The latest update to Violation Tracker adds over 200 new federal and state cases in a variety of categories. The major offenses include product safety violations, government contracting fraud (False Claims Act), unapproved promotion of medical products, and others. Penalties paid in these cases, including completed class action lawsuits, totaled almost $2.5 billion.
The largest penalty amount belongs to Cameron-Ehlen Group, Inc. doing business as Precision Lens, for $487 million. The ophthalmic product distributor was found to have violated the False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Statute by providing kickbacks to ophthalmic surgeons to promote use of its medical products. The provided kickbacks were said to have included high-end entertainment and travel to exclusive destinations.
Johnson & Johnson accounted for the second highest violation of $302 million for a product safety violation. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a California court’s finding that the company used false and deceptive marketing of its pelvic mesh products to mislead patients and doctors about the risks of permanent and irreversible implants. Additional product safety violations belong to Hyundai and Kia Motors, which together settled for $326 million to resolve allegations that they sold vehicles with faulty anti-lock brakes.
Two major pharmacy chains, Walgreens and Kroger, reached settlement agreements for their role in fueling the opioid epidemic. Walgreens will pay nearly $230 million to the city of San Francisco, while Kroger agreed to pay $68 million to the state of West Virginia. These cases are among the latest in a long string of cases holding opioid manufacturers, distributors, and dispensers liable for the public health crisis.
BP Products North America, Inc. agreed to pay $242 million to settle allegations its Whiting refinery in Indiana violated federal regulations limiting benzene in refinery wastewater systems which could lead to potential health impacts for the communities surrounding the facility. This is the largest civil penalty secured for a Clean Air Act stationary source settlement.
A federal judge gave final approval to a settlement in which Major League Baseball agreed to pay $185 million to resolve allegations that it violated the Fair Labor Standards Act for compensation of minor league players.
Violation Tracker now contains more than 557,000 entries dating back to the beginning of 2000. Total monetary penalties exceed $930 billion.