Digest 8.23.2018 The State AG Report Weekly Update

2018 AG Elections

Republican Bernard Pepukayi Announces Candidacy for Delaware Attorney General

  • Attorney Bernard Pepukayi, formerly a Democrat, announced that he has switched his political affiliation and has filed to run for Delaware Attorney General as a Republican.
  • Pepukayi, an attorney in private practice, previously served as deputy legal counsel to the Governor of Delaware, a deputy attorney general, and as the County Attorney for New Castle County.
  • As previously reported, Peggy Marshall Thomas, the only other Republican candidate in the open race for Delaware AG, dropped out of the race on August 13, 2018, and incumbent AG Matt Denn, a Democrat, is not seeking reelection.
  • Democrats Kathy Jennings, Chris Johnson, Tim Mullaney Sr., and LaKresha Roberts will vie for their party’s nomination in the September 6, 2018 primary election.

Consumer Protection

Bipartisan Coalition of 29 Attorneys General Submits Comments to Federal Trade Commission Highlighting Unique Role of Attorneys General in 21st Century Consumer Protection

  • A bipartisan coalition of 29 AGs, led by Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum, submitted comments in response to the Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) announcement of public hearings and request for comments regarding the issues of competition and consumer protection in the twenty-first century.
  • The AGs’ comments emphasize that AGs are uniquely positioned to recognize developing local market trends, understand local economies, and identify unfair and deceptive conduct affecting states and localities. The comments also highlight AGs’ increasingly active role in investigating and taking enforcement action on emerging issues such as data privacy, internet commerce, and big data-based marketing.
  • The AGs ask that the FTC recognize AGs’ distinct and important role in consumer protection and urge the FTC to include states in the FTC’s public hearing process.

West Virginia Attorney General Reaches Settlement with Vehicle Leasing Company Over Allegedly Unlawful Vehicle Repossessions

  • West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey has reached a settlement with vehicle leasing company Auto Trakk LLC (“Auto Trakk”) to resolve allegations that it violated the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act by unlawfully repossessing consumers’ vehicles.
  • According to the terms of the Settlement Agreement and Release, Auto Trakk allegedly repossessed vehicles from some lessees who defaulted on lease payments without providing the lessees notice or the opportunity to cure the defaults.
  • Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Auto Trakk must pay the AG’s office $100,000, forego collection of approximately $790,000 of consumer debt, and seek to have credit reporting agencies remove negative reporting for affected consumers.


16 Democratic Attorneys General and Several State and Local Officials Submit Comments Opposing Environmental Protection Agency’s Proposal to Limit Reliance on Scientific Studies Based on Unpublished Data

  • A coalition of 16 Democratic AGs, joined by several state and local officials, submitted comments in opposition to a recently proposed Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) rule that would prohibit the EPA from relying upon peer-reviewed scientific studies for which the underlying data has not been made publically available.
  • According to the AGs’ comments, the EPA failed to follow mandatory administrative procedures in proposing the new rule and lacks statutory authority to decline to consider the best available and latest scientific studies merely because the studies’ underlying data cannot feasibly be published, such as where the underlying data is proprietary, confidential, or otherwise unavailable. The AGs further argue that the proposed rule is unnecessary to accomplish the EPA’s stated goal of promoting transparency.
  • The AGs request that the EPA withdraw or decline to adopt the proposed rule.

Illinois Attorney General Reaches Settlement with Oil Refinery Owner Over Alleged Land and Groundwater Contamination

  • Illinois AG Lisa Madigan announced a settlement with the owner of a closed Madison County oil refinery, Premcor Refining Group Inc. (“Premcor”), to resolve allegations that it contaminated land and groundwater surrounding the site of the refinery.
  • The AG’s office alleges that various petroleum products have spilled or leaked into the surrounding land and groundwater since Premcor purchased the refinery in 1988, as well as during the period from 1967 to 1988 when the refinery was owned by Premcor’s predecessor, Apex Oil Company Inc., with whom the AG reached a separate settlement in September 2016.
  • According to the AG’s announcement, Premcor is required to fund and administer a detailed clean-up plan under the supervision of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and to pay $500,000 in civil penalties and costs to the state.

Labor & Employment

New York Attorney General Files Suit Against Employment Agency Operators Who Allegedly Defrauded Spanish-Speaking and Low-Wage Employment Seekers

  • New York AG Barbara Underwood filed suit against employment agency operators Jose M. Ortiz, Maritza M. Quinones, and Johanna Y. Miranda (collectively, “employment agency operators”) over allegations that they allegedly engaged in fraudulent or deceptive business practices targeting Spanish-speaking, unemployed, and financially vulnerable individuals in search of low-wage cleaning and maintenance jobs.
  • According to the AG’s office, the employment agency operators, using a series of differently-named entities, knowingly advertised fake cleaning and maintenance jobs in Spanish- and English-language classified pages, collected fees for “guaranteed” and “immediate hire” employment opportunities that did not result in employment, misrepresented that state and federal law required applicants to complete workplace health and safety training and certification, and collected upfront fees for the training and certification. The AG alleges that when individuals sought refunds, the employment agency operators abruptly disconnected their phones, closed their offices, and reopened differently-named entities in different locations.
  • According to the AG’s announcement, the lawsuit seeks an order enjoining the employment agency operators from engaging in fraudulent conduct, restitution for affected individuals, and over $300,000 in fines and penalties.


Massachusetts Attorney General Reaches Settlement with Pharmacy Over Alleged Violation of State Medicaid Automatic Refill Regulation

  • Massachusetts AG Maura Healey reached a settlement with pharmacy PharmaHealth Long Term Care Inc. and two affiliated entities (collectively, “PharmaHealth”) to resolve allegations that they violated state regulations prohibiting pharmacies from automatically refilling prescriptions for patients enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program, MassHealth, without an explicit request from the patients or their authorized caregivers.
  • The AG alleges that from 2009 to 2013, PharmaHealth allegedly automatically refilled MassHealth patients’ prescriptions without proper patient authority and inappropriately billed MassHealth for the cost of the refills.
  • According to the AG’s announcement, PharmaHealth will pay over $340,000 to MassHealth.

State AGs in the News

New Hampshire Attorney General Announces Appointment of State’s First Solicitor General

  • New Hampshire AG Gordon MacDonald announced that Manchester attorney Daniel Will has been appointed as the state’s first Solicitor General.
  • The appointment follows the May 2018 enactment of a new law creating the Office of the Solicitor General under the supervision of the AG.
  • According to the newly-enacted law, the Solicitor General’s duties will include, among other things, representing the state in all state and federal criminal appellate matters, representing state executive officials in appeals to the state Supreme Court, and filing amicus curiae briefs in cases where the state has a significant legal interest.

Coalition of 23 Democratic Attorneys General Files Brief Opposing Federal Communication Commission’s Repeal of Net Neutrality

  • A coalition of 23 AGs, led by New York AG Underwood, filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in support of a petition to vacate and reverse the Federal Communication Commission’s (“FCC”) 2017 order repealing its 2015 net neutrality rule—a rule intended to prevent internet service providers from imposing content-based restrictions or pricing on internet traffic.
  • According to the AGs’ brief, the FCC’s 2017 order rolling back net neutrality is arbitrary and capricious, puts consumers at risk of abusive practices by broadband service providers, and unlawfully preempts state and local regulation of broadband service.
  • As previously reported, the AGs’ petition was originally filed in January 2018 by a coalition that consisted of 22 AGs and that was led by then-New York AG Eric Schneiderman.