The query to editorial page editors and commentators cited more than 20 specific examples of grave corporate crime and misconduct.
A sampling follows:
- The Ortho unit of Johnson & Johnson* pleaded guilty to conspiring to obstruct and obstructing justice and was fined $7.5 million. The FDA had approved Ortho’s Retin-A for acne; Ortho violated FDA regulations by promoting it for a vastly larger market—wrinkle removal.
- Royal Caribbean Cruises* pleaded guilty to a fleet-wide conspiracy to dump oily wastewater illegally. RCC’s $9 million fine was the largest ever levied for such a crime. A month later, RCC’s Nordic Empress illegally dumped again. In March, RCC again pleaded guilty to a three-count indictment charging concealment of illegal discharges from the Nordic Prince into the Pacific.
- Three former C.R. Bard executives were convicted of concealing faults in unapproved catheters used in some 22,000 heart surgery patients. One died, one had a heart attack, 22 needed emergency surgery.
- May Department Stores settled claims of illegally collecting debt from bankrupt consumers by agreeing to pay them $15 million and 27 states $7 million. Earlier, Sears Roebuck and the GE Capital unit of General Electric* resolved similar claims.
- A Florida jury ordered General Motors* to pay $33 million to the parents of a boy who was incinerated in a 1983 Oldsmobile that burst into flames on being hit in the rear.
- DuPont agreed to pay nearly $11.3 million to settle charges of withholding critical evidence in one of some 500 lawsuits brought by growers who blamed DuPont’s Benlate DF fungicide for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
- A federal lawsuit charged Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. and Quorum Health Group with defrauding health programs for more than 14 years.
- Florida’s attorney general and insurance commissioner concluded in a joint report that Prudential Insurance cheated policyholders for 13 years in “a deceptive scheme … embraced by the very top management.”
|* It and/or its subsidiaries have been convicted of a crime at least twice.|