Announcements, information and updates from CWAG Members and Associates
December 6, 2018
HOT TOPICS
Articles on topics relevant to the work of Attorneys General around the nation.
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CYBER SECURITY
Attorney General Mark Brnovich Files First Multistate HIPAA Related Data Breach Lawsuit
December 4, 2018

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced that he, along with Attorneys General from 11 other states and commonwealths, has filed a Complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana against Medical Informatics Engineering, Inc. and NoMoreClipboard, LLC (collectively “MIE”), a web-based electronic health record company headquartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

This filing marks the first time state Attorneys General have joined together to pursue a HIPAA-related multistate data breach case in federal court.

The Complaint alleges the company violated provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) as well as state claims including Unfair and Deceptive Practice laws, Notice of Data Breach statutes, and state Personal Information Protection Acts.
New York Attorney General opens Investigation into Marriott Hacking
November 30, 2018

New York's attorney general announced an investigation into the Marriott data breach that may have exposed 500 million guests' information, complaining that the hotel chain did not immediately notify the attorney general's office of the breach.

Attorney General Barbara Underwood said her office opened the investigation because "New Yorkers deserve to know that their personal information will be protected." 

Marriott released a statement that said a "hack could have exposed" information on up to approximately 500 million guests who made a reservation at a Starwood property.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Attorney General Becerra Announces $7.4 Million Statewide Settlement with Target for Environmental Violations
December 5, 2018

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, together with 24 local government attorneys, announced a $7.4 million statewide settlement, including enhanced environmental compliance measures and injunctive terms, with Minnesota-based Target Corporation (Target). The settlement resolves allegations that Target violated state laws and injunctive terms from a 2011 stipulated judgment regarding the company’s handling and disposal of retail hazardous waste. The current settlement follows investigations of Target’s conduct alleging that between 2012 to 2016 the company committed violations by improperly disposing hazardous waste into landfills. The waste included items such as electronics, batteries, aerosol cans, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and medical waste including syringes, over-the-counter and prescribed pharmaceuticals, as well as confidential medical information from its customers. 
CONSUMER PROTECTION
Idaho Attorney General Announces $6 Million Settlement With Debt Buyer
December 4, 2018

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has announced that Idaho is entering a $6 million settlement with one of the nation’s largest debt buyers. The settlement with Encore Capital Group Inc. and its subsidiaries Midland Credit Management, Inc., and Midland Funding, LLC involves 41 other states and the District of Columbia. The settlement follows a six-year investigation.

Debt buyers like Midland buy past-due debts from creditors for pennies on the dollar and attempt to recover the debts through aggressive collection techniques. The settlement resolves the states’ investigation into Midland’s collection and litigation practices that involved Midland robo-signing large volumes of affidavits without verifying the information and filing lawsuits without proof of the underlying debts.

The settlement requires Midland to change the way it signs affidavits and litigates in court. The company must now carefully verify the information in affidavits and present accurate documents during court proceedings. Midland must also provide consumers with accurate information about valid debts. If a consumer disputes a debt that Midland is collecting, the company must provide the documents supporting the debt to the consumer at no charge.

In addition to Idaho, participants in this settlement include: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Attorney General Josh Stein Announces Fight Against Robocalls
December 5, 2018

Attorney General Josh Stein announced that he is leading a bipartisan group of 39 state attorneys general to stop or reduce annoying and harmful robocalls. This coalition focused on the technology major telecom companies are pursuing to combat illegal robocalls.

Since it was formed, the multistate group has had in-depth meetings with several major telecom companies. Attorney General Stein and his colleagues are working to:

This group, led by Attorney General Josh Stein, also includes attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
CONSUMER WARNING: Fake Ticket Sales
December 5, 2018

Attorney General Mark Brnovich is warning consumers to beware of fake ticket scams, ahead of several big events scheduled in Arizona. High profile sporting events and concerts are prime targets for scammers.
AG Brnovich offers the following tips to avoid ticket scams:

  • If you purchase tickets online, use a credit card. You may have more protection using a credit card in the event there is something wrong with the ticket you purchased. 
  • Purchase tickets from a trusted vendor.
  • Compare prices with different vendors.
  • Ensure the website is official, not a third-party knockoff.
  • Do not pay for tickets using a wire transfer or prepaid gift cards. 
  • Be cautious of deals that sound too good to be true.
  • Always check the consumer reviews.
  • Be careful of what you post online. Scam artists can easily take the bar code of a ticket from an online post and use it to create fraudulent tickets, possibly leaving you out of the event because someone has already used the bar code to enter the event.
  • Complete your transaction on the website where you initiated the purchase. Don't let a seller convince you to send a payment through a different website.
Alaska's Consumer Protection Unit Warns Consumers About Unregulated CBD Oil
November 29, 2018

The Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Unit is warning the public about marketing of a variety of industrial hemp-derived products that are currently not authorized for sale in Alaska. Products containing Cannabadiol (CBD) oil and extracts are being widely sold throughout Alaska but are unregulated and untested in the state at this time. Due to their lack of traceability, many of these products are of unknown origin. CBD is a derivative of the industrial hemp plant. CBD oil may also be derived from marijuana, resulting in oil which exceeds the legal limit of .3 percent Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) threshold expected in an industrial hemp derived product.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein Says, "This Holiday Season, Don’t Let Scammers Rob You of Your Money or Good Cheer"
December 2018

The holiday season can bring out the best of people’s generosity of spirit. Travel, time spent with people we love, and efforts to reach out to help our neighbors in need all enrich our enjoyment. But it’s also a busy time for scammers, who ramp up their efforts to steal your money or your personal or financial information. This holiday season, protect yourself and your finances from holiday scams by taking these precautions.

If you’re shopping online or on your phone, watch out for fake websites or apps that look like they belong to a well-known store. These copycat websites and apps often closely resemble the business’s brand or have a URL that’s close to the real thing. Double-check the URL by looking for a lock icon and checking that it starts with “https:”. Only share financial information or make purchases when you’re on a secured WiFi network. If you send financial information over an unsecured WiFI network, it’s more susceptible to hackers. And no matter how you’re shopping, always use a credit card. If there’s an issue, you can dispute the transaction later.

When you make an online purchase, watch out for potential delivery scams. Sometimes scammers will send fake emails claiming to provide shipping updates, but the phony links in these emails will ask you to share personal information. Scrutinize these delivery emails closely, and remember that UPS, FedEx, and other shippers won’t ask for personal information via email.

Packages that stack up outside your front door or porch are an easy steal for porch poachers. Track your packages so you know when they’ll arrive and can ensure they are delivered safely. Consider opting for deliveries that require a signature, or ask a neighbor to collect your packages if you’re not around. If you plan to be out of town but expect deliveries, consider having your mail held at the post office until you get back.

Charitable donations also increase during the holidays, when the spirit of goodwill is in full swing. But you want to make sure that your donation is going to help reputable charities, not to line criminals’ pockets, so do your research before giving. Watch out for charities with phony names that sound a lot like recognizable charities. Give to charities you are personally familiar with or that operate in your local community. You can find more tips about donating to charity and resources to research charities at ncdoj.gov/charity.

For more information on common holiday scams and how to avoid them, visit ncdoj.gov/dontgettaken. And if you think you or someone you know has been the victim of a scam, file a complaint with my office’s Consumer Protection Division at http://ncdoj.gov/complaint or by phone at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.
The holiday season is a special time of year. I pray yours is safe and happy.
OPIOID CRISIS
Opioid Lawsuits: 1,000+ Local Governments Sue Drug Makers, Pharmacies
December 4, 2018

More than a thousand local governments across the country are suing drug makers – and even chain pharmacies, like CVS and Walgreens – in federal court in the next battlefront in the war on the opioid epidemic.

The first opiate lawsuit, brought by Cleveland and two counties in Ohio, heads to trial in September. A trial date has not been set yet for a larger batch of lawsuits, representing about 500 local governments, including Pasco and Pinellas counties. 

Lawyers for those cases tell ABC Action News they expect to add CVS and Walgreens to those court complaints.

In all, more than 1,400 local governments have filed lawsuits in federal court, taking on opioid drug makers and manufacturers in a move reminiscent of past court battles against big tobacco.
SPORTS BETTING
What Legal Sports Betting in the United States Means for Offshore Sportsbooks
December 4, 2018

One of the major misconceptions in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling that struck down the 1992 federal law banning sports wagering back in May is that the elimination of the law could spell the end for sportsbooks based outside of the United States -- many of which are located in the Caribbean.

Congress set out to halt an expansion of sports betting in the United States in 1992 with the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), but accomplished the opposite. It helped foster a billion-dollar sportsbook black market of sorts, as scores of offshore bookmakers cropped up in the ensuing two decades -- happy and willing to accept U.S. patrons wanting to place a sports wager. For sports bettors, when there's a desire, there's always a way -- and there's been an appetite for sports betting in the United States since at least the 19th century.

Americans wager $150 billion annually in the black market, as estimated by the American Gaming Association, and it will largely remain in the dark for the foreseeable future. Beyond offshore books, that black market also includes "local bookies" violating state laws and, in some cases, federal laws like the Wire Act.
ALASKA AGO UPDATES
Alaska Gov. Dunleavy Names Kevin Clarkson as Attorney General
December 5, 2018

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced his public safety team at a press conference Wednesday, selecting a new attorney general and new leaders of corrections and public safety departments.

Dunleavy tabbed Anchorage attorney Kevin Clarkson for the role of attorney general. Amanda Price, who was part of Dunleavy’s campaign staff, will be the head of the Department of Public Safety. House District 13 Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom will leave her House seat to become the Department of Corrections director.

Clarkson replaces Jahna Lindemuth as attorney general. Clarkson is an attorney with the Anchorage firm Brena, Bell and Clarkson.
CWAG Bids Farewell to Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth
December 4, 2018

Following Alaska's 7.0 magnitude earthquake last month, Attorney General Lindemuth received an overwhelming number of prayers and messages. This week, she steps down as Alaska's attorney general. We'd like to offer General Lindemuth a respectful and warm farewell, and we thank her for providing CWAG a vital relationship during her time in office.

A message from the Attorney General:

“Thank you for all the prayers and offers of help. This earthquake could have been so much worse. There was no loss of life or serious injury. Other than some toppled and destroyed copiers, monitors and furniture, our office came through fine. My house sustained no damage. While others were not so fortunate, everything can be rebuilt or replaced.
 
Earlier this week, I learned that I will not continue as Alaska’s attorney general under the new Dunleavy administration. A new attorney general will be appointed. I will help with the transition and I will be sure to stress the many benefits of staying involved in the AG community. 
 
I have loved serving with all of you and so appreciate the support all of you have offered on so many fronts. Thank you. I am sure this is not goodbye.

Many blessings,
Jahna”
AILD
Updated American Indian Law Deskbook Is Now Available

The American Indian Law Deskbook  is a concise, direct, and easy-to-understand handbook on Indian law. The chapter authors of this book are experienced state lawyers who have been involved in Indian law for many years.

American Indian Law Deskbook  addresses the areas of Indian law most relevant to the practitioner.
Topics include:
  • Definitions of Indians and Indian tribes
  • Indian lands
  • Criminal, civil regulatory, and civil adjudicatory jurisdiction
  • Civil rights
  • Indian water rights
  • Fish and wildlife
  • Environmental regulation
  • Taxation
  • Gaming
  • Indian Child Welfare Act and tribal-state cooperative agreements
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