Rutledge Announces Attorneys Joining Effort to Combat Gun ViolenceThu, Feb 22, 2018
Says, ‘No Arkansan Should Live in Fear’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that her office is partnering with the U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland to tackle gun violence. Four attorneys from the Attorney General’s Office will serve as Special Assistant United States Attorneys in an effort to curb violence and increase prosecution of federal gun crimes.
“I am proud to join U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland in the important fight against violent crime,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The addition of Special Assistant United States Attorneys will help law enforcement curtail unnecessary violence and lock criminals up for the gun crimes they commit. No Arkansan should live in fear and I am confident that prosecuting and removing dangerous criminals from our streets will make our neighborhoods safer.”
Hiland introduced the Special Assistant United States Attorneys program and announced that in addition to the Attorney General’s Office, several elected state prosecutors will join the U.S. Department of Justice in tackling gun crimes. Chief Deputy Attorney General Julie Benafield, Deputy Attorney General Will Jones, and Assistant Attorneys General Emily Abbott and Amanda Jegley will be assigned to assist Hiland's office in addition to their regular duties.
Rutledge Reaches Settlement with Takata Over Defective Airbag SystemsThu, Feb 22, 2018
Says, ‘actions by Takata put consumers in danger’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced a settlement with TK Holdings, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Takata, over allegations that the company concealed safety issues related to its airbag systems which were installed in a wide variety of vehicles. TK Holdings filed a chapter 11 bankruptcy in June and the court has confirmed the company’s proposed plan of reorganization.
“Takata’s deceptive practices endanger the lives of Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas consumers should be able to trust that airbags will protect them, but the actions taken by Takata put consumers in danger. Under the settlement, the company will continue to provide replacement airbags for vehicles impacted – at no cost to the consumer.”
The settlement, reached between attorneys general of 44 states and the District of Columbia and TK Holdings, concludes a multistate investigation into the company’s failure to timely disclose known safety defects associated with certain airbag inflators using phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate as a propellant.
Beginning in 2008, auto manufacturers issued a number of recalls of vehicles containing these airbag inflators in response to ruptures upon deployment of the airbag. More than 50 million airbags in more than 37 million vehicles have been recalled to date, with future anticipated recalls through the end of 2019 likely, bringing the total number of affected airbags to around 65 or 70 million.
The recalls involved the use of phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate to inflate the airbags upon deployment. As the compound was exposed to heat and humidity over time, particularly in warmer and wetter parts of the United States, the propellant degraded. Upon deployment, the inflator could explosively rupture, destroying the metal casing surrounding the propellant and spraying shrapnel into the vehicle’s passenger cabin. At least 20 people have died worldwide and hundreds more have been injured as a result of this defect.
The multistate alleged that the company knew that the airbag inflator posed a safety defect because of testing failures and, indeed, TK Holdings’ parent company pleaded guilty to manipulating testing data and submitting false and misleading reports to auto manufacturers. The company knew about several ruptures which occurred as early as 2004, but appropriate action to recall these unsafe inflators did not occur until November 2014. However, despite this knowledge, the company failed to properly notify regulators and the public of the serious danger posed by this defect.
The states alleged that these actions were unfair and deceptive and that the automaker’s actions violated state consumer protection laws, including Arkansas’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Under the consent decree and settlement agreement, which is subject to final approval by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, TK Holdings and its successor, Reorganized TK Holdings, shall:
- Not advertise or otherwise represent the safety of its airbag systems or phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate in any way that is false, deceptive or misleading;
- Not represent that its airbags are safe unless supported by competent and reliable scientific or engineering evidence;
- Not falsify or manipulate testing data, or provide any testing data that the companies know is inaccurate;
- Except as needed to fulfill its obligations under the various recalls, sell any airbag systems using phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate as a propellant;
- Comply with state and federal law as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration consent order and coordinated remedy order; and
- Continue to cooperate with auto manufacturers to ensure that replacement airbag inflators are made available as expeditiously as possible from all possible sources.
The attorneys general have foregone civil penalties in order to maximize the recovery available to consumers who were the victims of this airbag defect.
In addition to Arkansas, the multistate group, led by Arizona, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas, also includes Alabama, Alaska, California, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
Rutledge Recognizes Daisy Bates DayMon, Feb 19, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued the following statement in honor of Daisy Bates Day:
“Daisy Bates was a courageous, ground breaking woman who fought for racial equality in Arkansas and across the country. Her support of the nine Little Rock students integrating into Little Rock Central High School and her work with the NAACP all made her an integral part of the civil rights movement. I was honored to tour her home earlier this year and am pleased that this piece of history has been restored for all to view.”
Rutledge Welcomes Spring Law ClerksFri, Feb 16, 2018
Says ‘a great service-learning opportunity for students’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge welcomed a new class of law clerks to the Attorney General’s office for the spring semester. These law students work in various departments assisting with legal research, drafting memos and legal documents and accompanying lawyers at trials, client meetings and hearings.
“Attorney General’s office law clerks work closely with some of Arkansas’s top attorneys,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This program is a great service-learning opportunity for students to be exposed to the fulfilling experience of working in the public service sector. Law clerks are a valuable asset to the people of Arkansas.”
Lydia Davis, a second-year student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Criminal Department. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history from the University of Mississippi in 2015. Davis is from DeWitt and graduated from DeWitt High School in 2011.
Shannon Fredricksen, a second-year student at the UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Public Protection Department. She graduated from Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts in communication arts. Fredrickson currently lives in Springdale and graduated from River Valley High School in Correctionville, Iowa in 1994.
Gabrielle Gibson, a third-year student at the UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. She graduated from Arkansas State University in 2014 with a major in interdisciplinary studies. Gibson is from Hot Springs, and graduated from Lakeside High School in 2010.
Elizabeth James, a third-year student at the UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Civil Department. She graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a degree in business administration in 2007. James is from Bald Knob and graduated from Bald Knob High School in 2003.
Erica Kaylor, a second-year student at UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the State Agencies Department. She graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts in political science, international relations and European studies in 2016. Kaylor is from Rose Bud and graduated from Rose Bud High School in 2012.
Alex Morphis, a second-year student at the UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Public Protection Department. He graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2015 with majors in political science and food science. Morphis is from Alamo, Tenn. and graduated from Crockett County High School in 2010.
Daniel Murphy, a second-year student at the UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 2015 with a major in operations, business management. Murphy is from Layton, Utah and graduated from Layton High School in 2009.
Derek Peterson, a second-year student at the UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Civil Department. He graduated from the William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri with a degree business administration in 2015. Peterson is from Carthage, Missouri and graduated from Carthage High School in 2011.
Amanda Ray, a third-year student at the UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Public Protection Department. She graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2013. Ray is from Benton and graduated from Benton High School in 2009.
Sara Renfrow, a second-year student at the UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Criminal Department. She graduated from Henderson State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 2016. Renfrow is from Nashville and graduated from Nashville High School in 2012.
Rutledge Praises White House’s Recommendation on PBMsTue, Feb 13, 2018
Says, ‘prescription reimbursement rates dropped lower than pharmacy purchase costs’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge commends the White House’s Reforming Biopharmaceutical Pricing at Home and Abroad report, which calls for decreasing the concentration of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). Three PBMs make up 85 percent of the current market, meaning they have significant market power against manufacturers, health plans and covered consumers.
“I am pleased to see the White House taking an interest in a practice that negatively impacts Arkansans ,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “PBMs have decreased their reimbursement rate for pharmacies in the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, placing a new strain on these integral local businesses. I have started my investigation into CVS Caremark, but intend to demand information from any PBM harming Arkansans.”
Local pharmacists are being forced to cover the additional costs of the rate changes, which impacts their bottom line and could lead to these businesses closing their doors.
The Attorney General will continue to aggressively investigate the PBMs responsible and requests that any citizen harmed by these rate changes contact the office.
Rutledge Releases Statement on State of the StateMon, Feb 12, 2018
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released the below statement following Governor Asa Hutchinson’s State of the State address.
“I was pleased to hear Governor Hutchinson address issues such as the ongoing battle against the opioid epidemic, reimbursement rates for local pharmacies and burdensome business regulations which have hurt our small businesses, farmers and ranchers across the Natural State,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I am confident that we can work together to attack these issues and make Arkansas stronger than ever.”