What do businesses need to do to comply with privacy and data security laws? The first place to look is to relevant statutes. If you store or process the personal information of Massachusetts residents, then you will at least be subject to the Massachusetts Data Breach Notification Statute and related security regulations. These are important guides that require certain operational activities, such as maintaining a written information security program,… More
Category Archives: Massachusetts Attorney General
Earlier today, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced emergency regulations temporarily restricting debt collection practices during the COVID-19 crisis. The Attorney General’s Office has long maintained regulations, promulgated under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Law, that regulate the frequency and manner in which a creditor or debt collector may communicate with a debtor. The emergency regulations create additional restrictions on these communications for 90 days or until the State of Emergency declared by the Governor has expired.… More
2019 marked the beginning of Maura Healey’s second term as Massachusetts Attorney General. So far, this term has seen an increased focus on issues surrounding climate change and e-cigarettes, and a continued focus on healthcare fraud. We expect to see even more focus on these areas in 2020.
Expect More Climate Change-Related Enforcement
Healey’s inaugural address listed climate change as one of the top priorities in her second term,… More
On October 24, 2019, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed a 200-page complaint against Exxon in Suffolk Superior Court, alleging violations of G.L. c. 93A, the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act. The lawsuit is the culmination of a three-year long investigation that has been contested in state and federal courts in both Texas and Massachusetts.
The core legal theories espoused in the complaint resemble and also build upon allegations made by the New York Attorney General,… More
MA AG Announces Settlement with Lord & Taylor Resolving Complaints of Racial Profiling in Retailer’s Shoplifting Prevention Program
On November 13, 2018, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced a $100,000 settlement with Lord & Taylor LLC (“Lord & Taylor”) to resolve allegations that the clothing retailer’s shoplifting prevention program disproportionately targeted black and Hispanic customers. Lord & Taylor also agreed to hire an expert to review its shoplifting policies and help create safeguards against implicit bias. In addition, the company’s employees will receive yearly anti-bias training,… More
Yesterday, Judge Valerie Caproni dismissed claims brought by ExxonMobil against New York Attorney General Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Healey. Boiled down to their essence, ExxonMobil’s claims were that investigations by Schneiderman and Healey into the possibility that ExxonMobil had committed fraud by misleading investors regarding the risks that climate change poses to ExxonMobil’s business were politically motivated and in bad faith.
The decision was not difficult. … More
In the last week of December 2017, Democratic senators introduced the “Accountability for Wall Street Executives Act of 2017,” which would amend the National Banking Act to allow state AGs to request a wide variety of information from nationally-chartered banks. As the Supreme Court explained in Cuomo v. Clearing House Ass’n, L.L.C., 557 U.S. 519 (2009), the National Banking Act distinguishes between “visitorial powers” – such as examination of a bank’s accounts or inspection of its records – and law enforcement,… More
U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni on Thursday, November 30, 2017 heard argument on Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s motions to dismiss Exxon’s federal court challenge to their ongoing climate investigations. Law360 has reported that Exxon faced considerable skepticism, particularly of its arguments that the investigations impinged on Exxon’s freedom to participate in the climate change debate: “You don’t have the right to lie in your securities filings,… More
As most are aware, the Massachusetts Attorney General has won the race to the courthouse and been the first regulator to file suit against Equifax.
- The 28 page complaint is summed up on paragraph 4:Consumers do not choose to give their private information to Equifax, and they do not have any reasonable manner of preventing Equifax from collecting, processing, using, or disclosing it. Equifax largely controls how,…
Initiative petition proponents filed with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office earlier this week 28 proposed initiative petitions that, if certified by the AG and endorsed by the requisite number of registered voters, could appear on the November 2018 ballot. (See this post for more details on the ballot initiative process.) Interested parties have until Friday, August 11 to (1) submit memoranda setting forth why the AG should or should not certify the measure,… More
On Monday, July 24, 2017, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in Commonwealth v. Lunn that Massachusetts law did not permit court officers to hold the plaintiff, Lunn, solely on the basis of a federal immigration detainer. The ruling was a victory not only for Lunn, but for the Commonwealth as well, because of the somewhat unusual position the Attorney General had taken in the case.… More
Democratic Attorneys General have continued their efforts to combat the Trump administration’s attempts to roll back environmental regulations developed under the Obama administration in two recent actions. Thirteen AGs, including Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, sent a letter last week to Scott Pruitt, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, threatening legal action if the agency takes steps to weaken or delay the greenhouse gas emissions standards that were established in 2012 for cars and light-duty trucks for model years 2022-2025.… More
On Wednesday, the Massachusetts State Legislature voted to permit a proposed constitutional amendment to appear on the November 2018 state election ballot. The proposed amendment would add a 4 percent surcharge on incomes over $1 million (called the “Fair Share Amendment” by supporters).
The Fair Share Amendment will not be the only question facing Massachusetts voters next fall. If you’ve been following State AG Insights,… More
In the wake of several executive orders on immigration, ICE—the federal agency responsible for enforcing the nation’s immigration laws—has ramped up enforcement activities. As a result, local public school districts and health care providers in Massachusetts have asked the Attorney General about their rights and obligations with respect to the undocumented students and patients they serve. On May 22, 2017, the AG issued comprehensive guidance to answer their questions.… More
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced that her office would join with Attorneys General from 14 other states and D.C. in an attempt to intervene in House v. Price, now pending before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The motion was filed on May 18, 2017. The lead states are California and New York.
House v. Price concerns a lawsuit filed by House Republicans in 2014 that attempted to erode certain aspects of Obamacare. … More
On Wednesday, Judge Ed Kinkeade ordered that Exxon Mobil’s suit against NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey be transferred to the Southern District of New York. The AGs must be breathing sighs of relief this morning.
It’s a very curious order. It’s 12 pages long, yet contains just one sentence explaining why the case is being transferred:
The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York is the proper venue for this case because “a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred” in New York City,… More
Once again, a State AG lawsuit has put the brakes on the President’s immigration ban. This one comes from Hawaii. Last week, Hawaii challenged the new ban in district court and moved for a temporary restraining order. On Wednesday, March 15, the court granted the motion.
Hawaii challenged the President’s first ban in early February. That one barred the entry of citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries—as well as all refugees,… More
It may feel like the dust has yet to settle on the 2016 Election, but the first important deadlines for the 2018 Election are just around the corner. In Massachusetts, proposed Initiative Petitions for the November 2018 ballot must be submitted to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) on or before Wednesday, August 2, 2017.
Initiative petitions provide issue advocates with a means of passing policy proposals that may have stalled in the Legislature. … More
In the first of what are becoming regular clashes between Democratic state attorneys general and the new President, the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia sought to intervene in federal court proceedings to defend the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Act (“CFPA”), which created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”),… More
Gun Rights Activists and Industry Representatives Continue to Challenge the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Gun Control Efforts
In the latest development in the ongoing dispute between Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, on the one hand, and gun manufacturers, distributors and gun rights advocates on the other, the Gun Owners’ Action League, Inc. (GOAL) and others filed suit last week challenging the constitutionality of both the Commonwealth’s assault weapons ban, which was first passed in 1998, and the AG’s July 20, 2016 Enforcement Notice,… More
Attorneys general from eight states, including Massachusetts and New York, and the District of Columbia, announced in December that six major retailers—Aeropostale, Carter’s, David’s Tea, Disney, PacSun, and Zumiez—have agreed to stop scheduling employees for on-call shifts. The retailers agreed to end the practice after receiving letters from the AGs last April that sought information about the companies’ utilization of on-call shifts and expressed concern about the negative effects the practice has on employees. … More
On November 8, 2016, Massachusetts voters passed Initiative Petition 15-37, The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. The Act: legalizes the possession of one (1) ounce or fewer of marijuana for people age twenty-one (21) and older and the personal possession of ten (10) ounces and not more than twelve (12) plants cultivated in a person’s primary residence for personal use; establishes a Cannabis Control Commission with the authority to license,… More
Exxon’s dispute with Massachusetts AG Maura Healey’s civil investigative demand related to Exxon’s knowledge of climate change both deepened and potentially widened in the last week.
First, on October 13, 2016 United States District Judge Ed Kinkeade handed down an order that will allow Exxon to conduct discovery on Healey’s motives for issuing the CID. The order stems from the AG’s argument, in moving to dismiss, that Exxon’s claim is improperly before the federal court in the Northern District of Texas pursuant to Younger v.… More
This week in the Northern District of Texas, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade heard oral argument on Exxon Mobil’s motion for preliminary injunction against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s civil investigative demand, issued to Exxon on April 19, 2016, which sought documents from Exxon related to its analysis of research efforts to study climate change. The argument followed two amicus briefs from state attorneys general across the country.
The first brief,… More
Gun Manufacturers’ Lawsuits Challenge the Scope of the AG’s Authority Under Massachusetts’ Consumer Protection Statute
Petitions filed by Glock, Inc. and Remington Arms Company, LLC in Suffolk Superior Court in recent months will test the validity of a number of legal arguments that may be relied upon to set aside or limit the scope of Attorney General civil investigative demands in the Commonwealth. As we noted in an earlier post, G. L. c. 93A, § 6(1), Massachusetts’ unfair and deceptive practices statute,… More
As we anticipated in an earlier post, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court provided clear guidance on the appropriate time to challenge ballot initiatives in two July 6 decisions. The opinions, both authored by Chief Justice Gants, strongly urge plaintiffs to bring challenges to ballot initiatives by February 1 in election years.
In Dunn v. Attorney General, the plaintiffs contested the Attorney General’s certification of a petition that would make it unlawful for farms to knowingly confine certain farm animals in a cruel manner and for businesses to knowingly sell certain products from animals that have been so confined.… More
On June 15, 2016, Exxon sued Massachusetts AG Maura Healey in federal court in Texas, seeking to bar the enforcement of AG Healey’s April 19, 2016 civil investigative demand, issued pursuant to M.G.L. c. 93A, the Commonwealth’s unfair and deceptive practice statute. Under c. 93A, § 6, the AG may issue investigative demands “whenever [s]he believes a person has engaged in or is engaging in any method,… More
SJC Appears Likely to Provide Guidance on Appropriate Timing for Filing Challenges to Ballot Initiatives
In a departure from its typical schedule — hearing oral arguments during the first full week of every month from September through May — the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will hear challenges to two proposed ballot initiatives on June 8, 2016. The first case, Hensley v. Attorney General, concerns Petition 15-27 which would permit those 21 and older to possess,… More
In a continued effort to end the practice of using “on-call shifts,” several state attorneys general, including Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, sent letters last week to 15 national retailers requesting information about their use of “on-call shifts” to staff their businesses.
What began with an investigation by NY AG Eric Schneiderman, later joined by California AG Kamala Harris, has become a multistate AG investigation into Exxon’s knowledge of the contributions of fossil fuels to climate change going back as far as 1977. On March 29, 2016, AGs from Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands announced that they were joining with the NY and CA AGs. … More
The Future of Data Privacy Regulation in Massachusetts? AG’s Office Foreshadows State Action on Consumer Data in First-of-its Kind Conference
On March 24, 2016, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office gave us a glimpse. In collaboration with Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and MIT’s Internet Policy Research Initiative and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the AG’s Office convened a “Forum on Data Privacy.” In this first-of-its-kind conference,… More
Mass. AG Closes Door on Advisory Opinion Concerning Legislative Exemption to Mass. Open Meetings Law
The Massachusetts Attorney General has declined to issue an advisory opinion requested by the Pioneer Institute, a Boston based think tank, regarding the Massachusetts Legislature’s exemption from the Commonwealth’s open meetings law. The Mass. AG has concluded that it is not authorized by the open meetings law to issue such an opinion and that it is in fact forbidden from doing so by precedent from both the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the U.S.… More
In dismissing as premature a lawsuit brought on July 1, 2015 by Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt against the then-unpromulgated Clean Power Plan, N. D. Oklahoma Judge Claire V. Eagan noted “there is no reason to believe that plaintiffs will have to wait for long before renewing proceedings in the D.C. Circuit if they intend to challenge the final rule.” Judge Eagan was right;… More
Investigation by Massachusetts Attorney General Finds Planned Parenthood “Fully Compliant” with State and Federal Law
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced that her office has completed its examination of the practices of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts related to the disposition of fetal tissue. Attorney General Healey said in a statement that her office “conducted a thorough review and found that Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts’ health care centers are fully compliant with state and federal laws regarding the disposition of fetal tissue.” The investigation concluded that “although donation of fetal tissue is permissible under state and federal law,… More
The deadline for the first step to place a measure on the November 2016 ballot is fast approaching. Proposed initiative petitions must be submitted to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) on or before Wednesday, August 5, 2015. The AGO will rule on or before Wednesday, September 2, 2015 whether proposed measures meet constitutional requirements. In addition, the AGO will prepare a fair, concise summary of each measure that is certified on that same date.… More
Billions of dollars in federal aid are disbursed to students each year, and not only for tuition; students often borrow up to the “cost of attendance,” (as determined by the school) to pay for housing, food, and other necessities. When this happens, the U.S. Department of Education disburses funds to the school, which then disburses the balance – minus tuition and fees – to the student. For this reason,… More
Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announced that her office will lead a study to identify and evaluate options to address regional electric reliability needs in New England through 2030. As the Massachusetts ratepayer advocate, the AG’s Office has traditionally challenged the efforts of Massachusetts utilities to raise electric and gas rates before the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The announcement that her office will conduct a study that focuses on regional energy needs once again signals her interest to consider the effects of climate change as part of her role as ratepayer advocate and that her office intends to play a significant role in the region’s energy policy debates.… More
I am delighted to join Foley Hoag. The firm’s deep expertise in so many areas of practice, and its commitment to pro bono work are among the reasons I decided to join the firm. Our communities and our businesses face good opportunities as well as thin ice in recovery from the recession. A strong economy will optimize new technologies and business models here in Massachusetts, as well as globally.… More
According to its sponsor, Michael Burgess (R-TX), the goal of the Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015 is “a single, federal standard on data security and breach notification.” The Act was approved by the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, of which Rep. Burgess is Chair, on March 25, 2015. The Act would create federal standards for securing personal information, as well as for investigating and reporting breaches.… More
In her first speech regarding energy policy since her election, Attorney General Healey laid out some of her energy priorities before the Northeast Energy and Commerce Association’s annual conference on March 12.
The Massachusetts Attorney General serves as the Commonwealth’s ratepayer advocate, which has traditionally solely focused on the cost of electricity and natural gas for Massachusetts consumers. In the speech, Healey noted that she expected to be a “21st century ratepayer advocate” who recognizes that “the cost of climate response” needs to part of the discussion of energy prices.… More