2017 was a shocking year for misconduct by big corporations against consumer safety. When big corporations are blinded by dollar signs, consumer safety invariably loses because corporations’ thirst for profits will never be fully quenched. Corporate misconduct usually only improves when publicly exposed, and even then only if profits are negatively affected. A report recently released by the American Association for Justice, an organization dedicated to the preservation of our Constitutional 7th Amendment right to a trial by jury, details the most egregious examples of corporate conduct in 2017. The United States Constitution right to trial by jury preserves access to the courthouse for individuals harmed by corporate neglect and misconduct. Lawsuits level the playing field for consumers, and ensure corporate abuses do not go unchallenged.
Here are the most notorious cases of corporate misconduct reported in 2017:
Takata Corporation knew for more than 10 years that its airbags could explode, hurling metal through a vehicle’s driver and passenger compartments causing shrapnel-like injuries that killed 22 people and maimed hundreds more. Takata hid this information from consumers and federal regulators alike. Takata has recalled more than 70 million airbags but this cowardly company has declared bankruptcy, and the necessary parts to replace millions of defective airbags are not available, leaving consumers at risk that their airbags may also explode.
Equifax, a credit-reporting agency, allowed a massive data security breach to occur and go unreported for months. Equifax received warnings of the risk of data breach as early as March of 2017 which ultimately occurred in May 2017, was allegedly not “discovered” by Equifax until July of 2017, and not revealed to the public until September 2017. The security breach exposed the personal and financial information of over 145 million Americans including dates of birth, social security numbers, addresses, and driver’s license numbers. Unsurprisingly, several top Equifax executives sold more than $2 million of their Equifax stock before the huge data breach became public, so they suffered no monetary loss for such a colossal blunder, then offered consumers potentially affected by the data breach “free” credit monitoring services that would charge consumers $17 a month after the first year of service necessitated by Equifax’s negligence, thus pocketing even more money due to their own negligence.
Johnson & Johnson is currently defending a plethora of lawsuits for selling a number of allegedly defective products including talcum powder that could cause cancer; the blood thinner Xarelto that allegedly causes uncontrolled bleeding; the drug Risperdal that allegedly causes males to grow female breast tissue; alleged defective pelvic mesh implants; and the DePuy artificial hip which allegedly causes infection, nerve damage, fractures, dislocations, and necrosis (death of the issue). In many cases it is alleged that Johnson & Johnson ignored known problems with its products, or chose not to warn consumers of potential serious risks.
United Airlines manhandled a 71-year old Kentucky doctor off of a plane for a seat he had purchased, and was occupying, in order to make room for United employees after the flight was overbooked by United. The doctor was dragged off the plane and suffered a concussion, a broken nose and broken teeth. United admitted no wrongdoing until a massive social media outcry and threatened lawsuits finally provoked an apology and undisclosed settlement to the injured doctor.
Wall Street successfully lobbied 50 U.S. Senators and the Vice President to prevent the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from eliminating forced arbitration clauses in credit card agreements, bank agreements, and other consumer contracts involving products such as cell phones. Most consumers are completely unaware of the forced arbitration clauses contained in the fine print of consumer contracts, and that they are signing away their Constitutional rights to a trial by jury and their right to go to court if they are harmed, in favor of secret forced arbitration agreements which favor giant corporations, hide corporate misconduct, and deny consumers their Constitutional rights.
These are not the only stories of corporate greed and misconduct, of corporations choosing profits over people, or of corporations accepting consumer deaths and injuries as a mere “cost of doing business.” As the AAJ report rightfully concludes: “the civil justice system is the last line of defense to protect consumers. Lawsuits have proven to be the most effective, and sometimes the only, mechanism for deterring negligent behavior and rooting out corporate misconduct.”
Find out more by reviewing the full report here: https://www.justice.org/sites/default/files/file-uploads/Corporate_Misconduct_2017_FINAL_0.pdf