This has been a bad year for corporations; not for their bottom lines, per se, but for their reputations:
- Facebook and Cambridge Analytica sold us out.
- United Airlines let people’s pets die.
- An autonomous Uber car hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe.
- Google is embroiled in sexual harassment accusations.
- Sloan Kettering’s CEO made money off of Merck & Co. as a member of the corporate Board.
- Les Moonves was forced to resign over accusations of sexual harassment and assault.
All of these events happened this year – and yet as bad as these acts were, there were some which were even worse.
The American Association for Justice (AAJ) has released its annual list for Worst Corporate Conduct. Some of the companies we listed above were given dishonorable mentions, as were Equifax (the 2017 hacking which left hundreds of millions of people’s personal information exposed), Papa John’s founder John Schnatter (for a racial slur) and Cardinal Health (for its role in the opioid epidemic), but the real “winners” did far worst.
The 2018 offenders list
Who could be worse, you might be wondering, than the companies listed above? What could be more egregious than rampant sexual harassment and assault, than outright racism, than the death of innocent people and French bulldogs?
Here are the worst corporate offenders of 2018:
Navient, for deceptive and unfair practices regarding student loans. Per AAJ, they denied people options for affordable repayment plans, went after veterans and the severely disabled, overcharged everyone they could, and even went “after the families of deceased borrowers despite promises such loans would be forgiven.” The company has made billions.
The oil companies – specifically, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell – because they knew what their products were doing to the environment and to the climate, and they lied through their teeth about it. New York City is currently suing all five companies, “alleging that the companies together were responsible for 11 percent of the world’s global warming gases and that they have long known about the impact they have had on the environment.”
State Farm, the worst neighbor you can have, for buying a judge. Per AAJ, “In September 2018, State Farm agreed to pay $250 million to settle claims that the company secretly conspired to install its preferred candidate on the Illinois Supreme Court, then lied about it so the newly-elected justice would not have to recuse himself from a billion-dollar appeal the company was facing. The justice, Lloyd Karmeier, eventually cast the deciding vote vacating the appeal.”
It is a little ironic, perhaps, that this what landed State Farm on this list, as opposed to the way they routinely harm their own policyholders.
GM/Takata, for the manufacturing and installation of airbags they KNEW were defective. It’s led to the largest recall in US history, and even those who had their airbags replaced will likely need to do it again, since Takata can’t stop manufacturing a terrible product. Twenty-six people have died, and 266 people have been injured, in accidents around the world. And GM? They just keep filing in court, to avoid having to recall more vehicles.
Theranos, the biotech company, for blatantly lying about the ability of their technology. “The company claimed it could make blood-testing cheaper and more accessible. Rather than having to have blood drawn via the traditional needle-in-vein, then waiting for expensive lab tests, Theranos promised that a wide range of medical conditions, from diabetes to cancer, could be detected from just a drop or two of blood, for just $2.99.”
For the record, this technology never existed – but that didn’t stop Theranos from perpetuating the fraud, incorrectly diagnosing people with conditions they didn’t have, or raking in billions form investors.
Nestlé, maker of the world’s most beloved candy bars, for child slavery.
“In October 2018, the Ninth Circuit reinstated a lawsuit accusing Nestlé USA and Cargill Co., of perpetuating child slavery at cocoa farms in Ivory Coast. The six plaintiffs in the case were kidnapped from Mali as children and forced to work on Ivory Coast plantations for as much as 14 hours per day without pay. The court ruled that not only had the companies failed to use their economic leverage to remove child and slave labor from the cocoa production process, but they had also taken ‘taken steps to perpetuate a system built on child slavery to depress labor costs.’”
USA Gymnastics/MSU, for allowing Larry Nassar to sexually assault and molest at least 250 Olympians and university students over the course of 20+ years. MSU is complicit in the coverup, as is USA Gymnastics.
Where do we go from here?
The more accountability we demand, the less fraud and misconduct these companies can perpetuate, right?
As a whole, yes – but when you’ve been the victim of corporate misconduct, trying to go up against a global company on your own can be terrifying. These behemoths have seemingly unlimited resources, some of the best lawyers in the world, and a strong motivation to keep victims silent.
That’s where we come in. At Plattner Verderame, P.C., we have ALWAYS stood up for the “little guy,” whether he or she was living with an injury caused by a negligent driver, or facing down an employer who was defrauding the government, or fighting a global conglomerate whose dangerous products had hurt hundreds or even thousands of people. There is no such thing as too big a case, or too large a company, when it comes to getting justice for our clients.
These corporations’ actions may have come to light, but we know that, sadly, the corruption and misconduct won’t stop here. The fight for justice will go on – and our firm is proud to be on the right side of history, fighting on your behalf.
If you were hurt by a negligent individual or by a reckless corporation – or anything in between – Plattner Verderame, P.C. will fight for you. We have proudly represented the people of Arizona for years. Let us help you, too. To schedule a free consultation at our office in Phoenix, please call 602.783.8793 or fill out our contact form.