CWAG Roundup

December 15 , 2016

Cyber Security & Technology Forum
Park City, Utah
February 2-3, 2017
Chair's Initiative and Western Pacific AG Summit
Honolulu, Hawaii
March 14-16, 2017
2017 CWAG Annual Meeting
San Francisco, CA
July 30- August 2, 2017
When outgoing Indiana Attorney General and CWAG Alliance Partnership Board Member Greg Zoeller leaves behind his Statehouse office in January, there are a number of projects in the private sector he plans to pick up. Those projects will cover "a little bit of everything" in the legal community, the two-term Republican said, but one of the areas he's most looking forward to working in is legal education and training. As attorney general, Zoeller created an in-house training program during his first term to ensure his deputies - whom he refers to collectively as a "big law firm" - are trained and competent to handle the wide variety of cases that find their way into the attorney general's office. He also had a hand in creating and governing the National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute, a $2 million legal training program for deputy attorneys general throughout the country. Attorney General Zoeller said implementing those two programs were among the proudest accomplishments from his eight years in office.
CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington announced that he has filed an environmental lawsuit against Monsanto in King County Superior Court. The lawsuit seeks damages and cleanup costs associated with the polychlorinated PCB contamination in Washingtonbiphenyls (PCBs) Monsanto produced for decades while hiding what they knew about the toxic chemicals' harm to human health and the environment. Monsanto was the only U.S. company to produce PCBs from 1935 to 1979, when the Toxic Substances Control Act banned their manufacture. Ferguson asserts that Monsanto knew these compounds were toxic to humans and wildlife and had spread throughout the ecosystem long before the ban took effect. "Monsanto knew the dangers of PCBs yet hid them from the public to generate profits," Attorney General Ferguson said. "I will hold Monsanto accountable for its actions."
CWAG Attorney General Mark Brnovich of Arizona announced his office filed a Motion to Dismiss more than 1,000 open lawsuits filed by a serial litigator that targets Arizona businesses. Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities flooded state courts with more than 1,700 lawsuits against Valley businesses earlier this year.  The copy-and-paste lawsuits alleged that businesses' parking lots did not comply with regulations related to persons with disabilities.  Many of the issues were minor and easily fixable, but the lawsuits sought thousands of dollars in damages and attorneys' fees. "Abusive litigation practices harm our community," said Attorney General Brnovich. "These shakedowns strain our collective resources and damage our faith in well-meaning laws and public institutions." In September, a court granted AZAG's Motion to Consolidate and stay every open AID state case, and ordered AID to stop filing complaints. 
CWAG Attorney General Hector Balderas of New Mexico announced that he filed a lawsuit against Jesus Cano for an alleged real estate contract and mortgage scheme involving potentially hundreds of victims and properties in Bernalillo, Sandoval and Valencia Counties. The lawsuit alleges Mr. Cano and his associates perpetrated fraud and would prey on Spanish-speaking and Hispanic communities in central New Mexico taking anywhere from $1,000 to $46,000 from victims with the empty promise of owning a home. Many times the victims would find themselves in substandard homes that they would have to make repairs on themselves just to lose all their money without a getting the title to the home. "No one deserves to have their dreams for a better life for their family exploited and destroyed. I filed this complaint to help put an end to fraudulent, deceptive and unconscionable practices that prey on working families in New Mexico," said Attorney General Balderas. "Unfortunately, we often see these types of predatory practices target Spanish-only speaking consumers and Hispanic communities who are underserved by traditional banking and mortgage services. Our office will hold Mr. Cano, and those like him, accountable for taking advantage of these underserved communities, and for tricking families into turning over their life savings just to live in substandard homes they have no certainty of owning in the future."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Karl A. Racine of the District of Columbia announced the launch of a comprehensive library of consumer-protection resources. The resources are available online as well as in print, and residents and community groups are welcome to download and print their own copies of the resources or request a printed version from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) Office of Consumer Protection. As consumers get in the holiday spirit, give to good causes, and shop online, OAG can help them ensure that their donations are going to legitimate charities and that their personal information remains secure. "Our office takes our responsibility to protect and educate consumers very seriously," said Attorney General Racine. "I encourage District residents to learn about the simple steps they can take to protect themselves during this holiday season and beyond. They can also get in touch with our office if they have been taken advantage of by a fake charity, an identity thief, or any other scammer."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Tom Miller of Iowa announced that a New York company will cease mail marketing to Iowans to resolve a consumer fraud lawsuit. Polk County District Court Judge Brad McCall Monday approved a consent judgment that resolves Miller's lawsuit, filed in September, against Waverly Direct Inc., and owner Gordon F. Shearer, of East Rockaway, New York. The suit alleged the company solicited older Iowans with bogus notices of financial winnings and then sold customer lists to con artists. According to the lawsuit, since 2005 Shearer and his company sent Iowans letters from the fictitious director of the bogus "Numerological Resource Center," congratulating each Iowan for being personally "selected" to receive a large sum of money and other life-changing benefits.  The letter asks the recipient to provide key personal information, including age and phone number, and to send it back with a $25 fee. "Deceiving older Iowans into making payments - sometimes repeated payments - of $20 or $25 was reason enough to sue these operators," Attorney General Miller said. "But even more damaging was their practice of renting lists of victims' names to other scammers. That multiplied peoples' losses - especially those who are more vulnerable."
CWAG Attorney General Kamala D. Harris of California announced the proposed regulations for the collection of stop data that law enforcement agencies must report under California's Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015, Assembly Bill (AB) 953. The proposed regulations are available at, and individuals are encouraged to provide comment on them at any point during the public comment period, which will last from December 9, 2016 through January 27, 2017. "Racial and identity profiling weaken public trust and have debilitating effects on communities. These regulations and data will help law enforcement improve policing practices and strengthen accountability," said Attorney General Harris. "The existence of bias in policing undermines our criminal justice system and hurts public safety. I am proud that California continues to lead the nation in leveraging data and technology to identify and address disparities where they exist."
"'Implicit bias' is one factor that may contribute to disparities in the Vermont criminal justice system," states the final report of the Attorney General's Working Group on Law Enforcement Community Interactions. CWAG Associate Attorney General Bill Sorrell of Vermont partnered with representatives from other governmental and non-governmental organizations to form the advisory committee and examine the role that implicit bias plays in interactions between law enforcement officers and members of the community. The Working Group's goal was to make recommendations to the Training Council on how to enhance training that addresses implicit bias. The Working Group met that goal today when it delivered its final report at the Training Council's quarterly meeting.  "I would encourage people to learn more about their own implicit biases by taking an Implicit Association Test on the Project Implicit website," urged Attorney General Sorrell. Project Implicit is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 by scientists interested in educating the public about hidden biases; the organization provides consulting, education, and training services on implicit bias, diversity and inclusion, leadership, applying science to practice, and innovation. "I have taken a version of the test. It only takes ten minutes, and the results were very helpful to me," said Attorney General Sorrell. Anyone can take an Implicit Awareness Test by visiting the following link:

Chris Coppin
Legal Director
Conference of Western Attorneys General
1300 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
505-589-5101 (cell)
817-615-9335 (fax)