Attorney General's Weekly Newsletter
Volume 9, Issue 51 • Dec. 30, 2011

Florida recently lost two brave law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty. Lakeland Police Officer Arnulfo Crispin was shot on December 18th while responding to a call, and he died three days later. Seminole County Sheriff's Office Deputy Matt Miller was killed in a motorcycle accident while attempting to pull over a vehicle on December 26th.

My heart and prayers go out to the families and friends of Officer Crispin and Deputy Miller. These two men dedicated their lives to protecting Floridians. We will remember them both for their selflessness and service.

I ask that you join me in remembering the law enforcement officers who have lost their lives and in thanking the law enforcement officers who put their badges on each day and head to work, risking their own safety for ours.

In the News
South Florida Sun Sentinel - GE agrees to pay $70M to settle bond price-fixing case
Businessweek - Sharp, Samsung Agree on $539 Million to End Antitrust Cases
CNN Money -
States reach $538 million settlement on LCD price-fixing
Tampa Bay Business Journal - JW Wellness clinic case leads to 30-year prison term

Protecting Floridians
Attorney General Bondi’s Office Reaches Multi-Million Dollar Settlement with AT&T Mobility Over Allegations of Unwanted Cell Phone Charges
Attorney General Pam Bondi announced a settlement with AT&T Mobility resolving allegations that Roadside Assistance plans were charged to Florida customers’ cell phone bills without the customers’ consent. Customers were billed $2.99 per month for the service. The agreement requires AT&T Mobility to refund all charges for Roadside Assistance to Florida customers who did not consent to or use the service during the time they were charged. The Attorney General's Office estimates that more than 600,000 cell phone numbers of Florida customers were charged for Roadside Assistance during the time period investigated and that a substantial number of those customers will be eligible for refunds. Significantly, this is the first case that specifically requires a cell phone company to use text messages to confirm a service has been added to a customer's cell phone and provide an easy method for the consumer to cancel the service if it is unwanted.

Attorney General Bondi’s Office Reaches $538.5 Million Multi-State and Class Action Settlement with Manufacturers of TFT-LCD Panels

Attorney General Pam Bondi, seven other state attorneys general, and lead counsel for the class of indirect purchasers have reached a $538.5 million settlement with manufacturers and sellers of the thin film transistor (TFT) liquid crystal display (LCD) panels. The complaint alleged the defendants conspired to prevent competition and to increase prices for TFT-LCD panels, the most common form of LCD panels used in popular electronic devices such as desktop monitors, laptop screens, and flat panel televisions. Florida will also receive its proportionate share of $14.7 million in civil penalties.

Multistate Working Group Agrees to $34.25 Million Settlement with GE Funding Over Illegal Municipal Bond Derivatives Scheme

Last Friday, Attorney General Bondi announced a $34.25 million settlement with GE Funding Capital Market Services, Inc. as part of an ongoing nationwide investigation of alleged illegal conduct in the municipal bond derivatives industry. Municipal bond derivatives are contracts that tax-exempt issuers use to reinvest proceeds of bond sales until the funds are needed, or to hedge interest-rate risk. Eligible Florida entities will receive more than $1,300,000 under the settlement. Click here to read the full news release.

Attorney General Bondi’s Office Releases 2010 Hate Crimes Report

Attorney General Pam Bondi released the 2010 Hate Crimes in Florida Report, which includes detailed information on the types of hate crimes being committed throughout the state. During the 2010 calendar year, 149 hate crimes were reported by the 367 local law enforcement agencies that provide data to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Audit & Data Collection Unit of the Criminal Justice Information Services Program through the Uniform Crime Reporting information system. For the full news release, click here.

Attorney General Pam Bondi Asks Fourth District Court of Appeal to Certify Important Foreclosure Investigation Case for Florida Supreme Court Review

Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a motion asking the Fourth District Court of Appeal to certify that its recent decision in Law Offices of David Stern, P.A. v. State of Florida passes upon a question of great public importance. In Stern, the Fourth DCA held that the Attorney General’s Office lacked authority under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (“FDUPTA”) to subpoena records of the Stern firm as part of an investigation into possible misconduct in the firm’s handling of foreclosure cases.

Applicable court rules require certification from the Fourth DCA before this office may appeal the Stern decision to the Florida Supreme Court. The Attorney General’s motion asks the Fourth DCA to certify that its decision in Stern passes upon the following question of great public importance: whether the creation of invalid assignments of mortgages by a law firm and subsequent use of such documents by the firm in foreclosure litigation on behalf of the purported assignee is an unfair and deceptive trade practice which may be the subject of an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General.

The Stern case is significant because FDUPTA is the principal enforcement tool available to the Attorney General's Office to remedy foreclosure-related misconduct. In addition to the Stern firm, the Attorney General’s Office has six pending investigations into law firms for potential misconduct in foreclosure cases.