While 2015 may have been the year of the legal drama comeback, real-life has proven to be as shocking and suspenseful as any courtroom show. From data breaches to corporate crises, here are the top five legal scandals of 2015:
1. Volkswagen Admitting to Cheating Software in Their Cars
Volkswagen, one of the most famous car companies in the world, came under fire in September when they admitted that thousands of their cars contained “defeat-devices” that could cheat emissions tests. The cars were diesel models that were marketed as environmentally friendly. Officials found that the cars emitted 40 times the nitrogen detected in the tests.
Now, law firms are filing [class actions])/class-action-lawyers/consumer-fraud/) against the company for allegedly deceiving the public. The CEO of Volkswagen has stepped down, and many higher level employees have been fired for actively encouraging the defeat devices. VW has issued a huge nationwide recall, which will continue all throughout 2016.
2. The Marriage-Ending Ashley Madison Breach
Ashley Madison, a web service that married men and women can use to have affairs, suffered one of the most embarrassing data breaches in history back in August. Hackers released the account details and private information of 32 million users along with a manifesto expressing their disapproval of what Ashley Madison’s stood for and how they found the company’s practice of making users pay $19 in order to permanently delete their private information appalling.
Now, Avid Life Media is offering a $377,000 bounty for the identification and capture of the hacker, or hackers, behind the job. The reveal ended marriages and outed many celebrities, family members of politicians, and pastors. Surprisingly, the company is coming back and has claimed that four million members have joined since the breach.
3. The Devastating Destruction of El Faro
On Sep. 30th, a cargo ship named El Faro left from Jacksonville, Florida and made its way to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The ship soon got caught in Hurricane Joaquin and lost engine power and propulsion. Water flooded into the ship and it was declared missing. The ship had 33 people on board during its journey; all are now presumed dead.
Tote Maritime, the company that owns the ship, was sued by families of the victims for its alleged negligence to maintain ship standards and proper regulations for sailors. The company wants to cap claims to $15 million.
4. Martin Shkreli’s Overnight Downfall
Martin Shkreli, aka “Pharma Bro,” became the Internet’s most hated man when he raised the price of an HIV medication, Daraprim, from $13.50 to $750.
The scandal surrounding Shkreli reached its climax when he was arrested and charged with security fraud on Dec. 17. It was revealed that Shkreli was running his company like a “Ponzi Scheme,” meaning that he took money from new investors and used it to pay off debts with old ones. KaloBios, a pharmaceutical company that Shkreli had acquired, fired him and filed for protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Shkreli has plead not guilty, and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
5. The Porter Ranch Gas Well Blowout Crisis
Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) detected a massive gas well blowout in its Aliso Canyon facility this October. Tons of methane gas has leaked into the neighboring town of Porter Ranch. Thousands of Porter Ranch residents have reported that they are suffering from headaches, nausea, nosebleeds, and respiratory problems. It was revealed that the mercaptans in the gas are causing short-term illnesses.
The company is now offering a relocation package for residents. Families have moved into temporary housing and hotels. Children have been forced to switch schools until the gas well blowout is fixed. SoCalGas has stated that it may take three to four months to solve the problem.
While there have been several technological and environmental disasters in 2015, it’s encouraging to see that more people are joining hands and raising their voices against larger corporations. We hope that 2016 is a safer year for the world, but Morgan & Morgan will always stand behind people in their time of need. We wish you and your family a happy new year.