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 24 state attorneys general filed a supplemental letter concerning a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission initiative that requires companies to make disclosures related to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. The coalition contends that the West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency Supreme Court decision confirms that only Congress has the ability to decide such issues.
- A multistate coalition of attorneys general submitted a comment letter supporting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed regulations to ban the use of and protect consumers from exposure to asbestos. The proposed regulations would prohibit the manufacture, processing, import, distribution or use of chrysotile asbestos in certain products. The coalition supports this and urges the EPA to go further by banning other forms of the substance and avoiding promoting the substitution of PFAS for asbestos.
- A coalition of 12 state attorneys general filed a brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, asking the court to strike down the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2022 Regulation entitled “Energy Conservation Program: Product Classes for Residential Dishwashers, Residential Clothes Washers, and Consumer Clothes Dryers.” The Regulation replaced a 2020 rule that governed newer washing machines and dishwashers with shorter wash times, which the coalition maintains was more appropriate.
- A coalition of 10 state attorneys general urged Congress to respect states’ roles in enforcing and providing for consumer privacy laws while advancing federal legislation related to privacy protections. Specifically, the coalition is seeking to enact laws that do not preempt state legislation that addresses changing technology.
- Connecticut Attorney General Tong announced a $1.8 million settlement with Eversource, resolving allegations that the company engaged in false and deceptive high-pressure tactics to enlist consumers to convert to natural gas. The allegations centered around a notice Eversource circulated, which stated that consumers would no longer be able to convert to natural gas during a paving moratorium. These notices were sent to towns where no such moratoria exists.
District of Columbia
- Washington D.C. Attorney General Racine filed a lawsuit against janitorial companies Jan-Pro Franchising International and Jan-Pro of Washington, D.C. for allegedly operating a franchising scheme that misclassified janitorial employees as independent contractors. Attorney General Racine is alleging that this conduct resulted in the employees being illegally denied wages and paid sick leave. The lawsuit seeks damages, injunctive relief, and statutory penalties.
- Illinois Attorney General Raoul announced an interim consent order with Sugar Camp Energy LLC over its alleged release of PFAS “forever chemicals” in firefighting foams from a coal mine in Southern Illinois. The order requires Sugar Camp Energy to test its facility’s ponds for PFAS and install new treatment systems to remove PFAS from wastewater. It also restricts the transfer or discharge of water from ponds that are contaminated with PFAS.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announced that diagnostic laboratory company BioReference Health, LLC and its corporate parent OPKO Health, Inc. will pay $10 million to Massachusetts and Connecticut, as well as the federal government to resolve a whistleblower’s allegations of self-referrals and the filing of false claims that were submitted to Medicare, MassHealth and Connecticut Medicaid.
- Michigan Attorney General Nessel announced that she is relaunching a power outage feedback form, which consumers can use to provide feedback to the Department of the Attorney General after a power outage. AG Nessel will use the information gathered from the feedback forms to advocate Michigan residents before the Michigan Public Service Commission, stating “Summertime in Michigan should not correlate with expected and prolonged outages. Residents deserve reliable service and speedy restoration when outages occur.”
- New York Attorney General James announced a $500,000 settlement with Manhattan bar Sweet and Vicious and its owner after an investigation found that it maintained a hostile and discriminatory workplace. The agreement also requires that the business revise their anti-discrimination and harassment training materials and to display and distribute notices about anti-discrimination and harassment rights and responsibilities.
- New York Attorney General James filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against six gun distributors who were selling and bringing parts of illegal ghost guns into New York. Attorney General James is seeking a court order that requires the businesses to stop supplying unfinished frames or receivers to any entity or individual with a New York address.
- Washington Attorney General Ferguson announced that under a consent decree, staffing company Tradesmen International LLC must pay $287,100 in restitution and end its existing non-compete agreements that restrict employee job mobility. The company must also notify employees who began working there after January 1, 2020, when the non-compete ban went into effect, that the agreements are no longer enforceable, as well as to notify those who are still subject to these agreements.
- West Virginia Attorney General Morrisey issued an alert warning against price gouging after reports of major flooding in southern areas of the state. The state’s price gouging law went into effect after a state of emergency was declared in McDowell County.