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Halt Labor Rule Before it Harms Small Businesses

Rutledge Amicus Brief Urges Court to Halt Labor Rule Before it Harms Small Businesses

Wed, Apr 13, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge led a group of 10 attorneys general today in filing an amicus brief in Arkansas federal district court urging the court to grant the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Persuader Advice Exemption Rule, which forces disclosure of confidential communications between small businesses and their outside counsel in labor relations matters.

“For more than half a century, attorney-client communications relating to labor relations issues have been exempted from disclosure,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “However, the new Persuader Advice Exemption Rule would overturn this long-standing precedent. The Department of Labor’s extreme interpretation will require disclosure to the government of the legal advice being provided to business, large and small, on very sensitive matters such as union elections. I am proud to lead my colleagues in this effort and urge the court to enjoin this rule, which will hit small businesses disproportionately hard.”

Rutledge along with attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and West Virginia are requesting that the court grant the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction of the department’s new rule until the conclusion of this litigation, saying, “Given the department’s own longstanding rule exempting attorney advice from disclosure, and the likelihood that the department’s new, radical adventure into areas of attorney-client confidence is in conflict with the governing Act, a preliminary injunction to preserve the status quo pending litigation is well justified, and is the best way to protect the public.”

The brief was filed in ABC v. Perez. Plaintiffs in this case include the Arkansas Hospitality Association; Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas; Associated Builders and Contractors of Arkansas; Associated Builders and Contractors Inc.; Coalition for a Democratic Workplace; Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon and Galchus, P.C. and National Association of Manufacturers.

Rutledge has been vocal in her concern and opposition to this rule. Arkansas and 12 others states sent a letter to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget voicing opposition to the proposal earlier this year. The attorneys general believed the rule would place undue burdens on small businesses, which would be singled out under the rule.

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April 10-16 Crime Victims’ Rights Week

Rutledge Proclaims April 10-16 Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Arkansas

Wed, Apr 13, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today spoke to over 100 advocates, victims and law enforcement at the Crime Victims’ Rights Week Ceremony at Heifer Village where she proclaimed April 10-16 as Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Arkansas. Ceremonies like the one today are being held in communities across the country this week to promote victims’ rights, honor crime victims and recognize those who advocate on their behalf.

“As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand the desolation that victims of horrific crimes and their families suffered,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “To the countless advocates and members of law enforcement across our State who are on the frontlines every day, offering support and hope, I say thank you. For the victims, I pray for your protection, your healing and that you will know you are not alone. As long as I am Attorney General, victims and advocates will have a constant supporter.”

April 10-16 has also been set as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, and this year’s theme is “Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope.”

The Arkansas Crime Victims Reparations Program, administered by the Office of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on behalf of the Crime Victims Reparations Board, provides financial compensation to victims and family members who have suffered personal injury or death as the result of violent crime.

Additionally, the Sexual Assault Reimbursement Program allows evidence to be collected after a sexual assault has been committed without the victim bearing the burden of the expense, and it pays for ambulance services and medical or legal examinations.

Victims may apply for compensation by submitting an application to the Attorney General’s office. Applications are available on the Attorney General’s website or from Arkansas’s 28 elected prosecutors.

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First State Civil False Claims Lawsuit in 15 Years

Rutledge Settles First State Civil False Claims Lawsuit in 15 Years

Tue, Apr 12, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has settled a lawsuit against Step by Step Senior Care Inc., an Arkansas home health care company. Rutledge filed the lawsuit last summer against the company and its then-operators, Breon Harmon and Clarise Tatum, marking the first false claims lawsuit filed under the state’s false claims act in 15 years. The settlement includes a civil penalty of $239,788.58, which is the largest known civil penalty against an Arkansas home health care company in the history of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

“As Arkansas’s chief legal officer, I am committed to using all means necessary to hold not just individuals but also companies accountable for Medicaid fraud,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I filed this lawsuit so that Step by Step Senior Care Inc. and its owners would be held accountable for their deception. Today’s settlement should also alert other health care companies that fraudulent actions are a serious offense which I will fully investigate and take legal action if necessary.”

Today’s settlement provides that Step by Step Senior Care Inc. will repay the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund the $479,577.16 that was questioned in an audit conducted by the Office of Medicaid Inspector General and a negotiated civil penalty of $239,788.58, for a total of $719,365.74. The total will be reduced by $6,838.08 that has already been collected from Dawna Kincade. The settlement also allows greater monitoring of Step by Step Senior Care Inc. in the future and prohibits Harmon and Tatum from working with the company for five years.

In June 2014, the Office of Medicaid Inspector General conducted an audit of Step by Step Senior Care Inc. The audit found evidence of fraud and many questionable billing practices. In March 2015, the audit was referred to the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit where a subsequent investigation resulted in criminal charges being filed against Kincade, a Step by Step employee.

On Feb. 25, 2015, Kincade of Little Rock entered a guilty plea on one count of Medicaid fraud, a Class B felony. She falsified billing documents for a Medicaid recipient. The case was prosecuted by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in cooperation with 6th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley. Kincade paid $6,838.08 in restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund prior to entry of her guilty plea. She was then sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay court costs and a $7,500 fine payable to the general revenue fund.

To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or oag@arkansasag.gov.

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Medicaid Fraud Arrest of Clark County Man

Rutledge Announces Medicaid Fraud Arrest of Clark County Man

Mon, Apr 11, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the arrest of a Clark County man by the Clark County Sheriff’s Department in cooperation with the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Rodney Brothers Jr., 42, of Arkadelphia, was arrested on one count of abuse of an endangered or impaired person. Brothers is currently being held in the Clark County Jail awaiting arraignment. He is accused of assaulting a resident of the Arkadelphia Human Development Center, a Class D felony.

The Attorney General’s office conducted the investigation in cooperation with the Prosecuting Attorney of the 9th-East Judicial District, Blake Batson.

Medicaid fraud occurs when Medicaid providers use the Medicaid program to obtain money to which they are not entitled. To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, call the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016.

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Rutledge Hosts Youth Summit

Rutledge Hosts Youth Summit

Tue, Apr 5, 2016

ALMA – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge hosted a Youth Summit today for seventh through 12th graders, raising awareness of dating violence. The summit comes after Rutledge hosted five Break the Cycle trainings across the State for educators who were taught the foundational knowledge about dating abuse and methods for intervention. The Summit was held today at the Alma Airedale Arena.

This year’s Youth Summit is the largest ever Attorney General sponsored event, with more than 2,100 students attending.

“Raising awareness of dating violence is a major priority of mine,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This interactive and informative event’s message was directed to junior high and high school students to help them understand the dangers and consequences of dating violence and how to have healthy relationships.”

Former college football standout and NFL player Keith Davis was the featured speaker with his “Just Say YES: Youth Equipped to Succeed” message. Davis, an entrepreneur and motivational speaker, graduated from the University of Southern California with his football team’s highest grade point average and a degree in business finance. He was the team’s leading tackler, selected to the All-American Strength Team, an All-Conference player and played in the Rose Bowl. After college, Davis signed with the New York Giants.

Other speakers included Angela McGraw, executive director for Women & Children First in Central Arkansas, and Kiah McGraw, the state advocate coordinator for the Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

Partners with the Attorney General’s office in hosting the event are Arkansas Activities Association, Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Child Advocacy Centers of Arkansas.

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Urges EPA Not to Penalize Race Car Industry

Rutledge Urges the EPA Not to Penalize Race Car Industry

Tue, Apr 5, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined other attorneys generals, calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to remove language from a proposed rule that conflicts with the intent of Congress under the Clean Air Act and if allowed to go forward would have harmful economic consequences.

As proposed, the rule for greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty engines and vehicles expands the EPA’s statutory jurisdiction under the Clean Air Act to cover vehicles modified solely for racing or competition.

“Congress has made it clear that vehicles used for racing purposes are not regulated under the Clean Air Act,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Instead of following the law, the EPA is driving ahead with a proposed 629-page rule that again bypasses Congressional authority. I join my colleagues in urging the EPA to re-evaluate this rule to ensure it falls within the scope of the law.”

Contained in the draft is language that includes the phrase “used solely for competition,” which would reverse a longstanding practice of the EPA not to regulate this industry.

As the attorneys general point out in the letter to Administrator Gina McCarthy, “In 2014, consumers spent $36 billion on automotive specialty equipment parts and accessories. All over the U.S., manufactures, retailers and technicians represent tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars. This proposed rule would purport to make many of the products made, sold and installed by those businesses illegal, dealing a heavy blow to our economy.

“While the federal Clean Air Act prohibits certain modifications to everyday motor vehicles used on public roads, statutory language and the EPA’s historic practice have made it clear that vehicles built or modified for racing purposes, and not used on public streets, are not regulated under the Clean Act,” the attorneys general concluded.

In addition to Rutledge, attorneys general from Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio and West Virginia signed the letter.

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