Rutledge Settles with Seller of Fake ID CardsWed, Jun 15, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has settled a consumer-protection lawsuit against a Pulaski County woman who was accused of deceptively advertising “notario” services and selling fake identification (ID) cards, which she improperly described as legal forms of identification.
Under the terms of the settlement, Micaela Hernandez of North Little Rock and her business, M. Hernandez Multiservices, may not advertise or sell IDs to Arkansas consumers; is permanently restrained from advertising as a notario, or any similar term, without displaying the proper notice under the Arkansas Notarios Act; and must pay $3,000 to the Attorney General’s office. If Hernandez, at any point, violates the injunctive terms of the settlement within five years, she must pay $25,000 to the Attorney General’s office.
“Micaela Hernandez violated the trust of consumers, many of them immigrants, by letting them believe she was a licensed attorney who could provide government backed ID cards,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This deceptive scheme left many with little money and useless ID cards, putting them in difficult situations. Today, Ms. Hernandez is being held accountable for her fraudulent actions.”
The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court in November 2014 and claimed that Hernandez and her business violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Arkansas Notario Act for unlawful business practices primarily targeting Spanish-speaking consumers. Notario fraud occurs when someone takes advantage of the English translation of notary public. In Latin America, notario refers to members of the legal community who have specialized training similar to attorneys in various areas of the law.
M. Hernandez Multiservices sold $70 ID cards advertised as being valid for four years and legally acceptable as a secondary form of identification. Additionally, Hernandez promoted services as a notario.
Arkansas law requires anyone using the terms notario, notario publico or any similar term in advertisements to also provide notice that the advertiser is not a licensed attorney and that the advertiser cannot offer legal advice or other legal assistance regarding immigration.
Settlement Reached with Pharmaceutical Companies to Resolve Anti-Kickback ViolationsMon, Jun 13, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has reached a settlement agreement with Genentech Inc. and OSI Pharmaceuticals LLC. Genentech and OSI have agreed to pay a total of $67 million to the federal and individual states’ Medicaid programs, with Arkansas to receive $131,942.10.
Arkansas joined 49 other states and the District of Columbia in resolving allegations that the companies made misleading representations to physicians and other health care providers about the effectiveness of the drug, Tarceva, to treat non-small cell lung cancer. These misleading representations caused false or fraudulent claims for Tarceva to be submitted to the states’ Medicaid programs for use that was not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The agreement also resolves allegations that the companies paid kickbacks to health care professionals as inducement to prescribe Tarceva.
“This type of fraud from large corporations harms those in need and steals money from important programs,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas’s health care providers should make decisions on medical devices based strictly on need, cost and value and not based on kickbacks.”
The investigation resulted from a qui tam action originally filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California under the federal False Claims Act and various state false claims statutes.
The state settlements were negotiated by a team from the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units, including attorneys general in California, Massachusetts, New York and Texas.
Rutledge Denounces 9th Circuit’s Ruling Against Firearms Outside the HomeThu, Jun 9, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge disagreed with today’s decision from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which essentially denies residents of San Diego County, California, the right of possession of a concealed handgun for self-defense outside the home.
“The idea that a State can completely ban or unfairly restrict the right of a law-abiding citizen to carry a concealed weapon ignores the written text and history of the Second Amendment and is unconstitutional,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I believe states can create concealed carry permitting laws consistent with the Constitution, but such laws must be fair, even-handed and not unduly restrictive of the ability of citizens to actually obtain conceal and carry permits. San Diego County’s concealed carry permitting scheme amounts to a total or nearly total ban on concealed carry, which is why I joined an amicus brief in support of the gun owners in this case.”
Rutledge, along with 20 other states, filed an amicus brief in April 2015, challenging San Diego County’s effective prohibition of both open and concealed carry of firearms.
Rutledge and the other attorneys general said the Constitution clearly allows U.S. citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights to bear arms for lawful purposes, including for self-defense, both inside and outside the home.
State Prevails in Friar v. State of ArkansasThu, Jun 9, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – The State of Arkansas today prevailed in Robert Friar v. State. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge had presented the argument in this case in her hometown of Batesville as part of the Arkansas Supreme Court’s Appeals on Wheels program in April. Appeals on Wheels is a Supreme Court outreach program designed to educate students about their state government.
“As the State’s chief legal officer, I am pleased the State prevailed in this case and that Mr. Friar will remain behind bars for his heinous crimes,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It was a tremendous opportunity for me to appear before the Arkansas Supreme Court and argue this case in my hometown. I want Arkansans to know that I am committed to protecting them from dangerous criminals and keeping those offenders locked away.”
Friar’s conviction was affirmed by Justices Courtney Goodson, Rhonda Wood, Robin Wynne and Karen Baker. Chief Justice Howard Brill and Justices Paul Danielson and Josephine Hart dissented.
Oral argument in this case was held at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville on April 28. Rutledge attended Southside Public Schools and was sworn in as an attorney by her father, then a circuit judge, Keith Rutledge, on Aug. 27, 2001, at the Independence County Courthouse in Batesville.
Arkansas and Texas Lead Coalition Against Delaware to Reclaim MoneyThu, Jun 9, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today are co-leading a group of 21 states in an original action filing in the U.S. Supreme Court against the State of Delaware. At a minimum, Delaware has approximately $200 million that rightfully belongs to its sister states under the federal Disposition of Abandoned Money Orders and Traveler’s Checks Act. The ultimate dollar figure that Delaware owes other states may be much higher.
The dispute between the 21 plaintiff states and Delaware is about which state is entitled to abandoned and unclaimed “official checks” sold by MoneyGram, a money transfer services company that operates in all 50 states and internationally. With Delaware’s acquiescence, guidance and direction, millions of dollars in unclaimed “official checks” have been wrongfully escheated, or turned over, to the State of Delaware. This error was based on the mistaken belief that such abandoned and unclaimed property is supposed to be turned over to the issuing company’s state of incorporation, in this case Delaware. Federal law and the law in each of the plaintiff states is clear that such abandoned and unclaimed property should be turned over to the state where the property was purchased.
The coalition is asking the Supreme Court to declare that the plaintiff states, and not Delaware, are entitled to the hundreds of millions of dollars improperly turned over to Delaware and to all future similar abandoned and unclaimed property. The coalition is also asking the Court to order the appropriate repayment to plaintiff states by Delaware.
“Arkansas taxpayers have been robbed,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Delaware is simply not entitled to unclaimed monies that lawfully belong to 49 other states. I am committed to working with my colleagues to guarantee that this money is properly returned to the taxpayers. I am also very appreciative of the hard work of Auditor Andrea Lea’s office for originally identifying this issue and diligently working with us to try to recover the sums owed to the State.”
On Feb. 10, 2015, an independent auditor completed an examination of abandoned “official checks” from MoneyGram in a select group of states and concluded that nearly $200 million was owed to those states. The State of Arkansas is owed over $850,000 in unclaimed “official checks.”
Arkansas and Texas are joined in today’s filing by Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.
ICYMI: New and Dangerous Labor Rule Hurts Small BusinessesWed, Jun 8, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Today, an op-ed written by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appeared in the Washington Examiner, which explains why she has taken a leading role in fighting the Labor Department’s Persuader Advice Exemption Rule.
Claiming that it will be equitable for all parties even though it only applies to employer-side labor lawyers, and not union-side lawyers, the Labor Department released its Persuader Advice Exemption Rule. By ignoring more than 50 years of legal precedent, the Labor Department is thrusting a rule on businesses that is unlawful under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, which has long preserved the confidentiality of attorney-client communications by exempting advice relating to labor relations issues from disclosure.
Small businesses, the job creators of our country, will be forced to disclose a great deal of sensitive information that is currently protected by the attorney-client relationship. The sanctity of an employer’s relationship with its legal counsel has, until now, been protected from disclosure regardless of which political party was in power. Preserving the sanctity of the attorney-client relationship benefits everyone – labor and management alike – and should not be a partisan issue. The Labor Department is quite simply putting the interests of labor unions before the common good and the need to grow jobs.
Under current law, an employer of any size must report when attorneys communicate directly with its employees. However, under this sweeping new rule, a business will have to file reports on any advice it receives from an attorney concerning efforts to influence its employees’ unionizing activities – triggering the disclosure requirement even if the attorney makes no contact with the employees.
In a February letter to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, I raised this particular concern of small businesses because of the additional reporting requirement that applies specifically to outside counsel. Many large corporations employ in-house counsel and will be exempt from the new disclosure requirement. However, small businesses are less likely to employ in-house counsel; therefore, they would be required to report on confidential aspects of their relationship with outside attorneys, and failure to do so would result in serious penalties under the new rule.
While the Labor Department claims this rule will even the playing field and create more transparency, it actually jeopardizes the ability of employers to get the confidential legal advice needed to lawfully respond to such things as union bargaining, union elections and organizing campaigns. Job growth and economic development will be hindered at a time when we already have the lowest labor force participation rate in more than a generation.
What are job creators saying about this new rule? The National Retail Federation has called it “chilling.” The Associated Builders and Contractors fear it would discourage openness. And a senior counsel with the National Federation of Independent Business Legal Center concluded it would be next to impossible for lawyers to offer advice to business owners under the new rule.
Last month, I led a group of state attorneys general from across the country in filing a friend of the court brief in two federal cases, urging the courts to grant the plaintiffs’ motions for a preliminary injunction to stop the Labor Department’s new rule. And this month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and I led a group of our colleagues in filing a motion to intervene in a Texas federal case challenging the rule. The American people would best be served by tabling this rule’s implementation until its full legality can be determined by a court of law.
As Arkansas’s chief legal officer, I will continue to work to protect Arkansans and all Americans from this harmful and unlawful rule. It’s time to put jobs, economic growth and small businesses’ ability to obtain attorney advice ahead of political posturing.