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Volkswagen and J&J: Did these corporate Frankensteins get to you?

Don’t be surprised if they did.  These two giant corporations – each said to be the biggest in their fields - have thousands, if not millions of victims, ensnared by their clever and patently illegal activities – both in marketing their products and the way they manipulated data about them.

Volkswagen and Johnson & Johnson are 21st Century Frankensteins.  The giant pharmaceutical company covered up the side effects of Risperdal, an anti-psychotic medication that seriously deforms its young victims and is a cause death in elderly patients with dementia.  The giant car maker covered up toxic auto emissions, fouling air all over the planet, defrauding customers and driving down the value of their cars.

Both companies flagrantly violated the law.  Both believed they might never be caught.  And if they were, they could buy their way out of trouble.  Given the facts about “policing” corporate behavior, their assumptions were not surprising.

There is little to restrain them.  Joanne Doroshow, head of the Center for Justice and Democracy at the New York Law School, says the U.S. Justice Department’s “anemic response to corporate law breaking” and severe legal limits on punitive damages have opened the door to flagrant corporate wrong doing.

The huge frauds perpetrated on the American public by these two corporations should not go unchallenged.  They have significantly endangered the public’s health, caused deaths of the elderly and serious deformities in children.  Wayne Wright lawyers urge you to call if you have been impacted by the desire for profits and unforgiveable behavior that motivated these giants to take advantage of you.  For more than 30 years the public has relied on the firm’s ability to successfully represent innocent victims whose lives were compromised by corporations without a conscience.

Volkswagen

When Volkswagen cars couldn’t meet American emission standards 10 years ago, the car maker found a way to cheat on emission tests so it could sell autos that clearly “…damage human health and the environment.”  A report by ABC News slammed the company for installing software in its engines to skirt U.S. standards.  The software “…allowed VW’s diesel cars to fool U.S. laboratory emissions tests, releasing fewer smog-causing NOx during tests than in real-world driving conditions.”  Nitrogen oxides (NOx) cause dangerous smog.

An article in The Detroit Free Press, - “Analysis: Why VW’s emissions fraud is such an outrage” - begins with one damning word about the company’s intent:  Premeditation.

Volkswagen’s marketing of 11 million of its diesel cars was based on a virtually irresistible appeal to environmentally aware Americans who were also looking for cars that used less gas.  The company’s ads claimed its cars were “clean diesels.”  It was a blatant lie.  The cars actually “…produced up to 40 times the legal limit…” of emissions in the United States.  The cheating went on for seven years.  And its effect on air quality is massive, particularly in Europe.

An analysis in The Guardian found VW cars in England may have emitted nearly 11 tons of air pollution every year, about the same as all of the UK’s “combined emissions for all power stations, vehicles industry and agriculture…”  Just 3% of cars in the U.S. are diesel, compared to almost half in the European Union (EU) where air pollution has not improved for years.  A group in London is calling VW’s diesel emissions “…the biggest public health catastrophe in UK history…” charging that it is responsible for 5,800 premature deaths each year.”

While air pollution caused by VW’s diesel cars in the United States has not had the environmental impact it’s had in Europe, it’s a financial disaster for VW car owners in America.  The resale value of their VW cars has plummeted.   And, because their cars’ emissions exceed EPA standards, owners may be driving cars that are illegal.  Investors are affected as well.  The company’s stock fell 30 percent after the fraud was revealed.  Drivers and investors are now suing the German automaker for using software to cheat the EPA’s emissions tests.

VW is facing fines in the U.S. of “…more than $18 billion, as well as a criminal investigation,” according to a recent report by NBC News.  The auto maker could face legal claims that it should refund the entire purchase price of the cars it sold fraudulently, if the cars decline in fuel economy or performance.  Some are suggesting that a class action lawsuit is the only way to secure a complete refund.

Relief for U.S. car owners may take time.  While the car maker has said it will fix all VW cars in America, the situation may be more complex than the company has previously admitted.  Word is now surfacing that the immediate fixes will be conducted in Europe and other countries, not the U.S.  The cost of repairing the “rigged diesels”  could run as high as $6.5 billion in the United States alone.

Meanwhile the EPA is changing its methods of assessing emissions in all cars.  It is adopting a “real world conditions” instead of laboratory tests.

If you are among those who were cheated by Volkswagen’s greed, call Wayne Wright.  The firm counts this fraud as among the worst ever callously perpetrated on unsuspecting American car buyers.  You deserve representation that will right this wrong.

Johnson & Johnson

Modern heath care is a gold mine for pharmaceutical companies, often at the expense of patients.  This is one of those cases.  Johnson & Johnson’s has made an astonishing amount of money selling its expensive medical devices and high priced prescription drugs,  not the talcum powder, Listerine, Tylenol, Splenda, and other items that make the company seem so caring and benign.

Exhaustive research by Steven Brill has torn the mask off the giant pharmaceutical company’s deception when it comes to one drug.  Brill takes readers step by step through the intricate machinations of Johnson & Johnson’s massive fraud involving Risperdal, in a powerful series on The Huffington Post,” - “How to illegally promote a powerful drug and walk away with billions.”

Risperdal is anti-psychotic drug prescribed for kids with severe autism.  It calms their frequent disruptive behavior, including violent outbursts and screaming tantrums.  But it can cause tardive dyskinesia – involuntary repetitive movements that can’t be controlled –excessive weight gain and increased levels of prolactin, a hormone that makes the body think it is pregnant.  Boys on the drug can develop large breasts.  Pre-teen girls can produce breast milk.

Risperdal can change a child’s body shape for the rest of their life, according to medical director of the Treatment and Research Institute for Autism and Spectrum disorders at Vanderbilt University in an article on the side effects of Risperdal in a 2014 issue of Scientific American.

Johnson & Johnson has paid $3 billion to settle cases “involving the illicit promotion of Risperdal.”  Brill says the settlements are a drop in the bucket.  The company set aside $500 million to $1 billion to pay claims to victims - like boys with 46DD breasts and elderly dementia patients in nursing homes - for a drug that earned the company a whopping $20.6 billion before taxes in 2014.  The fund to pay off claims was chalked off as the cost of doing business.

Although the company did not have FDA approval to market the drug to children and the elderly, it skirted that obstacle with ease.  As Brill notes in his series, under the law the FDA has the power to control drug companies but it cannot control doctors.  They can prescribe any drug that has been approved by the FDA,”off label,” if they wish.

While J&J couldn’t legally market Risperdal directly to doctors, it could go after other “customers” – mental health facilities for children and state run nursing homes for the elderly.  It found its “…first willing partners among Medicaid and health officials in Texas, some of who were paid consulting fees. Thus was born the Texas Medical Algorithm Project…”  It got a group of doctors, chosen by the state, to review Risperdal and “determine that the state’s Medicaid prescribers should use Risperdal…” instead of Haldol, a similar, much cheaper drug that was available as a generic.

J&J organized groups of doctors in states across the country to recommend Risperdal, by paying Texas doctors to give speeches to other physicians, urging them to create similar programs.  The cost per patient to state health programs skyrocketed from $250 a year on Haldon to $3,000 per year on Risperdal.  Doctors also qualified to be paid speakers based on the number of Risperdal prescriptions they wrote.

A subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals was convicted in Arkansas in 2012 of downplaying and hiding risks associated with Risperdal.  The jury only took 3 hours to return a guilty verdict in the case.  By then, Johnson & Johnson and Janssen were facing “dozens of similar lawsuits in federal court and in other states.”  The Arkansas lawsuit sought fines of “at least $1.2 billion for the 250,000 Risperdal presentations the state’s Medicaid program had paid for over 3 and ½ years.”

That same year, a Harvard University study, concluded that Risperdal had an increased risk of death for elderly patients with dementia and “…should not be used.”

Johnson & Johnson should pay for taking advantage of you and other American patients in one of the most callous health care frauds in American history.  Call Wayne Wright LLP for the help you deserve.