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Oral Arguments Challenging EPA’s Power Plan

Rutledge Statement Following Oral Arguments Challenging EPA’s Power Plan

Tue, Sep 27, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement today after the conclusion of oral arguments in West Virginia v. EPA, the court challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

"The so-called Clean Power Plan will skyrocket electric rates for Arkansans," said Attorney General Rutledge. "With the slow economic growth, no Arkansas family or business owner, especially those on fixed incomes, can afford these higher costs. This plan is illegal and thankfully the U.S. Supreme Court has put in place an unprecedented stay, preventing its implementation. I am pleased the D.C. Circuit has finally heard oral arguments in this case, and I am hopeful the court will recognize that the EPA overstepped and the plan should not be allowed to go forward."

Arkansas is part of a bipartisan coalition of 29 states and state agencies that are challenging the Clean Power Plan in the D.C. Circuit. In February, following a request from the coalition, the U.S. Supreme Court placed an injunction on the plan until its full legality can be determined.

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Mobile Office Locations for October

Rutledge Announces Mobile Office Locations for October

Tue, Sep 27, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced mobile office locations for October.

Rutledge created the mobile office initiative in 2015 to make the office accessible to everyone, particularly to those who live outside the capital city. Last year, office hours were held in all 75 counties, marking the first time that the Attorney General’s office has held office hours in each county across the State. Since January, 53 mobile offices have been held in an effort to help even more Arkansans.

The Attorney General Mobile Offices assist constituents with consumer related issues in filing consumer complaints against scam artists. Staff will also be available to answer questions about the office and the other services it offers to constituents. Attorney General Rutledge believes there is no issue too small for her staff to have a face-to-face conversation.

Attorney General Rutledge recently expanded the services offered at mobile offices to include Prescription Drug Take Back boxes. Rutledge is partnering with local law enforcement agencies across the State who will handle a secure box and properly dispose of the prescriptions collected. Rutledge encourages Arkansans to bring their old, unused or expired prescription medications to an upcoming mobile office.

For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (501) 682-2007. Rutledge can also be found on Facebook at facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge and on Twitter at twitter.com/AGRutledge.

The upcoming mobile office schedule is below:

Cleveland County

Thursday, Oct. 6

10-11:30 a.m.

Rison Senior Citizens Center

50 I.E. Moore Drive

Rison, AR 71665

Carroll County

Monday, Oct. 10

10:30 a.m.-noon

Carroll County Senior Activity and Wellness Center

202 W. Madison St.

Berryville, AR 72616

Madison County

Tuesday, Oct. 11

10:30 a.m.-noon

Madison County Senior Activity and Wellness Center

903 N. College St.

Huntsville, AR 72740

Van Buren County

Tuesday, Oct. 18

10-11:30 a.m.

Clinton Senior Center

311 Yellowjacket Lane

Clinton, AR 72031

St. Francis County

Thursday, Oct. 20

10-11:30 a.m.

St. Bernards Medical Center Forrest City Senior Life Center

2550 S. Washington

Forrest City, AR 72335

Cross County

Tuesday, Oct. 25

10:30 a.m.-noon

St. Bernards Medical Center Meyer Senior Life Center

715 E. Canal St.

Wynne, AR 72396

Dallas County

Thursday, Oct. 27

10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

Fordyce Senior Citizen Center

608 Moro St.

Fordyce, AR 71742

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Antitrust Lawsuit Against Pharmaceutical Companies

Rutledge Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Pharmaceutical Companies for Conspiring to Keep Monopoly Profits

Fri, Sep 23, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and 35 other attorneys general today filed an antitrust lawsuit against the makers of Suboxone, a prescription drug used to treat opioid addition, over allegations that the company engaged in practices to block generic competitors from joining the market and caused purchasers to pay artificially high prices.

Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, now known as Indivior, is accused of conspiring with MonoSol Rx to switch Suboxone from a tablet version to a film in order to delay generic alternatives and maintain monopoly profits. The companies are accused of violating Arkansas and federal antitrust laws, according to Rutledge.

“With a growing prescription drug abuse epidemic across this country, it is appalling that companies would take actions to prevent cheaper, generic treatments from entering the marketplace,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Antitrust laws seek to ensure fair and equal competition and when those laws are violated, it is my duty to hold companies accountable.”

Suboxone is a brand-name prescription drug used to treat heroin addiction and other opioid addictions by easing addiction cravings. No generic alternative of the film is currently available.

According to the lawsuit, when Reckitt introduced Suboxone in 2002, it had exclusivity protection that lasted for seven years. Before that period ended, however, Reckitt worked with MonoSol to create a new version of Suboxone – a dissolvable film, similar in size to a breath strip. Over time, Reckitt allegedly converted the market away from the tablet to the film through marketing, price adjustments and other methods. After the majority of Suboxone prescriptions were written for the film, Reckitt removed the tablet from the U.S. market.

The attorneys general allege that this conduct, known as product hopping, was illegal. Product hopping is when a company makes modest changes to its product to extend patent protections so other companies cannot enter the market and offer cheaper generic alternatives. According to the suit, the Suboxone film provided no real benefit over the tablet, and Reckitt continued to sell the tablets in other countries even after removing them from the U.S. market. Reckitt also allegedly expressed unfounded safety concerns about the tablet version and intentionally delayed FDA approval of generic versions.

As a result, the attorneys general allege that consumers have paid artificially high monopoly prices since late 2009, when generic alternatives of Suboxone might otherwise have become available. During that time, annual sales of Suboxone topped $1 billion.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Pennsylvania, accuses the companies of violating the federal Sherman Act and state laws. Counts include conspiracy to monopolize and illegal restraint of trade. In the suit, the attorneys general ask the court to stop the companies from engaging in anticompetitive conduct, to restore competition and to order appropriate relief for consumers and the states, plus costs and fees.

Rutledge is joined in today’s filing by attorneys general in Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

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Coalition Against Delaware to Reclaim Money Expands

Coalition Against Delaware to Reclaim Money Expands

Wed, Sep 21, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has notified the U.S. Supreme Court that attorneys general from the states of California, Iowa, Maryland, Oregon, Washington and the Commonwealth of Virginia have informed Arkansas that they desire to join the complaint against Delaware.

With these additions, 27 states will be part of the bipartisan complaint led by Arkansas and Texas that is seeking to reclaim approximately $200 million that rightfully belongs to the sister states of Delaware 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.

“I am pleased that several more states are electing to join this growing coalition that is seeking to claim monies that do not lawfully belong to Delaware,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This is a strong case, and I am hopeful the U.S. Supreme Court will take it and let this bipartisan group reclaim money that is properly owed to the taxpayers.”

The dispute between the 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 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.

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.”

Led by Arkansas and Texas, Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia joined the original filing in June.

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Benton Man Sentenced for Cyber Crimes

Rutledge Announces Benton Man Sentenced for Crimes Involving Children

Tue, Sep 20, 2016

BENTON – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today that a Saline County man has been sentenced to 15 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction on child exploitation charges.

Lance Smith, 26, of Benton, pleaded guilty to five counts of distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving children. In addition to his prison sentence, Smith must register as a sex offender.

“I am committed to getting these predators out of our neighborhoods and off the internet,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The Cyber Crimes Unit at the Attorney General’s office and local prosecutors work diligently to protect Arkansas children and families, and I appreciate the partnerships across the State to protect our children and ensure these dangerous criminals are brought to justice.”

Smith was arrested in 2015 on a search warrant executed by the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit. An attorney from the Attorney General’s office was appointed by the 22nd Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Ken Casady as special deputy prosecutor. Judge Ted Capeheart sentenced Smith in Saline County Circuit Court.

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Challenging New Labor Department Overtime Rule

Rutledge Files Lawsuit Challenging New Labor Department Overtime Rule

Tue, Sep 20, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined a coalition of 21 states in filing a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) new overtime rule. If implemented, this rule will likely force Arkansas and local cities and counties to substantially increase their employment costs, as well as countless small businesses. Many entities will be forced to eliminate some services and layoff employees because of the increased expenses.

The new rule will more than double the minimum salary overtime threshold for public and private workers without Congressional authorization. The lawsuit urges the court to prevent the implementation of the rule before it takes effect, which is scheduled for Dec. 1, 2016.

“Concern over this new regulation from Washington has been a consistent topic at Regulatory Roundtables that I have been holding across the State,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Business owners, sheriffs, mayors and county judges are all concerned about how they are going to implement this rule without being forced to layoff hardworking employees. Washington is once again trying to force a political agenda on the states by unlawfully ignoring the role of Congress, and I hope that the court will act and prevent this rule from taking effect.”

Baxter, Benton, Marion, Pope and White Counties have all passed resolutions calling on Rutledge to challenge the rule.

On March 13, 2014, President Obama ordered the DOL to revise the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime exemption for executive, administrative and professional employees to account for the federal minimum wage. On May 23, the DOL issued the final new overtime rule, which doubles the salary-level threshold for employees to be exempt from overtime, regardless of whether they perform executive, administrative or professional duties.

After Dec. 1, all employees are entitled to overtime if they earn less than $913 a week – including government employees. Additionally, the new rule contains a ratcheting mechanism to automatically increase the salary-level every three years without going through the standard rule-making process required by federal law.

Led by Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt, Rutledge is joined on the complaint by attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

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