Relief or Overreach: Curtailing Student Loan Forgiveness

By Courtney Moore*

PDF Available

In late August 2022, President Biden actualized one of his campaign goals by announcing that he would cancel up to $20,000 in student loans for Pell Grant recipients who make less than $125,000 a year and $10,000 in student loans for other individuals who make less than $125,000 a year.[1]

Under this plan, the Secretary of the Department of Education would forgive subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans, parent PLUS loans, and graduate PLUS loans.[2] Private loans would not qualify for forgiveness.[3] The impetus behind such student loan forgiveness involves the expanding amount of federal student loan debt.

As of 2022, federal student loan debt rests at $1.76 trillion owed by more than forty-five million individuals.[4] The Department of Education predicts that ninety percent of relief dollars will go to those borrowers who gross less than $75,000 a year.[5] Additionally, the initiative seeks to minimize the racial wealth gap by focusing relief towards borrowers with great economic need.[6]

Six states believe Biden’s forgiveness plan oversteps the powers provided to the President and the executive branch to act without Congress’s authorization.[7] These states have all launched a lawsuit against the Biden Administration to halt the student loan forgiveness plan.[8] The plaintiffs argue that the Department of Education must enforce the borrowers’ balances due to loan providers and that the President does not possess adequate authority to nullify the debts.[9]

The Missouri-based loan company MOHELA manages the debt of over seven million federal loan debtors.[10] Missouri’s Attorney General, Eric Schmitt, is one the premiere plaintiffs in the lawsuits against the Biden Administration.[11] Schmitt argues that the loan forgiveness plan will cause irrevocable harm to companies such as MOHELA, which will lose revenue due to decreased accounts.[12] Schmitt alleges that MOHELA, along with the public universities within the state, will be disadvantaged due to the company’s inability to provide additional loans to students and maintain its required payments to Missouri’s education fund.[13]

Despite MOHELA being associated with the state-led lawsuit, the loan company is not an actual party in the lawsuit. Other state attorney generals are arguing that loan companies similar to MOHELA will experience the same stark financial hardships in their attempts to comply with the loan forgiveness plan.[14]

In November 2022, a federal appellate court granted an injunction, halting Biden’s student loan forgiveness in its tracks nationwide on the grounds that the forgiveness plan exceeded the separation of powers and the Education Secretary’s authority.[15] The injunction will be maintained until the Supreme Court hears the case within the upcoming year.

There remains uncertainty on whether the Supreme Court will rule in favor of the student loan borrowers or the national loan providers. The Supreme Court’s ruling will either actively scrutinize executive branch authority or provide an avenue for current and future executive branch authorization to address student loan debt. Millions of dollars are on the line, and the Supreme Court’s determination will support either student loan debt being forgiven or loan providers being protected from executive branch mandates.

* J.D. Candidate, Class of 2024, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

[1] WHITE HOUSE, (last visited Jan. 22, 2023).

[2] FEDERAL STUDENT AID, (last visited Jan. 23, 2023).

[3] Id.

[4] Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve, (last visited Jan. 23, 2023).

[5] Press Release, U.S. Dep’t of Educ., U.S. Department of Education Estimate: Biden-Harris Student Debt Relief to Cost an Average of $30 Billion Annually Over Next Decade, (Sept. 19, 2022), student-debt-relief-cost-average-30-billion-annually-over-next-decade.

[6] J Geiman & Alpha S. Taylor, Disproportionately Impacted: Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Through Student Loan Cancellation, Payment Reforms, and Investment in College Affordability, CENTER FOR LAW & SOCIAL POLICY (June 8, 2022), payment-reforms-and-investment-in-college-affordability/.

[7] Nebraska v. Biden, 52 F.4th 1044 (8th Cir. 2022).

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Michael Stratford, The Student Loan Company Being Used to Attack Biden’s Debt Relief Plan, POLITICO, (Dec. 12, 2022), debt-relief-plan-00074197.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Nebraska v. Biden, supra note 7.

[15] Id.

Bed Bath & Beyond Bankruptcy: Chapter 11 and the Fall of Brick and Mortar Stores

By Micah Weston*

PDF Available

Linens, death, bankruptcy. These terms do not seem to go together, but they all play a role in Bed Bath & Beyond’s continuing demise. The company began shutting down brick and mortar locations since October of 2019, with the final goal of shutting down twenty-one percent of its stores, amounting to around 200 storefronts.[1]

Bed Bath & Beyond is Fortune 500 company known for its wide assortment of home goods in stores across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The company is traded on the NASDAQ (ticker BBBY) and owns buybuy BABY and Harmon – both of which are home goods stores similar to the flagship company.[2] The company competes with Walmart, Target, Ikea, and similar stores. However, as with most brick and mortar companies, the chain is faced with the challenges of an ever-increasing online marketplace.

After completing the scheduled closings, Bed Bath & Beyond was still in financial straits. In August 2022 the company announced its turnaround plan, which included reducing an additional twenty percent of its workforce across the nation, closing an additional 150 stores, and issuing new shares of common stock.[3]

Around the time of the August turnaround plan announcement, many of Bed Bath & Beyond’s officers were sued in federal district court for being involved in a pump and dump scheme with Chief Financial Officer Gustavo Arnal as a named party.[4] Tragically, in September 2022, between the company’s financial demise and the looming lawsuit, Arnal committed suicide. This drew more attention to the already tumultuous company.[5]

Personnel changes abounded prior to Arnal’s death. One key change was the removal of Mark Tritton. Tritton served as Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) from November 2019 to June of 2022 as sales continued to decline, his strategy of focusing on store brands instead of nationally recognized brands proved ineffective. Tritton served at Target for years, where his focus on launching store brands revitalized the chain.[6]

In June 2022 Sue Gove was appointed interim CEO and was soon named full-time CEO.[7] Gove has years of prior experience in retail and hopes to turn the company around.[8] But after a disappointing Q4, the time when holiday sales could have relieved the debt-ridden company, Bed Bath & Beyond “is facing an existential crisis for its survival.”[9]

Murmurings of Chapter 11 bankruptcy were introduced in the dawning days of 2023, as the company failed to timely file Q3 reports with the SEC.[10] Chapter 11 allows a debtor to remain in control of the property while a debt repayment plan is agreed upon by the parties. While bankruptcies are a common occurrence in our commercial society (434,540 in 2021), relatively few of them (5,622) are Chapter 11 bankruptcies.[11]

If Bed Bath & Beyond continues down the projected path of bankruptcy, it will be interesting to see how swiftly the company moves through its bankruptcy proceedings. With the company knowing it has been facing insolvency for quite some time, it is possible that Bed Bath & Beyond has been in communication with its creditors, attempting a pre-packaged bankruptcy. A bankruptcy of this size would take considerable judicial resources. In an economy that rewards risk, corporate bankruptcies offer us a chance to consider how much value we place on protecting the entrepreneurial spirit versus letting the free market eliminate companies that cannot meet all their obligations.

* J.D. Candidate, Class of 2024, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

[1] Kelly Tyko, Bed Bath & Beyond Announces Plans to Permanently Close 200 Stores over Next Two Years, USA TODAY (July 8, 2020),

[2] Investor Overview, BED BATH & BEYOND (May 28, 2022), https://bedbathandbeyond.gcs-

[3] Bed Bath & Beyond Stock Craters After Announcing Layoffs, Store Closures, ASSOCIATED PRESS, (Aug. 21, 2022),

[4] Si v. Bed Bath & Beyond Corp., 22-cv-02541 (D.D.C., Aug. 23, 2022).

[5] Jesse O’Neill, Bed Bath & Beyond’s Gustavo Arnal Was Considering Taking Break from Work Before Suicide: Report, NY POST (Sept. 7, 2022),

[6] Lisa Fickenscher, Bed Bath & Beyond CEO Is Pushed out as Sales Plummet, NY POST (June 29, 2022),

[7] Melissa Repko, Bed Bath & Beyond Appoints Interim CEO Sue Gove to the Position Permanently, CNBC (Oct. 26, 2022),

[8] Id.

[9] SC 13G for BBBY, filed July 21, 2022,

[10] Joe Toppe, Bed Bath & Beyond Bankruptcy Could Happen ‘This Month’, FOX BUS. (Jan. 6, 2023),

[11] Bankruptcy Filings Continue to Fall Sharply, U.S. COURTS (Nov. 8, 2021),

Caveat Homebuilder: Waivers of the Implied Warranty of Workmanship and Habitability Are No Longer Allowed in Arizona per Zambrano v. M & RC II LLC

By Edward Gao*

PDF Available

“Plaintiff, to his horror, discovered that the house he had recently contracted to purchase was widely reputed to be possessed by poltergeists…”[1]

Thus begins the opinion in Stambovsky v. Ackley, a New York case taught in first-year Contracts casebooks nationwide to elucidate the doctrine of caveat emptor—that, in strictest form, a seller has no duty to disclose any information concerning the subject of the transaction.[2] A buyer of real property is therefore presumed to be responsible for inspecting the premises to discover any material defects.

Fortunately for Jerry Stambovsky, although “in his pursuit of a legal remedy for fraudulent misrepresentation against the seller, plaintiff hasn’t a ghost of a chance…”, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York was “moved by the spirit of equity to allow the buyer to seek rescission of the contract of sale,” because “[a]pplying the strict rule of caveat emptor to a contract involving a house possessed by poltergeists conjures up visions of a psychic or medium routinely accompanying the structural engineer and Terminix man on an inspection of every home subject to a contract of sale.”[3]

When it comes to newly constructed homes in Arizona, however, a buyer need not even send a structural engineer or Terminix man to inspect the property, much less the Ghostbusters—in 1979, Arizona jettisoned the doctrine of caveat emptor in favor of an implied warranty of workmanship and habitability.[4] Nevertheless, the presumptions contained within the doctrine of caveat emptor were central to public policy issues at play in the recent Arizona Supreme Court ruling in Zambrano v. M & RC II LLC.[5]

In Zambrano, the homebuyer’s problem was decidedly more mundane, but perhaps no less horrifying, than possession by poltergeist: she signed a form purchase and sale agreement with a builder-vendor that waived the implied warranty, instead substituting the builder-vendor’s express warranty, which did not generally warrant the workmanship or habitability of the home.[6] The central issue in the case was whether such a voluntary waiver was permissible under Arizona law.[7] Ultimately, a divided court held that it was not, on the basis that such a waiver, which was perhaps not truly voluntary, violated the public policy undergirding the implied warranty—in particular, the policy assumption that the doctrine of caveat emptor ignores the average homebuyer’s inability to uncover latent defects through a reasonable inspection.[8]

As a general matter, the freedom to contract is a “paramount public policy”[9] under Arizona common law, based on the principle that the parties to the contract are better situated than a court to determine whether contract terms are beneficial.[10] As such, “courts will not refuse to enforce a contract merely because one party made a bad deal, even when the terms are harsh.”[11] However, if a contract term runs so contrary to public policy interests that it “would be injurious to the public welfare,”[12] a court may declare the terms unenforceable. This is the substance of the tension in the Zambrano case—do the public policy interests behind the implied warranty of workmanship and habitability outweigh the freedom to contract as badly as one wishes? As it turns out, they do.

The implied warranty of workmanship and habitability is a guarantee from a builder-vendor that a home was built in a workmanlike manner, and that it is habitable.[13] The warranty, which is limited to latent defects that are not discoverable by a reasonable pre-purchase inspection,[14] is imposed by Arizona law “to protect innocent purchasers and hold builders accountable for their work”[15] on the presumption that “homebuyers possess vastly unequal bargaining power, expertise, and knowledge as compared with the builder-vendor.”[16] “The ordinary home buyer is not in a position, by skill or training, to discover defects lurking in the plumbing, the electrical wiring, [or] the structure itself, all of which is usually covered up and not open for inspection.”[17] Indeed, even a standard home inspection by a professional inspector would only encompass a “visual, not technically exhaustive” inspection that “will not identify concealed conditions or latent defects.”[18] This unequal bargaining power, coupled with large-scale developments that are struggling to keep pace with housing demand despite their scale,[19] leaves the average homebuyer with what the Zambrano court held was an illusory choice “to either purchase the home under terms directed by the builder-vendor or forego the purchase altogether.”[20]

On the above bases, the Arizona Supreme Court held that the implied warranty of workmanship and habitability may not be waived, even contractually.[21] To enforce such a waiver “would likely spell the end for the implied warranty and eliminate [its] protections.”[22] In so doing, the waiver would be “injurious to the public welfare” in the sense that it would destroy the implied warranty’s protection of what “is usually the most important and expensive purchase of a lifetime.”[23]

Considering the prevalence of implied warranty waivers in standard builder- vendor purchase and sale agreements, the Zambrano case will have substantial ripple effects throughout the Arizona homebuilding industry. Beyond generating a lot of new work for the lawyers who serve builder-vendors[24] (which, hopefully, will still be abundant by the time I graduate), the Zambrano ruling reopens conditions of liability that many builder-vendors had likely written off in their long-term strategic planning. While it is unlikely that any builder-vendors in Arizona have been mixing ectoplasm in with the drywall compound, at the economies of scale at which they are operating, even the most fastidious builder-vendors must consider the possibility that latent defects they previously thought waived might… come back to haunt them.

* J.D. Candidate, Class of 2024, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

[1] Stambovsky v. Ackley, 169 A.2d 254, 255-56 (N.Y. App. Div. 1991).

[2] Id. at 257.

[3] Id. at 256-57 (almost certainly pointing finger guns at the word processor while drafting this delicious series of puns).

[4] Columbia W. Corp. v. Vela, 592 P.2d 1294, 1298 (Ariz. App. 1979).

[5] Zambrano v. M & RC II LLC, 517 P.3d 1168 (Ariz. 2022).

[6] Id. at 1172.

[7] Id.

[8] Id. at 1179.

[9] Consumers Int’l, Inc. v. Sysco Corp., 951 P.2d 897, 899 (Ariz. App. 1997).

[10] 1800 Ocotillo, LLC v. WLB Group, Inc., 196 P.3d 222, 224 (Ariz. 2008).

[11] Zambrano, 517 P.3d at 1173.

[12] Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 178 cmt b (Am. L. Inst. 1981).

[13] Sirrah Enters., LLC v. Wunderlich, 399 P.3d 89, 91 (Ariz. 2017).

[14] The author notes that a poltergeist would likely fall under the implied warranty.

[15] Richards v. Powercraft Homes, Inc., 678 P.2d 427, 430 (Ariz. 1984).

[16] Zambrano, 517 P.3d at 1176.

[17] Columbia W. Corp., 592 P.2d at 1298.


[19] Michael Lieb, If Cities Don’t Solve Metro Phoenix’s Housing Crisis, Everyone Will Pay, AZ CENTRAL (Feb. 20, 2022), has-housing-supply-crisis-ignore-cost-all/6805418001/ (quoting economist Elliot Pollack stating that “I’ve been doing this work since 1969, and this is the worse housing supply/demand imbalance I’ve ever seen.”).

[20] Zambrano, 517 P.3d at 1176.

[21] Id. at 1179.

[22] Id. at 1177.

[23] Id. (quoting Columbia W. Corp., 592 P.2d at 1299).

[24] Builders Unable to Limit Warranties in Supreme Court Ruling, WOOD SMITH HENNING BERMAN: NEWSROOM (Oct. 5, 2022), limit-warranties-in-supreme-court-ruling (“We recommend that builders and vendors immediately update their purchase contracts to remove any language attempting to disclaim implied warranties.”)

“This Situation is Unprecedented”: Examining the Legal Challenges in the Bankruptcy of FTX

By Nicholas Forger*

PDF Available

John J. Ray III has guided companies through bankruptcy before, including the liquidation of Enron Corporation’s assets.[1] Yet, after being appointed the new CEO of FTX Trading LTD (“FTX”), Ray claimed, “Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information has occurred here…this situation is unprecedented”.[2] Filing for bankruptcy in the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, Ray laid out the dire situation of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange.[3] The company did not keep reliable financial records, and funds were used personally by the management under co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried.[4]

FTX collapsed seemingly overnight when it came to light that the crypto exchange lent billions of dollars of customer assets to an affiliated trading firm, Alameda Research, to fund risky investments.[5] This resulted in many customers quickly moving to withdraw their assets from the platform.[6] Quickly, FTX found itself eight billion dollars in the hole.[7] The company then filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[8] A Chapter 11 bankruptcy is done to reorganize business’s debt, while allowing it to keep operating. The collapse of FTX will bring about many legal developments, from criminal charges to new regulations. However, the bankruptcy proceeding itself will have several unique challenges. FTX and related entities’ bankruptcy was filed on an emergency basis in Delaware due to an extreme liquidity problem.[9] FTX Trading has many related entities under its corporate umbrella. FTX trading and more than one hundred and thirty were part of the Delaware bankruptcy filing.[10] However, there is a single related company, FTX Digital Markets, which is headquartered in the Bahamas, that was not a part of the Chapter 11 filing.[11] While primarily a U.S. company, the co-founder and staff largely operated out of an office in the Bahamas.[12] FTX Digital Markets had begun a liquidation in a court in the Bahamas, the day before the Chapter 11 filing.[13] Following the Delaware filing, the Bahamian court-appointed liquidators then filed for a Chapter 15 bankruptcy case in the Southern District of New York, alleging that the Chapter 11 filing was not authorized.[14] A Chapter 15 filing allows foreign nationals to file for bankruptcy in the U.S. Courts when there are assets or business in multiple countries, and can be done after insolvency procedures have begun in the foreign country.[15] The Chapter 15 filing was made so that the Bankruptcy Court will recognize the Bahamian insolvency laws.[16] The Bahamian liquidation procedure does not have an absolute priority rule like the United States, and the U.S. system allows for more access by creditors.[17] Another concern when determining who should administer the bankruptcy is judicial competence in running a bankruptcy this large. The Delaware Court is very experienced in large Chapter 11 cases, and some worry that the level of difficulty of this case could prove to be beyond the ability of the Bahamian Court.[18]

The determinative factor in deciding jurisdiction is where the company’s center of main interest lies.[19] Proponents of the Chapter 11 approach will argue that the United States is in control of most of the debtors. The Bahamian side will argue that FTX was headquartered in the Bahamas and that most of the employees were stationed there.[20] Until the jurisdiction issue gets resolved, the bankruptcy cannot move forward.

Another major concern with any bankruptcy is when and how much creditors will be able to recover. The investments made by crypto investors will likely be treated as unsecured claims without collateral rights.[21] These investments will be incredibly hard to recover, and, if anything, will be pennies on the dollar. However, on the debtor side, FTX will be looking to claw back funds that were transferred out of the company before the bankruptcy filing.[22] Payments to creditors right before bankruptcy are known as preferences, and they can be returned to the debtor upon a judge’s approval.[23] The question will be if the digital assets that customers scrambled to pull right before the bankruptcy will count as preferences. The Court will have to determine whether the withdrawals were conducted in the ordinary course of business.[24]

However, a safe harbor exception could apply.[25] A bankruptcy safeguard allows assets like securities to continue to be traded on an exchange without being able to be clawed back as preferences.[26] Furthermore, the Court will listen to the argument that the cryptocurrency withdrawn by the customers was their property, not a payment by the company.[27] The Court’s determination on this issue will have implications on all future bankruptcies involving cryptocurrencies.

In conclusion, these are just some of the many challenges going forward in the fall of FTX. The bankruptcy will likely set new precedent in how the U.S. Courts view cryptocurrencies and exchanges. In addition, Congress will likely look to new regulations for the crypto market. The legal world will be paying close attention to the outcomes in the case, and it is only getting started.

*J.D. Candidate, Class of 2024, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State

[1] Alexander Saeedy & Soma Biswas, FTX’s New CEO Faults Lax Oversight in Bankruptcy
, WALL ST. J. (Nov. 17, 2022),

[2] Decl. of John J. Ray III in Supp. Of Chapter 11 Pet. and First Day Pleadings,

[3] Id.

[4] See Saeedy & Biswas, supra note 1.

[5] Vicky Ge Huang, Alexander Osipovich, & Patricia Kowsmann, FTX Tapped into Customer
Accounts to Fund Risky Bets, Setting up Its Downfall
, WALL ST. J. (Nov. 11, 2022),

[6] Elizabeth Napolitano, Brian Cheung, & Jason Abbruzzese, Sam Bankman-Fried and the
FTX Collapse, Explained
, NBC NEWS (Nov. 18, 2022),

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Vince Sullivan, FTX Bankruptcy to Start with International Clash for Control, L. 360 (Nov. 18, 2022),

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.

[16] Id.

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

[19] Id.

[20] Id.

[21] Caitlin Ostroff, Vicky Ge Huang, & Alexander Gladstone, FTX Files for Bankruptcy, CEO
Sam Bankman-Fried Resigns
, WALL ST. J. (Nov. 11, 2022),

[22] James Nani & Daniel Gill, FTX Looks at Years of Lawsuits to Recover Billions from
, BLOOMBERG L. (Nov. 18, 2022),

[23] Id.

[24] Id.

[25] Id.

[26] Id.

[27] Id.

Internet Law, from the Liberation to the Protection of Rights: Consumers Are Seeking Clarity in Privacy Regulations of Major Internet Companies

By Kateryna Kostiuchenko*

PDF Available

The world has changed dramatically with the advent of the Internet. The Internet brought endless opportunities to create bigger and better businesses, but it also brought more possibilities for yet unexplored issues, such as privacy and security concerns. The Internet reshaped the way we live our everyday lives; it has also reshaped the law. The most prominent emerging area of law is Internet law, and it has always been adjusting to societal changes as the online space continues to progress.

Privacy laws have existed in our country for a long time. Each state, however, has adapted privacy laws to its own system based on the Constitution, common law, and statutes, and there has never been one single national privacy law.[1] The root of the fundamental right of protection of one individual’s privacy against invasion by others lies in the Restatement (Second) of Torts.[2]  Privacy is not only protected in the idea of personal physical space; it can also very much involve one’s senses, such as overseeing or overhearing someone’s private affairs, investigating into private concerns, opening private mail, or examining private bank accounts or personal documents.[3] The law has also adjusted to the online space and applies strict rules to the Internet just as much as the physical world.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, the Communications Decency Act of 1996, and the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) are some of the main federal regulations and regulators of online space.[4] The FTC is an independent government agency with the core mission of protecting U.S. consumers and enforcing  antitrust laws.[5] Its vision is inspired by the idea of having an empowered, informed public and protecting it from unfair business practices.[6] With the advent of the Internet, and social media platforms in particular, privacy and security enforcement became one of the more prominent aspects of the FTC’s work.[7] In the past five years, the FTC brought seventy-six cases against big tech companies for violating user privacy or security.[8]

One of the latest FTC cases was filed against Twitter, a company that has been in news headlines for various reasons lately. According to the FTC, Twitter asked its users for personal data for the sole purpose of securing their accounts.[9] However, the company misused the private information to gain monetary benefit.[10] Since May 2013, Twitter has been asking its users to provide their emails and phone numbers under the promise that that information will be used for multi-factor identification and account recovery only.[11] The FTC investigation has revealed that Twitter has also been using the provided consumer information for targeted ads.[12] Twitter settled with the Department of Justice and the FTC in the amount of $150 million. The settlement will take place if approved by the federal court. This case also imposes on Twitter a prohibition against using consumers’ emails and phone numbers illegally and an obligation to notify its users of improper information use, as well as of the FTC action.[13] “No CEO or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees,” the FTC concluded.[14] “Consumers who share their private information have a right to know if that information is being used to help advertisers target customers,” said U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds for the Northern District of California.[15] “Social media companies that are not honest with consumers about how their personal information is being used will be held accountable,”[16] she added. 

This year also marked the end of an investigation into another big tech company. Forty states sued Google, and the company agreed to pay a $392 million privacy settlement, which the Attorneys General called the biggest internet privacy settlement led by the Attorneys General.[17] The core issue in the case is that Google kept tracking users’ locations when they connected to WiFi or used certain apps, even when they turned off location-tracking services, despite the fact that the company claimed to no longer collect geolocation data.[18] Google separately settled a similar case against Arizona for $85 million.[19] Additionally, as of June of this year, Google faces a $5 billion class action lawsuit for collecting users’ online activity information even when they were browsing in Google’s private Incognito mode. Thomas E. Loeser, a known class action attorney and a partner at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, said: “Big Tech relies on confusing, incomplete and misleading disclosures about third party use of data.”[20] That is true, and the hope is that it is going to change as the influx of litigation against big tech firms becomes prominent and consumers become more aware of and more educated about privacy laws.

There is essentially a trade-off of privacy—and potentially security—against the ease of access to information from anywhere, anytime. Tech platforms provide us with an ability to access entertainment, communicate with friends and followers, and share any thoughts we desire from the convenience of our pockets.[21] Around seventy percent of individuals use social media platforms on a regular basis in the United States.[22] The question is: will that trade-off be as easy now, as consumers are seeking clarity in what the big tech companies truly mean under their promise of  privacy and security?

* J.D. Candidate, Class of 2023, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

[1] Ann Wooster, Invasion of Privacy by Internet or Website Postings, 54 A.L.R. 1, 1 (2010). 

[2] James Grimmelmann, Internet Law 260 (12th ed. 2022). 

[3] Id.

[4] Telecommunications Act of 1996, Fed. Commc’n. Comm’n (2013),; Telecommunications Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-104, 110 Stat. 56; Grimmelmann, supra note 4.

[5] About the FTC, Fed. Trade Comm’n, 

[6] Id. 

[7] Grimmelmann, supra note 4. 

[8] Joel Thayer, The Federal Government Conducted an Investigation of Big Tech’s Privacy Practices. Where Are the Results?, Hill (Oct. 26, 2022),

[9] Lesley Fair, Twitter to Pay $150 Million Penalty for Allegedly Breaking Its Privacy Promises – Again, Fed. Trade Comm’n (May 25, 2022),

[10] Id. 

[11] Id. 

[12] Bobby Allyn, Twitter Will Pay a $150 Million Fine over Accusations It Improperly Sold User Data, (May 25, 2022), Nat’l Pub. Radio,   

[13] Id. 

[14] Brian Fung, Musk’s Twitter May Have Already Violated Its Latest FTC Consent Order, Legal Experts Say, CNN, (Nov. 11, 2022),

[15] Press Release, Dep’t Just., Twitter Agrees with DOJ and FTC to Pay $150 Million Civil Penalty and to Implement Comprehensive Compliance Program to Resolve Alleged Data Privacy Violations (May 25, 2022),

[16] Id. 

[17] Cecilia Kang, Google Agrees to $392 Million Privacy Settlement with 40 States, N.Y. Times (Nov. 14, 2022),,company%20continued%20collecting%20that%20information.

[18] Id. 

[19] Id. 

[20] Christine Schiffner, ‘The Tide Is Turning’ on Big Tech as Plaintiffs Firms File More Data Privacy Lawsuits, Law (Feb. 16, 2022),,judgments%20are%20giving%20some%20indication.

[21] Thayer, supra note 9. 

[22] Social Media Fact Sheet, Pew Rsch. Ctr. (Apr. 17, 2022),

The Potential Impacts of the Kroger-Albertsons Merger on Arizona

By Madison Andrade*

PDF Available

The Kroger-Albertsons merger announcement rattled the entire nation, yet its implications may be of particular significance for the state of Arizona. The national grocery chains have over 250 stores and upwards of 35,000 employees across the state.[1] The companies also maintain reputations as leading employers in the state’s nongovernmental sector, as they are two of the six companies that employ the largest amount of Arizona citizens.[2] If Kroger acquires Albertsons, the surviving corporation will make up nearly forty-four percent of Arizona’s supermarket industry.[3] While this would allow Kroger to compete with those in the big leagues, such as Amazon or Walmart, the ramifications would ripple well beyond these large competitors.

The largest concern for consumers, both in and out-of-state, pertains to the potential price hikes that coincide with oligopolization or monopolization. Where mergers rid of competition, higher costs for consumers ensue.[4] This is especially true for a lowly saturated grocery store industry, and Arizona’s market is no exception.[5] As noted, the market post-merger would be dominated, to the tune of forty-four percent, by a single corporation.[6] This domination would potentially allow Kroger to entrench its market power and price-gouge as it sees fit.

Alternatively, proponents of the merger project a decrease in costs by way of enhanced efficiency.[7] Enhanced efficiency is said to reveal itself in lower consumer costs.[8] This efficiency argument is supported by 2014 study, The Economic Cost of Food Monopolies: The Grocery Cartels.[9] It is imperative to note that this analysis pertains to the U.S. radio industry from 1996 to 2014, not the U.S. grocery store market in 2022. Whether these perceived efficiencies extend to the modern-day grocery market of Arizona will only be subject to review post-merger.

Not only this, but many question the heart of the efficiency argument itself. Given that both corporations have a large portion of the market prior to the merger[10], how much more efficiency can a consolidation offer? The merchandise purchased by each company is already at categorically high volumes, such that costs are maximally reduced. Will efficiencies, in terms of cost reduction, improve so greatly as to justify a mitigation in competition? Only time will tell.

A further—potentially more positive—implication may pose itself in the progression of smaller grocery chains. Arizona-based stores, such as Bashas’, foresee themselves taking advantage of the expected opportunities. With the merger, Kroger and Albertsons’ individual locations will likely be condensed. This consolidation will allow for stores like Bashas’ to penetrate the sought-after locations that were once steadily occupied by the larger chains. The question as to whether this penetration will be enough for Bashas’ to compete with the potential Kroger-Albertsons superstore will remain unanswered until the merger goes into effect and Bashas’ capitalizes on it.

The theme of this discussion is evidently subject to regulatory approval of the merger, but one aspect is guaranteed upon the deal’s confirmation— Arizona will be greatly impacted.

* J.D. Candidate, Class of 2024, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

[1] Russ Wiles, In Arizona, Kroger-Albertsons Merger Would Create a Behemoth, AZCENTRAL (Oct. 14, 2022, 6:00 PM),

[2] Id.

[3] Id. (citing to a 2019 analysis of the Chain Store Guide).

[4] See The Economic Cost of Food Monopolies: The Grocery Cartels, FOOD & WATER WATCH (Nov. 2021),

[5] Id. at 3.

[6] Wiles, supra note 3.

[7] Jeremy Duda, What a Kroger/Albertsons Merger Would Mean for Valley Shoppers, AXIOS PHOENIX (Oct. 21, 2022), (quoting attorney Shruti Gurudanti of Rose Law Group, “I think the bottom line is, is it going to drive down costs for your grocery bill and my grocery bill? [] I think it would because of all of the efficiencies it’s going to create.”).

[8] Daniel Hosken, Luke M. Olson & Loren K. Smith, Do Retail Mergers Affect Competition?
Evidence from Grocery Retailing
(Bureau of Econ. Fed. Trade Comm’n, Working Paper No. 313, 2012),

[9] See Przemysław Jeziorski, Estimation of Cost Efficiencies from Mergers: Application to US Radio, 45 RAND J. ECON. 816, 843–44 (2014) (finding that “[t]he total cost savings from mergers after 1996 amount to about $1 billion, which outweighs the $223 million loss[] caused by the increased market power”).

[10] Wiles, supra note 3.

The FTC’s New Section 5 Policy Statement: An Analysis

By Sarah Pelton*

PDF Available

On November 10, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) followed up on its promise of restructuring fundamental aspects of antitrust law. In a new statement (the “2022 Statement”) passed in a 3-1 vote, the FTC issued new policy objectives regarding “unfair methods of competition” under Section 5 of the FTC Act.[1] The Statement follows the FTC’s 3-2 vote in 2021 to rescind the 2015 Statement of Enforcement Principles (the “2015 Statement),[2] which was criticized as “contraven[ing] the text, structure, and history of Section 5[,] largely writ[ing] the FTC’s standalone authority out of existence.”[3]

Generally, the FTC’s policy statements serve the purpose of “assist[ing] the public, business community, and antitrust practitioners by laying out the key general principles that apply to whether business practices constitute unfair methods of competition under Section 5 of the FTC Act.”[4] While these statements do not have the force of law, they still serve as an important signal as to how to the FTC may challenge conduct.

In the 2022 Statement, the FTC revealed that it will no longer use the rule of reason analysis outlined in the 2015 Statement for Section 5 violations[5]; instead choosing to focus on “stopping unfair methods of competition in their incipiency based on their tendency to harm competitive conditions.”[6] The 2022 Statement adopts a new method of analysis for “unfair methods of competition.” A “method of competition” can be proven indirectly and is defined as conduct that “implicate[s] competition,” but excludes market conditions that the firm had no power in creating.[7] “Unfair” conduct “goes beyond competition on the merits.”[8] The 2022 Statement adopts two criteria to assist the FTC’s consideration of whether a firm’s conduct “goes beyond competition on the merits” and will weigh the criteria on a sliding scale.[9] The FTC noted that “[w]here the indicia of unfairness are clear, less may be necessary to show a tendency to negatively affect competitive conditions . . . . [and] [e]ven when conduct is not facially unfair, it may violate Section 5.”[10] Additionally, the FTC states that “[b]ecause the Section 5 analysis is purposely focused on incipient threat to competitive conditions, this inquiry does not turn to whether the conduct directly caused actual harm in the specific instance at issue.”[11]

In their accompanying statement, the majority noted that “[r]eactivating Section 5 in a way that is fully faithful to the authority that Congress gave us is critical for promoting the rule of law and for ensuring the democratic legitimacy of our work.”[12] They mentioned the concerns of Congress after the Standard Oil case and prior to passing the FTC Act that “the rule of reason generated erratic, contradictory results, prolonged the resolution of cases, and handed unchecked discretion to the judiciary.”[13] The majority celebrated the return to the plain text of Section 5, stating that “[w]hile courts have applied the rule of reason and consumer welfare standards in the context of the Sherman Act, there is no basis in precedent for applying them wholesale to standalone Section 5.”[14] In a separate statement, Commissioner Bedoya, joined by the majority, argued that the 2022 Statement makes a return to fairness, stating that the business justifications to antitrust analysis allowed in the rule of reason “has been responsible for concentrating American markets and eliminating small businesses from the competitive landscape.”[15]

Commissioner Wilson’s dissent, however, issues an especially hard-hitting alternative view. She criticizes the 2022 Statement’s approach as “requir[ing] balancing among multiple goals without identifying the complete array of special interests to be protected, or the weights to be assigned to any of them.”[16] With no hierarchy of rules to balance these potentially competing interests, enforcement can be too amorphous and “be subject to the whims and political agendas of sitting commissioners.”[17]

What do these changes mean for businesses? In the FTC’s attempt to outline key principles to assist the business community in compliance with the antitrust laws, the 2022 Statement’s unstructured framework sows confusion and uncertainty. Businesses have relied on precedent from courts that allows them to present the procompetitive effects of a transaction before it is condemned. Now, any conduct the FTC determines as “facially unfair” is presumed to be per se illegal, and any conduct not deemed “facially unfair” is no longer subject to the traditional rule of reason analysis. In sum, the 2022 Statement’s expansive nature affirms the FTC’s intent to reach categories of conduct that were previously labeled off-limits in the 2015 Statement, but in doing so, subjects businesses to new areas of legal risk.

* J.D. Candidate, Class of 2024, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

[1] Fed. Trade Comm’n, Policy Statement Regarding the Scope of Unfair Methods of Competition Under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, No. P221202 (Nov. 10, 2022),

[2] Fed. Trade Comm’n, Statement of Enforcement Principles Regarding “Unfair Methods of Competition” Under Section 5 of the FTC Act (Aug. 13, 2015) [hereinafter “2015 Statement”], (This statement largely limited the FTC’s enforcement ability under the FTC Act, using a “framework similar to the rule of reason” to address “acts or practices that are anticompetitive but may not fall within the scope of the Sherman or Clayton Act.”).

[3] Fed. Trade Comm’n, Statement of the Commission on the Withdrawal of the Statement of Enforcement Principles Regarding “Unfair Methods of Competition” Under Section 5 of the FTC Act (July 9, 2021),

[4] Fed. Trade Comm’n, supra note 1, at 2.

[5] Fed. Trade Comm’n, supra note 2, at 1 (“an act or practice challenged by the Commission must cause, or be likely to cause, harm to competition or the competitive process, taking into account any associated cognizable efficiencies and business justifications . . .”).

[6] Fed. Trade. Comm’n, supra note 1, at 10.

[7] Id. at 8 (These include “high concentration or barriers to entry.”).

[8] Id.

[9] Id. at 9 (First, “the conduct may be coercive, exploitative, collusive, abusive, deceptive, predatory, or involve the use of economic power of a similar nature.” Second, “the conduct must tend to negatively affect competitive conditions. This may include, for example, conduct that tends to foreclose or impair the opportunities of market participants, reduce competition between rivals, limit choice, or otherwise harm consumers.”).

[10] Id.

[11] Id. at 10.

[12] Lina M. Khan, Chair, Fed. Trade Comm’n, Statement on the Adoption of Enforcement Policy Regarding Unfair Methods of Competition Under Section 5 of the FTC Act (Nov. 10, 2022),

[13] Id. at 1.

[14] Id. at 4.

[15] Fed. Trade Comm’n, Statement of Commissioner Alvaro M. Bedoya, On the Adoption of
the Statement of Enforcement Policy Regarding Unfair Methods of Competition Under Section 5 of the FTC Act, No. P221202, at 6 (Nov. 10, 2022),

[16] Fed. Trade Comm’n, Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Christine S. Wilson Regarding the “Policy Statement Regarding the Scope of Unfair Methods of Competition Under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act”, No. P221202, at 8 (Nov. 10, 2022),

[17] Id. (citing PHILLIP AREEDA & DONALD F. TURNER, ANTITRUST LAW 25 (1st ed. 1978) (antitrust enforcement that seeks to pursue conflicting interests “would involve courts in essentially political decision-making for which there are no appropriate legal criteria and in a regulatory, supervisory role for which they are ill-suited.”)).

ELP: Entirely Legal Protectionism: A Discussion on One Example of Arizona’s Problematic Occupational Licensing Requirements

By Devin Gates*

PDF Available

“Well, that doesn’t seem fair…”

Without fail, that is what I hear after telling people about Arizona’s licensing requirements for a massage therapist applicant. In addition to the education, character, and skill requirements common among licensing requirements in many professions, the State has included an English Language Proficiency (“ELP”) requirement for any massage therapist applicant that doesn’t identify as a native English speaker.[1] The State justified this extra requirement as “a health and safety measure to ensure that a massage therapist is able to make an evaluation of a client and communicate in English with the client or other health care practitioners and with a 911 operator in the case of an emergency.”[2]

On its face, that seems uncontroversial—reasonable, even.

But here’s the kicker: the Arizona State Board of Massage Therapy requires a score of twenty-five in each of the ELP test categories— reading, writing, speaking, and listening—for a total score of 100.[3] The required passing score is higher than the mean and median scores for test-takers with graduate degrees (ninety-one) and native English speakers (ninety-five).[4] The minimum passing score is even higher than the minimum proficiency score required for admittance into Arizona State University’s PhD program (eighty!).[5]

Well, that doesn’t seem fair.

One avenue available to those who have been impacted by unfair licensing requirements like this is through the substantive due process protections enshrined in Arizona’s State Constitution.

Article II, Section 4 states “[n]o person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”[6] This clause protects two distinct forms of “due process,” procedural, and substantive.[7] Substantive due process stands for the guarantee “that the state is without right to deprive a person of life, liberty, or property by an act that has no reasonable relation to any proper governmental purpose, or which is so far beyond…necessity… [it is] an arbitrary exercise of governmental powers.”[8]

Substantive due process has been used to overturn or invalidate governmental action in many different contexts, including for occupational licensing. In Stewart, the Court invalidated sections of a city ordinance establishing requirements for applicants attempting to become “supervising electricians.”[9] The Court’s role was to ensure that the regulations were “reasonable and not monopolistic or oppressive.”[10] The Court took issue with the requirements that applicants had to be at least twenty-five years old and must have had six years of experience as a “journeyman” electrician.[11] In questioning the rationality of the minimum age requirement, the Court wrote that “[m]ost of the professions and businesses welcome into their ranks those members of society who have arrived at legal age…” and “[the] learned professions of the law and medicine place no such age limit upon those applying for admission to them.”[12] Likewise, when evaluating the reasonableness of the journeyman experience requirement, the Court stated “[s]ix years’ experience as a master electrician conceivably would do as much to qualify the applicant.”[13] In both instances, the Court assessed the requirements with a common-sense approach and found both lacking for the same reason: they were “oppressive, arbitrary, and monopolistic, and not in the interests of safety to property or life.”[14]

Here the State uses its police powers as a justification for its occupational licensing also, but it’s hard to argue that requiring a PhD level of proficiency for only non-native English-speaking applicants is anything but “so far beyond necessary.”[15] What’s more, Arizona is the only state with such a regulation for massage therapists, and massage therapy is one of the few professions in Arizona with an ELP requirement. Even mental health care providers and physicians do not need to satisfy an ELP requirement. As in Stewart, “If these learned professions” don’t require language proficiency exams to protect their patients, there is no rational reason that a massage therapist would.[16]

When discussing substantive due process, Arizona Downs is often mentioned as the nail in the coffin. In Arizona Downs, the Arizona Supreme Court held that statutes that affect “non-fundamental” rights will be reviewed under a rational basis test.[17] While Arizona Downs does align Arizona law with the rational basis test used at the federal level, it does so by ignoring a long line of precedential cases without explanation.[18] Further, Arizona Downs dealt with the right to enter the regulated industry of horse racing.[19] Occupational licensing instead affects a different right—the right to earn an honest living. Glover and Stewart looked into occupational licensing specifically. Arizona’s massage therapist regulations, while related to the state’s police powers like any other occupational licensing requirement, fail the second step of the Glover test because they are so far beyond what is necessary to protect the public’s health and safety that they constitute an arbitrary use of the state’s power.

Be on the lookout, because unfair licensing demands like Arizona’s ELP requirements for massage therapists could be lurking anywhere, even hidden inside otherwise reasonable regulations. If you come across such a requirement, consider whether it is extreme enough to be a possible substantive due process violation.

* J.D. Candidate, Class of 2024, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

[1] A.R.S. § 32-4222(E), ARIZ. ADMIN. CODE § R4-15-201(C) (2004).

[2] 20 Ariz. Admin. Reg. 2246 (Aug. 2014) (Notice of Final Rulemaking).

[3] ARIZ. ADMIN. CODE § R4-15-201(C) (2004).

[4] EDUC. TESTING SERV., TEST AND SCORE DATA SUMMARY 2021 19 (2022), (averaging ninety-one and ninety-five consecutively).

[5] English Proficiency for International Graduation Students, ARIZ. ST A TE UNIV., (last visited Nov. 3, 2022) (“Score of at least 80…”).

[6] ARIZ. CONST. art. II, § 4.

[7] Id.

[8] Valley Nat’l Bank of Phoenix v. Glover, 62 Ariz. 538, 553 (1945).

[9] City of Tucson v. Stewart, 45 Ariz. 36, 60 (1935).

[10] Id. at 46.

[11] Id. at 47.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Id. at 48.

[15] Gloversupra note 8, at 298-99.

[16] See Stewart, supra note 9, at 47.

[17] Ariz. Downs v. Ariz. Horsemen’s Found., 130 Ariz. 550, 555 (1981) (“[T]he statute will be upheld if it has any conceivable rational basis to further a legitimate governmental interest.”)

[18] Id.

[19] Id.

Drug Money: How Pharmaceutical Companies Are Paying for the Lives Lost to the Opioid Epidemic

By Grace Taskinsoy*

PDF Available

As the U.S. opioid epidemic continues to affect millions of Americans, pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors find themselves in a harrowing position.[1] Companies including Allergan, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, Costco, CVS, Endo International, Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Rite-Aid, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart are being sued by states, municipalities, and individuals for the role they played in the opioid epidemic.[2] The plaintiffs are claiming that the opioid manufacturers and distributors not only aggressively marketed opioids to physicians and the public, but that they also downplayed the risk of addiction and failed to monitor the distribution of opioids, which resulted in the deaths of more than 500,000 Americans.[3]

The opioid epidemic lawsuits began when West Virginia sued Purdue Pharma in 2004 for aggressively marketing OxyContin to West Virginia residents and concealing the drug’s addiction risks.[4] In 1996, Purdue Pharma introduced the drug OxyContin into the pain-relief community and influenced the first wave of the opioid epidemic.[5] The drug was aggressively marketed, and only eight years after its release, it became the “leading drug of abuse in the United States.”[6] One of Purdue Pharma’s marketing techniques was to specifically target the physicians who were identified as the highest prescribers of opioids throughout the United States.[7] Purdue Pharma also targeted primary care physicians and encouraged them to liberally prescribe opioids.[8] In 2003, half of the total physicians that were prescribing OxyContin were primary care physicians.[9] This posed an issue because unlike medical specialists, primary care physicians are not always trained on the care and “management of specific conditions,” such as chronic pain.[10]

On top of everything, Purdue Pharma assured the public that the risk of addiction to OxyContin was “extremely small” and trained their sales associates to spread the message that “the risk of addiction was less than one percent.”[11] Additionally, as concerns about addiction and overdoses grew, Richard Sackler, the former president of Purdue Pharma, diverted blame onto the opioid users and told the company to “hammer on the abusers in every way possible.”[12] After countless lawsuits, Purdue Pharma recently agreed to a dissolution plan and a $6 billion settlement, which will be put into a trust and used to pay the plaintiff states and victims.[13]

Following the Purdue Pharma lawsuit, Johnson & Johnson, a manufacturer of opioids, and “the big three” opioid distributors, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, began facing thousands of opioid-related lawsuits from state and local governments and their citizens starting in 2014.[14] A spotlight was directed at the companies’ wrongdoings and troubling actions that allegedly helped fuel the opioid epidemic.[15] These companies ignored red flags, targeted small rural communities, and encouraged physicians to over-prescribe opioids.[16]

On February 25, 2022, the companies agreed to a $26 billion settlement, which was contingent on whether the companies believed enough state and local governments signed onto the settlement and gave up their right to sue.[17] As of now, all 50 states and the District of Columbia will receive a portion of the settlement.[18] The settlement payments started in April 2022 and will continue for almost twenty years.[19] Johnson & Johnson will pay a total of $5 billion over nine years, and AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson will pay a combined total of $21 billion over eighteen years.[20]

Although roughly 85% of each state’s settlement proceeds will be earmarked for “healthcare,” education, and other “addiction treatment and prevention services,” the states must still decide how they want to use, distribute, and allocate the funds.[21] This month, Arizona lawmakers decided to use the first $4 million installment of the state’s $540 million settlement to create grants that will be “available to organizations fighting the opioid crisis” across Arizona.[22] The funds will be distributed across Arizona’s fifteen counties and “medically underserved populations statewide.”[23] The grants will be used for “opioid treatment, prevention, and education” including “opioid use disorder treatment, support for people in treatment and recovery, and preventing the misuse of opioids.”[24] Arizona nonprofit, for-profit, and faith-based organizations, as well as community coalitions, can apply to receive the grants.[25]

Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, and “the big three” aren’t the only companies that have proposed settlement offers. Teva Pharmaceuticals, one of the biggest manufacturers of generic opioids in the United States, recently proposed a settlement for $4.25 billion after it received over 2,500 lawsuits from local governments, states, and tribes.[26] The settlement will be paid in installments over thirteen years.[27] Teva was said to have produced “far more prescription opioids during the peak years of the crisis than [other] opioid manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson.”[28] It is also alleged that Teva, like many other opioid manufacturers and distributors, “play[ed] down the risks of addiction and fail[ed] to stop pills from being diverted for illegal use.”[29]

Additionally, pharmacy chains such as CVS, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart are being accused of “failing to implement adequate safety and monitoring systems for high-risk medications,” such as opioids.[30] States are seeking damages for costs related to the opioid epidemic, including hospital expenses, “emergency room costs,” “dealing with and fighting crime related to opioids,” and “larger foster care programs.”[31] Wal-Mart is also being accused of ignoring red flags amid the rapid increase of opioid sales.[32] In 2012, a Wal-Mart pharmacist described arriving at work early in the morning only to see a line of fifteen to twenty people already waiting to get their opioid prescriptions refilled.[33] He couldn’t understand why patients were driving such long distances to get their pills from Wal-Mart specifically and why they couldn’t explain their need for “such powerful opioid doses.”[34] For many years, Wal-Mart received and ignored multiple reports from pharmacists who were concerned “about the doctor up the corporate chain” and continued to “dispense thousands of opioid pills.”[35]

As of now, Florida has received a $484 million settlement from CVS and a $638 million settlement from Walgreens.[36] Additionally, West Virginia has received an $82.5 million settlement from CVS and a $65 million settlement from Wal-Mart.[37]

Although these pharmaceutical companies have agreed to abundant settlements with state and local governments and the funds will be used toward addiction treatment and prevention, the companies fail to take responsibility for their actions that have fueled the opioid epidemic and affected hundreds of thousands of people and families.[38] Not only did an AmerisourceBergen executive refer to the West Virginians who are addicted to OxyContin as “pillbillies,” but the executive also responded to Kentucky’s new opioid regulations by stating “one of the hillbilly’s [sic] must have learned how to read :-).”[39]

Unfortunately, these settlements do not fix the problem. Although Johnson & Johnson has agreed to “permanently end its manufacturing and distribution of opioids nationwide” as part of its settlement agreement, the other companies facing these opioid-related lawsuits will continue manufacturing and distributing opioids.[40] It is important to recognize the role these pharmaceutical companies have played in fueling the illegal drug market as the opioid epidemic rapidly shifts from “prescription opioids to heroin, illicitly manufactured fentanyl, and other illicit drugs.”[41] When individuals who are addicted to prescription opioids are no longer able to renew or afford their prescriptions, they may resort to cheaper methods of obtaining opioids or opiates through the illegal drug market.

Although we cannot reverse the effects of the pharmaceutical companies’ actions, we can try to make a difference in the next generation. Initiatives and programs are being implemented at the state and federal levels to help spread knowledge of addiction risks and prevent inappropriate use of opioids.

Ultimately, these settlements will never be able to make up for the lives lost to the opioid epidemic and the negligence and intentional wrongdoings of the pharmaceutical companies. Right now, it is up to the states receiving portions of the settlements to use those funds to implement programs such as state drug courts, resources, and regulations to aid those who have fallen victim to the opioid epidemic.[42]

* J.D. Candidate, Class of 2024, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State

[1] Opioid Crisis Statistics, DEP’T HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, (last visited Oct. 24, 2022).

[2] Michelle Llamas, Opioid Lawsuits, DRUGWATCH (Sept. 8, 2022),

[3] Understanding the Opioid Overdose Epidemic, CTRS. DISEASE CONTROL & PREVENTION, 20began%20with,overdose%20deaths%20involving%20heroin4 (last visited Oct. 24. 2022).

[4] Rebecca Haffajee & Michelle M. Mello, Drug Companies’ Liability for the Opioid Epidemic, NAT’L LIBR. MED. (Dec. 14, 2017), 20against%20opioid,Opioid%20Companies%2C%202004
%E2%80%932017; Jan Hoffman, Teva Reaches Tentative $4.25 Billion Settlement Over Opioids, N.Y. TIMES (July 26, 2022),


[6] Art Van Zee, The Promotion and Marketing of OxyContin: Commercial Triumph, Public
Health Tragedy
, NAT’L LIBR. MED. (Feb. 2009),
/PMC2622774/#:~:text=When%20Purdue%20Pharma%20introduced%20OxyContin,almost %20%241.1%20billion%20in%202000.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.; Get to Know Your Doctors: Primary Care Versus Specialists, DRS. OSTEOPATHIC MED.,,based%20on% 20their%20respective%20specialties (last visited Oct. 24, 2022).

[11] Van Zee, supra note 6.

[12] Andrew Joseph, ‘A Blizzard of Prescriptions’: Documents Reveal New Details About
Purdue’s Marketing of OxyContin
, STAT (Jan. 15, 2019),

[13] Dietrich Knauth & Tom Hals, Purdue Pharma Judge Overrules DOJ to Approve $6 Bln
Opioid Settlement
, REUTERS (Mar. 9, 2022),

[14] Opioid Litigation Global Settlement Tracker, OPIOID SETTLEMENT TRACKER, (last visited Oct. 24, 2022); Brian Mann, 4 U.S. Companies Will Pay $26 Billion to Settle Claims They Fueled the Opioid Crisis, NAT’L PUB. RADIO (Feb. 25, 2022),

[15] Mann, supra note 12.

[16] Id.; Van Zee, supra note 6.

[17] Geoff Mulvihill, J&J, Distributors Finalize $26B Landmark Opioid Settlement,
ASSOCIATED PRESS (Feb. 25, 2022),

[18] Opioid Litigation States’ Opioid Settlement Statuses (BETA), OPIOID SETTLEMENT
TRACKER, (last visited Oct. 24, 2022) (list of all money being allocated to each state in each lawsuit).

[19] Mann, supra note 12.

[20] Jan Hoffman, Companies Finalize $26 Billion Deal With States and Cities to End Opioid
, N.Y. TIMES (Feb. 25, 2022),

[21] Mann, supra note 17; Hoffman, supra note 18.

[22] Arizona AG Allocates $4M From Pharmaceutical Settlements to Fight Opioid Crisis, KTAR NEWS (Oct. 13, 2022),

[23] Id.

[24] Id.

[25] Id.

[26] Steven Scheer, Teva Expects to Start Paying U.S. Opioid Settlement in 2023, REUTERS (Sept. 19, 2022),

[27] Id.

[28] Hoffman, supra note 4.

[29] Scheer, supra note 24.

[30] Brian Mann, A Landmark Opioid Trial Puts Spotlight on Pharmacy Chains CVS, Walmart
and Walgreens
, NAT’L PUB. RADIO (Oct. 4, 2021),

[31] Id.

[32] Brian Mann, Former Walmart Pharmacists Say Company Ignored Red Flags As Opioid
Sales Boomed
, NAT’L PUB. RADIO (Jan. 3, 2021),

[33] Id.

[34] Id.

[35] Id.

[36] Press Release, CVS Health, CVS Health Reaches Opioid Settlement Agreement With State of Florida (Mar. 30, 2022),; Dietrich Knauth, Walgreens Reaches $683 Mln Opioid Settlement With Florida, REUTERS (May 5, 2022),; OPIOD SETTLEMENT TRACKER, supra note 16.

[37] Dietrich Knauth, CVS, Walmart Reach $147.5 Mln Opioid Settlement With West Virginia,
REUTERS (Sept. 20, 2022),; OPIOID SETTLEMENT TRACKER, supra note 16.

[38] Mulvihill, supra note 15; Scheer, supra note 24.

[39] Mann, supra note 12; Chris McGreal, Big Pharma Executives Mocked ‘Pillbillies’ in Emails, West Virginia Opioid Trial Hears, GUARDIAN (May 16, 2021),

[40] Kevin Dunleavy, Johnson & Johnson Inks Eleventh-Hour Settlement Worth $230M to Avoid NY Opioid Trial, FIERCE PHARMA (June 28, 2021),,two%20 decades%2C%20CDC%20data%20show.

[41] Pain Management and the Opioid Epidemic: Balancing Societal and Individual Benefits
and Risks of Prescription Opioid Use
, NAT’L LIBR. MED. (July 13, 2017),

[42] Press Release, Ctrs. Disease Control & Prevention, CDC Launches Campaign to Help States Fight Prescription Opioid Epidemic (Sept. 25, 2017),

Comparing Regulatory Responses to Privacy Threats in Digital Markets

By Madalyn Grace*

PDF Available

On October 12, leaders from the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and Department of Justice (“DOJ”) participated in a G7 Joint Competition Policy Makers & Enforcers Summit to discuss competition policy and enforcement in digital markets.[1] Digital markets challenge the efficacy of existing competition law in nearly every jurisdiction: regulators of the world’s largest economies agree some form of ex-ante regulation is necessary to address the insufficient effectiveness and timeliness of ex-post remedies, especially concerning data privacy.[2]

Several participants shared how they are improving their ability to respond to consumer privacy threats posed by Big Tech.[3] For example, to increase competition in digital markets while protecting consumers, the European Union published the Digital Markets Act (“DMA”) on October 12, 2022.[4] The DMA allows regulators to issue prescriptive rules applicable to digital gatekeepers identified by monthly active users, capitalization, and other indicia.[5] Once implemented, these self-executing rules may help the EU avoid lengthy lawsuits.[6]

Using a different approach to ex-ante rulemaking, the United Kingdom established the Digital Markets Unit (“DMU”) within its competition agency; with future legislation it will “pro-actively shape the behavior of digital firms with significant and far-reaching market power, by making clear how they are expected to behave.”[7] The reform would allow conduct requirements for firms with Strategic Market Status, or “substantial, entrenched market power in at least one digital activity, providing the firm with a strategic position.”[8] Therefore, it may enforce further requirements on such companies’ use of data.[9]

Although several states have specific privacy laws, and five comprehensive state consumer privacy laws take effect in 2023,[10] the United States has not yet passed comprehensive privacy legislation at the federal level. The FTC has recently sought to fill this void and clarify its authority through adjudication and ex-ante rulemaking. As the agency relayed at the Summit, “The FTC seeks to improve coordination across competition, consumer protection, and privacy activities and apply an integrated approach to the agency’s cases, rules, research, and other policy tools. This may help identify interconnections between the conditions that give rise to competition and consumer protection violations. … For example, as alleged in the FTC’s amended complaint against Facebook, increased concentration in a market may lead to lower levels of service quality in areas such as privacy and data protection.”[11]

First, the FTC is attempting to use its authority over Unfair or Deceptive Acts and Practices (“UDAP”) under Section 5 of the FTC Act of 1914 (“FTC Act”) to sue Kochava, a company that allegedly sold sensitive consumer data without first anonymizing it, allowing the purchaser to track the movements of mobile device users.[12] However, per West Virginia v. EPA, the FTC must demonstrate a “clear congressional authorization” for the power it claims.[13] This raises the question whether the FTC can impose a condition on the sale of sensitive consumer information when it does not enforce a federal law expressly providing for the requirement.[14] Considering the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (“COPPA”) narrowly applies to children under thirteen,[15] and the FTC Act did not contemplate privacy, the FTC’s efforts may be unappreciated by the current Court.

More notably, the FTC is exercising its rulemaking authority under Section 18 of the FTC Act via Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPR”) regarding commercial surveillance and lax data privacy practices.[16] The agency has not yet announced its proposed rules, but it is currently seeking input regarding the business of collecting, analyzing, and profiting from consumer information.[17] The proposed rules may introduce substantive limits on the use and collection of data to replace the dominant “notice and consent” privacy paradigm.[18]

FTC rulemaking offers numerous advantages over attempting to litigate consumer privacy standards into existence. Although rulemaking is a slow process, the FTC can implement rules addressing topics beyond the narrow question at issue in typical competition suits, which may render an outdated holding by the time a final judgment is entered.[19] Second, the FTC generally cannot seek financial penalties for first-time violations of the FTC Act, and trade regulation rules may more effectively deter unlawful conduct because they do not carry the same limitation.[20] Finally, the ANPR process invites greater public participation, especially considering the notice and comment period in this instance has been extended to November 21, 2022.[21]

The FTC may issue both procedural and substantive rules “for the purpose of carrying out the [FTC Act’s] provisions,”[22] and it has previously used its UDAP authority to create several consumer protection rules where it has congressional authorization to regulate certain industries.[23] However, in the century since its inception, it has never exercised its authority over Unfair Methods of Competition (“UMC”) to create consumer privacy rules, and it has not enforced the one antitrust rule it promulgated.[24]

Through one or both of these mandates, the FTC may be capable of addressing privacy challenges in digital markets like comparable agencies in the EU and UK, but it faces significant adversity from the courts. Ironically, a letter from President Eisenhower suggests a major appeal of delegating responsibility to a federal agency was that federal courts would have less discretion over novel antitrust issues,[25] yet the FTC may end up litigating the question of whether it should be cabined to the role of a law enforcement agency or if it can fill the privacy void in federal law.

* J.D. Candidate, Class of 2024, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

[1] Press Release, Fed. Trade Comm’n, Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department Meet With Fellow G7 Enforcement Partners on Competition in Digital Markets (Oct. 12, 2022),



[4] Francesco Liberatore, DMA: EU Publishes the New Digital Markets Act, NAT’L L. REV., (Oct. 13, 2022),

[5] Aline Blankertz, The EU’s Experimental Approach in Overhauling Competition Rules, BROOKINGS INST. (Apr. 14, 2022),

[6] See id.

[7] DEP’T BUS., ENERGY & INDUS. STRATEGY & DEP’T DIGIT. CULTURE, MEDIA & SPORT, A NEW PRO-COMPETITION REGIME FOR DIGITAL MARKETS, CP 489 (2021), _data/file/1003913/Digital_Competition_Consultation_v2.pdf; see Brad Stone & Jillian Deutsch, CMA’s Hayter Says UK’s Tech Law Enforcement Is ‘Out of Date’, BLOOMBERG (Sept. 28, 2022),



[10] FED. TRADE COMM’N, A LOOK AT WHAT ISPS KNOW ABOUT YOU: EXAMINING THE PRIVACY PRACTICES OF SIX MAJOR INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS, at 10 (2021),; Peter Guffin & Melanie Conroy, As Mass. Punts on Privacy Law, Cos. Can’t Be Complacent, LAW360 (Oct. 11, 2022),

[11] COMPENDIUM, supra note 3, at 85.

[12] 15 U.S.C. § 45(a)(1) (2018); Press Release, Fed. Trade Comm’n, FTC Sues Kochava for Selling Data That Tracks People at Reproductive Health Clinics, Places of Worship, and Other Sensitive Locations, (Aug. 29, 2022),

[13] W. Va. v. Env’t Prot. Agency, 142 S. Ct. 2587, 2609 (2022).

[14] Esposito et al., FTC Privacy Suit Tests Agency’s Regulatory Authority, LAW360 (Sept. 22, 2022), authority.

[15] 15 U.S.C. §§ 6501–6506 (2012).

[16] Press Release, Fed. Trade Comm’n, FTC Explores New Rules Cracking Down on Commercial Surveillance and Lax Data Security Practices (Aug. 11, 2022), /news-events/news/press-releases/2022/08/ftc-explores-rules-cracking-down-commercial- surveillance-lax-data-security-practices; Lesli Esposito et al., FTC Privacy Suit Tests Agency’s Regulatory Authority, LAW360 (Sept. 22, 2022), privacy-suit-tests-agency-s-regulatory-authority.

[17] Chair Lina Khan, Fed. Trade Comm’n, Remarks as Prepared for Delivery at the IAPP Global Privacy Summit (Apr. 11, 2022).

[18] Id.

[19] See Rohit Chopra & Lina M. Khan, The Case for “Unfair Methods of Competition” Rulemaking, 87 U. CHI. L. REV. 357, 362 (2020).

[20] Fed. Trade Comm’n, supra note 16.

[21] Id.; Press Release, Fed. Trade Comm’n, FTC Extends Comment Deadline on Commercial Surveillance, Lax Data Security Practices Initiative Exploring Possible Rules (Oct. 14, 2022),

[22] 15 U.S.C. § 46(g) (2012); Nat’l Petroleum Refiners Ass’n v. FTC, 482 F.2d 672 (D.C. Cir. 1973).

[23] Daniel A. Crane, Debunking Humphrey’s Executor, 83 GEO. WASH. L. REV. 1835, 1861-63 (2015); Telemarketing Sales Rule, 16 C.F.R. § 310.1 (2015) (implementing Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 6101–6108 (2012)). Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, 16 C.F.R. § 312.1 (2015) (implementing Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, 15 U.S.C. §§ 6501–6506 (2012)).

[24] Crane, supra note 23, at 1861; FTC Men’s and Boy’s Tailored Clothing Rule, 16 C.F.R. § 412 (1968); Notice of Rule Repeal, 59 Fed. Reg. 8527 (1994).

[25] Id. at 1859; See President Woodrow Wilson, Address to a Joint Session of Congress on Trusts and Monopolies (Jan. 20, 1914) (transcript available at the American Presidency Project website,