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Sean D. Reyes
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COVID-19 Liability Protections: AG Reyes, 20 State Attorneys General Ask Congress to Help Stop Frivolous Lawsuits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2020

COVID-19 Liability Protections: Attorney General Reyes and 20 Other State Attorneys General Ask Congress to Help Stop Frivolous Lawsuits

SALT LAKE CITY –Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes has joined a 21-state coalition in urging Congress to protect businesses who provide much-needed goods and services from frivolous lawsuits specific to COVID-related litigation. In the wake of this unprecedented crisis, the extension of appropriate post-pandemic liability protections is needed at both the state and federal levels for businesses, manufacturers of personal protective equipment, first responders, healthcare workers, healthcare facilities and members of law enforcement, among others.

The letter also underscores the need to ensure that victims are able to seek legal redress and compensation where appropriate.

In the letter, the attorneys general wrote:

“Civil liability protections should not, however, be extended to businesses engaging in willful misconduct, reckless infliction of harm or intentional infliction of harm We believe criminal penalties, regulatory fines and agency oversight should be able to capture bad actors and civil lawsuits should be available for any citizens hurt by a business or individual acting with disregard for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Attorney General Reyes said, “Right now, as our economies reopen, we need a stable, predictable legal environment more than ever.  Our economy will only recover if customers and employees have the confidence to return to the marketplace.

“At the same time, we must ensure people don’t try to take advantage of this crisis by stifling the economy with a glut of plaintiffs cases targeting well-intentioned businesses for taking reasonable pandemic measures. 

“My colleagues and I feel this nation needs a common sense framework to ensure our states have a legal and regulatory environment that balances protecting consumers while allowing free enterprise to thrive.

“Certainly, there must be some redress for wrongs suffered. But not every injury has a remedy in the courts. And opportunistic, aggressive plaintiff lawsuits that rely less on facts or the law than on the burden of defending litigation will impede economic recovery and end up hurting long term the very class of plaintiffs they are purporting to help.

“Thus, we call on Congress to ensure businesses have clearly defined expectations for the safe and appropriate continuance of operations while being protected from devastating civil liability litigation concerning baseless COVID-related claims.”

States across the country have recognized the need for timely, targeted and tailored civil liability protections in light of the pandemic. To date, over 20 states have enacted liability protections for first responders and healthcare workers.

The following states’ attorneys general signed onto the letter: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

Read a copy of the letter here.

Fighting Robocalls: Utah AG Reyes Joins 51 Attorneys General, 12 Telecommunication Companies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 22, 2019



FIGHTING ILLEGAL ROBOCALLS: UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES JOINS 51 ATTORNEYS GENERAL 12 TELECOMMUNICATION COMPANIES

SALT LAKE CITY—Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes has announced an agreement to protect phone users by fighting illegal robocalls and to make it easier for attorneys general to investigate and prosecute ‘bad actors’. This agreement is the result of a bipartisan, public/private coalition of 51 attorneys general and 12 phone companies. 

The phone companies have agreed to adopt eight principles to fight illegal robocalls in order to help protect phone customers and to punish bad actors. The principles, available here, address the robocall problem in two main ways: prevention and enforcement.

Phone companies will work to prevent illegal robocalls by:

  • Implementing call-blocking technology at the network level at no cost to customers.
  • Making available to customers additional, free, easy-to-use call blocking and labeling tools.
  • Implementing technology to authenticate that callers are coming from a valid source.
  • Monitoring their networks for robocall traffic.

Phone companies will assist attorneys’ general anti-robocall enforcement by:

  • Knowing who their customers are so bad actors can be identified and investigated.
  • Investigating and taking action against suspicious callers – including notifying law enforcement and state attorneys general.
  • Working with law enforcement, including state attorneys general, to trace the origins of illegal robocalls.
  • Requiring telephone companies with which they contract to cooperate in traceback identification.

Going forward, phone companies will stay in close communication with the coalition of attorneys general to continue to optimize robocall protections as technology and scammer techniques change.
 
“The principles offer a comprehensive set of best practices that recognizes that no single action or technology is sufficient to curb the scourge of illegal and unwanted robocalls,” said Levi Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Columbia University Henning Schulzrinne. “I hope that all parts of the telecommunication industry, both large and small, will commit to rapidly implementing these principles and work with state and federal authorities to make people want to answer their phone again without fear of being defrauded or annoyed.”
 
The coalition of attorneys general, led by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, includes attorneys general from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
 
The coalition of companies includes AT&T, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Consolidated, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, and Windstream.
 

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Utah Attorney General and 10-state Coalition Obtains Victory in Blocking the 2015 WOTUS Rule

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 22, 2019



UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL AND 10-STATE COALITION OBTAINS VICTORY IN BLOCKING THE 2015 WOTUS RULE


SALT LAKE CITY—Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes today announced that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia granted summary judgment in favor of Utah and 9 other states in their lawsuit challenging the Obama Administration’s 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule and kept an injunction against the Rule in place while federal agencies finalize its replacement.

“The 2015 WOTUS Rule is a clear example for federal overreach that infringed on the States’ traditional role as primary regulators of land and water resources within their borders,” said Attorney General Reyes. “We are proud to have fought for this relief, and we look forward to reforms that will permanently relieve farmers and landowners of the unnecessary burdens that the 2015 WOTUS Rule created.” 

In its ruling issued Wednesday afternoon, the court held that the 2015 WOTUS Rule “extend[ed] the Agencies’ delegated authority beyond the limits of the [Clean Water Act]” in a number of ways and also violated multiple procedural requirements for issuing the Rule set out in the federal Administrative Procedure Act. The court explained, “Congress has delegated the important role of protecting the nation’s waters to the Agencies, but in fulfilling that role, the Agencies must comply with the law. Here, they have failed to do just that.” As a result, the court left in place its preliminary injunction that blocks the rule from going into effect in any of the coalition states while the agencies “continue their efforts to change the WOTUS Rule in light of the serious defects identified in this Order.” 

Background: Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army proposed rules that would rescind and replace the 2015 WOTUS Rule. In April of this year, Utah joined 16 other states in submitting comments supporting that proposal. Read more here.

Led by the Georgia Solicitor General’s Unit, the 10-state coalition in this case also included the following states: Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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NOTES:

  1. Read a copy of the ruling here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Georgia-v.-Wheeler-order-granting-summary-judgment.pdf.

Utah AG Reyes’ Call for Forgiveness of Disabled Veterans Student Loans is Granted

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 21, 2019

UTAH AG REYES’ CALL FOR AUTOMATIC DISCHARGE OF STUDENT LOANS FOR PERMANENTLY DISABLED VETERANS IS GRANTED
President Signs Executive Action at Kentucky AMVETS National Convention

SALT LAKE CITY—In direct response to Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes’ call to automatically forgive the student loans of veterans who became totally and permanently disabled because of their military service, President Donald J. Trump today signed an order to do so.  
 
AG Reyes led a bipartisan coalition of 51 Attorneys General (50 states and Guam) alongside New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and sent a letter to the Department of Education Secretary just prior to Memorial Day this year. 
 
Last year DOE identified more than 42,000 veterans nationwide as eligible for student loan relief due to a service-related total and permanent disability, the Attorneys General note in their letter to Secretary DeVos. Fewer than 9,000 of those veterans had applied to have their loans discharged by April 2018, however, and more than 25,000 had student loans in default.
 
The following is a statement from Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes:
 
“I am extremely pleased at today’s [executive] action to automatically forgive student loans for permanently disabled U.S. Veterans. I can’t think of a more deserving group of individuals than American heroes who have served, risked their lives and sacrificed their health to protect our nation.
 
“It is our obligation to do all we can to allow these veterans to have every opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their families now t