Washington Attorney General

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  • Attorney General Ferguson’s bill to ban 3D-printed “ghost guns” passes Legislature
    Bipartisan approval sends the bill to the Governor OLYMPIA — The Washington Legislature today passed Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s agency request bill prohibiting the manufacture or possession of untraceable, undetectable 3D-printed guns. The bill also prohibits sending a printable gun file to a person who is ineligible to possess firearms. The bill designates undetectable firearms as contraband. HB 1739, sponsored by Rep. Javier Valdez, D-Seattle, passed the House on March 4 by a bipartisan vote of 55-41. It passed the Senate on April 16, also with bipartisan support, 30-18, with an amendment. The House agreed to the Senate amendment today by a vote of 56-40. The measure now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature. “I support the Second Amendment. However, we cannot allow felons and other dangerous individuals to get around our state’s background check requirements by printing untraceable, undetectable 3D-printed guns,” Ferguson said. “Guns that evade metal detectors pose too great a risk to the safety of our communities.” “3D printers are becoming more advanced and more available to everyday consumers,” said Rep. Valdez. “These undetectable guns pose enormous threats to public safety. This is one of those issues that requires lawmakers to be proactive before it’s too late.” Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, sponsored a companion bill in the Senate. “The untraceable and undetectable nature of 3D-printed guns poses a unique danger to all Washingtonians,” said Sen. Dhingra. “I am proud that we are enacting laws that are keeping up with the realities of technology by limiting ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-04-23
    10 hours ago
  • AG Ferguson bill strengthening data breach laws passes Legislature
    New law requires consumer notification if a hacker obtains private data such as passport numbers, usernames and passwords OLYMPIA — Today, with a unanimous, bipartisan vote, state legislators passed a bill requested by Attorney General Ferguson that strengthens data breach notification laws. The bill expands consumer data breach notification requirements to include more types of consumer information. It also reduces the deadline to notify consumers to 30 days from 45 days. Rep. Shelley Kloba, D-Kirkland, sponsored the bill, which passed the House in a unanimous, bipartisan vote on March 1. “My office has seen the number of Washingtonians impacted by data breaches increase year after year,” Ferguson said. “Data breaches are a serious threat to our privacy, and this law will arm consumers with information to protect their sensitive data.” “Not only is the amount of data being collected and stored about consumers increasing, the number of breaches of secure storage of the data is increasing at an alarming rate as well.“ Kloba said. “This bill updates our consumer protection laws to shorten the notification time from 45 days to 30 days, so that consumers are made aware of a breach more quickly and can take protective action.  Additionally, companies who collect and store data will need to pay more attention to safeguarding it against internal and external threats.” Sen. Joe Nguyen, D-White Center, sponsored a companion bill in the Senate. “Time and time again, millions of Americans have had their most private information stolen and abused due to poor ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-04-22
    1 day ago
  • Johnson & Johnson will pay $9.9 million for failing to disclose the risk of its surgical mesh devices
    Attorney General announces the relief will go to women harmed by Johnson & Johnson’s conduct OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s today announced that Johnson & Johnson will pay $9.9 million to avoid going to trial for misrepresentations and failure to include serious risks in the instructions and marketing materials for surgical mesh devices. Ferguson is the first state attorney general to file a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson regarding surgical mesh devices. Approximately 14,000 Washington women had these devices implanted. While precise information is not available, the Attorney General’s Office believes hundreds of those have been adversely impacted so far, ranging from having to go back for another procedure, to having their quality of life impacted dramatically. The trial was scheduled to begin today. In May 2016, Ferguson filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson asserting that the multi-billion dollar corporation violated Washington’s Consumer Protection Act by failing to include several serious, life-altering risks associated with its surgical mesh devices in materials for patients and doctors. Washington women experienced pain, suffering, and life-altering complications that Johnson & Johnson knew were associated with its devices, including chronic pain, pain with sexual intercourse, and numerous urinary issues. Furthermore, the mesh is very difficult and sometimes impossible to remove. Johnson & Johnson’s knowing deception caused Washington women to suffer in deeply personal ways,” said Ferguson. “I’m proud of my team for holding a powerful interest accountable for its egregious conduct — and look forward to providing millions of dollars in relief to ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-04-22
    1 day ago
  • On eve of Earth Day, another federal judge rules the Trump Administration illegally rolled back critical environmental protections
    AG Ferguson’s 20th legal victory against Trump Administration OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson released the following statement today after a federal judge in Montana ruled that the Trump Administration illegally revoked an Obama-era moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands, and must comply with a federal law requiring environmental analysis before leasing coal-mining rights on public lands: “It’s fitting that on the eve of Earth Day, another federal judge slaps down the Trump Administration’s illegal effort to roll back basic environmental protections,” said Ferguson. “The Trump Administration illegally revoked the Obama-era moratorium on leasing public lands for coal-mining even though its Interior Department admitted it did not fully understand the societal and environmental impacts of extraction. This ruling sends a clear message that the federal government cannot take an action that impacts our environment without careful review and deliberation – which, to be polite, is not a strong suit of The Trump Administration.” Case background In May 2017, Ferguson filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management over a program to lease coal mining rights on public land, which contributes to significant coal-train traffic through the state of Washington. The lawsuit challenged then-Secretary Ryan Zinke’s decision to restart the federal coal-leasing program without supplementing or replacing its nearly 40-year-old environmental study. The lawsuit was jointly filed by California, New Mexico, New York and Washington in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, Great Falls Division. Coal from ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-04-21
    2 days ago
  • Attorney General’s legislation strengthening wage theft laws and increasing penalties passes Legislature with bipartisan support
    New bill increases prevailing wage penalties for the first time since 1985, ensures workers receive interest on stolen wages on prevailing wage jobs and closes major loophole OLYMPIA — The Legislature passed Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s agency request legislation strengthening Washington’s wage theft laws in the prevailing wage arena. Prevailing wage is most common in government contracts. Prevailing wage laws prevent a “race to the bottom” as contractors seek to lower worker pay in order to underbid each other. The bill, SB 5035, increases the maximum penalty for prevailing wage violations from one thousand dollars or 20 percent of the violation, whichever is greater, to five thousand dollars or 50 percent of the violation, whichever is greater. These penalties have not increased since 1985. Moreover, the bill ensures that workers who experience wage theft receive at least 1 percent monthly interest in addition to their stolen wages. Ferguson’s legislation also closes a major loophole in Washington’s prevailing wage laws that allows repeat and willful violators to avoid a penalty or sanction if they respond to a wage complaint by returning the stolen pay to the worker before the state can take additional legal action. This loophole derives from the state’s limited authority to file enforcement actions when there are “unpaid wages” – a term that was undefined before now. Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, sponsored SB 5035, which passed the state Senate in a bipartisan vote of 40-7 on March 1. The bill passed House of Representatives April 10 by a ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-04-19
    4 days ago
  • Attorney General Ferguson: Administration concedes — won’t block protections for endangered marine species
    Dismissal represents Ferguson’s 19th legal victory against the Administration OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today that the Trump Administration has abandoned its appeal of a U.S. District Court ruling that found it unlawfully tried to block gillnet regulations designed to protect endangered and threatened marine species like whales, dolphins and sea turtles. The Administration filed a motion for voluntary dismissal of the appeal today, representing Ferguson’s 19th legal victory in lawsuits against the Trump Administration. The state has yet to lose a case against the Trump Administration. “These rules are designed to protect threatened and endangered species, including humpback whales and sea turtles,” Ferguson said. “I’m not going to allow the Trump Administration to unlawfully roll back these protections.” After a multi-year public process, the Pacific Fishery Management Council proposed new limits on the “bycatch” of threatened and endangered species in the gillnet fishery in 2016, which the National Marine Fisheries Service initially endorsed. Under the Trump Administration, the National Marine Fisheries Service reversed its endorsement, and refused to publish the final regulations. Oceana, an environmental advocacy organization, sued over the reversal, accusing the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service of violating the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the Administrative Procedure Act by refusing to publish the final regulations. The Magnuson-Stevens Act is the primary law governing marine fisheries management in U.S. federal waters. It is named for former Washington state Sen. Warren Magnuson and Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska. On Oct. 24, 2018, U.S. District ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-04-15
    1 week ago
  • AG Ferguson bill prohibiting “pocket service” debt collection practices passes Legislature
    New law protects consumers from confusing and widely criticized debt collection tactic OLYMPIA — Today, with a bipartisan vote of 31-17 in the Washington State Senate, state legislators passed a bill prohibiting “pocket service” debt collection practices, which allow debt collectors to blindside consumers with default judgments in order to seize wages, bank account funds, or other assets. Attorney General Bob Ferguson requested the legislation, House Bill 1066, sponsored by Rep. Christine Kilduff, D-University Place. The House of Representatives passed the bill with a bipartisan vote of 59-37 on Feb. 14. Pocket service allows debt collectors to send a court summons and complaint to Washingtonians before filing them with the superior court. The individual receives these documents with no case number or court date. These individuals do not realize that the 20-day deadline to respond starts when they receive the documents, regardless of whether the collection agency filed the complaint with the court. This practice often confuses consumers, causing them to fail to respond, allowing the debt collector to obtain a default judgment. Many Washingtonians reasonably conclude that the unnumbered summons and complaint are not valid, particularly when they call the court and are told that no case has been filed. By failing to respond, consumers unwittingly give up their only opportunity to contest the debt. Washington is one of only eight states that allow this practice. One Washington consumer, Rachel Hayes, who testified in support of the bill, described how pocket service affected her family. A debt collector sent ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-04-15
    1 week ago
  • AG Ferguson statement on charges against Asotin County judge
    SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued the following statement on the case against Asotin County Superior Court Judge Scott Gallina: “Today, my office filed formal charges against Judge Scott Gallina for second-degree rape, fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation and indecent liberties. The court set $50,000 bail, issued a sexual assault protective order for one of the survivors, and ordered Judge Gallina to turn in his keys to the courthouse. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Detective Sergeant Greg Tri or Detective Scott Neustel of the Washington State Patrol at 509-249-6743.” The charging documents are available here and here. ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-04-11
    2 weeks ago
  • AG Ferguson statement on arrest of superior court judge
    SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued the following statement on the arrest of a superior court judge in Asotin County: “Today, Judge Scott Gallina was taken into custody by the Washington State Patrol, on suspicion of felony rape in the second degree, second degree assault, and indecent liberties. I have accepted a request from the Asotin County Prosecutor to handle the case. We are reviewing the investigation and we expect to have a decision on possible criminal charges tomorrow. My office has been and will continue to work closely with the State Patrol to investigate the allegations. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Detective Sergeant Greg Tri or Detective Scott Neustel of the Washington State Patrol at 509-249-6743.” -30- The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more. Contacts: Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; [email protected] ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-04-10
    2 weeks ago
  • AG Ferguson statement on Tobacco 21 being signed into law
    SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson offered this statement on Gov. Jay Inslee signing his agency request proposal to raise the age to purchase tobacco products to 21: “After five years of fighting for change, our agency request Tobacco 21 legislation became Washington law. I’m proud that because of our collective action, fewer children will lose their freedom by getting addicted to nicotine, fewer Washingtonians will suffer from pain associated with smoking-related illnesses, and fewer family members will grieve the loss of loved ones whose lives were cut unnecessarily short. This couldn’t have happened without champions like Rep. Paul Harris, Rep. Tina Orwall, Sen. Patty Kuderer, Secretary of Health John Wiesman, and the countless parents, teachers and students who made their voices heard in Olympia. Today is a testament to what we can achieve when we come together to make our state a better place to live.” -30- The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more. Contacts: Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; [email protected] ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-04-05
    3 weeks ago
  • AG Ferguson joins multistate amicus brief protecting women’s access to abortion services
    Ferguson, 20 other AGs urge court to strike down Kentucky anti-abortion law OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to affirm a lower court’s finding that a Kentucky law regulating abortion services is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The brief, led by Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, argues that the availability of abortion services in neighboring states does not excuse a state from the Constitution’s prohibition on unduly burdening a woman’s ability to access abortion services in her home state. Additionally, the brief urges the court to ensure that regulations imposed on abortion services actually promote women’s health without creating substantial obstacles to the availability of these services. “This law is a clear violation of a woman’s constitutional right to choose,” Ferguson said. “It would leave Kentucky without any safe, licensed abortion provider at all. It’s shocking that the defenders of this law are arguing that women’s constitutional rights are not unduly burdened because they can travel to a neighboring state for their reproductive health care. My colleagues across the country and I urge the court to block this unconstitutional law.” The implications of this case for the women of Kentucky are particularly severe, as the law would effectively eliminate the only abortion provider in the state. In their brief, the attorneys general assert that allowing a state — like Kentucky — to rely on ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-04-05
    3 weeks ago
  • Procurador General (AG) Ferguson: Motel 6 pagará $12 millones por violar la privacidad de decenas de miles de residentes del estado de Washington.
    Si usted o algún miembro de su familia se hospedó en un Motel 6 en Washington entre el 1 de febrero de 2015 y el 17 de septiembre de 2017, por favor presente un reclamo para recibir compensación aquí. La Oficina del Procurador General no es parte del gobierno federal y presentar un reclamo no require que divulgue su estatus migratorio. Se invita a los huéspedes afectados por la práctica ilegal de Motel 6 a ponerse en contacto con la Oficina del Procurador General. SEATTLE — El Procurador General Bob Ferguson anunció hoy que la cadena hotelera nacional Motel 6 pagará $12 millones para resolver su demanda contra la empresa por proporcionar voluntariamente listas de huéspedes a agentes del Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas de los Estado Unidos (Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE) de manera regular durante al menos dos años. Además, Motel 6 firmó un compromiso legalmente vinculante de no proporcionar información de sus huéspedes sin una orden judicial u otra base legal en todos los locales a nivel nacional. La empresa proporcionará capacitación a sus empleados para asegurarse de que no proporcionen ilegalmente la información privada de los huéspedes. El Procurador General supervisará las políticas y capacitaciones de Motel 6 durante los próximos tres años. Muchos locales de Motel 6 en Washington proporcionaron información personal de sus huéspedes a ICE a diario sin una orden judicial. De 2015 a 2017, siete locales en Washington proporcionaron la información personal de aproximadamente 80,000 huéspedes. Cada vez ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-04-04
    3 weeks ago
  • AG Ferguson: Motel 6 will pay $12M for violating privacy of tens of thousands of Washingtonians
    If you or a family member stayed at a Motel 6 in Washington between Feb. 1, 2015 and Sept. 17, 2017, please submit a claim for restitution here. The Attorney General’s Office is not part of the federal government and submitting a claim does not require you to disclose your immigration status. Motel 6 prohibited from providing guests’ private information to ICE without a warrant, must adopt policy nationwide SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced that national hotel chain Motel 6 will pay $12 million to resolve his lawsuit against the company for voluntarily providing guest lists to agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on a routine basis for over two years. In addition, Motel 6 signed a legally binding commitment to no longer hand over guest information without a warrant or other lawful basis at all locations, and must adopt this policy nationwide. The company will provide training for its employees to ensure they do not release guests’ private information unlawfully. The Attorney General will monitor Motel 6’s policies and training for the next three years. Many Motel 6 locations in Washington turned over the personal information of their guests to ICE on a daily basis without requiring a warrant. From 2015 to 2017, seven Washington locations shared the personal information of approximately 80,000 guests. Each time Motel 6 released a guest list, it included the private information of every guest at the hotel without their knowledge or consent, violating their expectation ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-04-04
    3 weeks ago
  • Attorney General announces process for Washingtonians to receive share of CRT price fixing recovery
    Nearly $40M total paid total by the seven companies sued by the Attorney General for price fixing SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced the process for consumers to obtain their share of a nearly $40 million recovery. The recovery is a result of the Attorney General’s price-fixing lawsuit against seven manufacturers of cathode ray tubes, or CRTs, which is the technology common in televisions and computer monitors prior to the introduction of LCD flat screens. Hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians are eligible for restitution because they purchased old box-style television and computer monitors during the period of the conspiracy. Individuals who lived in Washington from 1995 to 2007 and purchased a CRT television or computer monitor were likely harmed by the alleged price-fixing scheme and will receive restitution if they file a valid claim. Businesses headquartered in Washington during the conspiracy period may also be eligible. To file a claim, visit www.crtsettlement.atg.wa.gov to fill out a form, or call 800-332-9084. All claims must be submitted on or before May 16, 2019. The amount consumers and businesses could expect to receive will vary depending on the products purchased and the total number of claims filed. The maximum is $20 per CRT monitor and $6 per CRT television. Consumers who purchased multiple CRT monitors and televisions during the conspiracy can receive restitution for each device. “When powerful interests illegally conspire behind closed doors to drive up the cost of their products, Washingtonians lose out,” Ferguson said. “Now, we’re helping Washington ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-04-03
    3 weeks ago
  • Joint statement from AG Ferguson and L&I Director Sacks on Alaska Airlines US Supreme Court decision
    High court declines case, leaves ruling that protects state workers in place OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Department of Labor & Industries Director Joel Sacks offer the following statement on the United States Supreme Court decision to decline to hear Alaska Airlines v. L&I: “This is a victory for Washington workers. The decision protects workers’ rights to use their leave for their families’ medical needs, and leaves in place a lower court decision that our family care law is not preempted by the less protective federal law, and it remains in place.” Case background The Washington Family Care Act has long allowed workers to use sick leave or other paid time off to provide for the health care needs of their families. L&I is the state agency charged with enforcing state labor laws, such as the Family Care Act. In 2011, Alaska Airlines filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, arguing that Washington’s law was preempted by a federal law applicable to airline flight crew. The suit argued that L&I did not have the jurisdiction to enforce the Family Care Act for alleged violations Alaska committed when it refused to allow flight crew to use paid time off to care for family members.   The state prevailed in the district court. Alaska appealed, and ultimately the state won again before a full 11-judge court, or en banc, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On April 1, ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-04-02
    3 weeks ago
  • Attorney General Ferguson files first-ever charges under Washington Animal Trafficking Act
    Initiative 1401 criminalized trafficking in products made from certain endangered species OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today filed the state’s first-ever criminal charges under a voter-approved initiative banning the sale or transfer of products made from certain endangered species. Ferguson separately charged Donald Frank Rooney of Everett and Yunhua Chen of Seattle today with one count each of first-degree unlawful trafficking in species threatened with extinction for allegedly selling items containing elephant ivory using online listings. The charges are the first under the Washington Animal Trafficking Act (WATA), which was created by voter-approved Initiative 1401. More than 70 percent of Washington voters approved I-1401 in 2015. The law took effect in 2016. WATA makes it a felony to sell, purchase, trade or distribute parts of specific endangered or vulnerable species of elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, lion, leopard, cheetah, pangolin, marine turtle, shark or ray. “Washington voters sent a clear message that trafficking in items made from these endangered species will not be tolerated,” Ferguson said. “Traffickers are on notice — you will be prosecuted.”    One of the figurines sold by Rooney. “My Department’s police officers and staff work every day to stop illegal trade in both local and international wildlife, ensuring that species populations continue to grow and thrive for generations to come,” said Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind. “Working together to enforce this law sends a clear message that we will not tolerate poaching or trafficking of products from ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-04-02
    3 weeks ago
  • AG Ferguson leads 38 AGs to fight misguided rollback of opioid guidelines
    In the midst of nationwide opioid epidemic, HHS proposal weakening guidelines to reduce overprescribing, putting communities at risk OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson and a bipartisan coalition of 38 other attorneys general today submitted a comment letter urging the federal government to reverse course on its proposal to eliminate opioid prescribing guidelines in the midst of the opioid epidemic. The guidelines, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2016, curb overprescribing by providing health providers a framework for prescribing opioids. Overprescribing contributes to the opioid epidemic by increasing the illegal supply of opioids. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed eliminating key components of the guidelines in a draft report issued December 2018, specifically provisions relating to dose and duration of opioid treatment. AG Ferguson and Montana Attorney General Tim Fox co-wrote the letter to Health and Human Services. The broad bipartisan support from state attorneys general across the nation highlights the dangerousness of the federal government’s proposal. In addition to eliminating prescribing guidelines, the draft report pushes the same discredited claims that opioid manufacturers made for years prior to the epidemic, including the baseless assertion that opioids only have addictive properties in certain at-risk populations. In fact, many studies demonstrate that anyone who takes an opioid is at risk for misuse and addiction, especially if they are exposed to longer duration prescriptions. For example, a study of a million surgical patients who had not previously taken opioids found that each additional week ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-04-01
    3 weeks ago
  • Joint statement on Affordable Care Act victory from AG Ferguson and Insurance Commissioner Kreidler
    OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler offered the following joint statement: “Washington state secured its 18th legal victory against the Trump Administration this afternoon. Today’s ruling by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia protects the Affordable Care Act by blocking the Trump Administration’s attempt to undermine state health care exchanges. President Trump’s Rule jeopardized state health care exchanges around the country, including Washington’s. The federal judge hearing our case correctly called out the ‘absurdity’ of the Administration’s reasoning, and ruled the Administration was unlawfully attempting an ‘end run’ around the ACA. Washington will continue to fight to protect hardworking Washingtonians’ access to affordable health care, and hold the Trump Administration accountable to the rule of law.” The judge's ruling is available here. ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-03-28
    4 weeks ago
  • AG Ferguson legislation to raise tobacco sale age to 21 passes Legislature
    Without this change, tobacco addiction will shorten the lives of 104,000 Washington kids alive today OLYMPIA — Today, with a bipartisan vote of 33-12 in the Washington State Senate, the Washington State Legislature passed legislation to raise the sale age for tobacco and vapor products to 21. Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the Washington State Department of Health jointly requested the legislation, which Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, sponsored. Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, sponsored the companion Senate bill and helped move the bill to the floor for a vote. The House of Representatives passed the bill with a bipartisan vote of 66-30 on Feb. 20.   Gov. Jay Inslee, who has long supported the legislation, has promised to sign the bill. The bill goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Washington is the 9th state to raise the age of sale of tobacco and vapor products to 21. Ferguson first introduced the bill in 2015. If the bill had passed in the 2015 legislative session, Washington would have been the first state to raise the age. Since then, California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah and Virginia, along with more than 450 cities and counties nationwide, have raised the tobacco sale age to 21. Legislation is moving in Illinois and New York that will raise the age to 21. “By passing this bill, the Legislature is saving thousands of Washingtonians from a lifetime of addiction and smoking-related illnesses," said Ferguson. "Because 18- to 20-year-olds supply younger teens with tobacco and vape ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-03-27
    4 weeks ago
  • AG Ferguson: Clark County dentists to pay $1 million over fraudulent Medicaid billing
    Dentists billed for services they didn’t provide, charged for more expensive services than they provided VANCOUVER — Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today that CareOne Dental Corporation and its owners will pay $1 million over allegations they repeatedly billed Medicaid for non-covered services and for services the company didn’t provide, the second-largest resolution of an in-state Medicaid False Claims Act case in Washington. One of the defendants, Dr. Liem Do, also agreed to no longer provide or be employed in any setting that involves state Medicaid and Medicare services. He also agreed that if Medicaid and Medicare initiate formal proceedings to bar him, he waives his right to contest them, a process known as “voluntary exclusion.” In 2015, Ferguson filed a Medicaid fraud lawsuit in Clark County Superior Court against the Clark County company and its owners, Dr. Do and his wife Dr. Phuong-Oanh Tran. Ferguson alleged that CareOne Dental filed about $1 million in fraudulent claims to Medicaid between January 2011 and June 2015. At one point, the couple operated four dental offices in Southwest Washington and two in Oregon. They currently operate a single clinic in Vancouver. “Medicaid funds are a precious resource meant for the health care of Washington families in need,” Ferguson said. “When health care providers defraud Medicaid for their own gain, thereby harming Washington families, my office will hold them accountable.” One of the defendants’ common practices was to bill non-covered services to Medicaid as covered procedures, for example, billing sealants, which are not covered, ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-03-27
    4 weeks ago
  • AG Ferguson asks court to block Trump’s family planning “gag rule”
    Motion for preliminary injunction asks the court to block the rule before its effective date YAKIMA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today filed a motion for preliminary injunction, asking a federal court to block the Trump Administration’s family planning “gag rule” before the rule goes into effect. The rule impacts Title X, the federal funding program for reproductive healthcare and family planning services. The motion, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, asks the judge to block the rule while Ferguson’s lawsuit against it is pending. Ferguson filed the lawsuit on March 5. The rule is currently scheduled to go into effect on May 3. Ferguson’s motion asks the court to block the rule before this date. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for Thursday, April 25. “This rule is a transparent attack on Planned Parenthood that disproportionately harms low-income women in rural Washington,” Ferguson said. “It will shutter clinics that provide almost 90 percent of Title X services in Washington, jeopardizing healthcare access for tens of thousands of Washingtonians. It inserts politics into the doctor-patient relationship. It should not go into effect before the court has a chance to make a decision.” The National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA), a national organization representing publicly funded family planning providers and administrators, filed a separate lawsuit challenging this rule. This lawsuit has been consolidated with Ferguson’s lawsuit for scheduling purposes. "The Title X rule is designed to destroy our nation’s family planning provider ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-03-22
    1 month ago
  • AG Ferguson seeks to join lawsuit against Navy for polluting Puget Sound
    Ferguson fears Navy will release more pollution in cleaning another ship currently slated for scrapping SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today filed a motion to join a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Navy’s practice of scraping the hulls of decommissioned vessels in a way that releases metals and other contaminants into Sinclair Inlet. This contamination can harm marine life up and down the food chain, including salmon and orcas. The Navy currently has a decommissioned ship awaiting cleaning and scrapping. Ferguson, along with local tribes and several environmental groups, fear that the Navy will follow the same pattern it used to clean a decommission vessel in 2017 and release more toxic materials into the sound. The lawsuit follows the Navy’s January 2017 efforts to blast marine debris off the hull of a 60,000-ton, decommissioned aircraft carrier before transport and scrapping. In doing so, the Navy released approximately 50 dump truck loads of solid materials into Puget Sound, including metals highly toxic to marine life. “Everyone has a duty to protect our waters, including the federal government,” said Ferguson. “The Navy’s actions endanger Washington’s diverse marine life, including salmon and orcas. The Navy must take responsibility for its actions and be held accountable.” In June 2017, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, the Washington Environmental Council and the Suquamish Tribe filed a lawsuit against the Navy, asserting that the military branch violated the federal Clean Water Act by releasing toxic substances into the inlet without a permit. After the results of the Navy’s own ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-03-20
    1 month ago
  • AG Ferguson, Gov. Inslee joint statement on emergency declaration funding
    SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee offered the following statement on potential funding sources for President Donald Trump's proposed border wall: “We remain adamant that Washington state will not help subsidize President Trump’s unlawful and unconstitutional ‘emergency’ declaration to build his wall. We are closely monitoring developments. If a final decision is made to redirect funds from Washington projects to fund the president’s border wall, we will file a lawsuit. Our complaint is drafted and ready to file.” -30- The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more. Contacts: Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; [email protected] Tara Lee, Governor’s Office Deputy Communications Director, (360) 902-0632, [email protected] ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-03-19
    1 month ago
  • AG Ferguson commits $750,000 to test sexual assault kits
    First round of funds will test more than 1,000 kits OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today committed $750,000 in grant funds to test unsubmitted sexual assault kits as part of his Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI). “Every sexual assault kit is a story that needs to be told,” Ferguson said. “Testing the kits not only honors to the courage of survivors, but also identifies serial offenders who might otherwise go free.” Because the Washington State Patrol is responsible for all law enforcement DNA testing in Washington State, the State Patrol will send kits to an outside lab for testing, then seek reimbursement from the Attorney General’s Office grant funds The Attorney General’s Office estimates that approximately 1,150 kits will be tested with this $750,000. Testing has already started using legislative funding. Once that funding is exhausted, the State Patrol can begin seeking reimbursement from the federal grant funds. Federal law prohibits replacing state funds with federal funds. If the testing results in DNA matches, the Attorney General’s Office will track those cases. The Attorney General’s Office does not have a direct role in collecting or testing sexual assault kits. Recognizing the need to end the backlog, Ferguson applied for a Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Grant from the Department of Justice in April 2017. The Department of Justice awarded the Attorney General’s Office $750,000 in October 2017, and the office received the funds in April 2018. The first round of funding has been partially used to create the Attorney General’s ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-03-19
    1 month ago
  • Ferguson: Distributors ignored red flags while pouring staggering amounts of opioids into Washington
    Attorney General sues three Fortune 15 companies for negligently fueling opioid epidemic SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit today against the three largest distributors of prescription opioids in Washington state, arguing that they failed to alert law enforcement of suspicious opioid orders, and illegally shipped those orders into Washington for years, and contributed to the illegal supply of opioids, fueling the state’s opioid epidemic. Ferguson’s lawsuit, filed today in King County Superior Court, asserts that McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp. made billions of dollars feeding the opioid epidemic, shipping huge amounts of oxycodone, fentanyl, hydrocodone and other prescription opioids into the state even when they knew or should have known those drugs were likely to end up in the hands of drug dealers and addicts. Opioid distributors are legally required to monitor the size and frequency of prescription opioid orders to identify suspicious orders that could be diverted into the illegal drug market. Distributors are required to stop these suspicious shipments and report them to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Instead, McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen have faced repeated actions from the DEA for continuously failing to stop and report suspicious opioid shipments, paying hundreds of millions in fines for their failure to follow the rules. “We are woefully under-resourced when it comes to treatment. The people who are responsible for this epidemic should being paying for it,” Ferguson said. “We are going to hold these companies accountable and get more money ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-03-12
    1 month ago
  • AG Ferguson, Gov. Inslee to firearms dealers: Don’t be fooled by I-1639 opposition
    Dealers could face criminal charges, jeopardize license, if they break the law OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Governor Jay Inslee sent a letter to 262 firearms dealers in counties where sheriffs have indicated they will not enforce I-1639, warning that, regardless of local officials’ opposition to Initiative 1639, firearms dealers are still required to follow state law.   As a condition of their federal licenses, firearms dealers are required to comply with state and federal law. Unless a court rules otherwise, laws and initiatives are presumed to be constitutional. No court has struck down any provision of I-1639. “Local officials’ personal opposition to I-1639 may have created confusion regarding firearms dealers’ legal responsibilities,” Ferguson said. “We wrote this letter to ensure these dealers have accurate information about the initiative to avoid legal jeopardy because of statements made by local elected officials.” “Despite what some of these sheriffs would have people believe, no one has the ability to pick and choose which laws to follow,” Inslee said. “It’s very simple: Our state’s voters overwhelmingly approved stronger background checks and gun safety measures, and dealers will be required to comply with those laws.” The letter informs dealers about their license requirements, and the possibility of license revocation or state or federal criminal charges if they break the law. One provision of I-1639 impacting firearms dealers is already in effect: The prohibition on selling semiautomatic assault rifles to those under age 21. The remaining provisions go into effect July 1. Most ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-03-07
    2 months ago
  • AG Ferguson files lawsuit in Yakima over Trump’s family planning “gag rule”
    Ferguson will ask judge to block the rule, which guts funding for reproductive healthcare, family planning services YAKIMA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington challenging the Trump Administration’s “gag rule” that impacts federal funding for reproductive healthcare and family planning services. Ferguson announced the lawsuit on Feb. 25. On Monday, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services formally published the gag rule, which will go into effect on May 3. Later this month, Ferguson will file a motion for preliminary injunction, which asks the court to block rule before it goes into effect. Ferguson filed the lawsuit in the Eastern District because of the disproportionate impacts to rural Washingtonian women. If the rule goes into effect, it will leave 21 Washington counties without a Title X provider at all, 11 of those in Eastern Washington. This includes Spokane and Yakima counties. As a result, some Washingtonians will need to travel hundreds of miles to receive family planning care, while others will lose access altogether. The rule will force out of the program health care professionals who provide nearly 90 percent of Title X family planning services to Washington patients, keeping thousands of vulnerable Washingtonians from reasonably accessing contraception, cancer and STI screening and other family planning care. In Washington, 91,284 patients received care through Title X in 2017. More than half of these patients were at or below the federal poverty line. The Washington Department ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-03-05
    2 months ago
  • Attorney General Ferguson’s bill to ban manufacture of “ghost guns” passes House
    Bipartisan approval sends the bill to the state Senate OLYMPIA — With bipartisan support, the Washington House of Representatives today passed Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s legislation prohibiting the manufacture of untraceable, undetectable 3D-printed guns. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Javier Valdez, D-Seattle, passed the House by a bipartisan 57-39 vote. It now heads to the state Senate for consideration. I support the Second Amendment. With that said, we cannot allow felons and other dangerous individuals to make an end-run around our state’s background check requirements by printing untraceable, undetectable 3D-printed guns,” Ferguson said. “Guns that can evade metal detectors pose too great a risk to the safety of our communities.” Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, sponsored a companion bill in the Senate. Several organizations offered key support for the measure, including the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. Other supporters included: Gov. Jay Inslee; Everytown for Gun Safety; Grandmothers Against Gun Violence; Faith Action Network; Foundation for Healthy Generations; the Washington State Medical Association and the Washington Association for Substance Abuse & Violence Prevention. In 2018, Ferguson sued the Trump Administration over its decision to allow the unlimited distribution of downloadable files for 3D-printed guns. A U.S. District Court judge blocked the Trump Administration’s decision, writing that “the untraceable and undetectable nature of these small firearms … poses a unique danger.” Seven of Ferguson’s Attorney General-request bills have passed their house of origin so far this session, including legislation to repeal the state’s death penalty and to raise the legal age to purchase ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-03-04
    2 months ago
  • AG Ferguson answers frequently asked questions on Initiative 1639, sends letters to all 39 sheriffs
    OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today released a “Frequently Asked Questions” document on Initiative 1639, directing the document to sheriffs across the state and releasing it to the general public online. The FAQ is available here. In his letter to sheriffs, Ferguson writes: “Recent public statements from your colleagues regarding the refusal to enforce Initiative 1639, approved by nearly 60% of Washington voters last November, suggest widespread misunderstanding regarding the requirements and status of the new law.” Ferguson’s letter makes several key points, including: Individuals age 18 to 21 who own or possess a semiautomatic rifle prior to July 1 do not face criminal liability for owning those weapons. The initiative does say those individuals may only carry those weapons: At their businesses, homes, or property; while engaging in lawful outdoor recreation activities, such as hunting; or while target shooting at an authorized range. Firearms are not required to be stored in any particular place or any particular way. Law enforcement is not required to enter homes to investigate whether firearms are safely and securely stored. There are strict constitutional limits on when law enforcement can enter your home. If a gun owner has his or her weapon stolen, the initiative does not create criminal liability, provided the theft is reported to law enforcement, regardless of how the weapon is stored. No court has found that I-1639 violates the Second Amendment. As Ferguson wrote in his open letter to law enforcement, starting in July, the initiative does require local ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-03-04
    2 months ago
  • AG Ferguson to file lawsuit challenging President Trump’s “gag rule” impacting family planning providers
    If not blocked, Title X rule will gut funding for reproductive healthcare, family planning services SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced he will file a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Washington State challenging the Trump Administration’s “gag rule” that impacts federal funding for reproductive healthcare and family planning services. The rule permits Title X providers to withhold information from patients about their healthcare options, bars them from referring patients for abortion care, and requires Title X clinics to physically separate abortion care and referrals from their services funded by Title X. The “gag rule” will force out of the program professionals who provide nearly 90 percent of Title X family planning services to Washington patients, keeping thousands of vulnerable Washingtonians from reasonably accessing contraception, cancer and STI screening and other family planning care. In Washington, 91,284 patients received care through Title X in 2017. More than half of these patients were at or below the federal poverty line. The Washington Department of Health estimates that services provided to these patients prevented over 18,000 unintended pregnancies and over 6,000 abortions, resulting in savings for the state of more than $113 million. “Patients should be able to make well-informed decisions based on complete, unbiased information about their health care options,” Ferguson said. “Those decisions must stay between patients and their medical providers — not the federal government.” “We stand united with Attorney General Ferguson and our state and legislative leaders against this blatant assault on women’s health,” Gov. Jay ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-02-25
    2 months ago
  • SEIU State Council to pay up to $250,000 over campaign finance violations
    $104,900 will come due if council commits new violations OLYMPIA — The Attorney General’s Office announced today that the Service Employees International Union Leadership Council 14, also known as SEIU Washington State Council, will pay up to $250,000 to resolve the Office of the Attorney General’s campaign finance lawsuit. The judgment, filed in Thurston County Superior Court, requires SEIU Council 14 to pay $233,205 in civil penalties with $104,942.25 suspended for four years contingent on no violations in that period, as well as $18,300.85 in costs and fees. After receiving a Citizen Action Notice in April of 2017, the AGO determined Council 14 made significant campaign contributions but failed to register and report as a political committee in at least 2014 and 2016. The AGO filed a complaint against the council in July of 2017. Washington law requires registration of a political committee when a person has the expectation of receiving contributions or making expenditures to support or oppose candidates or ballot propositions. The law requires these committees to regularly report information to the Public Disclosure Commission about sources of contributions, starting with those over $25. Political committees must also regularly report information about their activities, including expenditures, debts and in-kind contributions. While Council 14 has its own registered political committee, the council itself also acted as a political committee by devoting a majority of its annual expenditures to electoral political activity during 2014 and 2016. The Council contributed directly to ballot proposition committees, in addition to contributing to its ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-02-19
    2 months ago
  • AG Ferguson’s initiative to end no-poach clauses nationwide secures end to provisions at seven more corporate chains
    Ferguson’s initiative has benefited workers at more than 100,000 locations nationwide SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced that, in order to avoid a lawsuit, seven additional corporate chains eliminated no-poach practices nationwide, entering into legally enforceable agreements to remove the clauses from franchise contracts. The seven chains have 125 locations in Washington and more than 3,600 locations nationwide. This brings the total number of corporate chains that have signed legally binding agreements with Ferguson to 57. Einstein Bros. Bagel, Express Employment Professionals, FASTSIGNS, L&L Franchising, The Maids, Westside Pizza and Zeek’s Pizza signed legally binding commitments to stop adding no-poach clauses to franchise contracts, and remove all existing clauses. All seven must make these changes nationwide. The seven join 50 other corporations that have now signed legally enforceable agreements with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office to end the practice. No-poach clauses appear in franchise agreements between owners of franchises and corporate headquarters. The clauses prohibit employees from moving among stores in the same corporate chain, a practice that economists believe stagnates wages. For example, the clauses would prohibit one Zeek’s Pizza employee from accepting employment from another Zeek’s Pizza franchise location for higher pay. With today’s announcement, Ferguson moves closer to his goal of eliminating no-poach clauses nationwide. So far, Ferguson has filed one lawsuit against restaurant chain Jersey Mike’s for refusing to end these practices. “We have corrected a system rigged against workers at more than 100,000 corporate stores nationwide,” said Ferguson. “My goal is straightforward ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-02-15
    2 months ago
  • AG Ferguson statement on President Trump's border wall 'emergency'
    SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued the following statement in response to information that President Donald Trump intends to declare a state of emergency in order to build his border wall: “I’m disappointed, but not surprised, to see the president is once again exceeding his authority in violation of the Constitution. My legal team has been reviewing this issue for some time. In short, declaring a state of ‘emergency’ to build his wall is unlawful. We are working with members of our congressional delegation to determine if this action depletes federal funds flowing to Washington. If Washington is harmed, my office will take appropriate steps to block this unlawful action, just as we’ve blocked more than a dozen illegal and unconstitutional policies of this president.” -30- The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more. Contacts: Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; [email protected] ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-02-14
    2 months ago
  • AG Ferguson issues open letter to law enforcement on I-1639
    For a PDF version, click here. Open letter to Washington’s sheriffs and police chiefs refusing to enforce Initiative 1639: In November 2018, Washingtonians overwhelmingly adopted Initiative 1639.  Numerous sheriffs and police chiefs have stated that they will not implement or enforce the initiative. I want to share my thoughts on this important issue, which affects both the safety of our communities and respect for the rule of law. Like all laws passed by the people of Washington and their representatives, Initiative 1639 is presumed constitutional. No court has ruled that this initiative is unconstitutional. I will defend Initiative 1639 against any legal challenge. My office defeated the legal challenge to the previous gun safety initiative passed by the people, and I am confident we will defeat any constitutional challenge to Initiative 1639 as well. Local law enforcement officials are entitled to their opinions about the constitutionality of any law, but those personal views do not absolve us of our duty to enforce Washington laws and protect the public.  I would like to focus on one component of Initiative 1639 in which you play a vital role, and have a legal obligation. Effective July 1, Initiative 1639 requires enhanced background checks for the purchase of semiautomatic assault rifles, which are identical to the enhanced background checks currently required for all handgun purchases in Washington state. Just like handgun purchases, local law enforcement officials are required to perform these background checks. Local law enforcement has been performing these enhanced background checks for ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-02-12
    2 months ago
  • AG Ferguson urges DeVos to leave protections in place for sexual violence survivors
    Changes to Title IX requirements would undermine existing protections for students and sexual violence survivors OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today joined 18 other attorneys general in urging U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to withdraw proposed rule changes that protect sexual harassment and violence survivors. The states write that the proposed changes are legally flawed, would severely weaken protections for students and potentially conflict with state laws against discrimination. “Students must be safe and protected from sexual harassment, assault and discrimination at school,” said Ferguson. “The Education Department’s proposed rules drastically undermine victims’ ability to report and receive protection. I strongly encourage the Administration to reverse course on this flawed proposal.” Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 guarantees students protection from discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs and activities receiving federal funds. The law applies to schools from kindergarten through university, and includes protections from sexual violence and harassment. In November 2018, the U.S. Department of Education published the proposed rule, which would reduce the number of Title IX investigations a school conducts and narrow the scope of schools’ responsibilities. The attorneys general argue that the changes are contrary to decades of established law and practice. During the public comment period on the proposed rule, the department has received more than 95,000 comments. In the letter, the attorneys general of 18 states and the District of Columbia write that the proposed changes run counter to the very purpose of Title IX ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-01-31
    3 months ago
  • AG Ferguson updates student loan survival guide
    AG-requested Student Loan Advocate now available to help borrowers OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today released an updated Student Loan Survival Guide, which provides tips and resources for those impacted by student loans, including high school students thinking about taking out student loans, former college students making repayments and parents who cosigned loans. Among updates to the guide is information about the new Student Loan Advocate at the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC), a position created by AG-request legislation last year. The advocate is now available to help student loan borrowers understand the terms of their loans and options available to them, such as loan forgiveness and deferment. Students can contact the advocate directly by calling (833) 881-0397, sending an email to [email protected] or visiting https://wsac.wa.gov/loan-advocacy. “Too many Washingtonians are struggling to repay more than $24 billion in student loans, and they’re not getting help from Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education,” Ferguson said. “This guide can help borrowers navigate the complex student loan process and connect them with an advocate dedicated to making it easier for them.” “Students who work so hard to earn a college credential should not be saddled with burdensome debt or predatory collection practices,” said WSAC Executive Director Michael P. Meotti. “What is almost worse is the debt-relief scams popping up everywhere. We look forward to working with the Attorney General’s Office to ensure borrowers get accurate information and the one-on-one support they need to make good decisions for their future.” The Student Loan Survival ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-01-30
    3 months ago
  • Judge rejects Jersey Mike’s motion to dismiss AG Ferguson’s no-poach lawsuit
    King County Superior Court judge denied Jersey Mike’s motion to dismiss SEATTLE — A King County Superior Court judge ruled that Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s case against restaurant chain Jersey Mike’s may proceed. Jersey Mike’s previously filed a motion to dismiss Ferguson’s case against the company asserting the company’s use of no-poach provisions violates antitrust provisions of the state Consumer Protection Act. Ferguson’s case against Jersey Mike’s is the first lawsuit Ferguson or any other state attorney general has brought against a corporation for its use of no-poach clauses. “No-poach practices are wrong – and illegal,” said Ferguson. “Jersey Mike’s should do the right thing by its workers and make a legally binding commitment to end these practices. I look forward to continuing our challenge in court.” In January 2018, Ferguson’s Antitrust Division launched an investigation into no-poach clauses. No-poach clauses appear in franchise agreements between owners of franchises and corporate headquarters. The clauses prohibit employees from moving among stores in the same corporate chain, a practice that economists believe stagnates wages. In course of the investigation, the Attorney General’s Office found that Jersey Mike’s used no-poach language in its franchise contracts at its 41 Washington locations and estimated 1,343 locations nationwide. During the investigation, Jersey Mike’s refused to remove no-poach language from its current and future contracts and enter into a legally binding contract with the Attorney General’s Office. In response, Ferguson filed a lawsuit against the company in October 2018. By that time, 30 corporate chains had signed ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-01-28
    3 months ago
  • AG Ferguson sues LuLaRoe over pyramid scheme
    Lawsuit asserts LuLaRoe deceived thousands of consultants OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced a lawsuit against multi-level marketing business LuLaRoe and several of its “home office” executives, alleging that the company’s former bonus structure constituted a pyramid scheme. The lawsuit also asserts that LuLaRoe’s claims regarding sustainability, profitability and inventory refunds are unfair and deceptive. Ferguson’s lawsuit asserts that LuLaRoe’s bonus structure and misrepresentations violated the Antipyramid Promotional Scheme Act and the state Consumer Protection Act. Ferguson asks the court to require LuLaRoe and its executives to stop its unlawful actions. If the court rules that LuLaRoe violated the law, the Attorney General’s Office will seek the maximum penalties of $2,000 per violation, as well as costs, fees and other relief. Ferguson also will seek restitution for affected Washington consumers, but the total amount of restitution the office will seek is still undetermined.  “LuLaRoe tricked consumers into buying into its pyramid scheme with deceptive claims of high profits and refunds for unsold merchandise,” said Ferguson. “Instead, many Washingtonians lost money and were left with piles of unsold merchandise and broken promises from LuLaRoe. It’s time to hold LuLaRoe accountable for its deception.” LuLaRoe is a California-based multi-level marketing business that sells leggings and other apparel. The company is made up of individual retailers who sell the company’s clothing, referred to as “Independent Fashion Consultants.” New consultants must be recruited and sponsored by existing LuLaRoe retailers. The “onboarding” fee to become a LuLaRoe consultant ranges from $2,000 to $9,000, ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-01-25
    3 months ago
  • Consumer Alert: Resources available to help federal workers during shutdown
    AG Ferguson: Furloughed federal workers should stay alert to avoid shutdown scams OLYMPIA — Resources are available for federal employees in Washington who are furloughed or working without pay, and other workers who are affected by the partial federal government shutdown, to help them make financial decisions and avoid scams associated with the shutdown. Consumers who wish to make a complaint to the Attorney General’s Office about a business operating in Washington State may do so at http://www.atg.wa.gov/file-complaint. Payday loans & tax refund advances If you have missed paychecks as a result of the shutdown, you may be considering loans or tax refund advances to help make ends meet. Consumers considering payday loans or tax refund advances should thoroughly investigate the costs of the loan or advance and consider less costly options, which may include: Obtaining a small loan from a bank or credit union. Many financial institutions are offering low- or no-interest loans to furloughed federal employees Considering a short-term loan from a family member or friend Asking your creditors for additional time to pay your bills Freezing subscription services you can do without for a short period, such as streaming services or gym memberships A payday loan is a high-interest, short-term cash loan. In most cases, a consumer gives the lender a post-dated personal check for the amount of the loan plus a fee. The lender holds the check for an agreed period (usually one to four weeks), then deposits it. The fees on payday loans typically represent ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-01-18
    3 months ago
  • AG Ferguson to sue if Navy continues to pollute Puget Sound, harming salmon, orcas and other marine life
    Navy ignored concerns raised by EPA, Washington Department of Ecology OLYMPIA — In a letter to the federal government, Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced his intent to join a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Navy’s process to scrape the hulls of decommissioned vessels, which leads to ongoing pollution of Sinclair Inlet and harms salmon and orcas. To clean a 60,000-ton, decommissioned aircraft carrier before transport, the Navy scraped the hull of the ship in Puget Sound in January 2017. The process released approximately 50 dump truck loads of solid materials, including copper and zinc, into the sound. Copper and zinc are highly toxic to marine life. A study conducted by the Navy found that the level of pollutants it released far exceed standards allowed by Washington state. The initial release of these metals, and their continued discharge of pollutants into the inlet, violate state and federal laws. In June 2017, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, the Washington Environmental Council and the Suquamish Tribe filed a lawsuit against the Navy, asserting that the military branch violated the federal Clean Water Act by releasing toxic substances into the inlet without a permit while cleaning the hull of a decommissioned aircraft carrier. In the letter, Ferguson asserts that the release of the pollutants violated both federal and state Clean Water Acts, as well as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The Attorney General advises the federal government that he will seek to join the groups’ case if the Navy does not resolve the issue ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-01-17
    3 months ago
  • Attorney General Ferguson urges appeals court to preserve Indian Child Welfare Act
    Texas judge struck down law that protects tribal role in custody cases OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson has joined a bipartisan coalition of 21 states to urge a federal appeals court to preserve the federal Indian Child Welfare Act after a lower court struck down the law. The Quinault Indian Nation in Washington state is also part of the case defending the act. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a federal law designed to give tribal governments a strong voice in custody decisions involving Indian children. ICWA was enacted in 1978 in response to historical practices of removing Indian children from their families. Washington state, which is home to 29 federally recognized tribes, has also enacted state laws to complement ICWA. This is the second time Washington has filed an amicus, or “friend of the court” brief, in this case in support of the act. “The Indian Child Welfare Act furthers the best interests of Indian children, helps preserve Indian families, and promotes productive government-to-government relationships between states and tribes,” Ferguson said. Texas, Indiana and Louisiana, along with seven named individuals, sued in federal court in the Northern District of Texas in 2017 challenging the constitutionality of ICWA, as well as other related federal regulations. Four Indian tribes, including the Quinault Indian Nation, intervened to defend ICWA. “The protections provided by the Indian Child Welfare Act are an integral and vital part of Tribal Nations’ survival,” said Quinault Indian Nation President Fawn Sharp, who is also past president ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-01-15
    3 months ago
  • Court rules census citizenship question is unlawful
    Attorney General Ferguson 18-0 against Trump Administration OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today issued the following statement after a federal judge in New York struck down the Trump Administration’s decision to include a question about citizenship status in the 2020 U.S. Census. The Court enjoined the Census Bureau from adding the question to the nationwide census. “Today’s ruling is a major victory for all Washingtonians and an affirmation of our values as a country,” Ferguson said. “The Census Bureau’s own research confirms that asking people about their citizenship status would significantly undermine its Constitutional mandate: an accurate count of everyone in the United States, regardless of immigration status. This question would have jeopardized significant federal funding Washington receives every year and diluted our congressional representation for the next decade.” Reviewing the decision by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to add the citizenship question, Judge Jesse M. Furman found that “[h]e failed to consider several important aspects of the problem; alternately ignored, cherry-picked, or badly misconstrued the evidence in the record before him; acted irrationally both in light of that evidence and his own stated decisional criteria; and failed to justify significant departures from past policies and practices — [resulting in] a veritable smorgasbord of classic, clear-cut APA violations.” Case background On April 30, Ferguson joined a multistate lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit challenges the Administration’s decision to add the question to the Census on constitutional and statutory grounds. The City of Seattle also joined ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-01-15
    3 months ago
  • AG Ferguson’s initiative to end no-poach clauses nationwide secures end to provisions at 50 corporate chains
    The 50 chains have more than 100,000 locations nationwide SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced that, in order to avoid a lawsuit, four additional corporate chains eliminated no-poach practices nationwide, entering into legally enforceable agreements to remove the clauses from franchise contracts. The four chains have 24 locations in Washington and more than 1,600 locations nationwide. This brings the total number of corporate chains that have signed legally binding agreements with Ferguson to 50. Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Management Recruiters International and Outback Steakhouse signed legally binding commitments to stop adding no-poach clauses to franchise contracts, and remove all existing clauses. All four must make these changes nationwide. The four join 46 other corporations that have now signed legally enforceable agreements with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office to end the practice. No-poach clauses appear in franchise agreements between owners of franchises and corporate headquarters. The clauses prohibit employees from moving among stores in the same corporate chain, a practice that economists believe stagnates wages. For example, the clauses would prohibit one Outback Steakhouse employee from accepting employment from another Outback Steakhouse franchise location for higher pay. With today’s announcement, Ferguson moves closer to his goal of eliminating no-poach clauses nationwide. So far, Ferguson has filed one lawsuit against restaurant chain Jersey Mike’s for refusing to end these practices. “No-poach clauses create a rigged system where workers lose,” said Ferguson. “Thanks to my excellent legal team, 50 large corporations and counting have eliminated no-poach clauses nationwide to ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-01-14
    3 months ago
  • Federal judge blocks Trump birth control rule in 13 states and D.C.
    Attorney General Ferguson is now 17-0 in litigation against the Trump Administration OLYMPIA— A federal judge on Sunday temporarily blocked a Trump Administration birth control policy from going into effect in 13 states, including Washington, due to a lawsuit brought by those states’ attorneys general. The judge also blocked the policy from going into effect in the District of Columbia. The federal birth control policy allows employers who object to contraception to deny their female employees access to free birth control. “President Trump’s unlawful and harmful birth control rules will go into effect in most states today – but not Washington, thanks to our legal challenge,” Ferguson said. “After two years of litigating against the Trump Administration, the people of Washington still haven’t lost a case.” California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington state brought the legal challenge. Legal Challenge In October 2017, without notice or comment, the Trump Administration issued illegal interim final rules that allowed employers claiming religious or moral objections to contraception to ignore the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraceptive mandate. The rules were immediately blocked by multiple federal judges. In December 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the injunction. In November 2018, the Administration issued final rules identical in all material respects to the interim rules. On Dec. 18, 2018, a group of states led by California filed a motion for preliminary injunction asking the court to halt the final rules while the ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2019-01-14
    3 months ago
  • Washington state files public comments regarding EPA proposal to reverse Clean Power Plan, Gov. Inslee and AG Ferguson issue statement
    New rules would cause increased air pollution, potentially thousands more deaths and illnesses every year versus the Clean Power Plan OLYMPIA — A coalition of 26 state and local governments including Washington state filed a comment letter today challenging the EPA’s proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan with the “Affordable Clean Energy” rule, which would not require significant carbon emission reductions. Earlier this month, Gov. Inslee testified against the rollback at a public hearing in Chicago. The hearing was the only public opportunity the Administration has provided for input on the plan. Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson today issued the following statement: “The comment letter we filed today could not be more clear: the proposed rule is one of the most harmful steps President Trump could take for human health and our environment. Time and time again, President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency shows it has no interest in actually protecting the environment — or following the law. The EPA has a statutory mandate to protect our environment. As our letter explains, this proposal does the opposite. It shamelessly panders to the fossil fuel industry at the expense of human health and the environment. “Carbon emissions from electricity generation have already dropped 28 percent, nearly reaching the Clean Power Plan’s 2030 goals more than a decade early. It is incomprehensible that the federal government would want to reverse this progress and put lives at risk. “The EPA’s proposal disregards the voluminous factual and science-based record developed in ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2018-11-01
    6 months ago
  • AG Data Breach Report finds 3.4 million Washingtonians’ privacy compromised by data breaches
    2018 report also details Ferguson’s recommendations to strengthen Washington’s data breach notification law OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s third annual Data Breach Report finds that data breaches affected nearly 3.4 million Washingtonians between July of 2017 and July of 2018 — an increase of 700,000, or 26 percent, over the previous year, and an increase of nearly 3 million, or more than 700 percent, compared to two years ago. The law requires notice to the Attorney General when a breach impacts 500 or more Washingtonians, and the Attorney General’s Office received 51 such notices in fiscal year 2018. Ferguson’s report finds that malicious cyberattacks continue to be the leading cause of data breaches affecting Washingtonians. In light of these trends, Ferguson’s report recommends a number of ways to strengthen Washington state’s data breach notification law. “The number of Washingtonians impacted by data breaches increased for the second consecutive year,” Ferguson said. “We must strengthen our law to help Washingtonians secure their sensitive information.” Ferguson’s report identifies several deficiencies in Washington state’s data breach notification law. For example, Washington’s law does not cover several types of sensitive information. If a malicious hacker obtains the combination of a Washingtonian’s email address and password, the law does not require anybody to notify that Washingtonian. Washington’s law also fails to ensure notice to Washingtonians when a breach exposes their tax ID number, passport number, health insurance policy number or DNA profile. Furthermore, Washington state law allows too much time before a government agency or ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2018-10-30
    6 months ago
  • AG Ferguson releases statement on President Trump’s intent to end birthright citizenship through executive order
    OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson released the following statement on President Trump’s intent to end birthright citizenship in the United States through executive order: “No matter how much he may want to appeal to the Alt-Right, President Trump can’t alter the Constitution through executive order. If he tries, we will immediately take him to court — and defeat him again.” Ferguson has filed 32 lawsuits against the Trump Administration and has not lost a case. Ferguson now has 14 legal victories against the Trump Administration. Eight of those cases are finished and cannot be appealed. The Trump Administration has or may appeal the other six, which include lawsuits involving Dreamers, 3D-printed guns and the transgender military ban. No court to rule on the merits of the Attorney General’s arguments in a lawsuit against the Trump Administration has ruled against the office. -30- The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more. Contacts: Dan Jackson, Acting Communications Director, (360) 753-2716; [email protected] ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2018-10-30
    6 months ago
  • AG Ferguson asks court to hold Johnson & Johnson liable for failing to disclose the dangers of its surgical mesh devices
    Company concealed risks that can result in devastating health impacts to women SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today asked a court to rule that Johnson & Johnson misrepresented, and in some cases failed to disclose entirely, serious risks associated with its surgical mesh devices. Ferguson asserts that Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries knowingly omitted serious, debilitating, life-altering complications associated with its mesh devices from the instructions included with every device sold from 1999 to late 2015. The missing information included risks such as chronic pain, pain with sexual intercourse, numerous urinary issues and the difficulty of removal. Johnson & Johnson still has not amended some of its instruction packets to warn about other risks associated with its devices, such as the risk of mesh contracture. In addition to omitting serious risks in its instruction packets, Ferguson asserts that Johnson & Johnson downplayed some of the serious complications caused by some products before 2015. “Washington women will suffer for the rest of their lives because a powerful special interest put profits over patients,” said Ferguson. “I’m asking the court to hold Johnson & Johnson accountable for its actions.” The Attorney General filed motions for partial summary judgment in King County Superior Court, asking the court to rule that Johnson & Johnson’s omissions and misrepresentations in the devices’ instruction packets violated the state Consumer Protection Act. These motions are part of a lawsuit filed by Ferguson against Johnson & Johnson in 2016. In the lawsuit, Ferguson seeks to ensure that Johnson ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2018-10-26
    6 months ago
  • Horning Brothers pagará $525,000 para resolver demanda de derechos civiles presentada por el procurador general sobre acoso sexual de trabajadoras agrícolas
    Se considera la resolución de derechos civiles por el estado más grande en la historia de Washington SPOKANE El procurador general Bob Ferguson anunció hoy que Horning Brothers, LLC, una compañía agrícola con base en Quincy, deberá pagar $525,000 como resultado de una demanda de cumplimiento de derechos civiles por el acoso sexual al que fueron sometidas varias trabajadoras agrícolas, así como también por prácticas de contratación y de empleo discriminatorias por razón de sexo y represalias contra las trabajadoras que denunciaron estas conductas indebidas. Las mujeres afectadas por tales conductas recibirán compensación por el daño ocasionado. La compañía deberá también adoptar una política antidiscriminatoria y antirepresalia aprobada por la Oficina del Procurador General, además de otros mandatos judiciales. El Proyecto de Justicia del Noroeste (Northwest Justice Project), que trabajó en el caso junto a la Oficina del Procurador General, refirió el caso y representó a cinco de las trabajadoras que intervinieron en el caso como demandantes. “Horning Brothers recibió múltiples avisos durante varios años sobre el problema de acoso sexual en la compañía, pero permitió que continuara sin estorbo”, afirmó Ferguson. “El resultado de hoy obliga a un cambio cultural en Horning Brothers al brindar justicia a las mujeres que fueron acosadas y proteger a futuras empleadas.” En una demanda iniciada en el 2017, Ferguson alegó que las operaciones y políticas de Horning Brothers permitían que el capataz de la compañía, Hermilo Cruz, acosara sexualmente y discriminara a las empleadas durante varios años. Cruz y la compañía tomaban ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2018-10-18
    6 months ago
  • Horning Brothers to pay $525,000 to resolve civil rights lawsuit brought by attorney general over sexual harassment of agricultural workers
    Believed to be largest civil rights resolution for Washington state ever SPOKANE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today that Horning Brothers, LLC, a Quincy-based agricultural company, will pay $525,000 in a civil rights enforcement action claiming sexual harassment of multiple female agricultural workers, discriminatory hiring and sex-segregated employment practices and retaliation against workers who reported the improper conduct. The women affected by this conduct will receive compensation for their harms. The company must also adopt a non-discrimination and anti-retaliation policy approved by the Attorney General’s Office, in addition to other injunctive relief. The Northwest Justice Project, who worked on the case with the Attorney General’s Office, referred the case and represented five of the workers who intervened as plaintiffs. “Horning Brothers received, and ignored, multiple notices over several years that sexual harassment was a problem at its company,” Ferguson said. “Today’s result forces a culture change at Horning Brothers by bringing justice to the women who were harassed and protecting future employees.” In a lawsuit filed in federal court in 2017, Ferguson asserted that the operation and policies of Horning Brothers allowed its foreman, Hermilo Cruz, to sexually harass and discriminate against female employees for several years. Cruz and the company retaliated against employees who rejected Cruz’s advances or complained about his conduct. The consent decree will require Horning Brothers to: Pay $525,000 to the Attorney General’s Office to compensate workers harmed by harassment and retaliation, and for recovery of fees and costs incurred by the Northwest Justice Project ... read more
    Source: Washington Attorney GeneralPublished on 2018-10-18
    6 months ago