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AAJ Identifies the Worst Corporate Conduct of 2018

To support corporate interests, the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) annually releases a list of the year’s Top 10 Most Ridiculous Lawsuits. According to Insurance Journal, “It’s the business group’s way of drawing attention to what it sees as abuse in the criminal justice system.” To counter this tactic, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) also publicizes reports that identify and analyze the worst cases of corporate misconduct that are brought to trial each year. Interestingly, the 2018 report also criticizes any institutions that had the power to stop these cases of misconduct and failed to do so.

The mission of the AAJ, formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA®), is to “promote a fair and effective justice system – and to support the work of attorneys in their efforts to ensure that any person who is injured by the misconduct or negligence of others can obtain justice in America’s courtrooms, even when taking on the most powerful interests.” The trial bar believes that every citizen has a constitutional right to pursue justice through the established legal system, especially if it means taking on powerful corporations. Elise Sanguinetti, the President of the AAJ, states, “This report contains eye-opening details about the shocking misconduct and lack of ethics pervading corporate culture. But the good news is, Americans can rely on civil justice to hold these bad actors accountable and change the way they do business. When everyday Americans are lied to, abused, or injured, they don’t want a phone apology – they want the ability to exercise their constitutional right to hold unscrupulous corporations to account in court in front of a jury.”

The Sorry-Not-Sorry Campaign

Corporate representatives and CEOs are experts at “sorry-not-sorry” campaigns. Like a celebrity dodging personal responsibility after an errant twitter comment, these powerful corporate leaders view apologies as defensive weapons rather than sincere acknowledgements of any wrongdoing. In fact, these campaigns specifically cater to the public eye and are meant to protect the company’s image. Fortunately, the AAJ is devoted to holding these corporations responsible for their acts of negligence and misconduct.

The AAJ’s list of the “Worst Corporate Conduct of 2018” includes:

  • Nestlé: Since its founding in 1866, Nestlé has developed into the world’s largest food and beverage company. However, this great success story is riddled with countless lawsuits and outrageous scandals because the company chooses to engage in several unethical practices, including: price-fixing, harmful water privatization, deforestation, and product mislabeling. Worst of all, the company has been accused of utilizing and condoning child and slave-labor. For example, approximately 2.1 million children in West Africa have been forced to perform labor for Nestlé. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Nestlé USA and Cargill Co. failed to use their considerable power and economic leverage to remove child and slave labor from their production processes and had even “taken steps to perpetuate a system built on child slavery to depress labor costs.”
  • Navient: This for-profit corporation is one of the top three student loan lenders in the United States. According to the AAJ, Navient has received numerous complaints for its deceptive and unlawful practices. For example, Navient is reporting that disabled debtors are defaulting on their loans after they’ve already been forgiven through federal disability programs. Also, the company has made $4 billion by encouraging debtors into forbearance and overlooking better debt-relief options.
  • State Farm: In September 2018, State Farm settled a $250 million Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) lawsuit after secretly conspiring to install a candidate, Lloyd Karmeier, on the Illinois Supreme Court.
  • USA Gymnastics/MSU: Before 2015, Larry Nassar enjoyed a reputable career as an osteopath physician at Michigan State University (MSU) and as an official doctor for the USA women’s national gymnastics team. Nassar, who spent decades sexually assaulting hundreds of female patients, was protected from complaints and legal allegations by both MSU and USA Gymnastics. Despite the investigation being impeded by these corporate-backed organizations, the U.S. Department of Education officially declared that MSU’s handling of sexual assault cases is in violation of Title IX. While many officials from MSU and USA Gymnastics are still awaiting their trials, Nassar has been convicted as a serial child molester and sentenced to a minimum 100 years in state prison.
  • BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, & Royal Dutch Shell: These five oil companies are being sued by New York City for denying the environmental impact of global warming gases. If the lawsuit is successful, it will yield compensation that can help pay for any infrastructure damage caused by climate change.
  • Takata: In the late 1990s, Takata began making air-bag inflators with ammonium nitrate propellant. It didn’t take long for the company to realize that their product was dangerous to motor vehicle drivers and passengers. While the scandal has been ongoing since the early 2000s, millions of Americans still drive cars that are equipped with this company’s defective air bags. In May 2018, four automakers – Mazda, Subaru, Toyota, and BMW – reached a $553 million settlement with their consumers for installing Takata air bags in their vehicles. In their 2018 report, AAJ criticizes General Motors for filing petitions with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) just to avoid recalling its vehicles, effectively saving the company approximately $1 billion.
  • Theranos: In 2015, Elizabeth Holmes was declared the youngest and wealthiest self-made billionaire in America. The founder and former CEO of Theranos claimed that medical conditions, including diabetes and cancer, could be detected from just a few drops of blood for the low price of $2.99. However, the company was faking lab tests and demonstrations to intentionally mislead investors. John Carreyrou of The Wall Street Journal worked with Theranos whistleblowers to reveal that the company was defrauding investors, doctors, and patients. In 2018, a federal grand jury indicted Holmes and her former COO on nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Contact a Qualified Legal Representative Today

If you’ve been injured by the actions of a negligent corporation, contact the Louisiana personal injury attorneys at Anderson Boutwell Traylor. Our trial-tested legal team has over 60 years of collective legal experience and has recovered over $50 million on behalf of our clients. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t have any to pay any legal fees until we settle your case.

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