Announcements, information and updates from CWAG Members and Associates
The CWAG 2017 Winter Dinner is scheduled for Tuesday, November 28th, 2017  in Jekyll Island, Georgia at the Jekyll Island Club Resort. Registration is now open.  If you have not received an email link inviting you to register via our new meeting portal, please contact meeting manager  Alejandra Stephens.
Expressing extreme concern about the role "bump stocks" played in the recent Las Vegas tragedy, CWAG Attorney General Doug Chin of Hawaii joined a bipartisan letter to Congressional leaders urging them to close a loophole in current federal gun laws. The bipartisan letter includes support from a broad group of attorneys general from U.S. states and territories. The letter notes that bump stock devices, a plastic or metal piece attached to a firearm's stock designed to increase the ability to fire like a fully automatic weapon, may be used to evade the machinegun laws that are currently in place. The attorneys general urge Congress to regulate bump stocks like machine guns in order to protect residents from the dangers posed by unrestricted fully automatic weapons.  Since 1986, when Congress enacted the Firearm Owners Protection Act to amend the Gun Control Act of 1968, restricting fully automatic weapons and "machineguns." It is unlawful for civilians to possess a machine gun unless the owner acquired the firearm prior to the law's enactment. According to the letter, bump stocks can "mimic fully automatic machinegun fire and therefore lead to disastrous consequences in the wrong hands." The attorneys general also added that Congress "should carefully consider whether bump stocks have created a loophole in the machinegun laws" when considering any new laws.
CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington announced that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed with a lower court ruling and dismissed a challenge against Washington's voter-approved Initiative 594, which expanded the state's firearm background check requirements. "Initiative 594 puts important, common-sense protections in place to help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals," Attorney General Ferguson said. Initiative 594 passed with 59 percent of the vote in the November 2014 general election. It expands Washington's law requiring background checks to cover all firearm purchases and transfers, with limited exceptions set forth in the Initiative.
As part of the State's ongoing efforts in battling Alaska's opioid crisis, CWAG Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth of Alaska filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid OxyContin. The lawsuit alleges that Purdue used deceptive practices in violation of state consumer protection laws, such as promoting the use of OxyContin for long-term chronic pain when there was little evidence to support it. "We need to put a stop to these deceptive practices that are endangering people's lives," said Attorney General Lindemuth. "Pharmaceutical companies, like Purdue, need to be held accountable when they mislead providers and the public about how their drugs should be used." Overall, the investigation found that Purdue exhibited a pattern of deceptive marketing to convince practitioners to prescribe their drug. This included the use of seemingly neutral medical professionals and organizations who promoted the drug to their colleagues without disclosing their relationship to Purdue.
CWAG Attorney General Sean Reyes of Utah announced that his office has been receiving reports that naloxone rescue kits were being confiscated. The Utah Opioid Task Force reiterated the legality of the life-saving kits and encouraged first responders, healthcare workers, and others to be ready to use them to save lives. Naloxone hydrochloride (NarcanĀ®) can be a life-saving medication and is used solely as an antidote to reverse an opiate overdose.  Utah law permits any individual within the state of Utah to obtain, carry, furnish, and administer naloxone to anyone at risk of overdosing themselves or to anyone at risk of witnessing an overdose around them. "Utah laws permitting the use of naloxone were put in place to save lives, especially with the alarming number of Utahns dying of opioid overdoses. We are worried and concerned about recent reports that life-saving naloxone kits have been confiscated from those who can use them to save lives," said Attorney General Sean Reyes. "Anyone in possession of a naloxone kit has the ability to keep a victim alive until they can receive emergency medical aid.  The taking or confiscation of these rescue kits is rarely an appropriate action and could potentially result in a life lost."
CWAG Attorney General Mark Brnovich of Arizona announced two arrest warrants have been issued for the alleged mastermind of a Northern Arizona opioid ring and her accomplice. 29-year-old Amanda Lee Doyle is currently on the run and wanted by the Attorney General's Office for allegedly operating an opioid ring. Doyle is a former medical billing assistant employed at Silver Creek Medical Associates in Bullhead City. According to the indictment, Doyle used her position to create fake electronic prescriptions for opioids. Doyle allegedly recruited "patients" so she could create fictitious patient profiles in a software program used to write electronic prescriptions. According to Silver Creek Medical Associates, those "patients" were never seen by a doctor. Doyle allegedly wrote fraudulent prescriptions for those "patients" and then demanded the "patients" give her back a portion of the pills after the prescriptions were filled.
CWAG Attorney General Hector Balderas of New Mexico announced he has reached an $18.5 million settlement with Presbyterian Healthcare regarding the failure to pay Medicaid premium taxes by the corporation. The settlement exceeds the amount identified, $14.6 million, in the recently released Examination Resources audit by nearly four million dollars. "This $18.5 million settlement returns critical funds owed to New Mexico taxpayers at a time of fiscal crisis," said Attorney General Balderas. "New Mexicans deserve access to the best healthcare available and at affordable prices, they should not continue to face higher insurance premiums while quality care becomes harder to access. Presbyterian, and all healthcare companies operating in New Mexico, should be focusing on removing barriers for New Mexico families and providing the best care possible, putting people above profits." 
CWAG Associate Attorney General TJ Donovan of Vermont reached a settlement regarding two security breaches involving the credit card numbers of potentially thousands of Vermonters. The agreement settles allegations that Hilton lacked reasonable data security and took too long to notify consumers and the Attorney General of the breaches. It includes a $300,000 penalty and requirements that Hilton change its security practices. Hilton Domestic Operating Company Inc., formerly Hilton Worldwide, Inc., experienced two separate network intrusions in 2014 and 2015. Hilton did not provide notice to the Attorney General or consumers until November 24, 2015. The Attorney General alleged this notification was 287 days after Hilton knew of the first incident and 100 days after it knew of the second incident. "We continue to make enforcement of our data breach laws a top priority," said Attorney General T.J. Donovan. "Every business should notify the public and our office as soon as possible when a breach occurs to ensure consumers can protect themselves."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas sent notices of violations to 127 Texas businesses accused of price gouging during the state of disaster declared for Hurricane Harvey. All of the cases involve consumer complaints against gas stations that allegedly charged $3.99 or higher for a gallon of unleaded gasoline or diesel. "At the outset of Harvey, I made it clear that my office would not tolerate price gouging of vulnerable Texans by any individuals or businesses looking to profit from the hurricane," Attorney General Paxton said. "We've given 127 alleged offenders an opportunity to resolve these issues with our office or face possible legal action for violating state law. Our investigation of other businesses into price gouging remains ongoing." The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) prohibits anyone from taking advantage of a disaster declared by the governor and selling or leasing fuel or other necessities for excessive or exorbitant prices. The law authorizes the attorney general to file price gouging lawsuits, and seek refunds of money unlawfully taken from consumers, civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation, and court orders to prevent future violations.
Constellation Brands Inc. has agreed to take a 9.9% stake in Canopy Growth Corp., a Canadian marijuana company, and plans to work with the grower to develop and market cannabis-infused beverages. Canopy Growth is the world's largest publicly traded cannabis company, with a market valuation of 2.2 billion Canadian dollars on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The C$245 million (US$191 million) deal gives Constellation a toehold in an industry that the brewer expects to be legalized nationwide in the U.S. in the coming years. "We think that it's highly likely, given what's happened at the state level," Rob Sands, chief executive of the Victor, N.Y.-based beer, wine and spirits company, said in an interview. "We're obviously trying to get first-mover advantage." Constellation doesn't plan to sell such a product in the U.S. before marijuana is legalized there nationwide, Mr. Sands said, but could sell it in Canada, where edible and drinkable cannabis products are expected to be legalized by 2019, or other countries where recreational marijuana is permitted.
Chris Coppin | Legal Director
Conference of Western Attorneys General