Background - Practices (Details)

State Attorneys General

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With over 100 years of combined experience, members of our State Attorneys General practice are widely recognized for handling some of the most high-stakes State AG enforcement matters.

State and federal agencies are becoming increasingly active in areas of law that impact companies engaged in advertising and marketing. Knowing if your company will be the next target of an investigation can be difficult, creating an unexpected crisis situation. When a Civil Investigative Demand or subpoena arrives, we provide clients with the legal guidance they need to proceed. Our State AG practice has strong relationships with state and federal regulators. These relationships add instant credibility and allow us to act quickly to analyze each situation. With an eye towards narrowing the scope of the investigation, we get in front of regulators early and often in order to contain the matter, achieve a resolution, and avoid litigation.

Four key areas in which our State Attorneys General practice provides guidance to clients are:

Enforcement actions. We regularly assist clients with matters that involve State Attorneys General, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and various local and county DA offices. This includes defending claims of unfair and deceptive trade practices in the marketing and advertising of products and services, including false advertising and unfair competition cases brought by the FTC or the State Attorneys General, and consumer class action litigation. Our State AG team has handled over 100 matters and dozens of multistate cases.

Government relations. Throughout the year, we attend meetings of the various Attorneys General associations including the Republican and Democratic Attorneys General Associations, Attorney General Alliance, (f/k/a Conference of Western Attorneys General) and the National Association of Attorneys General. Through attendance at these meetings, and the enforcement matters mentioned above, we have developed close relationships with most of the State Attorneys General and their senior staff members. 

Day-to-day advice. We routinely advise clients on a variety of consumer protection regulatory issues including those related to advertising, Internet marketing (including use of social media), telemarketing, consumer finance, auto-renewal and continuous billing plans, promotional marketing, and laws that impact specific industries such as automotive and network marketing. 

Regulatory audits. Clients retain us to perform “regulatory check-ups” to ensure their practices are compliant with the various regulatory laws. These include audits of network marketing companies, automotive repair chains, and online lead generation companies. In addition, we have lent our regulatory knowledge to help conduct internal investigations.

In the case that litigation is unavoidable, we are uniquely equipped to represent our clients. We have several members of our practice who have worked in State AG offices, including a former First Assistant AG in New Jersey and a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. In addition, other colleagues in our firm were formerly employed with government agencies and have worked directly with state AG offices, so they understand the processes and strategic thinking behind many of these matters. For example, our team includes the former FTC Chief Privacy Officer and a former Assistant Director and trial attorney in the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, who has worked extensively with and against State AG offices throughout his career.

Representative Engagements

  • Represent a chemical company in litigation brought by the Michigan Attorney General over per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
  • Represented a department store in connection with a civil investigative demand from the Washington State AG related to alleged violation of the Children’s Safe Products Act.
  • Represented an e-commerce company in a Washington State AG investigation into children’s product chemical issues.
  • Represented several mobile content providers in eight consumer class actions filed throughout the country alleging violation of the TCPA and various state consumer protection statutes stemming from alleged unauthorized charges to cell phone customers.
  • Represented a retailer in investigations by state attorneys general regarding product disclosures and qualification of customers.
  • Represent an e-commerce/telephone sales-based retailer with FTC rulemaking and enforcement issues.
  • Defending several major oil companies in State AG litigation over product liability claims for the use of a chemical known as MTBE in gasoline, which a number of states allege rendered gasoline a defective product.
  • Defended dietary supplement maker in conjunction with litigated Washington State Attorney General (AG) matter alleging deceptive advertising.
  • Represented a national retailer in an investigation by the New York Attorney General's Office in connection with the importation and sale of certain children's products containing levels of lead in excess of limits established under the Consumer Product Safety Act.
  • Represented a national manufacturer in a voluntary disclosure of a product-related issue to the FTC and related voluntary remediation action.
  • Represented a managed care company in a state AG investigation into potential violations of state and federal mental health parity laws.
  • Advised two affiliate marketing networks in responding to third-party subpoenas issued by the Arizona Attorney General.
  • Defended executives and other professionals of financial institutions in connection with simultaneous DOJ, SEC, and state attorneys general investigations regarding mortgage-backed securities.
  • Defended a securities-rating agency in multiple state AG actions alleging unfair trade practices related to its ratings on structured finance securities.
  • Defended automobile executive in multi-state AG consumer-protection investigations arising out of the VW diesel emissions scandal.
  • Represented several mobile phone content providers in the defense of state attorney general inquiries and class actions filed throughout the country alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and various state consumer protection laws based on unauthorized charges to cell phone customers.
  • Defended one of the world's largest generic drug manufacturers in the nationwide Average Wholesale Price litigation, coordinating the defense of more than 15 separate lawsuits pending in state and federal courts around the country, including a qui tam action under the Federal False Claims Act and numerous civil enforcement actions brought by state attorneys general alleging violations of a variety of state statutes, including state false claims acts.
  • Represented financial institutions in connection with state attorneys general investigations regarding residential mortgage-backed securities.
  • Represented a healthcare company on opioid issues, with activities including the coordination of a team of state AG consultants.
  • Assisted major telecommunications provider in responding to multistate inquiry regarding advertising and billing disclosures. Advised same client regarding compliance obligations and when the FTC later sought to bring “copycat” complaint.

Additional matters that have been handled by our team’s members include representations of the following types of clients:

  • A major automotive manufacturer in a large multistate matter involving the manufacturing of certain parts.
  • A telecom company in connection with a multistate enforcement investigation into an entire industry segment.
  • An online clothing and shoe retailer in connection with a large multistate investigation into advertising, pricing and related issues. 
  • An international manufacturing company in a multistate investigation involving safety and advertising issues.
  • A publishing company in connection with a state investigation into its subscription sales.
  • An international based media company concerning a state investigation into its door-to-door sales structure.
  • A media based service provider in connection with a state investigation into its product and fees.
  • A broadcast satellite service provider in a two-year, nationwide consumer protection investigation brought against the client and other satellite TV providers.
  • Multiple clients to settle a multistate regulatory inquiry launched by 47 states and the District of Columbia.
  • An American broadcasting company in connection with a consumer protection matter by 47 states related to advertising, auto-renew subscriptions, and similar customer service issues.
  • A for-profit education services company in connection with a settlement with the Iowa Attorney General regarding marketing and financing of the company’s higher education programs.
  • An installment credit company against FTC based on allegations that the company failed to disclose all of the terms and conditions of its computer sales program.
  • A national fitness center chain, in connection with an investigation under the Texas Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices statute and health club law relating to debt collection and renewal practices.
  • A ticket sales and distribution company in connection with an investigation by numerous state attorneys general relating to the company’s resale ticketing practices.
  • Several membership service companies in individual and multistate actions relating to negative option marketing, telemarketing and the use of pre-acquired account information.
  • One of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders in concluding a matter that involved 49 state attorneys general and nearly 30 other state agencies from across the country.
  • A broadcast satellite service provider in a 25-state investigation involving advertising and related marketing practices.
  • A dozen companies in more than 50 separate, state Do Not Call investigations.
  • A national fitness center chain in over a dozen separate state attorney general matters, typically involving both advertising and consumer finance issues.
  • A company in responding to over 15 state inquiries in connection with consumer protection matters relating to ticket purchases for a pop artist’s national tour.
  • A transmission-repair franchise in completing an investigation with the New Jersey attorney general.
  • A for-profit post-secondary education company in concluding a matter with the California attorney general.