The State AG Report Weekly Update September 19, 2019

Consumer Protection

Tennessee Attorney General Settles with Cigarette Manufacturer Over Alleged Sales of Contraband Cigarettes

  • Tennessee AG Herbert Slatery III reached a settlement with cigarette manufacturer Xcaliber International Ltd., LLC (“Xcaliber”) over allegations that sold cigarettes considered to be contraband under state law.
  • According to the AG’s office, Xcaliber allegedly purchased, manufactured, and sold a cigarette brand that was contraband because of on alleged violations of state law committed by the original manufacturer of that brand.
  • According to the AG’s office, under the terms of the settlement, Xcaliber will pay $1.86 million to the state treasury and comes into compliance with state tobacco laws.

Environment

Illinois Attorney General Settles with Chemical Company Over Alleged Chemical Releases and Permit Violations

  • Illinois AG Kwame Raoul reached a settlement with chemical manufacturer Flint Hills Resources Peru, LLC (“Flint Hills”) over allegations that the company released and dumped chemicals in violation of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and was noncompliant with certain permit and reporting requirements under Illinois Pollution Control Board regulations.
  • According to the AG’s office, a system malfunction in 2014 resulted in Flint Hills releasing 56,000 pounds of styrene—a hazardous air pollutant—into the air, and Flint Hills dumped over 2,000 pounds of liquid styrene onto the ground, among other things.
  • Under the terms of the consent order, Flint Hills must pay a $850,000 penalty and comply with all state environmental laws and permit requirements.

Labor & Employment

New York Attorney General Settles with Home Health Aide Company Over Alleged Wage and Human Rights Law Violations

  • New York AG Letitia James reached a settlement with home health aide company Allcare Homecare Agency, Inc. (“Allcare”) over allegations that Allcare failed to pay aides for all hours worked and failed to offer paid leave in violation of the state Labor Law, Homecare Worker Wage Parity Act, and Earned Sick Time Act, and threatened immigrant workers in violation of the state Labor Law and Human Rights Law.
  • According to the AG’s office, Allcare allegedly did not pay aides working 24-hour shifts for all hours worked, failed to offer required paid leave policies, and threatened certain immigrant workers who complained about unpaid wages that the company would contact immigration authorities to deport the workers.
  • According to the AG’s office, under the terms of the settlement, Allcare will pay $450,000 in cash and benefits to over 100 workers, including those who alerted the AG’s office to the company’s unlawful practices.

State v. Federal

17 Attorneys General Oppose Department of Education Policy; New Jersey Attorney General Seeks to Compel Student Loan and Other Information from Department of Education

  • A coalition of 17 AGs, led by New Jersey AG Gurbir Grewal, wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”) expressing concerns regarding ED’s recent decision to restrict state law enforcement agencies’ access to ED records and the National Student Loan Data System (“NSLDS”).
  • In the letter, the AGs argue that ED’s August 16, 2019 decision impedes states’ ability to investigate student lender misconduct and protect borrowers, and that ED’s purported reasons for the change are invalid.
  • As previously reported, a coalition of AGs issued letters in July 2018 and April 2019 opposing similar ED policies regarding disclosure of information to state regulators.
  • AG Grewal also recently filed a complaint in federal court alleging that ED failed to fully respond to related requests by his office in violation of the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Utilities

Washington Attorney General Seeks Consumer Refunds from Electric and Gas Supplier

  • The office of Washington AG Bob Ferguson is seeking customer refunds from electric and gas supplier Avista Corporation (“Avista”) for allegedly overcharging consumers.
  • According to AG Ferguson’s testimony filed with the state Utilities and Transportation Commission (“UTC”), which regulates investor-owned utility rates in the state, Avista allegedly improperly calculated electric and gas rates to cover the cost of the company’s projected growth, including an estimated property expansion.
  • The AG’s testimony urges the UTC to require Avista to refund eligible customers up to $41 million.
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