Skip to content
Main Menu
Utah Attorney General
Attorney General
Sean D. Reyes
Utah Office of the Attorney General
Secondary Navigation

Attorney General Reyes Joins 23 State Bipartisan Coalition Supporting Individuals Hurt by Bone Drug’s Side Effects

June 1, 2023

Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition supporting individuals suing Merck & Co. for injuries they suffered using Merck’s osteoporosis drug Fosamax. 

The Plaintiffs claim they suffered atypical femur fractures after using the drug between 1999 and 2010, and Merck knew about the risk before putting a warning label on it in 2012. To recover for those injuries, they have filed claims under New Jersey state law.

The plaintiffs are appealing the U.S. District Court’s ruling that the claims of failure to warn of the risk of atypical femoral fractures were preempted because the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) rejected a warning label that discussed the risks of a stress fractures—a risk totally different than the atypical femur fractures the plaintiffs suffered in this case.

Attorney General Miyares and the other state attorneys general wrote that this decision “risks undermining the core principles of federalism and could prevent states from allowing their citizens to hold pharmaceutical companies to account for their actions.” 

As long as the states are not explicitly forbidden from exercising regulatory power to protect their citizens, the Constitution allows them to do so. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act does not expressly preempt state tort claims regarding prescription drugs.  State consumer protection against dangerous products such As pharmaceutical drugs is crucial to recovering drug hazards as states can encourage injured people to come forward with information and compensate them.

The coalition wrote that “giving agency action the sort of sweeping preemptive effect that the District Court gave it here threatens to shrink this important body of state consumer protection law.”

The following states joined Attorney General Miyares’ Coalition: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia. 

Read the amicus brief here.

Supreme Court Rules in Waters of the U.S. Case

May 30, 2023

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in Sackett, et ux,. v Environmental Protection Agency, giving a more thorough and constrained definition to the Waters of the United States within the Clean Water Act. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the ruling for the Court – with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett concurring.  

The case involved a battle between two Idaho residents (the Sacketts) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Sacketts attempted to backfill their property with dirt as an initial step for building a home. Still, they were stymied by the EPA due to its overbearing interpretation of Waters of the United States (WOTUS). The EPA claimed unconstitutional authority and jurisdiction over the Sacketts’ actions on their property – even threatening fines of $40,000 a day – because a nearby ditch emptied into a non-navigable creek, which emptied into Priest Lake – a navigable, intrastate body of water. Both the District Court and the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed with the EPA’s position, leading to the arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court.  

The U.S. Supreme Court, through Justice Alito’s opinion, held that the Clean Waters Act “extends to only those ‘wetlands’ with a continuous surface connection to bodies that are ‘waters of the United States’ in their own right, so that they are ‘indistinguishable’ from those waters.” The justices determined that “the wetlands on the Sacketts’ property are distinguishable from any possibly covered waters,” reversing the decision from the Ninth Circuit. 

Last year, Utah signed an Amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, led by West Virginia and joined by 25 other states. The States asked the Supreme Court to reverse the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in this matter, making the case that the recent decisions offend states’ authority, conflict with the Clean Waters Act text, present serious Constitutional concerns, and burden both states and the public.  

Earlier this year, General Reyes joined 23 attorneys general in a lawsuit against the Biden Administration’s WOTUS rule attempting to expand federal authority over nearly every waterway in the nation. The attorneys general argued that the EPA’s newly promulgated WOTUS rule “goes beyond the power Congress delegated in the Clean Water Act, raises serious constitutional concerns, and runs roughshod over the Administrative Procedure Act.” If this rule were enacted, the definition of “navigable waters” would be fundamentally transformed to include ponds, certain streams, ditches, and other bodies of water under the Clean Water Act – as determined by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. This case is still pending in federal court. 

Read the U.S. Supreme Court opinion here.

Attorney General Reyes Joins in Letter Urging Congress to Schedule Vote on Resolution Involving Pistol Brace Rule

May 30, 2023

Last week, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a coalition of 27 state attorneys in urging Congress to schedule a vote on a resolution involving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives rule regarding pistol stabilizing braces.

The coalition sent a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy Thursday concerning the Congressional Review Act resolution for the ATF’s final rule—Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached Stabilizing Braces—urging the scheduling of a vote early “enough to complete the CRA process before the rule’s May 31, 2023, registration deadline.”

In February, West Virginia Attorney General Morrisey, who co-led the letter with Texas, led a coalition of 25 states and others in challenging the rule as unlawful, arbitrary, and capricious. The coalition’s motion to preliminarily enjoin the rule remains pending.

Stabilizing braces were designed to help people with disabilities use pistols. Since then, many others, including older persons, people with limited mobility, and those with smaller stature, have come to use the braces. These braces have been sold as firearms attachments for more than a decade, not subject to regulation.

The rule, however, affects almost all owners of combinations of stabilizing braces and pistols and handgun owners—many lawful gun owners use stabilizers to prevent some recoil when using firearms and to help with accuracy. An estimated 10 to 40 million pistols with stabilizing braces are presently in circulation nationwide, and the ATF’s rule requires nearly all of them to be registered with the federal government by May 31. 

“Although we generally defer to you on the schedule of the House, this issue is pressing and demands immediate action,” the coalition wrote to McCarthy.

West Virginia co-led the letter with Texas. They were joined by Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wyoming.

Read a copy of the letter here.

Memorial Day: Utah AG Honors Those Who Have Fallen For Our Flag

May 29, 2023

Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes is honoring those Americans who have not just fought for our flag but fallen for it. On Memorial Day, may we be reminded never to forget them and the ultimate price they paid for the liberty and prosperity we are blessed with.

Attorney General Reyes said: “America has lost many noble sons and daughters in the service to our nation.  One such Utahn is USMC SSgt Taylor Hoover. Taylor died in 2021 defending the Abbey Gate at Kabul airport.  After being hit by a suicide bomber, he spent the last bit of strength continuing to protect and aid others in the fight.

“We will never forget you, Marine! Watching you laid to rest in Arlington was one of the most sacred days of my life.”

Alan White Retirement

ICAC Commander Alan White Retires After 12 Years of Service Protecting Kids

May 27, 2023

After 12 years as an investigator for the Utah Attorney General’s Office, and 23 years in law enforcement, Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Commander Alan White has retired.

This office congratulates Commander White and expresses a debt of thanks for his dedication and service

to the citizens of Utah in an effort to protect children from those who seek to exploit children.

Commander White has been a dedicated leader in the statewide effort to protect Utah youth from online predators at a time when the number of threats has increased significantly.   Last year, the ICAC Task Force more than 200 people with crimes related to trading online Child Sex Abuse material (CSAM), or attempting to meet minors for sex.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to work with the professionals in the Utah Attorney General’s Office and with law enforcement around the state,” Commander White said.  “We are facing an overwhelming and disturbing problem growing rapidly.  I’m confident in the leadership facing those challenges and taking ICAC into the future.”

In Memory Brent Burnett

Honoring Long Time Assistant Attorney General Brent Burnett

May 27, 2023

The Utah Attorney General’s office offers condolences to the family of Brent Burnett, a longtime employee who served 39 years in our office. (37 as an attorney and two as a clerk).

Brent worked most of his time in the Litigation Division, where he was Section Chief and is one of the first attorneys to work in the Civil Appeals Division in the office.   His wisdom and historical knowledge were invaluable and were missed after his retirement in 2021.

He was a proud father of six sons who were eagle scouts and was a leader in the Boy Scouts of America for 25 years.  Brent leaves behind his wife Terri Lee, seven children, and 20 grandchildren.

SCOTUS Rules in Favor of Woman in Takings Clause Case-AG Reyes Led Amicus on Behalf of Victim

May 25, 2023

Today, in a unanimous opinion authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a decision for 94-year-old Geraldine Tyler in Tyler et al, v. Hennepin County et al, reversing an earlier ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. 

The case arose in Hennepin County, Minnesota, after Tyler had been forced to vacate her condominium in 2010, moving into a senior community for safety concerns. Due to the relocation, she neglected to pay the property taxes on the property, which led to the County seizing her asset, foreclosing and selling the property for $40,000, and unjustly retaining all the proceeds from the sale – though the value of the property far exceeded her tax debt and associated interest and fees (which were approximately $15,000). 

Ms. Tyler argued that Hennepin County’s refusal to return the excess sale proceeds to her was a taking without just compensation as stipulated by the Fifth Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with her position. 

Attorney General Sean D. Reyes led an Amicus Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Ms. Tyler for the States of Utah, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Dakota, Texas, and West Virginia. The States argued that private property rights are essential to a free society, and when governments violate those rights, they destabilize the public’s trust in and respect for the system under which they live; and that the practice in a minority of states of confiscating surplus proceeds from a foreclosure sale, after the relevant delinquent taxes and fees are recouped, is just such a violation of these rights. 

As Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the Court, “The Takings Clause ‘was designed to bar Government from forcing some people alone to bear public burdens which, in all fairness and justice, should be borne by the public as a whole.’ Armstrong, 364 U. S., at 49. A taxpayer who loses her $40,000 house to the State to fulfill a $15,000 tax debt has made a far greater contribution to the public fisc than she owed. The taxpayer must render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but no more.” 

Read the opinion here.

Read Utah-led Amicus here.

Associated Press News story link here.

Illegal Immigration

AG Reyes Joins 23 state Coalition Against Biden Administration’s Unlawful Immigration Policy

May 25, 2023

Today Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a coalition of states who filed an amicus brief in the case of Florida v. Mayorkas, supporting the State of Florida’s lawsuit against the Biden Administration’s unlawful immigration policy, creating a dangerous crisis at our southern border. Rather than detaining illegal immigrants as the law requires, the Biden Administration has released those cited at the border into the United States. This policy flagrantly violates federal immigration law and encourages immigrants to try and cross the border illegally, hoping to be released into the interior.

G Reyes Joins 23 State Coalition Against Biden Administration’s Unlawful Immigration Policy

Since taking office, President Biden has seen an illegal immigration explosion of more than 5.5 million, larger than the population of 28 states. The Administration has released more than a million immigrants it encountered at the border into the interior. The Administration’s policy of “catch and release” rather than detaining them has encouraged not only more illegal immigration but also dangerous criminal activity like fentanyl smuggling and human trafficking, both of which have exacted a terrible toll on this country. 

Attorney General Reyes filed the brief along with the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Read the brief here.


Utah AG’s Office CASE Task Force Continues Crackdown on Organized Retail Theft

May 24, 2023

Seven people face charges connected to an elaborate scheme to steal clothing and other merchandise from Utah retailers and sell it on the black market.  The value of the merchandise is in the tens of thousands of dollars and was stolen from 10 retailers total, including various locations for Kohls, TJ Maxx, Burlington, Marshall’s, and Sierra Clothing. 

“These kinds of brazen theft and money-making schemes are extremely damaging to our statewide economy,” said Utah Attorney General’s Office Communications Director Rich Piatt. “This isn’t typical shoplifting, and it’s not harmless. We want to get the word out that the retailers are on to their game, and so are we.  Law enforcement takes these crimes very seriously.”   

Gilli Ann Mejia, Raymundo Vivalca, Yenni Jimenez Magana, Marcus Anthony Jackson, Bobbi Jo Carter, Emanuel Ramirez, and Maria Guadalupe all face second-degree felony charges of Retail Theft, Receiving Stolen Property, and Pattern of Unlawful Activity.

Over the last year, undercover officers observed individuals enter the stores multiple times a week, gather large quantities of high-value merchandise, and then leave the stores without paying for it. The individuals would sell it for profit.  The total retail value is estimated to be at least $20,000.

The Attorney General’s Office CASE Task Force would like to thank the State Bureau of Investigation, West Jordan Police Department, Taylorsville Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Adult Probation & Parole for assistance during this investigation.

Probable Cause Statements are available on Court Exchange.

Multi-State Task Force Sues Avid Telecom Over Illegal Robocalls

May 24, 2023

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, representing the Utah Division of Consumer Protection, sued Avid Telecom, its owner Michael D. Lansky, and Vice President Stacey S. Reeves today for allegedly initiating and facilitating billions of illegal robocalls to millions of people and violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and other federal and state telemarketing and consumer laws. Avid Telecom sent or transmitted more than 7.5 billion calls to telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry between December 2018 and January 2023 – more than 72 million of which went to numbers in Utah.

Attorney General Reyes said: “Robocalls are far more than a mere nuisance. Many of them are financial threats to citizens in Utah and nationwide. Our office has worked closely with the Division of Consumer Protection and other state attorneys general for years to fight these scammers and protect Americans.  

AG Reyes continued: “Avid Telecom blatantly and wantonly broke the law to facilitate scams about Social Security, Medicare, Amazon, car warranties, credit card interest reduction, and more. Avid and its corporate officers generated more than 20 billion calls in just over four years, with 7.5 billion made to numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. 

“Avid was warned repeatedly to halt its illegal actions but greedily continued to profit off of innocent victims while acting like it was above the law. Avid needs to be held accountable by Utah, and so many of our sister states across America,” AG Reyes said.

Avid Telecom is a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service provider that sells data, phone numbers, dialing software, and/or expertise to help customers make mass robocalls. It also serves as an intermediate provider and allegedly facilitated or helped route illegal robocalls nationwide. Between December 2018 and January 2023, Avid sent or attempted to transmit more than 24.5 billion calls. More than 90 percent of those calls lasted less than 15 seconds, indicating they were likely robocalls. Further, Avid helped make hundreds of millions of calls using spoofed or invalid caller ID numbers, including more than 8.4 million calls that appeared to be coming from government agencies, law enforcement agencies, and private companies.  

Avid Telecom allegedly sent or transmitted scam calls about Social Security Administration scams, Medicare scams, auto warranty scams, Amazon scams, DirecTV scams, credit card interest rate reduction scams, and employment scams. Examples of some of these scam calls are available to listen to here and here.

The USTelecom-led Industry Traceback Group, which notifies providers about known and suspected illegal robocalls sent across their networks, sent at least 329 notifications to Avid Telecom that it was transmitting these calls, but Avid Telecom continued to do so. 

Today’s legal action comes from the nationwide Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force of 51 bipartisan attorneys general. The task force is investigating and taking legal action against those responsible for routing significant volumes of illegal robocall traffic into and across the United States. The Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General provided investigative assistance.

Attorney General Reyes is joined in filing today’s complaint by the Attorneys General of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Read the lawsuit here.