(A) If, by the attorney general's own inquiries or as a result of complaints, the attorney general has reasonable cause to believe that a person has engaged or is engaging in an act or practice that violates Chapter 1345. of the Revised Code, he may investigate.
(B) For this purpose, the attorney general may administer oaths, subpoena witnesses, adduce evidence, and require the production of relevant matter.
If matter that the attorney general requires to be produced is located outside the state, the attorney general may designate representatives, including officials of the state in which the matter is located, to inspect the matter on the attorney general's behalf, and the attorney general may respond to similar requests from officials of other states. The person subpoenaed may make the matter available to the attorney general at a convenient location within the state or pay the reasonable and necessary expenses for the attorney general or the attorney general's representative to examine the matter at the place where it is located, provided that expenses shall not be charged to a party not subsequently found to have engaged in an act or practice violative of Chapter 1345. of the Revised Code.
(C) Within twenty days after a subpoena has been served, a person subpoenaed under this section may file a motion to extend the return day, or to modify or quash the subpoena, stating good cause, in the court of common pleas of Franklin county or any other county in this state.
(D) A person subpoenaed under this section shall comply with the terms of the subpoena, unless the parties agree to modify the terms of the subpoena or unless the court has modified or quashed the subpoena, extended the return day of the subpoena, or issued any other order with respect to the subpoena prior to its return day.
If a person fails without lawful excuse to obey a subpoena or to produce relevant matter, the attorney general may apply to the court of common pleas of Franklin county or any other county in this state for an order compelling compliance.
(E) The attorney general may request that an individual who refuses to testify or to produce relevant matter on the ground that the testimony or matter may incriminate the individual be ordered by the court to provide the testimony or matter. With the exception of a prosecution for perjury and an action for damages under section 1345.07 or 1345.09 of the Revised Code, an individual who complies with a court order to provide testimony or matter, after asserting a privilege against self-incrimination to which the individual is entitled by law, shall not be subjected to a criminal proceeding or to a civil penalty or forfeiture on the basis of the testimony or matter required to be disclosed or testimony or matter discovered through that testimony or matter.
(F) The attorney general may:
(1) During an investigation under this section, afford, in a manner considered appropriate to to the attorney general, a supplier an opportunity to cease and desist from any suspected violation. The attorney general may suspend such an investigation during the time period that the attorney general permits the supplier to cease and desist; however, the suspension of the investigation or the affording of an opportunity to cease and desist shall not prejudice or prohibit any further investigation by the attorney general under this section.
(2) Terminate an investigation under this section upon acceptance of a written assurance of voluntary compliance from a supplier who is suspected of a violation of this chapter.
Acceptance of an assurance may be conditioned upon an undertaking to reimburse or to take other appropriate corrective action with respect to identifiable consumers damaged by an alleged violation of this chapter. An assurance of compliance given by a supplier is not evidence of violation of this chapter. The attorney general may, at any time, reopen an investigation terminated by the acceptance of an assurance of voluntary compliance, if the attorney general believes that further proceedings are in the public interest. Evidence of a violation of an assurance of voluntary compliance is prima-facie evidence of an act or practice in violation of this chapter, if presented after the violation in an action brought under this chapter. An assurance of voluntary compliance may be filed with the court and if approved by the court, entered as a consent judgment.
(G) The procedures available to the attorney general under this section are cumulative and concurrent, and the exercise of one procedure by the attorney general does not preclude or require the exercise of any other procedure.
Amended by 130th General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 483, §101.01, eff. 9/15/2014.
Effective Date: 07-01-1983