Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

May 08 2019

Ferguson File Header

Dear Friends,

I am deeply appreciative of all the hard work that resulted in several historic and diverse achievements last month.

 We brought the first Animal Trafficking charges in state history, earned three more legal victories against the Trump administration, banned 3D-printed guns, improved data security for all Washingtonians, and obtained $12 million for individuals harmed by Motel 6’s unlawful conduct, and another $10 million for women harmed by Johnson & Johnson’s unlawful conduct.

That’s not all! In this issue of the Ferguson File, I’ll explain how you or a family member are probably eligible for restitution if you lived in Washington state in 2007 or earlier because of a price-fixing lawsuit brought by my office. I’ll explain how to file a claim – it’s easy!

In this issue:

Thank you for following the work of the Attorney General’s Office.

Sincerely,

Bob-Signature

Bob Ferguson
Washington State Attorney General


Natural landscape of Washington State

21-0 in federal litigation

This month alone my office has reached three more legal victories against the Trump Administration. My office is now 21-0 in federal litigation against the administration and has not lost a case.

My recent legal actions succeeded in preventing the administration from unlawfully rolling back protections of endangered marine species, marking the 19th legal victory. The Trump Administration has abandoned its appeal of a U.S. District Court ruling that found it unlawfully tried to block regulations designed to protect endangered and threatened marine species like whales, dolphins and sea turtles.

In addition, on the eve of Earth Day, a federal judge ruled that the Trump Administration illegally revoked the Obama-era moratorium on leasing public lands for coal-mining even though its Interior Department admitted it did not fully understand the societal and environmental impacts of extraction. This ruling reiterates that the federal government cannot take an action that impacts our environment without careful review and deliberation.

And in our most recent legal victory, a federal judge granted a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking the Trump Administration’s Title X family planning “gag rule.” This ruling ensures that clinics across the nation can remain open and continue to provide quality, unbiased healthcare to women. Trump’s “gag rule” would have jeopardized healthcare access to women across the country. Title X clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, provide essential services—now they can keep serving women while we continue to fight to keep the federal government out of the exam room.

You can keep track of our progress through our federal litigation page here.

Seattle PI
Endangered marine species win one over Trump Administration

The Washington Post
Trump abortion ‘gag’ rule blocked by federal judge

CNN
Federal judge blocks Trump administration’s Title X abortion ‘gag rule’


 

Attorney General Bob Ferguson at Woodlank Park Zoo

First-ever animal trafficking charges

This April I filed our state’s first-ever criminal charges under Washington Animal Trafficking Act (WATA), separately charging Donald Frank Rooney of Everett and Yunhua Chen of Seattle with one count each of first-degree unlawful trafficking in species threatened with extinction.

Washington voters overwhelmingly approved I-1401, creating WATA, in 2015. WATA makes it a felony to sell, purchase, trade or distribute parts of specific endangered or vulnerable species of elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, lion, leopard, cheetah, pangolin, marine turtle, shark or ray.

Rooney and Chen, using online listings, allegedly sold items containing elephant ivory—a species threatened with extinction.

It is disheartening to have the need to press charges under WATA, an acknowledgement that our environment’s living entities are imperiled by the actions of others.

Washington voters’ are clear: trafficking in items made from these endangered species will not be tolerated. Traffickers are on notice—you will be prosecuted.

San Juan Islander
Attorney General Bob Ferguson files first-ever charges under Washington Animal Trafficking Act

KING-5 News
First charges under Washington Animal Trafficking Act for selling ivory

KIRO-7
State files first criminal charges under new animal trafficking law


New bill prohibits "pocket service"

Legislature passes six agency request bills

This month, five more of my agency-requested bills passed the Legislature. The diverse slate of legislation increases protections for consumers and workers, impacts the health and safety of Washingtonians and addresses needed changes in government and the legal system.

In addition to raising the sale age of tobacco and vapor products to 21, the Legislature passed a bill closing a loophole that leaves debtors to pay court judgments when they never knew a case was filed against them. The practice is known as “pocket service.” Under current law, a collection agency can mail a copy of a court summons and legal complaint, but instead of filing the same documents with the court, the collector keeps them in their “pocket.” The new bill requires timely filing of the complaint, preventing collectors from obtain default judgment against the debtor.

Our legislation restricting the possession and sale of untraceable and undetectable “ghost guns” also passed. One U.S. District Court judge wrote “the untraceable and undetectable nature of these small firearms … poses a unique danger.”

The new bill strengthening data breach notification laws reduced the timeframe organizations are required to notify consumers of stolen information to within 30 days of a breach. Last year 3.4 million Washingtonians were affected by malicious hackers stealing information that contained email addresses and passwords, DNA profiles, tax ID numbers or passport numbers.

New legislation on wage theft allows my office to issue penalties to employers caught cheating workers out of prevailing wages.

And our Hanford bill ensures sick Hanford workers get the benefits they deserve.

These new bills, which have now passed the Legislature, will improve the lives of people across the state.  

The Seattle Times
Debt collectors that ‘sue, sue, sue’ can squeeze Washington state consumers for more cash

KIRO-7
Jesse Jones investigates how you could get a judgment against you – without a day in court

South Sound Business
Legislation increasing penalties for wage theft passes state legislature

My Northwest
Bill to ban manufacturing of ‘ghost guns’ passes state House


Attorney General Bob Ferguson at Motel 6 press release

Restitution available for victims of Motel 6 privacy violations

My office’s Wing Luke Civil Rights Division succeeded this month in securing restitution for those Washingtonians harmed by the unlawful actions of national hotel chain Motel 6.

Motel 6 will pay $12 million to resolve our lawsuit against them for voluntarily providing guest lists, without a warrant, to agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on a routine basis for over two years.

Each time Motel 6 released a guest list, it included the private information of every guest at the hotel without their knowledge or consent, violating their expectation of privacy. These disclosures resulted in ICE’s targeting guests with Latino-sounding names.

These actions tore families apart and violated the privacy rights of tens of thousands of Washingtonians.

Our investigation found Motel 6’s actions led to the detainment of at least nine Washingtonians and had serious consequences for Washington families.

You can watch our press conference announcing the resolution here.

Our resolution ensures Motel 6 will no longer hand over guest information without a warrant or other lawful basis at all locations.

Consumers who stayed at one of the seven locations during the period that the practice occurred will be eligible for restitution. The locations are: Bellingham, North Everett, South Everett, South Seattle, South Tacoma and two SeaTac locations.

I encourage consumers and their family members affected by Motel 6’s unlawful policy to contact to my office’s Civil Rights Division here. This information can be read in Spanish here.

Washington’s consumer protection laws protect everyone who lives in Washington state.

Moving forward, I hope this legal action sends a clear message that any other business that violates Washingtonians’ right to privacy can expect to hear from my office.

Q-13 Fox
Motel 6 to pay $12 million to Washington state for giving guest lists ICE  

The Seattle Times
Motel 6 to pay Washington $12M for giving information on 80,000 guests to ICE

The Spokesman-Review
Motel 6 agrees to pay $12 million to settle lawsuit 


Attorney General Bob Ferguson at Johnson & Johnson press release

Relief obtained for women harmed by Johnson & Johnson’s conduct

On the day trial was scheduled to begin, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $9.9 million to avoid court proceedings for its misrepresentations and failure to include serious risks in the instructions and marketing materials for surgical mesh devices.

Approximately 14,000 Washington women had these devices implanted.

Women experienced pain, suffering, and life-altering complications that Johnson & Johnson knew were associated with its devices, including chronic pain, pain with sexual intercourse, and numerous urinary issues. Furthermore, the mesh is very difficult and sometimes impossible to remove.

Johnson & Johnson’s knowing deception caused Washington women to suffer in deeply personal ways. I’m proud of my team for holding a powerful interest accountable for its egregious conduct—and look forward to providing millions of dollars in relief to assist those who were harmed.

The nearly $10 million payment will be used to assist women who received pelvic mesh implants. I believe hundreds of Washington women have been adversely impacted so far, ranging from having to go back for another procedure, to having their quality of life impacted dramatically.

My office will announce a formal claims process in the future. Due to privacy protections in law, my office does not know the names of the women implanted with surgical mesh in Washington state. Consequently, we cannot reach out to affected women directly.

If you would like a claims administrator to contact you, provide your contact information here. You can hear more about the resolution by watching our press conference here.

The Seattle Times
Johnson & Johnson pays $9.9M to settle Washington state pelvic mesh lawsuit

My Northwest
Johnson & Johnson settles Washington surgical mesh lawsuit for $9.9 million

Q-13 Fox
Johnson & Johnson settles Washington pelvic mesh lawsuit


Cathode ray tube (CRT) television

Washingtonians eligible for share of CRT price-fixing recovery

Early this month my office set up a process for consumers to obtain their share of a nearly $40 million recovery. This recovery is a result of my price-fixing lawsuit against seven manufacturers of cathode ray tubes, or CRTs, which is the technology common in televisions and computer monitors prior to the introduction of liquid crystal display (LCD) flat screens.

This CRT technology was ubiquitous in television and computer monitors. If you lived in Washington state between 1995 and 2007 and owned a computer or television, you or a family member are eligible for restitution. The process for claiming restitution is simple, and does not require that you kept your receipts.

When powerful interests illegally conspire behind closed doors to drive up the costs of their products, Washingtonians lose out. Now, we are helping Washington consumers get their money back.

If you lived in Washington and purchased an old box computer monitor or television between 1995 and 2007, you should file a claim by visiting www.crtsettlement.atg.wa.gov, or call 800-332-9084.  

All claims must be submitted on or before May 16, 2019. For questions about the claims process, including maximum recovery and claim verification, please read these frequently asked questions. You may also email info@wacrtsettlement.com.  

Q-13 Fox
Washington residents can file for their share of $40 million price-fixing settlement

Seattle PI
How to get restitution for CRT TVs and computer monitors in price-fixing case


 

Attorney General Bob Ferguson at Washington Ceasefire rally

Working across Washington

This month I celebrated American values with many organizations throughout Washington state.

I joined Clallam-Jefferson County Pro Bono Lawyers, who invited me to speak at their 2019 Law Day Event themed “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Country.”  

I joined locals for Port Townsend Sunrise, East Jefferson and Port Townsend Rotary meeting to share our offices important work, including our work on the opioid epidemic.

I had the privilege of attending King County Bar Association’s Welcome Reception for Loretta Lynch. For those of you who may not know Lynch’s remarkable story, she is the first African-American woman in history to serve as U.S. Attorney General. She was sworn in using Frederick Douglass’ bible.

I discussed defending the rights and protections of immigrants at the celebration of Council on Asian Pacific American Affairs’ 45th “sapphire” Anniversary.

I joined Seattle Seahawk wide receiver Doug Baldwin, Tukwila Mayor Allan Ekberg and many more remarkable community members at the Black Law Enforcement conference. I spoke on the importance of diversity and having Washington institutions reflect their communities.

Finally, this month marks the 20th anniversary of the tragic shooting that took place at Columbine High School. I was honored to join Washington Ceasefire who invited me, amongst March for Our Lives students and survivors, to rally as a reminder of the importance of reducing gun violence in our schools and worldwide.

Peninsula Daily News
Ferguson will talk about freedom of speech in Port Angeles

Peninsula Daily News
State attorney general touts record against Trump Administration


 

 
 

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