The State AG Report Weekly Update July 25, 2019

Cannabis/Marijuana

Bipartisan Coalition of 37 Attorneys General Submits Comment to FDA Regarding Cannabis Products

  • The National Association of Attorneys General (“NAAG”) submitted a comment to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), signed by a bipartisan coalition of 37 AGs led by District of Columbia AG Karl Racine and Oklahoma AG Mike Hunter, in response to the FDA’s request for comments on the safety, manufacturing, and sale of products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds.
  • In the comment, the AGs express concerns that companies that manufacture and market products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds are not regulated as stringently as they should be due to the complexity of the products, and that there is a high risk that such products will be improperly tested, labeled, or packaged in ways that put consumers at risk.
  • The AGs urge the FDA to regulate the testing and manufacturing of these products and develop scientific and medical data to assist in meaningful federal and state enforcement of companies that manufacture and market such products, among other things.

Data Privacy & Security

50 Attorneys General, FTC, and CFPB Settle with Consumer Credit Reporting Agency Over Data Breach

  • 50 AGs, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) reached settlements with consumer credit reporting agency Equifax Inc. over allegations that it failed to secure personal information stored on its network in violation of state consumer protection and data privacy laws, the FTC Act, the Safeguards Rule of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and federal consumer protection laws.
  • According to the complaints, Equifax allegedly failed to take reasonable steps to protect the personal information of consumers—including names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and physical addresses—resulting in a September 2017 data breach affecting approximately 147 million people.
  • Under the terms of the settlements, Equifax must pay $175 million to the states, a $100 million civil money penalty to the CFPB, and $425 million to the FTC which is subject to forbearance contingent on Equifax paying $300 million and up to an additional $125 million as needed to a consumer restitution account established in the concurrent settlement of a consumer class action lawsuit, In re Equifax Inc. Customer Data Breach Litigation, 1:17-md-02800-TWT (N.D. Ga.).
  • The settlements also require Equifax to implement an Information Security Program including specific security components, hire an approved third party to perform information security assessments, annually certify compliance with the settlement orders, and separately report future security incidents to federal and state regulators, among other things.

Environment

Eight Attorneys General, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Environmental Groups Settle with Power Company Over Alleged Air Pollution

  • 8 AGs, led by Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, New Jersey AG Gurbir Grewal, and New York AG Letitia James; the U.S. Environment Protection Agency; and environmental groups reached a settlement with American Electric Power (“AEP”) to revise a 2007 consent decree governing AEP’s emissions.
  • According to AG Healey’s office, air pollution from AEP’s coal-fired power plants in the Midwest allegedly carried through prevailing winds into Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, including the participating states, posing health risks to residents and causing acid rain.
  • Under the terms of the modified consent decree, AEP must pay $4 million to the states to fund air pollution mitigation programs, significantly reduce air pollution from its coal-fired power plants, and retire a coal-fired unit at an Indiana plant by 2028, among other things.

False Claims Act

Connecticut Attorney General Sues Therapy Treatment Company for Alleged False Claims

  • Connecticut AG William Tong filed a lawsuit against Therapy Unlimited, LLC and its owner (collectively, “Therapy Unlimited”) over allegations that it submitted false claims for reimbursement to the state Medicaid program and State Employee Health and Retirement Plan (“State Plan”) in violation of the Connecticut False Claims Act.
  • According to the complaint, Therapy Unlimited allegedly submitted claims for reimbursement that inflated the time its therapists spent providing healthcare services to patients and included services provided by unlicensed staff to the state Medicaid program and the State Plan.
  • The complaint seeks civil penalties, treble damages, costs of investigation and prosecution, and money damages.

 Labor & Employment

Minnesota Attorney General Announces New Wage Theft Unit

  • Minnesota AG Keith Ellison announced the creation of a new Wage Theft Unit within the AG’s office that will be dedicated to investigating and enforcing cases of wage theft.
  • According to the AG’s office, the new Unit will investigate and litigate patterns and practices that lead to wage theft, monitor emerging labor and employment issues, and coordinate with other government entities, community groups, and businesses to increase awareness of these issues and identify violators.
  • The Unit was created in conjunction with the enactment of Minnesota’s new wage theft law.

 

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