Rutledge Sues Jim Bakker for Peddling Colloidal Silver Products to Cure COVID-19Tue, Jun 16, 2020
Arkansas Consumers have purchased over $60,000 on silver products for false COVID-19 cures
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced a lawsuit against Morningside Church Productions, Inc., which conducts business as The Jim Bakker Show, as well as Jim Bakker and Sherrill Sellman, for falsely telling Arkansas consumers that colloidal silver products would cure, eliminate, kill or deactivate COVID-19. The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
“Jim Bakker has exploited Arkansas consumers by leveraging COVID-19 fears to sell over $60,000 worth of their products that do nothing to fight the virus,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Let me be clear, this case is not about freedom of religion. This is a consumer fraud case and I urge any Arkansans who have experience with these false advertisements claiming silver to be a COVID-19 cure to immediately call my office.”
Approximately 385 Arkansans made purchases from Bakker’s company totaling approximately $60,524 for colloidal silver products between January 1 and March 9, 2020.
In February 2020, The Jim Bakker Show hosted Sherrill Sellman who falsely claimed the colloidal silver products hawked by Jim Bakker were “proven by the government to have the ability to kill every pathogen it has ever been tested on, including SARS and HIV… .” Both Bakker and Sellman have separately received warning letters from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for selling unapproved drugs to cure or prevent COVID-19. The FDA had previously stated that silver products are not scientifically recognized to be safe and effective.
Rutledge is seeking restitution for affected consumers, injunctive relief, and civil penalties. Violations of the ADTPA may be assessed with a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.
Rutledge is urging all consumers who have purchased products from Bakker or Sellman to contact the office immediately at (800) 482- 8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
Rutledge Files Complaint in Ongoing Antitrust Price-Fixing Investigation into Generic Drug IndustryThu, Jun 11, 2020
Names 26 Corporate Defendants, 10 Individual Defendants in Conspiracy to Fix Prices and Allocate Markets for at least 80 Generic Topical Dermatological Drugs
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined a coalition of 51 states and jurisdictions in filing the third lawsuit stemming from the ongoing antitrust investigation into a widespread conspiracy by generic drug manufacturers to artificially inflate and manipulate prices, reduce competition and unreasonably restrain trade for generic drugs sold across the United States. This new Complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, focuses on 80 topical generic drugs that account for billions of dollars of sales in the United States. The Complaint targets Taro Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., Perrigo, New York, Inc., and Sandoz Inc., along with 23 other corporate Defendants and 10 individual Defendants.
“Generic drug companies have been manipulating drug prices that directly harm Arkansans’ pocketbooks,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Drug prices have skyrocketed in recent years due to fraudulent agreements between generic drug companies and their competitors and this litigation will hold these companies accountable for their illegal collaboration to reap massive profits.”
The topical drugs at the center of the Complaint include creams, gels, lotions, ointments, shampoos, and solutions used to treat a variety of skin conditions, pain, and allergies.
Between 2007 and 2014, three generic drug manufacturers, Taro, Perrigo, and Fougera (now Sandoz) sold nearly two-thirds of all generic topical products dispensed in the United States. The multistate investigation has uncovered comprehensive, direct evidence of unlawful agreements to minimize competition and raise prices on dozens of topical products. Based on evidence gathered from a massive document database of over 20 million documents, phone records, and the cooperation of several witnesses, the Complaint alleges longstanding agreements among manufacturers to ensure a “fair share” of the market for each competitor, and to prevent “price erosion” due to competition.
The lawsuit seeks damages, civil penalties, and actions by the court to restore competition to the generic drug market.
The Complaint is the third to be filed in an ongoing, expanding investigation that the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General has referred to as possibly the largest domestic corporate cartel case in the history of the United States. The first Complaint, still pending in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was filed in 2016 and now includes 18 corporate Defendants, two individual Defendants, and 15 generic drugs. The second Complaint, also pending in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was filed in 2019 against Teva Pharmaceuticals and 19 of the nation’s largest generic drug manufacturers. The Complaint names 16 individual senior executive Defendants. The States are currently preparing for trial on that Complaint.
Rutledge joined attorneys generals in the lawsuit, led by Connecticut, from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Territory of Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin in filing the complaint.
Rutledge Files Federal Lawsuit Against Texas Companies Behind Billions of Illegal RobocallsTue, Jun 9, 2020
Telephone records indicate they made tens of millions of calls to Arkansans
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and six other state attorneys general filed suit today against a group of Texas businesses accused of blasting billions of illegal robocalls nationwide over the past two years. Telephone records indicate tens of millions of these calls have been made to Arkansans alone. The federal lawsuit alleges that Rising Eagle Capital Group LLC and JSquared Telecom LLC are behind a tidal wave of robocalls offering fake extended car warranties and health care services. John Spiller II, owner of the businesses, and his business partner, Jakob Mears, are also named as defendants.
“Companies like Rising Eagle and JSquared aren’t just a nuisance, they can ruin someone’s entire life by illegally obtaining their personal information,’ says Rutledge. “With this lawsuit, I intend to stop these defendants from continuing to plague consumers with incessant and illegal robocalls and ensure they will pay the highest penalties allowed by law for all the harm they have inflicted on Arkansans.”
Attorneys general from Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas jointly allege that Rising Eagle and JSquared violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and each state also alleges violations of its respective consumer protection laws. The TCPA violations include telephone solicitations to consumers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry, illegally using a pre-recorded message to residential and cellular telephones without the prior express consent of the consumer, failing to provide the required identity of the entity responsible for the call, and for displaying a misleading or inaccurate name or number on consumers’ caller ID. For the TCPA violations, the states seek a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendants from further violating the TCPA, a $1,500 penalty for each TCPA violation committed willfully and knowingly and a $500 penalty for each violation found not to be willful or knowing.
The Arkansas state law violations alleged in the complaint consist of displaying fictitious or misleading name or number on an Arkansas residence’s caller ID in violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and the Regulation of Telephonic Sellers (RTS) and additional RTS violations for failing to register as a telephonic seller with the Secretary of State, failing to provide the required disclosures to consumers for telephone solicitations, and failing to discontinue calls when consumers indicated they were not interested in the goods or services being offered. The state seeks a permanent injunction from further violations of the ADPTA and RTS, up to $10,000 civil penalty for each ADTPA violation, up to $10,000 civil penalty for each RTS violation, and attorneys’ fees and costs.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for Southern Texas located in Houston, TX.
In addition to the states’ case, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today announced its own legal action against Rising Eagle, JSquared, Spiller and Mears.
“Spoofed robocalls are a major problem for consumers across the country,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “I’m grateful to have partners like these state attorneys general as we fight on behalf of American consumers. We are making it clear that scamming consumers and—as we saw in this case—tricking them into buying products under false pretenses cannot and will not go unchecked. That is why the FCC and state officials are standing together and taking strong action to protect the American public from the scourge of spoofed robocalls.”
Rutledge has led the national effort demanding a stronger oversight from the FCC by collaborating with the private sector to aggressively block illegal robocalls before they reach consumers. In August 2019, Rutledge was also instrumental in developing the Anti-Robocall Principles for telecoms to reduce the number of unwanted and illegal robocalls reaching the American people.
In Arkansas, Rutledge continues to lead the fight against robocalls by working with stakeholders to implement Acts 677 and 1074 of 2019 requiring telecommunication providers to submit annual reports to the Arkansas Public Service Commission to certify that all available and applicable technology is being employed to identify and block illegal robocalls and spoofing.
Rutledge Leads National Effort to Expose Illegal RobocallersThu, Jun 4, 2020
Says, ‘critical to identifying, investigating and stopping illegal robocallers’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today filed comments regarding proposed rules under consideration by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would facilitate continued collaboration among state attorneys general and telecom companies in tracing back illegal robocalls to their source. Rutledge, along with the North Carolina Attorney General, is leading the State Attorneys General Robocall Technologies Working Group to submit these comments to the FCC.
“I urge the FCC to swiftly enact these proposed rules which are critical to identifying, investigating and stopping illegal robocallers,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Through the trace back process, illegal robocallers and the telecoms that facilitate these illegal calls will finally be exposed and held accountable for the harm they cause Arkansans.”
For the last few years, the State Attorneys General Robocall Technologies Working Group has encouraged the telecom industry to increase the number and speed of trace back investigations. Many telecom companies have joined this effort and are working hard to stop illegal robocallers. Recently, trace back investigations have become more urgent than ever because of coronavirus-related robocall scams, including scams related to coronavirus relief checks, pitches for coronavirus test kits, health plans offering coronavirus testing, work-from-home offers preying on job-seekers, and scams offering relief on utility bills, student loans, taxes, or other debt.
In May, Rutledge also submitted comments to the FCC on proposed rules regarding the implementation of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act). Rutledge’s comments urged the FCC to impose the mandate to implement the caller ID authentication technology, STIR/SHAKEN, on all types and sizes of telecommunication providers, to establish robust standards for any exceptions to this obligation, and that the costs to implement this technology should not be passed on to the consumer.
Rutledge has actively called for telephone carriers to aggressively block illegal robocalls before they reach consumers through ongoing collaborations with the FCC, telecom industry representatives and a coalition of state attorneys general. Rutledge was also instrumental in developing the Anti-Robocall Principles for telecoms to reduce the number of unwanted and illegal robocalls reaching the American people, which was adopted by 51 attorneys general and 12 major telecom providers in August 2019.
In Arkansas, Rutledge continues to lead the fight against robocalls by working with stakeholder to implement Acts 677 and 1074 of 2019 that requires telecommunication providers to submit annual reports to the Arkansas Public Service Commission to certify that all available and applicable technology is being employed to identify and block illegal robocalls and spoofing.
Arkansas is joined in submitting today’s comments by the attorneys general of all 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
Rutledge Appoints Little Rock Attorney to Ethics CommissionWed, Jun 3, 2020
Says, ‘Denese will provide competent, fair and unbiased judgment’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is proud to appoint Denese Fletcher of Little Rock to the Ethics Commission. The purpose of the Ethics Commission is to serve as the compliance and enforcement agency regarding Arkansas’s standard of conduct, as well as disclosure laws concerning candidates for public office, state and local public officials, lobbyist and committees, and individuals involved with initiatives.
“I am honored to appoint Denese to this Commission,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “She is a legal expert with an exceptional career and I believe Denese will provide competent, fair and unbiased judgment when considering matters brought before her as an Ethics Commissioner.”
“I appreciate this opportunity to serve on the Ethics Commission given to me by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge,” said Denese Fletcher. “I am honored to serve the citizens of Arkansas in this capacity.”
Since 1997, Fletcher has practiced law as a civil and criminal trial attorney with expertise in criminal defense in juvenile, district, circuit and federal courts. She served as an Arkansas Deputy Public Defender from 2001 to 2009 and she served as a defense attorney for the U.S. Criminal Justice Act Panel from 1997 to 2014. Fletcher also worked as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Pulaski County in the early 90’s.
Fletcher received her juris doctor from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law and her bachelor of arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She currently serves as President of the W. Harold Flowers Law Society and has been a girl scout leader at the St. Mark Baptist Church for over 10 years. Fletcher is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. where she currently chairs the HBCU For Life Committee which promotes HBCUs throughout the state of Arkansas.
Rutledge’s Statement on Federal Court’s Decision Upholding Arkansas’s Lethal Injection ProtocolMon, Jun 1, 2020
Says, ‘Today’s final judgment reaffirms the constitutionality of Arkansas’s execution protocol’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement following the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas’s decision upholding the constitutionality of Arkansas’s three-drug lethal injection. That protocol uses midazolam, vercuronium bromide, and potassium chloride. For years, convicted murderers and death-penalty opponents have waged a legal battle against Arkansas’s lethal injection protocol to prevent just and lawful sentences from being carried out. The decision follows Rutledge’s previous successful defense of that protocol on appeal in April 2017.
“As the Attorney General, I enforce the laws in the State and bring justice for families who have long been devastated at the hands of these murderers,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Today’s final judgment reaffirms the constitutionality of Arkansas’s execution protocol.”