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Food-Court Follies: Fraud Suits Fall Apart after Plaintiffs’ Candid Admissions During Discovery

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 08/18/2017 - 11:42am
As many people learned from watching legendary radio and TV show host Art Linkletter (or from simply being parents), kids say the darnedest things. Similarly, those of us who follow class actions alleging misleading labeling of consumer goods have discovered that adult plaintiffs can say the darnedest things, too. Three plaintiffs’ candid admissions during their […]
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Class Actions Clothed in Righteousness: Appeals Court Rejects Bargain-Hunters’ Suits for Lack of Injury

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 1:08pm
By Abbey Coufal, a 2017 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at Washington Legal Foundation who will be entering her third year at Texas Tech University School of Law in the fall. Bargain shopping is not for the weary, but there is something thrilling about combing through items on tightly-packed circular racks, with the hope of hunting […]
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FTC Takes a Commendable First Step Toward Reducing the Burden of Consumer-Protection Investigations

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 9:00am
Featured Expert Column: Antitrust & Competition Policy — Federal Trade Commission By M. Sean Royall, a Partner with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, with Richard H. Cunningham, Of Counsel in the firm’s Denver, CO office, and Ashley M. Rogers, an Associate Attorney in the firm’s Dallas, TX office. On July 17, 2017, Federal Trade Commission […]
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Pokèmon, Go Get a Permit: Free-Speech Suit Ropes in Reactionary County Ordinance

WLF Legal Pulse - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 9:42am
It’s October 2016, and Milwaukee County, Wisconsin residents are massing on sidewalks, around town landmarks, and in public parks, eyes glued to their smartphones as they chase virtual Pokèmon Go characters. Meanwhile, in the halls of county government, elected officials mull over the implications of this craze. Some delight at the game’s ability to bring […]
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Eastern District of Texas Refuses to Accept Supreme Court’s Patent-Venue Ruling

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 9:00am
By Ryley Bennett, a 2017 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at Washington Legal Foundation who will be entering her third year at Texas Tech University School of Law in the fall. The US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) is known as one of the federal judiciary’s most patent-plaintiff-friendly districts. With TC Heartland […]
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Threats Facing Florida’s Tourism Driven Economy

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the ranking member of Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a field hearing titled “Threats Facing Florida’s Tourism Driven Economy” in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Commerce Committee Seeks Answers on Insurance Practices

Committee Leaders Question National General and Wells Fargo About Insurance Sales Practices...

US-Based Tech Companies Subject to Worldwide Jurisdiction as Judicial Comity Takes a Back Seat

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 1:04pm
Guest Commentary By Moin A. Yahya, Vice Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law. The Supreme Court of Canada’s (SCC) recent decision in Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc. is the latest in non-American courts asserting their jurisdiction over American companies’ global operations using the pretext of the Internet.  […]
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WLF Caps off Legal-Studies Series on Commercial Speech with Prof. Martin Redish Interview

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 9:00am
On July 28, 2017, Washington Legal Foundation published an interview in which Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law Professor Martin H. Redish answered questions on the evolution of commercial-speech protection. This “Conversations With” paper provides a fitting culmination to the series of WLF publications on commercial speech produced in the last six months. Over the […]
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Field Hearing to Examine Threats to Florida Tourism Economy

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the ranking member of Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a field hearing titled “Threats Facing Florida’s Tourism Driven Economy” on Thursday, August 10, 2017, at 1:00 p.m. EDT in St. Petersburg, Florida. The hearing will examine tourism’s impact on Florida’s economy and threats to the industry.

Dan Mathews Appointed Commissioner of GSA's Public Buildings Service

GSA news releases - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 12:12pm
Dan Mathews Appointed Commissioner of GSA's Public Buildings Service


Sens. Thune and Nelson Statements on Senate advancing flagship spectrum legislation to the House of Representatives

Senate OKs bill to strengthen anti-spoofing law

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation Thursday to crack down on scam artists who falsify their Caller ID information to trick unsuspecting victims, a practice known as “spoofing”.

The bill, sponsored by U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), strengthens a law passed in 2010 that prohibits scammers from altering the Caller ID information on calls made in the U.S.  The legislation passed by the Senate today expands that prohibition to spoofing using text messages, calls made over the Internet and calls originating from a foreign country.

It also directs the Federal Communications Commission to publish information on its website to help consumers protect themselves from these spoofing scams.  And it calls on the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study of the federal government’s efforts to combat the practice of spoofing and identify any additional measures that may be needed.

“Fighting scam artists is like playing a game of Whac-A-Mole,” said Nelson, who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee.  “Once you think you’ve stopped them, they find other ways to continue to carry out their scams.  This bill will better enable the government to punish fraudsters who use new technologies to pray on unsuspecting victims.”

“Through the Spoofing Prevention Act, Congress can protect the most vulnerable in our society from fraudulent scams,” said Fischer.

Other sponsors of the legislation include Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).  The House of Representatives passed similar legislation in January. 

Click here to view text of the Spoofing Prevention Act of 2017.

Senate Confirms Commerce Committee Presidential Nominations

“I congratulate each of the confirmed nominees and look forward to working with them as they begin their new roles,” said Thune.

Senate Passes Six Technology and Telecommunications Bills

U.S. Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, applauded Senate passage today of six technology and telecommunications bills, all of which were previously approved by the committee.

Insurance Fraud in America: Current Issues Facing Industry and Consumers

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<p>Good morning, everyone. I call to

Good morning, everyone. I call to order this hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security.

As the title suggests, this Subcommittee exercises wide jurisdiction over a diverse range of topics. This will be our first hearing this Congress to examine matters pertaining to insurance – specifically, that of insurance fraud. Thank you to our expert witnesses who came here to join us today.

Insurance fraud is a major concern not only for insurers – who bear the costs of fraudulent claim payouts – but also consumers, who see these costs passed on to them in the form of higher premiums. This hearing will examine the scope of insurance fraud at-large in the United States and address nationwide fraud trends across a variety of insurance markets, including property and casualty, and life insurance. In addition, we’ll discuss the tools available to states, insurers, and consumers to protect themselves against these crimes.

The insurance industry has an enormous presence in the United States. There are nearly 3,000 property and casualty insurance companies across the country, and another 850 life and health insurance companies. Together, they generated over 1 trillion dollars in premiums in the year 2015 alone.

The FBI reports that the sheer size of this industry makes it an attractive target for criminals by providing ample opportunities and bigger incentives for committing illegal activities, estimating the total cost of non-health insurance fraud in the U.S. to be more than 40 billion dollars annually. That level of insurance fraud, in turn, costs the average American family upwards of 700 dollars per year in the form of increased premiums.

With examples of insurance consumer concerns like recent news reports indicating Wells Fargo charged its automobile loan customers for collision insurance they did not need, this hearing is exceptionally timely.  As for oversight, my staff is already in communication with Wells Fargo regarding these concerns, and I plan to follow up accordingly to gather additional information on the circumstances and what is being done to address these issues.

While insurance is largely regulated at the state level, insurance fraud schemes can and do lead to federal criminal charges, and I believe the federal government must do what it can to protect consumers from bad actors who seek to defraud them. Raising consumer awareness is a significant component of helping consumers protect themselves, and to that end this hearing will highlight a number of current insurance fraud trends – including auto insurance fraud, workers’ compensation fraud, fee churning schemes, and contractor fraud in the wake of natural disasters.

As was a common theme among popular consumer “scams” discussed in this Subcommittee earlier this year, insurance fraud schemes are constantly evolving and growing in complexity over time. Technology must and will play a crucial role in catching sophisticated fraud activity, and I look forward to learning more from our distinguished witness panel about the use and efficacy of emerging technologies, data collection, and information sharing practices to better detect and prevent insurance fraud.

Once again, thank you all for being here and generously delaying your August recess travel plans to be a part of this important hearing. With that I will now turn to the Ranking Member, Senator Blumenthal, for his opening remarks.  

Commerce Ranking Member Bill Nelson Opening Statement

Thank you for calling this hearing Mr. Chairman.  As Florida’s former insurance commissioner, I’ve seen firsthand how fraud impacts consumers and insurers.

Insurance fraud takes on many forms from sales abuses that target the elderly to “cash for crash” schemes where accidents are deliberately staged or caused for financial gain. 

One of the most despicable cases I can recall was that of an insurer who took advantage of black policyholders for decades by overcharging them for burial policies.

Fortunately, we were able to put a stop to that practice.

While individual states, and not the federal government, continue to be the primary regulators of insurance, I welcome hearing from our distinguished panel today regarding the trends they’re seeing on the fraud front and whether there is a role the federal government can play to help the states.

Meantime, since we are talking about insurance, I would also like to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on last week’s health care vote and its aftermath.

As I have said throughout this process, we need to come together and seek bipartisan solutions to fix the Affordable Care Act and not undo all of the good things its done.  

That is why I’ve been working with Senator Collins to find solutions that will provide immediate relief to families back home.

In fact, over the last week the two of us have joined a bipartisan group of other senators who share our desire to find a path forward.

We’ve discussed creating a permanent reinsurance fund to lower the financial risk of insurance companies and reduce premiums for American families.

I’ve seen this work before during my days as insurance commissioner following Hurricane Andrew, the second costliest hurricane in our nation’s history.

In Andrew’s aftermath, Florida established a reinsurance fund to insure the insurance companies for their catastrophic losses.

The same thing can and should be done for health care.

I cosponsored a bill to create a permanent reinsurance program that would provide federal funding to cover 80 percent of insurance claims falling between 50,000 dollars and 500,000 dollars over the next two years.  

After that, federal funding would cover 80 percent of insurance claims between 100,000 dollars and 500,000 dollars. 

One Florida insurer estimated the bill would reduce premiums for Floridians by up to 13 percent.

We can also work in a bipartisan manner to fund payments that lower Americans’ out-of-pockets costs.

These are the same payments the administration is threatening to end that lower costs for millions of Americans.

If these payments are stopped, there will be real consequences.

Working families will face higher premiums and fewer insurance options.  In Florida, premiums will increase by 25 percent if these payments are cancelled. 

Higher costs mean fewer folks will be able to afford coverage. 

Our colleagues on the HELP Committee, Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray, have the right idea.

They have committed to holding a series of hearings with the goal of stabilizing the ACA’s insurance market.

That’s a good start and one I hope we can all get behind because, in reality, it’s going to take more than just a few of us to improve health care for families back home.

That said Mr. Chairman, I would welcome working with you or any of my colleagues here to find that path forward.

Small Business Committee Encourages Administration to Nominate Chief Counsel for Advocacy at the SBA

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Today, House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) sent a letter to President Trump praising his Administration’s efforts to ease the regulatory burden on small businesses and encouraging him to nominate a Chief Counsel for Advocacy at the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy.


The Committee wrote, “To continue your progress in easing the regulatory burden on the economy, we urge you to nominate a Chief Counsel for Advocacy at the United States Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy (Office of Advocacy).  The Office of Advocacy is the “independent voice for small business within the federal government, the watchdog for the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) and the source of small business statistics.”


 “The Office of Advocacy has already been assisting with regulatory reform by using its expertise to hold regional regulatory roundtables across the country to hear from small businesses facing regulatory burdens. These efforts would be enhanced if the Office of Advocacy had a Chief Counsel in place who could provide clear direction on regulatory reform and appoint regional advocates who will assist in outreach efforts out in the field,” the Committee concluded.


The Small Business Committee Majority signed the letter in support and the entire text of the letter can be found HERE.


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