Attorney General and District Attorney Unfair Competition Investigations
With increasing frequency professionals and their business or practice are facing allegations of unfair business practices. Professional licensing boards and agencies often report allegations of failure to comply with statutes or professional regulations to the California Attorney General or local county district attorneys for consideration of criminal charges or a civil prosecution for unfair business practices. District attorneys from multiple counties where a client practices or does business often work in concert to investigate such allegations.
An unfair business practice can be alleged based upon essentially any pattern of failure to comply with legal statutes or regulations. Clients of Rothschild Wishek + Sands LLP licensed by the Contractors State License Board, the Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology & Hearing Aid Dispensers Board, and the Department of Toxic Substances have been subjected to unfair business practices investigations based upon referrals from those boards.
Local district attorney offices have consumer and environmental protection units that aggressively investigate allegations of unfair business practices and environmental violations and usually seek to resolve such allegations by reaching a settlement before a civil complaint is filed and the process of civil discovery is available. Defending such allegations in a contested civil proceeding can be cost prohibitive for many small businesses which contributes to a strong incentive to settle. Even where an early agreement for settlement is reached, prosecutors typically insist on the public filing of a civil complaint at the same time that an agreed upon judgment is filed in a superior court which will include substantial fines, restitution, and injunctive relief. The public disclosure of these allegations can be devastating to the reputation of a business or professional.
The firm has experience representing business owners and professionals in unfair business practices and environmental violations including attorneys, healthcare professionals, and businesses licensed by the Contractors State License Board. If you or your business receive a communication from an investigator or prosecutor it is generally wise to immediately consult with counsel before responding.