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The Role of the State Attorney General-Harvard Law School-Spring. 2022

Single State Attorney General Consumer Fraud Matters

UDAP statues were enacted at a time when goods and services were exchanged by local firms.  Whether it was buying a refrigerator or a car, the chances were very high that the transaction would be local and from a business with whom the consumer regularly dealt.  Enforcement by an attorney general was therefore almost always a single state, localized prosecution.


Today our integrated economy has resulted in most of our economic decisioins crossing state lines, so attorney general consumer cases are increasingly multistate, but single state cases do continue.   The Accretive and cable cases are examples of single state enforcement actions by a single attorney general.


A 2019 study of attorney general multistate litigation turned up this information on single state:  Bipartisan Corporate Crime Fighting by States; How Red and Blue Attorneys General Cooperate in Addressing Big Business Misconduct, Mattera and Baggaley, 2019


Single State:

The 644 multistate settlements represent a subset of more than 7,600 state AG cases we compiled for an expansion of our Violation Tracker database. In the period since 2000, the largest number of single-state AG announcements we found came from the following states: Massachusetts (1,765), New York (1,128), Connecticut (632) and Missouri (408).

In total-dollar terms, the leaders are: New York ($9.8 billion), California ($7.5 billion), Massachusetts ($2.6 billion) and Mississippi ($2.0 billion).

The largest single-state case we found was a $1.6 billion settlement that New York, in cooperation with the Securities and Exchange Commission, reached with American International Group in 2006 to resolve allegations of fraud and bid-rigging. We found six other single-state settlements worth $750 million or more.

While multi-state cases almost always result in civil settlements, more than 500 of the single-state cases ended with fines or court verdicts. About 70 of these were filed as criminal matters.