Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Suboxone
Generic Drugs
Questcor
Springleaf - One Main
Provigil
Libor
LCDs
St. Luke's Amicus
Albertsons / Safeway Merger
AT&T / T-Mobile Merger
DDAVP 
E-books 
National Express-Petermann School Bus Acquisition 
DRAM Antitrust Litigation 
FirstGroup and Laidlaw School Bus Merger Settlement
Antitrust Modernization Commission
Leegin Amicus
Franciscan Health/Enumclaw Hospital
Williams Settlement
El Paso Settlement
Duke Energy Settlement 
Enron Settlement
Reliant Settlement
AMC and Loews Movie Theater Merger Settlement
Paxil Settlement
Augmentin Settlement
Remeron Settlement
Taxol Settlement
Cardizem Settlement
National CD Settlement
Salton (George Foreman Grill) Settlement
Mylan Settlement
BuSpar Settlement
Vitamins Settlement
Nine West Settlement
Toys “R” Us Settlement 

Suboxone
In September 2016, Washington along with a group of states filed suit against drug makers Indivior (f/k/a Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals) and MonoSol Rx for conspiring to block generic entry for Suboxone – a prescription drug used to treat opioid addiction. The states allege that Indivior and MonoSol Rx engaged in a scheme to thwart generic competition by switching the formulation of Suboxone from a tablet to a dissolving film, and resulting in consumers paying artificially inflated prices for Suboxone. This case has been filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and litigation is expected to be ongoing.  

Generic Drugs
Washington and a group of thirty-nine other states has sued six generic drug manufacturers for an alleged market allocation and price fixing scheme involving two generic drugs, Doxycycline Hyclate DR and Glyburide, which has resulted in substantial prices increases.  The case is moving towards discovery phase and the states’ investigation is ongoing.

Questcor
Washington and a small group of states, along with the Federal Trade Commission reached a $100 million settlement with Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, plc, a global specialty pharmaceutical company, to resolve claims that it engaged in unlawful monopolization when it acquired a competitive product from Novartis to protect its monopoly over a drug approved for the treatment of a catastrophic devastating neurologic disorder affecting infants and children under 2 years of age. As a result of the anticompetitive acquisition, the price for the drug increased dramatically over the last decade.

Springleaf - OneMain
Washington, in conjunction with the Department of Justice, reviewed the merger between OneMain Financial and Springleaf Holdings, Inc., the two largest providers of traditional installment loans to subprime borrowers in the nation. Washington concluded that the transaction would substantially lessen competition in several cities throughout the state, and entered into a consent decree with the parties requiring the divestiture of 8 Springleaf branch locations in order to preserve competition.

Provigil
The State of Washington is part of a group of states that have reached a settlement agreement with Cephalon, Inc., Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd., Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., and Barr Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in an antitrust case relating to the sale of the prescription pharmaceutical Provigil®. Provigil® and generic versions of Provigil® (modafinil) are primarily prescribed for the treatment of certain sleep disorders.  The settlement is subject to court approval and a hearing is set for July 25, 2017.

Libor
The attorneys general of 45 states reached an agreement with a British bank, Barclays, under which the bank has agreed to pay $100 million to settle an investigation into accusations of bid-rigging involving the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (a daily rate showing the average interest rate that some banks charge each other to borrow money).  LIBOR is a benchmark interest rate that affects financial instruments worth trillions of dollars, and has a widespread impact on global markets and consumers. Governmental entities and nonprofits are being notified if they are eligible to receive restitution under the settlement. Barclays is the first of several banks under investigation by the State Attorneys General to resolve the claims against it, and the investigation against other banks is ongoing.

LCDs
In August 2010, after nearly a year of investigation, Washington sued a group of global manufacturers of TFT-LCD panels, a display technology commonly used televisions, computer monitors, laptops, and cell phones. Washington alleged that the manufacturers engaged in a worldwide conspiracy to fix the price of TFT-LCD panels between 1998 and 2006, causing consumers and the state to pay inflated prices for products incorporating these panels. After nearly 5 years of litigation, including several appeals, the manufacturers agreed to pay $63 million to resolve Washington’s claims, one of the largest recoveries in an antitrust case by Washington to date. In addition, many of the manufacturers agreed to injunctive relief prohibiting them from colluding on the sales of TFT-LCD panels in the future, and to implement antitrust compliance programs. Washington will eventually distribute the majority of funds back to consumers who were harmed during the conspiracy.

St. Luke's Amicus
Washington co-authored a 16-state amicus brief in support of the State of Idaho and the Federal Trade Commission urging the Ninth Circuit to affirm a lower court decision concluding that the acquisition of the Saltzer Medical Group, a prominent physician group, by the St. Luke’s Health System, substantially lessened competition in Nampa, Idaho, in violation of the antitrust laws. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the lower court decision.

Albertsons / Safeway Merger
Washington and a group of states, along with the Federal Trade Commission, reviewed the proposed acquisition of Safeway, Inc. by Cerberus Capital Management, the parent company of Albertsons. Both chains operated a substantial number of grocery stores in Washington. After several months of investigation, Washington concluded that the proposed transaction would substantially lessen competition in the grocery store market, and, in order to preserve competition, required the parties to enter into a Consent Decree to divest approximately 25 stores across the state to third parties.

AT&T / T-Mobile Merger
Washington led a group of approximately 20 states in an investigation into the proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA by AT&T. After a 6-month investigation, in conjunction with the Department of Justice, Washington and a group of states filed a lawsuit to block the proposed merger, alleging that the proposed transaction would substantially lessen competition in the wireless telecommunications industry, and increase prices for consumers. After several months of litigation, the parties ultimately abandoned the transaction.

DDAVP
Washington participated in a multistate investigation of Ferring B.V. and Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., involving the drug DDAVP, an antidiuretic used for the treatment of diabetes and to treat bed wetting.  The multistate investigation focused on whether Ferring and Aventis had fraudulently obtained a patent on DDAVP tablets in order to thwart generic competition and maintain monopoly pricing on the drug, in violation of federal and state antitrust laws.  The investigation resulted in a 33-state settlement in which Ferring and Aventis agreed to pay $3.45 million to the states for their wrongful conduct. 

E-books
Washington is participating in a multistate settlement in a case involving alleged price-fixing of E-books.  The settlement is with Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C. and Simon & Schuster Inc., three of the largest publishers in the United States. The states allege that these publishers and certain co-conspirators agreed to, among other things, increase retail E-Book prices for all consumers.  Under the terms of the settlement, the three publishers have agreed to pay a total of more than $69 million to consumers to resolve these claims, and have agreed to change their business practices to restore competition among E-book retailers.  Washington consumers would receive approximately $2 million under the settlement, which is currently awaiting court approval.

National Express-Petermann School Bus Acquisition
Washington reviewed the proposed acquisition of Petermann Partners Inc. by National Express Group PLC, in conjunction with the Department of Justice.  National Express Group owns Durham School Services, one of the largest school bus companies in the country, and which holds contracts with a variety of school districts in Washington state.  Petermann also contracted with numerous school districts in the state.  Washington determined that the proposed acquisition would substantially lessen competition in the market for school bus services, and required National Express to divest its school bus contracts with the Battle Ground & Hockinson school districts to a new vendor in order to preserve competition.  In addition, National Express entered into a Consent Decree that was filed in the Western District of Washington.  The Consent Decree preserves competition for school bus services by requiring, among other things, National Express to make available bus depots to school districts or competing vendors that wish to use them in order to facilitate competitive bidding. 

DRAM Antitrust Litigation
Washington and a group of states sued several global manufacturers of Dynamic Random Access Memory computer chips in 2006.  The states accused the defendants of fixing the prices of computer chips between 1998 and 2002.  The states reached settlements with the major manufacturers in 2010 and in 2012 settled with the smaller manufacturers.  The total settlement value is more than $290 million for the states and a nationwide class of purchasers represented by private attorneys.  A court appointed Special Master is expected to submit a plan to the court for how the settlement is to be allocated between purchasers, at which time the parties will seek court approval.  Defendants include Samsung, Micron, Hynix, Infineon, Toshiba, Hitachi and others. 

FirstGroup and Laidlaw School Bus Merger Settlement
Washington and a group of states, along with the Department of Justice, reviewed the proposed merger of FirstGroup and Laidlaw, the two largest school bus operators in the country.  After completing the review, Washington and the parties entered into a consent decree designed to preserve competition, and required, among other things, the sale of school bus contracts with the Seattle, Rochester, Battle Ground, and Hockinson school districts to competing school bus companies.

Antitrust Modernization Commission
The Attorney General's Office filed comments and testified before the federal Antitrust Modernization Commission, recommending that regulated industries should be subject to enforcement by both the applicable regulatory agencies and antitrust enforcers as the best means of preventing marketplace abuses.  This recommendation was well received by the Commission, which incorporated most of the recommendations in its final report to Congress.

Leegin Amicus
In Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc., Washington and 36 other states joined in a U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief, arguing that the law preventing manufacturers and their dealers from fixing retail prices should be maintained.  The States argued that changing the case law would effectively eliminate price competition among dealers, causing direct harm to consumers in the form of higher prices and that there is no evidence of any procompetitive benefits of the practice.  The States also argued that the decision has been well-settled for over 90 years, has never been overruled by Congress, and therefore is entitled to substantial deference.

Franciscan Health/Enumclaw Hospital
This acquisition was reviewed for potential anticompetitive impact.  It was determined that enforcement action was not necessary.

Williams Settlement
Williams Companies, Inc. and the Williams Energy Marketing and Trading Company were among several energy companies under investigation after the energy crisis of 2000-2001. Both companies entered into monetary settlements. As a result of the settlement, Williams Companies, Inc. and the Williams Energy Marketing and Trading Company paid $15 million to resolve state claims that it participated in market manipulations and overcharges that caused electricity rates to skyrocket for Washington consumers over the winter of 2000-2001. Williams Energy was the first of several energy companies under investigation by the Attorneys General of Washington, Oregon and California to reach a settlement with those states.

El Paso Settlement
El Paso Corp. was also among several energy companies under investigation after the energy crisis of 2000-2001. El Paso Corp. entered into a $15 million settlement with Washington state to resolve state claims that it manipulated market prices for natural gas and abused its position in the natural gas market.

Duke Energy Settlement
The Duke Energy settlement resulted in a $3.25 million payment to Washington. Duke Energy was under investigation after the energy crisis of 2000-2001 and settled with Washington State to resolve state claims that it participated in market manipulations and overcharges that caused electricity rates to skyrocket for Washington consumers over the winter of 2000-2001. The settlement money was used to benefit residential and business customers of utilities injured during the energy crisis of 2000-2001.

Enron Settlement
Enron was among several energy companies under investigation after the energy crisis of 2000-2001. Enron entered into a monetary settlement with the Antitrust Division for restitution to injured Washington State consumers. The Division began receiving payments from the Enron bankruptcy in settlement of the claim filed against Enron. To date, the total amount paid is approximately $5.9 million. The money from the settlement will be used for energy education and training programs for commercial and industrial users, as well as low income energy assistance and weatherization for residential customers.

Reliant Settlement
Reliant was among several energy companies under investigation after the energy crisis of 2000-2001. A settlement with Reliant has resulted in payment of $3.5 million to Washington for restitution to injured consumers. The money from the settlement will be used for energy education and training programs for commercial and industrial users, as well as low income energy assistance and weatherization for residential customers.

AMC and Loews Movie Theater Merger Settlement
After reviewing proposed merger between AMC Loews movie chains, Washington and parties entered a consent decree, filed Court Western District Washington, that required divesture of Meridian 16 in downtown Seattle which is now owned by Regal theater chain. Divesture was necessary to ensure the market for first run movies in Seattle's central area remained competitive.

Paxil Settlement
Washington and forty-three other states reached a $14 million settlement with the makers of Paxil, in response to our claims that Glaxo Smith Kline filed baseless patents and also brought sham patent infringement actions, in an effort to prevent generic competition. Washington state agencies received $332,762.

Augmentin Settlement
Washington and other states alleged that SmithKline Beecham and GlaxoSmithKline engaged in fraud on the patent office, by failing to disclose prior art, resulting in a delay of generic entry. In settlement of that claim, Washington state agencies received $50,485.

Remeron Settlement
This multistate action alleged that Organon misled the FDA regarding the scope of its patent and that Organon delayed the listing of the patent, thereby delaying the introduction of generic competitors. The settlement provided $7.5 million to consumers nationally and $3.8 million to state agencies. Washington’s Medicaid program will receive approximately $82,000 and consumers will receive $166,000.

Washington consumers who purchased the prescription antidepressant drug Remeron in the last four years may be entitled to a refund. This is part of a $36 million national settlement of an antitrust lawsuit brought by 50 states against drug manufacturer Organon USA Inc. and its parent company Akzo Nobel N.V. The suit alleged that Organon violated FDA patent laws in order to prevent the entry of low-cost, generic equivalents of the drug. Remeron and its generic equivalent mirtazapine is a mental health drug used primarily for the treatment of depression. Consumers who purchased who purchased Remeron and mirtazapine between June 15, 2001 and January 25, 2005 may be eligible for a refund. It is estimated that approximately $170,000 to $200,000 will be distributed to Washington consumers. The deadline for submitting claim forms is June 13, 2005. For more information about the settlement and to obtain claim forms, go to www.RemeronSettlement.com or call 1-866-401-6807.

Taxol Settlement
Cancer patients who purchased the chemotherapy drug Taxol or paclitaxel in the past four years may be eligible to receive reimbursements for illegal overcharges. The reimbursements are part of an approximately $62.5 million national settlement of an antitrust lawsuit brought by 50 attorneys general against drug manufacturer Bristol-Myers Squibb. The suit alleged that Bristol-Myers Squibb engaged in illegal patent activities that delayed the entry of lower priced generic versions of Taxol into the drug market. As a result, thousands of cancer patients paid inflated prices for chemotherapy. Taxol, which is also marketed under the generic name paclitaxel, is a late-stage cancer treatment used primarily to treat breast and ovarian cancer patients. It is also sometimes used to treat lung cancer and certain cancers caused by AIDS. Patients and family members of deceased patients who paid for part or all of their treatments with Taxol or its generic equivalents from January 1, 1999 through February 28, 2003 may be eligible to receive up to several hundred dollars depending on the amount they purchased and the number of claims filed. It is estimated that as many as 3,000 Washington patients may be eligible for reimbursements under the settlement. In addition to direct restitution, approximately $7.5 million in free Taxol will be provided to the states for use in the treatment of low income cancer patients. The deadline for submitting claim forms is February 29, 2004. For more information about the settlement and to obtain claims forms, go to www.taxolsettlement.com or call 1-800-659-7609.

Cardizem Settlement
An estimated 15,000 Washington residents who took the popular heart medication, Cardizem, or its generic equivalents may be eligible for some restitution under an $80 million nationwide settlement reached between the Attorneys General of all 50 states and two drug manufacturers.According to a lawsuit originally filed by 16 states, the drug companies Aventis conspired with Andrx -- the manufacturer of the cheaper, generic medication -- to keep the generic form of the drug off the market for at least a year. In return, Andrx received payments of about $90 million. Under the settlement, Aventis and Andrx are required to pay $80 million into a fund to compensate consumers, state agencies and insurance companies who overpaid for Cardizem CD and its generic equivalents between 1998 and 2002. The deadline for filing consumer claims has been extended to November 15, 2003. Claim registrations and complete information can be obtained at www.cardizemsettlement.com or by calling 1-800-372-2406.

National CD Settlement
In September 2002, Washington and other states settled a price-fixing lawsuit against major national music distributors and compact disc manufacturers. In the suit, state attorneys general accused distributors and music labels of engaging in a scheme to prevent some non-traditional music retailers—such as Best Buy, Circuit City and Target—from offering compact discs at deep discounts. The lawsuit specifically targeted "minimum advertising price," or MAP policies, in which distributors penalized retailers who offered discount-priced CDs. To enforce these policies, distributors withheld advertising reimbursements each time a retailer sold CDs at reduced rates. As a result, retailers were discouraged from offering discounts.

As part of the settlement, defendants agreed to pay a combination of cash payments totaling $67,375,000 to consumers, and $75,700,000 worth of CDs for use by non-profit, charitable, governmental or public entities. A total of 3.5 million people filed claims between December 2002 and a March 2003 deadline, including approximately 214,000 people in Washington state. Each consumer who submitted a valid claim by the deadline can expect to receive about $12. The court gave final approval to the settlement on May 22, 2003 and issued a final Order and Judgment in the case on July 9, 2003. Distribution of settlement proceeds was expected to take place later in the summer. However, several individuals whose objections to the settlement were denied by the court have since filed notices of appeal. Until those appeals are resolved, payments of valid claims cannot go forward. The attorneys general of the settling states are attempting to resolve these legal issues as soon as possible. For additional information, visit the National Compact Disc settlement website at http://www.musiccdsettlement.com.

Salton (George Foreman Grill) Settlement
As a result of an antitrust settlement reached in September 2002 with the manufacturer of a popular electric cooking grill, health and nutrition programs in Washington could receive as much as $200,000.
The money is part of an $8.2 million national settlement reached between Salton, Inc., maker of the George Foreman Grill, and 44 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

After a two-year investigation, the states alleged that Salton illegally coerced retailers into fixing the price for Salton's George Foreman contact grills, and into excluding Salton's competitors from store shelves.
Under the settlement, Salton will pay $8 million in damages and $200,000 in investigative expenses. The process for establishing which charitable organizations receive the settlement money will be determined later. In the meantime, information about the settlement is available through the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) website.

Mylan Settlement
In June, 2003, the Attorney General's Office distributed $300,000 to health programs in Washington as part of the final distribution of Washington's share of the $100 million nationwide settlement reached with Mylan Laboratories, Inc. The litigation was about anti-competitive pricing policies for lorazepam and clorazepate, generic drugs frequently prescribed for anxiety.Non-profit organizations and government entities including, but not limited to state, county or municipal agencies in Washington State are invited to apply for an additional $75,000 available from the Mylan Settlement. Funds must be used in projects that provide direct services targeting the health care needs of consumers harmed by Mylan. In accordance with the Court’s order, “these funds are to be used in a manner reasonably targeted to specifically benefit the health care needs of a substantial number of the persons injured by the increased prices of lorazepam and/or clorazepate.” Applications must be submitted by Thursday, October 30, 2003. Recipients will be selected by the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound, a public non-profit foundation that manages charitable funds. For information about requirements and application procedures, contact The Community Foundation at 111 Market St NE, Suite 375, Olympia, WA 98501, or call Colleen Gillespie or Michael Smith at (360) 705-3340. Information is also available on their website, http://www.thecommunityfoundation.com.

BuSpar Settlement
The attorneys general of 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have reached a settlement agreement in an antitrust class action lawsuit against Bristol-Myers Squibb, the makers of BuSpar.The lawsuit contends that Bristol-Myers Squibb engaged in fraudulent conduct to prevent the entry of generic competitors and illegally maintain its monopoly in the U.S. over the sale of the drugs. BuSpar is a brand-name prescription medication used to treat patients suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately four million Americans suffer from the disorder each year. The settlement provides approximately $41.7 million to reimburse consumers some portion of alleged overcharges they may have incurred from purchasing BuSpar or buspirone HCI. Washington residents who purchased the anti-anxiety drug BuSpar, or its generic equivalent, during the period of January 1, 1998, through January 31, 2003, may qualify for some reimbursement. To file a claim, please go to the BuSpar settlement website at www.Busparsettlement.com. Claims can be submitted up to the deadline of October 10, 2003.

Vitamins Settlement
In October 2000 Washington and other states settled an antitrust lawsuit against several manufacturers of vitamins and vitamin products. The lawsuit accused the manufacturers of fixing prices of vitamins and vitamin products, allocating markets and agreeing not to compete with each other. In settling the allegations, defendants agreed to monetary payments for purchasers of affected products in each of the settling states. The case provided for two types of payments, one for commercial purchasers and one for consumers. A commercial claimant is one who is located in Washington, or bought vitamin products from someone located in Washington for resale, for incorporation into another product for resale, or for use in the manufacture of another product for resale. The other kind of payment was intended to compensate consumers who paid more for food products. Approximately $5.8 million was returned to individual Washington purchasers through distribution to charitable organizations or political subdivisions for the benefit of human health or nutrition, and/or nutritional or dietary agricultural science. The money was distributed in the spring of 2002. A committee comprised of people experienced in health, nutrition and agricultural science selected successful applicants for the money.

Nine West Settlement
The attorneys general of 50 states, Washington, D.C. and five territories reached a $34 million settlement with New York shoe manufacturer Nine West Inc. over allegations of price-fixing. Washington's share of the settlement was approximately $633,000. The settlement agreement required that the funds be used for women's health, educational, vocational and safety programs. To help decide how to distribute the money, the Washington AGO appointed a Settlement Distribution Committee comprised of eight community and business leaders from across the state. The committee judged applications and on March 13, 2001 Washington's share was distributed to 22 organizations statewide.

Background
The states alleged Nine West Group entered into illegal agreements with shoe retailers to fix the price of women's shoes between January of 1988 and July of 1999. Working with the Federal Trade Commission, the attorneys general uncovered evidence that various Nine West divisions, including Easy Spirit, Enzo Angiolini, and Nine West, prohibited retailers from discounting certain shoes. The lawsuit claimed that Nine West's illegal price-fixing included occasions when the manufacturer distributed lists of shoes that could not be discounted by retailers outside time periods dictated by Nine West. The group told many retailers that the purpose of the policy was to protect them from competition. In order to enforce the policies, Nine West allegedly granted discounts to cooperating retailers and withheld discounts or threatened to cancel or refuse to take orders from uncooperative companies.

Settlement Agreement
Under terms of the settlement, Nine West Group did not admit liability or wrongdoing and agreed to:

  • Refrain from agreements or business practices during the next five years that influence or control the price retailers choose to sell Nine West products;
  • Notify each of its dealers and retailers that they have a right to independently determine the price at which they advertise and sell Nine West products;
  • Create a $34 million settlement fund, including $3.5 million to reimburse the states for attorneys' fees, investigative costs, and publication and notice costs. The remaining $30.5 million to be divided, by population, among the states participating in the agreement.

Toys "R" Us Settlement
On Dec. 9, 1998, Washington and 44 other states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, settled an antitrust lawsuit against the nation's largest toy retailer, Toys "R" Us and major toy manufacturers Hasbro, Mattel and Little Tikes. Washington's share of the settlement was approximately $275,000. The Attorney General's office distributed the money to programs that benefit children throughout Washington State.

Background
The states alleged that Toys "R" Us and toy manufacturers violated antitrust laws by agreeing to cut off or limit supplies of popular toys to warehouse clubs and low margin outlets that sold the toys at prices lower than those at Toys "R" Us. The complaint alleged Toys "R" Us attempted to limit competition by using its market power to obtain agreements with toy manufacturers to limit the sale of certain toys to clubs or to sell these toys in "combination packs." Selling the toys in this manner ensured that consumers could not easily compare the retail prices charged by the clubs to the prices charged by Toys "R" Us.

Pursuant to the terms of the settlements, defendant Toys "R" Us paid $40.5 million in cash and toys. Mattel, the nation's largest toy manufacturer, paid $8.2 million in cash and toys and the Little Tikes Company paid cash and toys totaling $1.3 million. Toy manufacturer Hasbro, also a defendant in this lawsuit, paid $5.9 million in cash and toys. As part of the settlements, the defendants admitted no wrongdoing.

The Antitrust Division administered an application process to ensure the distribution of Washington's share of the settlement funds conformed to the settlement agreement. The applications were judged by a Distribution Selection Committee appointed by the Washington Attorney General and comprised of community and business leaders throughout the state. The committee reviewed nearly 300 applications and on Sept. 28, 2000, the funds were distributed to 27 different programs benefiting the children of Washington State.

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