Attorney General Josh Shapiro Announces $8 Million in Restitution for Pennsylvania Consumers and Agencies
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania consumers are receiving $3 million and Commonwealth agencies will receive an additional $5 million in restitution following the settlement of two consumer protection cases, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced today.
“One of my most important responsibilities is fighting to protect Pennsylvania consumers,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “The Office of Attorney General is focused every day on enforcing the law and ensuring consumers who’ve been victimized get the restitution and money they deserve.”
In the largest settlement, 1,996 Pennsylvania consumers are receiving a share of a $3,013,533 settlement with the drug maker Cephalon over the company’s wakefulness drug Provigil. In addition to the restitution to consumers, the company is paying $3,937,987 to Pennsylvania agencies, including the Department of Human Services’ Medicaid Program and the Department of Aging’s PACE Program. The Office of Attorney General is receiving $1 million for its litigation costs. Consumers will be notified by a claims administrator of their restitution.
The Cephalon settlement, entered into by a coalition of 47 Attorneys General, resolves claims that the company violated anti-trust and consumer protection laws by delaying the entry of lower-cost generic versions of Provigil into the marketplace and that the company made misrepresentations to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
The second settlement was filed in Allegheny County Court with Sperian Energy Corporation last fall. The company violated Pennsylvania’s Do-Not-Call Law and called Pennsylvanians on the list who do not want to receive these calls. Sperian, a Nevada company, is paying $50,000 to settle the case. Eighty Pennsylvania consumers who filed complaints with the Bureau of Consumer Protection about the unsolicited calls are receiving a total of $8,000 as part of the settlement, or $100 apiece. The remaining funds are going to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Treasury and the Office of Attorney General.
In 2017, 25 percent of all complaints to the Bureau of Consumer Protection came from consumers complaining they are on the Do-Not-Call List – and still getting unwanted solicitation calls. Among seniors, the percentage of complaints about these calls rose to 34 percent. Telemarketers are required by state law to purchase the Do Not Call List and remove phone numbers of consumers who signed up not to receive the calls.
“I was dismayed and annoyed that I was called by Sperian Energy and its vendors after registering on the Pennsylvania ‘Do-Not-Call’ List,” said central Pennsylvania resident Kathleen McMaster, a victim of the illegal calls. “I appreciate Attorney General Shapiro and his office for standing up to this corporation and protecting Pennsylvania consumers like me.”
Another telephone scam, known as spoofing, is a growing national problem. Attorney General Shapiro testified in Washington last fall about the issue before a U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging at the invitation of Senator Bob Casey. Attorney General Shapiro also joined a bipartisan coalition of 29 attorneys general in a formal comment to the Federal Communications Commission, asking them to allow phone companies to block robocalls and spoofed calls. The FCC responded, approving new rules allowing phone companies to proactively block calls that are likely to be fraudulent because they come from certain types of numbers.
If you are a Pennsylvania consumer and believe you have been victimized by a telemarketer, spoofed calls, or any other business or individual, you should contact the Office of Attorney General Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-441-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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