Rutledge Reaches Settlement with General Motors Over Defective Ignition SwitchThu, Oct 19, 2017
Arkansas to receive over $1.4 million
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has reached a $120 million settlement, along with 48 other states and the District of Columbia, with General Motors Company (GM) over allegations that the company concealed safety issues related to ignition switch defects in GM vehicles. Arkansas will receive over $1.4 million.
The settlement concludes an investigation into the auto manufacturer’s failure to timely disclose known safety defects associated with unintended key-rotation-related and/or ignition-switch-related issues in several model years of GM vehicles.
“GM’s failure to notify consumers of these ignition-switch issues is not only deceptive but dangerous,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This inexcusable action placed the safety of Arkansans driving these flawed vehicles at risk as well as other drivers on the road. GM is being held accountable for these violations of many consumer protection laws.”
In 2014, GM issued seven vehicle recalls in response to unintended key-rotation-related and/or ignition-switch-related issues, which have affected over 9 million vehicles in the U.S. The recalls involved a defective ignition switch which, under certain conditions, could move out of the “run” position to the “accessory” or “off” position. Resulting in a loss of electrical systems, including power steering and power brakes. If a collision occurs while the ignition switch is in the “accessory” or “off” position, the vehicle’s safety airbags may also fail to deploy, increasing the risk of serious injury or death in certain types of crashes in which the airbag was otherwise designed to deploy.
As Rutledge and her colleagues alleged, certain employees of GM, knew as early as 2004 that the ignition switch posed a serious safety issue because it could cause airbag non-deployment. Despite this knowledge, GM personnel decided it was not a safety concern and delayed issuing recalls. GM continued to market the reliability and safety of its vehicles which were equipped with this defective ignition switch.
The states alleged that these actions were unfair and deceptive and that the automaker’s actions violated state consumer protection laws, including the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Under the consent judgment, GM shall:
- Not represent that a motor vehicle is “safe” unless they have complied with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards applicable to the motor vehicle at issue.
- Not represent that certified pre-owned vehicles that GM advertises are safe, have been repaired for safety issues, or have been subject to rigorous inspection, unless such vehicles are not subject to any open recalls relating to safety or have been repaired pursuant to such a recall.
- Instruct its dealers that all applicable recall repairs must be completed before any GM motor vehicle sold in the U.S. and included in a recall is eligible for certification and, if there is a recall on any certified pre-owned vehicle sold in the U.S., the required repair must be completed before the vehicle is delivered to a customer.
In addition to Arkansas, the multistate group – led by Ohio, South Carolina, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas – includes Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Rutledge Names Cory Cox as Chief of StaffTue, Oct 17, 2017
Thanks Carl Vogelpohl for his service to the office and state
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today named Cory Cox of Perryville as Chief of Staff at the Attorney General’s office following the departure of Carl Vogelpohl, who has served in that role since the beginning of Rutledge’s term.
“There is no one better prepared to serve as my Chief of Staff than Cory Cox,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Not only does Cory have many years of experience across state government, but as my Legislative Director for nearly three years, he has developed strong relationships with members of the General Assembly and understands the need for this office to be the top law firm in the state. He has a tremendous work ethic, a desire to serve the public and I am confident he will do an exceptional job leading the team at the office to ensure that we continue to protect Arkansans from criminals, con artists and an overreaching federal government.”
Cox, who has been serving as Legislative Director at Attorney General’s office since 2015, began his career as Assistant Legal Counsel to Huckabee before being promoted to Deputy Chief Counsel. Under Huckabee, he formulated policy and legislation, served on the Criminal Code Revision Commission, the Arkansas Crime Information Center Steering Committee and as legislative counsel to the Governor during the 2003 Regular Session. In 2005, Cox was appointed as Director of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Arkansas Insurance Department. He served as Chairman of the Education and Training Committee of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Anti-Fraud Task Force and as a subject matter expert in insurance fraud for the National White Collar Crime Center. Cox was a Partner in the law firm of Hiland, Thomas and Cox from 2009 until 2011, when he began serving under Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston as Staff Attorney and Legislative Affairs Liaison. In 2014, he was named Managing Attorney for the Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Policy and Legal Services. A graduate of Arkansas Tech University, Cox obtained his juris doctor from the University Of Arkansas William H. Bowen School Of Law. Cox is also a member of the Perryville School Board.
On the departure of Vogelpohl, Rutledge said, “Carl has been a trusted and influential advisor. He has been a key member of my leadership team from the transition period before taking office through these first few years in my administration. Since his instrumental work on my 2014 campaign, I knew that at some point Carl would want to return to political consulting and with the 2018 election season approaching, that time has come. I am grateful to Carl for his advice and counsel, and more importantly his service to the people of Arkansas. I wish him nothing but the best as he pursues a new challenge.”
Rutledge Calls on Senate to Rein in Unelected Federal BureaucracyMon, Oct 16, 2017
Says, ‘Proper change is badly needed to place appropriate restraints on an out-of-control rule-making process’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined a coalition of 13 attorneys general urging the U.S. Senate to curb the authority of federal agencies to create and enforce regulations.
Writing to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the coalition is calling on the Senate to pass a bill that would amend the Administrative Procedure Act, a statute that sets forth the requirements for lawful executive agency action.
“Proper change is badly needed to place appropriate restraints on an out-of-control rule-making process,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Federal regulations and sanctions must be developed in a transparent process that is consistent with separation of powers and federalism but that has not been the case. It is time for the Senate to act and reform this process.”
The letter states that the Obama-era executive overreach demonstrates that existing congressional, judicial and other structural checks on the regulatory state have proven inadequate and must be reformed.
One particular issue with current regulatory action is the increasing trend among agencies to make binding rules through so-called guidance documents. This abuse utilizes a mechanism, meant for non-binding advice, to attempt to implement required regulations and sanctions, while avoiding the notice and comment period required by the existing Administrative Procedure Act.
Federal agencies also are acting outside the bounds of their authority through failure to consider existing state law, the proper role of the states and the costs of regulation. The growing administrative state has resulted in a vast, unelected bureaucracy that is unaccountable to the executive branch of government.
Rutledge is joined on the letter by the attorneys general of Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Annual Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit to be Held in NovemberThu, Oct 12, 2017
Record 950 already registered
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that the sixth annual Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit will be held Nov. 9 at the Hot Springs Convention Center.
A record 950 have already taken advantage of early bird registration. Registration is open, but seating is limited for the event, a free training and educational opportunity for law enforcement officers, medical professionals, pharmacists and educators. Members of the general public may also attend and will have the opportunity to hear from experts regarding prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment.
“Combatting the prescription drug abuse epidemic is a top priority of mine, and I know law enforcement, medical professionals, pharmacists and educators share that commitment,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Too many of our loved ones are losing this battle every day. Through collaborative and educational efforts like this summit, our state can work to defeat this crisis.”
The all-day summit will include breakout sessions on timely topics, including resources available to prescribers and the growing heroin and fentanyl epidemic. After lunch, additional breakout sessions will discuss medicated assisted treatments, the use of Naloxone and the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
Rutledge will host a luncheon, which will include a presentation from new State Drug Director Kirk Lane.
Afternoon plenary sessions will highlight Arkansas’s action to combat the epidemic, including the Attorney General’s Prescription for Life program. The final session will feature a panel of parents who have lost children to the epidemic or who have children now battling addition.
In addition to the Attorney General’s Office, the Summit is being sponsored by the Arkansas Board of Pharmacy, Arkansas Division of Behavioral Health Services, Arkansas State Police, Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, Office of the State Drug Director, Rotary Clubs of Arkansas, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the University of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute.
A complete agenda can be found at ArkansasAG.gov.
Rutledge Holds Capital Credit Solutions Accountable for Violation of LawTue, Oct 10, 2017
Says, ‘These false and misleading representations take advantage of consumers’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has held Florida-based Capital Credit Solutions Inc. and its owner Willie J. McKenzie accountable for false and misleading representations made to Arkansans in order to entice them to purchase credit repair services that are actually available for free.
“The Court found that Capital Credit Solutions used illegal and bogus tactics, seeking the business of Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These false and misleading representations take advantage of consumers, and these practices must be eliminated if this company is going to do business in Arkansas.”
Capital Credit Solutions was charged with $10,000 in civil penalties and more than $8,500 in attorney’s fees after the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas found the business in violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the federal Credit Repair Organizations Act.
The primary business of Capital Credit Solutions is offering credit repair services to improve the credit history, credit score and credit ratings of consumers. However, the defendants misrepresented that they have the power to change a consumer’s credit report and then to guarantee those changes will continue to improve a consumer’s credit. This falsehood left Arkansans with the impression that the best way to fix their credit is to hire Capital Credit Solutions and that the longer they stay in the program the better the results will be. Defendants cannot legally remove accurate items from a credit report. All services offered by the defendants to dispute items appearing on a credit report are available free of charge to all consumers through each credit reporting agency.
Capital Credit Solutions also promoted its services by illegally placing signs with unapproved language in locations where permission has not been granted. Common locations included gas stations, convenience stores, strip malls and intersections adjacent to busy roadways.
Arkansans can learn how to protect themselves from credit repairs scams by visiting ArkansasAG.gov.
Rutledge Statement on EPA’s Decision to Begin Rollback of So-Called Clean Power PlanMon, Oct 9, 2017
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released a statement following the announcement from Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt that he would sign a new rule on Tuesday to begin the roll back of the Obama-era so-called Clean Power Plan.
“The EPA, under new leadership, is putting common-sense, the environment and the American family ahead of a political agenda with the announced rollback of the so-called Clean Power Plan,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This plan was nothing short of illegal and would have led to significant energy rate hikes, hitting Arkansans directly in their pocketbooks – something no family or business owner can afford. By ending this plan, the EPA will hopefully return to the drawing board, seeking input from the states in order to craft a common sense, lawful rule that protects the environment and the American people.”
Rutledge is part of a bi-partisan coalition of 29 states and agencies that have been involved in litigation against the EPA over this federal plan. The coalition requested, and was granted an unprecedented, stay from the U.S. Supreme Court, halting any compliance until the full legality could be determined.
Rutledge also sent a letter to then President-elect Trump urging him to withdraw the plan. And earlier this year, the Arkansas Attorney General joined with other colleagues to send a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt calling for an end to the EPA’s era of federal overreach.