State Attorneys General (State AGs)
Public sector legal disputes can arise at all levels of government. Across the country, state Attorneys General (State AGs) are often at the center of these actions. State AGs – who in most states are elected statewide office-holders — are the legal representatives of their states in civil investigations and litigation, and they can launch investigations and litigation against virtually any business entity. For decades, State AGs have been powerful forces with nationwide scope, pursuing wide-ranging investigations and civil enforcement activities against businesses.
State AGs often band together in multi-state coalitions, which are often bipartisan and multi-regional, to pursue investigations and litigation across the country. State AGs also frequently team up with federal agencies, including the Department of Justice (USDOJ), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Education (DOE), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Some of the largest and most complex civil cases in American legal history have emerged from State AG investigations, including the national tobacco settlement, national mortgage settlement, and the recent national opioid settlements.
Recent high-profile State AG investigations and litigation have targeted companies in a broad array of industries, including pharmaceutical, biotechnology, social media, e-commerce, banking, real estate, healthcare, telecommunications, gaming, and more.
State AG Actions
State Attorneys General have launched investigations and pursued litigation involving a wide range of issues, including:
- Child safety
- Climate change
- Constitutional rights
- Consumer protection
- Cybersecurity / data security
- Environmental contamination
- False and deceptive advertising
- Financial services
- Healthcare competition and consolidation
- Labor and employment issues
- Life Sciences
- Promotions and sweepstakes
- Public health
- Social media
- Unfair and deceptive acts and practices
Experience in State AG Actions
Morningstar Law Group’s Government Investigations, Negotiation, and Litigation team, led by Swain Wood, who served as First Assistant Attorney General of North Carolina, have extensive public and private sector experience in resolving complex State AG actions. Our attorneys have worked inside state government and played leading roles in many high-impact investigations, negotiations, and litigation. This experience includes:
- Serving as lead national negotiator for a bipartisan executive committee of state Attorneys General in what the New York Timescalled “one of the most complicated and gargantuan legal battles in American history.” Those negotiations, with multiple Fortune 50 companies, resulted in $40 billion in national opioid settlements, involving nearly all states, thousands of local governments nationally. The consent orders resulting from those settlements create multi-billion-dollar remediation funds and require major changes to the opioid distribution industry.
- Directing the State of North Carolina’s first-in-the-nation investigation and litigation against e-cigarette make Juul for marketing to children, resulting in a $40 million consent order.
- Leading the negotiations that resulted in a $1.1 billion coal ash clean-up agreement with Duke Energy.