about their proxy votes. Under the rule, investment managers are required to sort their proxy votes into categories of information including climate, human rights and diversity, inclusion, and equity. The attorneys general believe the rule is irrelevant to the economic value of investments and would increase costs.
- Colorado Attorney General Weiser sent a letter to AmeriGas following consumer complaints stating that the company was unwilling or unable to service propane tanks. The letter, which gave the company until March 1 to reply, warned AmeriGas that its failure to fill propane tanks could be endangering the health and safety of children and elderly consumers and could be a violation of state consumer protection law.
- Connecticut Attorney General Tong announced an investigation into for-profit nursing school Stone Academy over potential violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act after the school quickly shut down, disrupting students’ plans for education. Attorney General Tong’s civil investigative demand seeks detailed information on issues such as the school’s education, tuition, marketing, accreditation, revenues, decision to close, and plans to address the closure.
- Michigan Attorney General Nessel is asking DTE Energy and Consumers Energy to automatically credit customers who were affected by recent weather events and resulting power outages.
- New York Attorney General James filed a lawsuit against cryptocurrency platform COINEX for failing to register as a securities and commodities broker-dealer and falsely indicating that it was a crypto exchange. The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the company to stop representing that it is an exchange, preventing the company from operating in New York, and requiring the company to use geo-blocking based on GPS locations and IP addresses that would prevent access to its website and mobile app from New York locations.
- New York Attorney General James and United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York Freedman announced $7.1 million settlements with the Saratoga Center for Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Care and its owners, operator, and landlord. The settlement resolves allegations of fraud and the neglect of residents.
- New York Attorney General James announced an agreement with home care company Affordable Senior Care of New York LLC and its agent, preventing them from entering into anti-competitive agreements in the future. The agreement follows an investigation finding that Affordable’s agent entered into an illegal no-poach agreement with competitor Marks Homecare Agency to not take each other’s current patients. The agreement also includes a $400,000 payment.
- Washington Attorney General Ferguson announced that the state House has passed a bill ensuring that utility operators may not shut off consumers’ power or water when the National Weather Service issues a heat-related alert or warning. The state Senate will now consider the bill.
- Washington Attorney General Ferguson announced that Electron Hydro, LLC and its Chief Operating Officer pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor violation of operating an illegal hydraulic project. The criminal charges follow a construction project updating the Electron Dam in the summer of 2020. The Attorney General’s Office has recommended a $1 million sentence.