A Danville chiropractor has been pushing a device via his website to thousands of chiropractors with false claims that it's approved by the FDA and endorsed by NASA, the Alameda County District Attorney's office said in a news release.
Dr. Benjamin Altadonna made or caused to be made a traction device which he "sold or leased for between $90,000 and $115,000," according to the complaint. He advertised the device with deceptive claims as the "DRX9000 New Cash Patient Marketing System" or the "DRX9000 Spinal Decompression Lead Generation and Conversion Marketing System," the State said.
"Many different counties joined in on the lawsuit and decided to file it [in Alameda County," said D.A. Teresa Drenick. Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Solano, and Sonoma counties are all part of the civil complaint.
In 2006, the D.A. said, Altadonna made claims that "the DRX was a patented device having FDA approval or that it was used in a valid scientific study that demonstrated an 86 percent success rate in treating medical conditions like spinal herniation… that the DRX was affiliated with, endorsed or approved by NASA."
The state of Oregon also fined Altadonna for similar things in 2007, the D.A. said, noting Altadonna does business as Doctor's Wealth Creators and other names.
According to Altadonna, the entered into a stipulated agreement with Oregon's attorney general in 2007, requiring the chiropractor to change his marketing practices and provide "reliable scientific evidence such as tests, analysis, research, studies…based on the expertise of professionals in the relevant area" to back up his claims, which Altadonna neglected to do.
Altadonna, under the umbrella Altadonna Communications Inc (ACI) paid civil restitution as part of the agreement.
But according to the Alameda County D.A., Altadonna is again using pseudonyms to sell and disseminate "thousands of marketing plans to thousands of licensed health care professionals inside and outside the State of California."
After meeting with the Monterey County D.A. in 2006, Altadonna began transferring assets to co-defendants Altadonna Living Trust and Diablo Park LLC, the state said.
California is seeking an injunction and penalties for false advertising, unfair competition, fraudulent transfer of assets and violations of the Business and Professions Code.
While the next court date and judge have not been assigned, Scott Patton, one of the prosecuting D.A.s, says there is no chance that Altadonna will go to jail.
"Since this is a civil complaint...the court will usually order injunctive terms and (Altadonna) will have conduct business a certain way and may have to pay restitution if there are injured parties."