The latest update to Violation Tracker adds nearly 1,900 new federal and state regulatory cases in various categories, along with over 600 consumer protection and false advertisement lawsuits. Over the last two decades, major companies have paid out more than $25 billion in damages and settlements in class action and multi-district cases despite flaunting the common claim of giving priority to customer satisfaction.
Banks and insurance companies in the financial sector account for more than half of the total penalties collected. Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo exceeded $1 billion in penalties from over 20 cases each. These large banks have been accused of numerous consumer protection violations including charging excessive overdraft fees, adding unnecessary insurance fees to loans, and applying inaccurate late fees on customers who actually paid on time.
Outside of the financial sector, the tech industry accounted for a substantial portion of penalties for false or deceptive advertising and marketing. Acer America paid out $280 million for allegations of misleading customers about the Windows operating system installed on its laptop computers. In one case, Apple agreed to pay $310 million to settle litigation alleging it distributed iPhone software updates that slowed the device’s performance.
In addition to consumer protection violations, the routine update for major federal and state cases included the following major offenses: environmental violations, fuel economy violations, utility safety violations, and price-fixing or anti-competitive practices.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company agreed to pay $150 million to settle allegations of poor recordkeeping that resulted in a tree falling on company conductors causing the 2020 Zogg Fire. PG&E has paid out over $18 billion in total penalties for safety violations alone.
General Motors and Fiat Chrysler were fined for failing to meet fuel economy standards for cars and trucks sold between 2016 and 2019. Together the companies paid almost $364 million in penalties. Volkswagen and Audi entered into a settlement agreement for employing the use of illegal emission-evading technology in violation of Texas environmental laws. The German car manufacturers will pay a civil penalty of $85 million.
A multistate coalition has negotiated a nationwide settlement with Indivior Inc., the maker of Suboxone, for restricting critical access to the drug. The company was alleged to have used illegal means to switch the Suboxone market from tablets to film while interfering with the market for tablets to preserve its drug monopoly. Indivior agreed to pay a $102.5 million settlement to resolve allegations of anti-competitive practices.
Violation Tracker now contains more than 564,000 entries dating back to the beginning of 2000. Total monetary penalties exceed $957 billion.