Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Aug 05 2016

Ferguson File Header

BobDear Friends,

It’s been a busy month at the Attorney General’s Office, fighting for you against powerful interests that don’t play by the rules. I weighed in to promote the civil rights of transgender individuals and took a stand against exploitation of Spanish-speaking consumers. I filed suit against internet and cable giant Comcast over its unfair treatment of customers and held the federal government’s feet to the fire on Hanford worker safety, asking a court to order that safety measures be instituted now.

This month I also opposed a crude oil terminal proposal that threatens our safety and environment.

In this issue:

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



Bob Ferguson
Washington State Attorney General

Taking a stand against crude-by-rail facility

On July 29, my Counsel for the Environment announced our opposition to a crude oil terminal in Vancouver.

The bottom line is that the potential benefits of this project are dramatically outweighed by the potential risks and costs of a spill.

The proposed terminal, Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal, is under review by the state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC). EFSEC is tasked under state law with recommending to the Governor whether he should approve or reject the project.

Under state law, the Attorney General appoints an Assistant Attorney General as Counsel for the Environment when EFSEC receives a site application for review. That attorney operates independently of EFSEC, other state agencies and parties involved in the site application.

Under the proposed project, vessels loaded with crude oil would make 365 trips a year along the Columbia River, and an additional 3,000 oil trains would run through the state annually to service the project.

Protecting the environment and public safety are top priorities of my office, and we considered the evidence presented from these hearings with the care those priorities demand. Given the weight of the evidence presented, the project is not in the public interest. The risk is simply too great.

To learn more about my position, you can go here. To learn more about the Counsel for the Environment, you can go here.

The Columbian
State attorney general: Say no to oil terminal project


Dealership pays for taking advantage of language barrier

The AGO’s Wing Luke Civil Rights Division obtained more than $250,000 to resolve allegations that Zein Automobiles Inc., a Snohomish County used car dealer, engaged in a pattern of discrimination against Spanish-language speakers at its two dealerships. The dealerships’ conduct violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination and the state Consumer Protection Act.

Zein Automobiles, also known as ZAG Auto Group, lured Spanish-speaking customers from as far away as Wenatchee through ads in Spanish-language media outlets, promising financing even for those without a credit history. Most of the salespeople at Zein’s dealerships spoke Spanish, and half the dealerships’ sales were conducted in Spanish. The dealerships orally offered Spanish-speaking customers one set of terms, but presented a different set of terms in documents written in English.

As a result, Zein Automobiles and its employees misrepresented loan terms, interest rates, title branding issues and warranties. Contrary to dealer representations, some Zein customers were saddled with nearly 30 percent loan interest rates, while others unknowingly purchased vehicles with salvage titles.

As many as 3,000 customers may be eligible to receive money from the settlement.

This was a targeted effort to take advantage of the language barrier, and I won’t tolerate such exploitation of the Latino community.

If you purchased a vehicle at one of the company’s two dealerships, Best Bet Auto Sales or Independence Auto Sales, and believe you may be victim of the discriminatory, unfair or deceptive practices detailed in this case, please call the Attorney General’s Office at (844) 323-3864. Claim forms are also available online in Spanish and English.

Tri-City Herald
Washington car dealer to pay restitution over discrimination

La Raza del Noroeste
Multados por aprovecharse de clientes hispanohablantes

Holding cable and internet giant Comcast accountable

My office filed a lawsuit against cable television and internet giant Comcast Corporation, alleging the company’s own documents reveal a pattern of illegally deceiving their customers to pad their bottom line to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

The lawsuit accuses the company of more than 1.8 million violations of Washington State’s Consumer Protection Act, including misrepresenting the scope of its Service Protection Plan, charging customers improper service call fees and improper credit screening practices.

The lawsuit is the first of its kind in the nation — though the Service Protection Plan is a nationwide program and many of the improper practices are used in all of Comcast’s markets. We brought these issues to Comcast over a year ago, but the company didn’t begin to make changes until recently — on the verge of my lawsuit.

The suit also accuses Comcast — whose customers often have few real options for the services the firm provides — of violating the CPA to all of its more than 1.1 million Washington subscribers due to its deceptive “Comcast Guarantee.”

This case is a classic example of a big corporation misleading and deceiving its customers for financial gain. I won’t allow Comcast to continue to put profits above customers — and the law.

The Washington State Attorney General is announcing a $100 million consumer protection lawsuit against Comcast over deceptive practices

Seattle Times
Attorney General Bob Ferguson right to scrutinize Comcast service fees

Leading effort to support transgender protections

On July 27, my office took the lead in filing an amicus — or “friend of the court” — brief urging a U.S. District Court not to block the federal government’s ability to protect the civil rights of transgender individuals.

In May, a group of 11 states, led by Texas, asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to issue an injunction blocking federal guidelines that prohibit employers and school districts from discriminating against transgender individuals who seek to use facilities consistent with their gender identity.

Texas’s lawsuit is just another example of discrimination against transgender individuals. While Texas and other states hide behind unfounded safety concerns, this case is really an attempt to deny the civil rights of our transgender friends, coworkers and family members.

In our brief, we argue that while the Plaintiffs’ claims of harm are unsupported, discrimination against transgender individuals is all too real. Transgender individuals experience discrimination at work, school and in public, causing them economic, emotional and health consequences.

Nearly 20 states, including Washington, offer explicit civil rights protections for transgender people, and none of these states has seen a rise in sexual violence or other public safety concerns as a result of nondiscrimination laws.

Everett Herald
Editorial: Unfounded fears of transgender people can’t justify discrimination

BuzzFeed News
12 states will support Obama’s transgender policies in court, bucking Texas and others

Deadline approaching to participate in LCD settlement

The Sept. 30 deadline to claim your part of the $63 million LCD consumer recovery that my office garnered last year for Washingtonians is approaching soon. 

If you are unsure whether you are eligible for compensation, you can go here to find out which customers are eligible. I also sent out a special edition Ferguson File dedicated to this settlement, which can be found here.

You can submit a claim form online or by mail. File your claim for free and avoid third-party fees through the official government website, www.lcdsettlement.atg.wa.gov, or by calling 1-866-778-9468.

Consumers are not required to submit documentation when they file a claim. However, they may be asked to verify their claim during the claims audit process, especially for claims involving a significant number of purchases. This will happen later in the process, and not at the initial filing.

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