Category Archives: attorney general

AG joins lawsuit against makers of addiction treatment drug

News release from Attorney General’s office
Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III, along with the Division of Consumer Affairs, today announced the filing of an antitrust and consumer protection lawsuit against the makers of Suboxone, a prescription drug used to treat opioid addiction. Slatery and attorneys general from 35 other states filed the lawsuit over allegations that the companies engaged in an anti-competitive scheme to block generic competitors and cause consumers to pay artificially high prices.
 
Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, now known as Indivior, is alleged to have conspired with MonoSol Rx to switch Suboxone, a brand-name prescription drug used to treat heroin addiction and other opioid addictions by easing addiction cravings, from a tablet version to a dissolvable film version in order to prevent or delay generic alternatives from entering the market while maintaining monopoly profits. Continue reading

Paul Ney named deputy state AG

News release from attorney general’s office
Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today announced Paul C. Ney, Jr. will join the Attorney General’s Office as Chief Deputy.

In his role as Chief Deputy Attorney General, Ney will coordinate and supervise the substantive legal work of all five sections of the office. Continue reading

New AG opinion: Cities not violating TN traffic camera law

Expanding on an opinion released in July, the Tennessee attorney general says cities that contract with red-light camera companies are not violating state law, reports the News Sentinel.

Attorney General Herbert Slatery, in his opinion Monday, said the state’s statute that requires a certified police officer determine whether laws were broken does not mean that others cannot examine video images. (Note: Full opinion HERE.)

“Vendors engaging in sorting or pre-screening of the video footage are not making a determination that a violation has occurred,” Slatery wrote. “Rather, they are simply ensuring that the law enforcement officers who make those determinations do so efficiently by reviewing only usable information.”

He concluded: “In short, the statute does not prevent a city from contracting with a private vendor to sort or screen the video information for footage that cannot form the basis for a citation.”

Knoxville earlier this month opted to extend its current red-light camera contract with Lasercraft Inc. for 60 days to give city staff time to study Slatery’s first ruling and wait for subsequent opinions. Continue reading

Haslam appoints top AG staffer as judge

News release from the governor’s office
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Bill Young of Nashville as chancellor in the 20th Judicial District, which serves Davidson County. Young replaces retiring Chancellor Carol McCoy, effective September 1.

Young, 59, has been in the Tennessee Attorney General’s office in Nashville, where he has been associate attorney general and part of the management team, since 2014. In that role, he was responsible for handling work related to the Tennessee General Assembly, the executive branch of state government and other state offices and responsible for special litigation and other projects assigned by the attorney general. Continue reading

Durham victim harassed via email

Someone sent an email to the colleagues of one of the 22 women included in the Tennessee attorney general’s investigation into embattled Rep. Jeremy Durham, identifying her and advocating for her to lose her job because of her behavior as described in the report, according to The Tennessean.

Even though the attorney general knows about the reported harassing behavior, the office says there’s nothing he can do.

“It’s frustrating, but I understand the AG doesn’t have jurisdiction here,” said House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, R-Franklin.

“She has no recourse but to go to the district attorney and get relief. That’s her only option.”

The Tennessean obtained a copy of the email, which is one of several harassing messages. On Thursday Casada confirmed that the woman contacted him about receiving the harassing messages. Two packages with harassing materials also were sent, Casada said, including one mailed to her family. Continue reading

AG joins lawsuit against insurance company merger

News release from Tennessee Attorney General’s Office
Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today announced that Tennessee has joined the U.S. Department of Justice and attorneys general from 11 states and the District of Columbia in litigation to block the merger between health insurance companies Anthem and Cigna, alleging that the transaction would increase concentration and harm competition in Tennessee and across the country.

The Justice Department and state attorneys general filed the merger challenge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The complaint alleges that the merger, valued at $54 billion, would harm seniors, working families and individuals, employers, and doctors and other healthcare providers by limiting price competition, reducing benefits, decreasing incentives to provide innovative wellness programs, and lowering the quality of care.

“In what instance would Tennesseans want 4 instead of 5 competitors from which to choose insurance products or negotiate services? That is the question raised by the merger, whether one is a national employer comparing benefits and premiums, a health care provider like a hospital or physician practice, or an individual selecting a policy on an exchange. There are too many unanswered questions and too much at stake in reducing competition for Tennessee to support this merger,” Attorney General Slatery said.

Eleven states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Tennessee, and Virginia – along with the District of Columbia joined the department’s challenge of Anthem’s $54 billion acquisition of Cigna.

The suit against Anthem and Cigna alleges that their merger would substantially reduce competition for millions of consumers who receive commercial health insurance coverage from national employers throughout the United States. The complaint also alleges that the elimination of Cigna threatens competition among commercial insurers for the purchase of healthcare services from hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare providers.

Anthem, Inc. is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is the nation’s second-largest health insurer. It operates in every state and the District of Columbia, and provides health insurance to 39 million people. In 2015, Anthem reported over $79 billion in revenues.

Cigna Corp. is headquartered in Hartford, Connecticut. It is the nation’s fourth-largest health insurer. It operates in every state and the District of Columbia, and provides health insurance to 15 million people. In 2015, Cigna reported $38 billion in revenues.

AG sues paralegal selling fake court order

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee state judge has ordered a Knoxville paralegal to turn over his files and even the contents of his Facebook profile after the state attorney general accused him of ripping off legal customers.

The Tennessee Attorney General’s office has filed a lawsuit against paralegal Jonathan Trotter, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/29E18U8 ). The lawsuit alleges Trotter began advertising his legal services on Facebook after he completed a 17-week paralegal certificate program at the University of Tennessee in 2013.

Assistant Tennessee Attorney General Nate Casey says one woman paid Trotter $800 to help gain custody of her grandson. Trotter gave the woman a court order signed by a judge granting her custody. Casey said the order was a fake and Trotter had forged a judge’s signature.

The attorney general filed the lawsuit under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. No criminal charges have been filed, but the allegations have been referred to the Knox County district attorney general.

Trotter has not responded to the lawsuit.

Certified paralegals can perform some legal services, such as preparing court documents. But they cannot practice law, including setting fees, representing clients in and out of court and giving legal advice.

“(Trotter) was not supervised by an attorney and did not have an attorney review the legal documents he prepared for consumers,” the lawsuit stated. “As a result, (Trotter) has provided consumers with erroneous, deficient and ineffective legal advice and documents, and consumers have suffered substantial injury due to (his) unlawful conduct.”

In issuing the order, Knox County Circuit Court Judge Bill Ailor wrote “an injunction is necessary to protect consumers and legitimate business enterprises from defendant’s unfair and deceptive business model.”

Democrats question Haslam fundraiser at governor’s residence

News release from Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville
NASHVILLE – Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris and State Rep. John Ray Clemmons sent a letter to Attorney General Herbert Slatery today formally requesting his legal opinion on several issues surrounding the Governor’s planned fundraiser for Rep. Diane Black at the Executive Residence.

“In the spirit of responsibly representing Tennessee taxpayers, we are seeking answers to some serious concerns that we have about the Governor’s political activities on state property and his consistent refusal to release his schedule,” stated Rep. John Ray Clemmons. “Transparency has been an issue for this administration from day one. From Governor Haslam’s very first Executive Order that eliminated financial disclosure requirements for him and his top aides to his secretive out-sourcing scheme, he has consistently skirted the sunshine.”

“Today, we are posing some legitimate questions, such as, ‘Can the Governor host campaign fundraisers at the Executive Residence?'” stated Sen. Lee Harris. “We don’t think the Executive Residence is a place where campaign events should be held, but that is why we are seeking clarification. If President Obama used the White House to host campaign fundraisers, many on the other side of the aisle probably would be up in arms about it. This is the same thing.”

These questions come on the heels of media reports that the Governor will be hosting a campaign fundraiser at the Executive Residence for Congressman Diane Black’s re-election efforts on July 21, 2016.

A copy of the letter to General Slatery can be found here.

More on Durham report — quotes and comments

Some passages from the final attorney general’s investigative report on the doings of state Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin:

“Representative Durham’s position as the freshman class leader, Majority Party Whip and member of a number of committees, gave him access to legislative staff members, interns, and lobbyists, albeit for different reasons. The investigation revealed that legislative staff members and interns rely on their relationships with legislators for employment and references for future employment opportunities at the Capitol. There was a perception among some staff members we interviewed that those who displease a legislator may risk loss of those opportunities, if bad references are shared among the legislative members.

“The power differential between a legislator and a staff member or intern is more apparent than that between a lobbyist, who is independently employed, and a legislator. The investigation revealed that lobbyists, much like staff members and interns, depend on maintaining a good working relationship with legislators for their livelihood and future success. A lobbyist depends on favorable support from legislators to satisfy and build a client base, and many female lobbyists interviewed described the substantial financial and professional stake they have in avoiding anything that would jeopardize a good relationship with legislators. As Jane Doe #4 put it, lobbyists do not have clients without legislators.

“Consequently, Representative Durham was able to use his position as an elected official to approach female staff members, interns, and staff members in a manner that they would normally reject as inappropriate and sexual in nature.”

–“I’m bored as hell. Lobby me.” Late night text message to woman lobbyist.

–“I’m trying to elevate our relations to a more amiable situation.” Another text message to a lady lobbyist.

–“Sounds like someone is a church skipping heathen. No wonder you wanted Medicaid expanded.” Another text message.

“I’d like to see you naked around midnight.” Message to a “20-year-old college student/political worker” — an intern at the time — who said she had sex with Durham at his office.

Continue reading

Judge rules against Durham, clears release of investigation report

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Nashville chancellor ruled Tuesday that it would not be in the public interest to block the release of an investigative report on allegations of sexual harassment by state Rep. Jeremy Durham.

Chancellor Russell Perkins heard arguments earlier in the day after Durham asked for an emergency ruling to block the report, arguing it would cause him irreparable damage. The report is expected to be released on Wednesday at a meeting of the Ad Hoc Select Committee appointed to look into Durham’s conduct.

In his ruling, Perkins said the Franklin Republican raised some legitimate questions about the way the investigation was conducted, but those concerns were insufficient to support a ruling blocking the report’s release or further work by the committee.

Durham’s attorney Bill Harbison had argued that the appointment of the attorney general’s office to conduct the investigation for the committee constituted an invasion of the legislative branch of government by the judicial branch. He said it sets a dangerous precedent for abuse of government power.

The timing of the report’s release, just two days before the start of early voting for upcoming primaries, shows that it is “transparently being done for political ends,” Harbison argued.

Several GOP leaders have urged Durham to resign his post, including House Speaker Beth Harwell, who appointed the ad hoc committee and requested the help of the attorney general’s office.

Steve Hart, special counsel for the Office of the Attorney General, said the office routinely acts as legal counsel for the legislature. On a previous occasion, the office investigated former Sen. John Ford at the request of the Senate Ethics Committee, Hart said.

He also argued that the House has a duty to protect its employees from harassment. After a preliminary report issued in April found Durham could pose a risk to “unsuspecting women” at the Capitol complex, Harwell moved Durham to another office building and limited his access to committee rooms and the House chambers.

“Although the Court recognizes that Rep. Durham may suffer harm,” Perkins wrote, “the Court concludes that it is in the public interest for the Attorney General and the Ad Hoc Committee to finish their work and for the results of their work to be made available to the public.”