SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Today, Attorney General Sean D. Reyes led a coalition of 26 attorneys general in sending a letter to President Joe Biden and congressional leaders, urging the federal government to prioritize and provide financial and humanitarian assistance to Israel after the October 7th terrorist attacks by Hamas.
General Reyes issued the following statement: “My heart is broken by the horrific tragedies that Israel experienced last month. Israel is one of America’s greatest allies, and we must ensure that they have the full support of our government as they protect their homeland from terror and genocide. I pray for peace in Israel and for the end of this conflict.”
In their letter, the attorneys general write, “The atrocities in Israel from a month ago prove, yet again, and perhaps more so than at any time since WWII, that the United States of America must stand with unwavering, unbending, and unrelenting support for the Jewish people during their great time of need. Israel must be supported through her efforts to protect herself from terror, and our nation must lead by example to show the world that America will not leave Israel’s side until this war is completed and her citizens can live in peace.”
Joining Utah on the letter were the attorneys general of the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined an amicus brief, led by the State of Texas, in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Jackson Municipal Airport Authority v. Harkins. The case involves the application of legislative privilege in an ongoing challenge to a state law that restructured a local agency.
Back in 2016, the State of Mississippi enacted SB 2162 to restructure governance of the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority, giving the surrounding counties and the state voices on an expanded panel. When dissatisfied Authority members sought access to internal legislative documents about the new law’s enactment, the district court ruled against the legislature. The court concluded that “the Legislators had waived their claim that certain documents were shielded from disclosure by the legislative privilege” and that “the Legislators [were compelled] to produce a privilege log.” The legislators appealed to the Fifth Circuit.
In their brief, the attorneys general raise two arguments. First, that the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the new law because they lack tenure protections. Second, that if the Court decides the plaintiffs do have standing, the judges “should reaffirm the legislative privilege’s broad protections.” The attorneys general also explain that the legislative privilege “reinforces representative democracy by fostering an environment where public servants can undertake their duties without the threat of personal liability or the distraction of incessant litigation.”
Joining Utah and Texas on the brief were the States of Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, and South Carolina.
Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and the Utah Attorney General’s Office wish all the State’s veterans and their families a Happy Veterans Day. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Utah has more than 132,000 veterans, and many of them continue to make significant contributions and sacrifices for our communities – even long after their time of service in various military branches has come to an end.
Since the formation of our nation, men and women from all walks of life have valiantly defended our freedoms, our Constitution, and our flag. We owe so much to these heroes, who were willing to give all to safeguard what truly makes our country so great and maintains its standing as a shining city upon a hill. Whether those who have enlisted have fought in war or not, their service has ensured that the United States of America remains a beacon of liberty, hope, and opportunity for future citizens.
At the Utah Attorney General’s Office, we are passionate about fighting for our veterans and protecting their rights and interests to the fullest extent of the law. Our office supports veterans with its Utah@Ease Program, which offers pro-bono services for veterans and active service members. If you are a veteran and in need of our assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to see how we might be able to help.
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined an amicus brief to the Supreme Court of the United States in Muldrow v Missouri. The filing, led by the State of Arkansas, urges the nation’s high court to uphold the Eighth Circuit ruling in a case involving Title VII employment transfer decisions.
The case involves a lawsuit, filed by Jatonya Clayborn Muldrow, over Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleging that the City of St. Louis discriminated against her because of her sex in transferring her to another division. As a sergeant in the St. Louis Police Department’s Intelligence Division, Muldrow also served as a Task Force Officer for the FBI’s Human Trafficking Unit before being transferred to another division after a change in command. The City moved for summary judgment on the ground that Muldrow’s transfer had not caused her harm or disadvantage. Both the District Court and the Eighth Circuit sided with the City, leading to the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In their brief, the coalition of attorneys general writes that “Muldrow’s proposed approach will have real-world consequences for states and local governments…chill[ing] legitimate and vital lateral transfers and crippl[ing] state and local government. It would inhibit reassignments of teachers to understaffed schools, transfers of police from lower-to-higher-crime areas, and paralyze the everyday reallocation of workers throughout government.”
Joining Utah and Arkansas on the brief were the states of Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas.
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – After Attorney General Sean D. Reyes led a multistate amicus brief in Wawa v. Frank, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit sided with the coalition of attorneys general, giving the Utah Attorney General’s Office a legal victory in an important case involving a question of reasonable settlement awards to consumer class members and class counsel.
This challenge arose after Wawa’s settlement of a nationwide data breach case awarded more money to class counsel ($3.2 million in fees) than to the class members who were compromised ($80,000 cash and a potential for $2.8 million in low-value gift cards). The fees to class counsel were awarded based on the $9 million in gift cards Wawa initially made “available” to class members, instead of the relief actually delivered, which would likely be a 2-5% redemption rate of the $2.8 million in transmitted gift cards according to studies.
The States argued that attorneys’ fees should be awarded based on settlement relief that class members actually receive, and that class counsel would likely capture over 93% of the true settlement value because of the extremely low redemption rates of low-value gift cards. For example, if recipients of the delivered gift cards redeemed on the high end of the studies (5%), that would represent an award of $140,000 (in addition to the $80,000 in cash) to consumer class members compared to the $3.2 million designation to class counsel.
In the appeals court opinion, the panel of three judges agreed with the attorneys general, vacating the earlier determination of awarded fees and remanding the case to the district court for reconsideration. Judge Matey, writing the decision, directed the lower court “to consider whether ‘the funds made available to class members rather than the amount actually claimed during the claims process’ is the best measure of reasonableness; and whether the fee award is reasonable in light of any side agreements between class counsel and Wawa.”
General Reyes issued the following statement: “Throughout my time in office, I have worked to safeguard the economic interests of hard-working Americans. In this case, our team in Utah led a national coalition of states determined to fight for our citizens. I applaud the decision of the Court to stand with consumers and create sensible precedent for future class actions. Thank you to all of my AG colleagues who joined in our successful amicus brief.”
Joining Utah in the amicus brief were the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a letter, which was led by the State of South Carolina, to Eventbrite over concerns of censorship of an event hosted by a conservative family advocacy group.
The coalition of States sent the letter after learning that the online event reservation company “deplatformed” an upcoming fundraiser hosted by the Palmetto Family Council on November 6, featuring Chloe Cole, a “detransitioned” woman, who discusses the “irreversible harm of mutilating minors.” Eventbrite took action based on a decision that the event ran afoul of its policy on “Hateful, Dangerous, or Violent Content and Events,” which appears to follow a pattern with similar circumstances. These attorneys general are now seeking answers from Eventbrite to determine whether the company has violated any consumer protection laws in any of their states.
As the attorneys general write in their letter, “Eventbrite finds itself among the ranks of Big Tech. In the first 9 months of 2022 alone, Eventbrite sold 84 million tickets for various events through its online platform. The scope of Eventbrite’s reach means that an abundance of speakers and performers, as well as tens of millions of consumers, rely on Eventbrite for distribution of and access to various messages. That is why it’s so concerning that Eventbrite appears to be using its power and influence to silence those with whom it disagrees.”
Utah and South Carolina were joined by the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Salt Lake City – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes today joined a multistate coalition of 25 attorneys general in submitting a letter to urge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to strengthen guidance and provide clear warning labels regarding incorrect pulse oximeter readings for patients of color. This letter comes on the heels of the first anniversary of the first public convening of the FDA’s Medical Devices Advisory Committee to address concerns about pulse oximeters’ race and color bias.
Pulse oximeters measure blood oxygen levels, which have shaped medical care for illnesses including heart failure, sleep apnea, and respiratory conditions. First invented in the 1980s and developed primarily based on tests involving a predominantly white population, pulse oximeters are now widely used throughout the healthcare system because they are the only rapid, noninvasive method of measuring oxygen saturation.
Recent studies have indicated that inaccurate results from pulse oximeters are more likely when used to monitor patients of color, particularly patients with darker skin. The medical device’s inaccuracies may lead to delays in treatment and hospital admissions, which can lead to severe or life-threatening consequences and contribute to lower quality healthcare. In the letter, the coalition calls for the FDA to issue guidance and updated warning labels regarding the risks of skin tone-based bias in pulse oximeter use.
Pulse oximeter use dramatically increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, when readings were sometimes the only objective measure for determining what kind of treatment a COVID-19 patient would get. When healthcare resources were stretched thin and subjected to rationing, a patient’s pulse oximeter reading could mean the difference between being allowed to come into the hospital for treatment versus monitoring symptoms at home or accessing lifesaving medication. Researchers have known for decades that darker skin tones could reduce pulse oximeter accuracy, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant increase in evidence and broader awareness of the implications of this bias.
In the letter, the coalition commends the FDA’s implementation of safety communications about pulse oximeter accuracy and the convening of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee to address further the negative impacts of this device on patients of color. However, the FDA has yet to issue clear warning labels or provide additional guidance to protect individuals from harm as pulse oximeters are currently sold over-the-counter and used in hospitals and clinics.
In the letter, the attorneys general request that the FDA take the following steps, including:
Requiring manufacturers and vendors of pulse oximeters to include warning labels for all users about the device’s reduced effectiveness based on skin tones.
Calling for the inclusion of similar warnings in other medical devices that incorporate pulse oximeter readings, such as medical device software used for diagnosis or treatment of health conditions.
Issuing guidance to healthcare providers about the risks and reduced efficacy of pulse oximeters for patients of color.
Implementing an expedited timeline for the FDA to review the Medical Devices Advisory Committee’s recommendations.
In filing the letter, Attorney General Reyes joins the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Last week, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes took a two-day tour of Southern Utah to visit several counties and local constituents. The tour covered Garfield, Wayne, Kane, Millard, and on the second day, there were meetings with county commissioners in Millard and Severe counties in a comprehensive effort to address public lands issues and engage with local communities in Southern Utah.
The group included Solicitor General Melissa Holyoak, Chief of Investigations Leo Lucey, and other staff who met with law enforcement to hear about challenges those communities face. The group also toured the ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) station to connect with our task force members in that area.
On Friday, AG Reyes and staff participated in a significant public event at Bryce Valley High School. The event focused on public lands issues, specifically grazing rights, and involved a large panel discussion featuring Sean Reyes and Melissa Holyoak. The event was successful, with AG Reyes being the keynote speaker and taking questions from the crowd.
Media covering the event included Alex Cabrero from KSL-TV, who touched on the issue of grazing rights in the area.
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Attorney General’s Office has filed a petition with the Department of the Interior to stop the implementation of the Bureau of Land Management’s travel management plan, which would close access to hundreds of miles of roads and trails in the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges area north of Canyonlands National Park.
“The BLM’s plan to close trails in this treasured region is completely unacceptable,” Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said. “These are historic routes that have been used by the public for generations, and we won’t tolerate this kind of blatant federal overreach.”
The Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges area is cherished by Utah’s residents and visitors for its diverse motorized and non-motorized recreational opportunities. Transport systems across these public lands must find the right balance between various recreational uses while conserving crucial natural resources and scenic vistas.
Unfortunately, the Bureau of Land Management’s September 28 travel management decision fails to strike this balance, unilaterally closing down 317 miles of Utah’s cherished motorized trails while ignoring public rights-of-way.
“The BLM’s idea of balancing public land use shuts down access to hundreds of miles of roads and trails in the Labyrinth Rims area,” Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said. “This is one of the most popular areas for outdoor recreation in the state, and it attracts people from around the world. We understand the desire and appreciate efforts to preserve these precious lands, but we are asking for a more collaborative, less drastic plan moving forward.”
Utah continues to advocate for the right of Utahns to access and enjoy their public lands.
During November, the Utah Attorney General’s Office celebrates National American Indian Heritage Month, a time to honor the rich and varied cultures, traditions and contributions of Native Americans and Alaska Native peoples which enrich our nation and the great State of Utah.
Throughout his tenure, Attorney General Sean D. Reyes has been committed to upholding Native American culture. In defending the Indian Child Welfare Act, he protected tribal sovereignty while preserving the interests of Native American children.
Additionally, the AGO has fought against federal overreach regarding national monument designations to safeguard the cultural heritage and sacred traditions of Utah tribal communities as well as secure major hunting rights for the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation.
This month, we encourage Utahns to explore the invaluable impact Native Americans have made throughout history. Through this collective recognition, we can honor their contributions to our society and ensure a brighter future for us all.