Danville chiropractor sued in Alameda County for fraud, false advertising


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."


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Posted by Lucy Green
a resident of Danville
on Dec 10, 2010 at 5:42 pm

How do these sites publish such ill-researched rubbish? Especially when it's slandering an innocent man who serves to help honest effective health practicioners. Check this article out. It explains everything and how the real culprit was/is, the manufacturer: Web Link

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Posted by Thomas Stonden
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 10, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Sounds like the government is getting desperate. Anything to make a buck. Spinal decompression works and this doc deserves an award for sticking up for doctors and patients.

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Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Dec 11, 2010 at 9:48 am

Hey, can I sell you two rubes some nice swamp land in Florida? It comes with a free bridge where you can stand and collect toll money all day long.
Apparently you'll buy anything, so I thought I should ask.
Did you notice the name "Doctor's Wealth Creators"?? Maybe that should have given you a clue.

Like this comment
Posted by American
a resident of Danville
on Dec 11, 2010 at 11:26 am

Derek: It is a Christmas miracle(not holiday season miracle) that I actually agree with you on an issue!! Wow, if we can agree on something, it gives me faith that maybe our leaders in Washington D.C. can come together and reach a common ground. I personally do not know this chiropractor, but the article notes that he already signed a stipulation a few years ago in Oregon to stop his misleading marketing, and that many counties in CA have now joined this lawsuit against him. In my experience, when there is smoke, there is fire. I often laugh when reading these ridiculous ads in our newspaper by local chiropractors claming to cure everything from cancer to the common cold. Fact is that in CA chiropractors are not even required to have an undergraduate degree to get into chiropractic college, the state of CA does not allow them to even prescribe medication, and chiropractice was started by a Mr. Palmer who claimed he could restore a deaf person's hearing by pressing on their spine. I realize that some people really feel they benefit from chiropractic care, but personally I am very skeptical, particularly when they start claiming they can cure everything.

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Posted by Thomas Heron
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Dec 13, 2010 at 11:58 pm

This guy is innocent! A family friend of ours is a chiropractor who uses this equipment and has helped several relatives of mine through decompression therapy. I just read this article from someone else who posted it, and it explains the real story. All the evidence points to the manufacturer. You guys obviously missed the link above that Lucy posted, explaining how the real culprit in this case is the manufacturer. Who unfortunately for this guy... is in another state and thus beyond the reach of CA's local DA's. Here's the link again, I suggest you inform yourself prior to jumping on the unfounded chiropractic hate-wagon. It's amazing that massage-therapist don't get an ounce of the ill-will chiros get, and they're qualifications are even less. And it's not because of what chiros espouse they can treat... look at acupuncture which swears they can correct almost any condition as well. Fortunately they have the esoteric credit of 1000's of years and another cultures rich in "longevity" to exempt them? Seriously... you might want to question where this anti-chiro attitude came from? Quite possibly the same western medicine movement who writes a prescription of zanax to a teenager with the conviction of saint dolling out blessings. Once again, I defer to the link above. Thanks Lucy for digging up the other side of the coin (which more often than not, completes the story... go figure). Web Link

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Posted by Linda Dennison
a resident of Danville
on Dec 14, 2010 at 1:09 am

This is sad. That the D.A. can get newspapers to run an article like this before the facts of the case is even decided. That link you posted Thomas says it all. I hope this doctor fights back hard!

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Posted by Sarah Elton
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Dec 14, 2010 at 6:38 am

God bless chiropractors and this doctor. I hate DA's!

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Posted by Tom Kinley
a resident of Danville
on Dec 14, 2010 at 6:41 am

After reading that other linked article... This is ridiculous. Shouldn't DA's go after serious criminal offenses not after someones checkbook? I hope this guy challenges the hell out of all this.

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Posted by Lilly Whilberg
a resident of Danville
on Dec 14, 2010 at 7:09 am

My mom's boss ran a talent agency for children and had the DA so far up his ass, that he had to move states! This went on for over 6 years. Mind you... his business was legitimate, honest, and did exactly what they claimed. Some of these little pyscho pitbull DA's need to seriously re-adjust their focus, let-go of getting bullied as a kid, and help the communities they (supposedly) serve... and go after real criminals. Well said Tom!

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Posted by jrm
a resident of Vista Grande Elementary School
on Dec 14, 2010 at 9:22 am

I am with American on this, Mr Altadonna in some respects represents the worst of the flim flam scam artists preying on a naive patient population dealing with chronic pain and looking for relief. Mr. Heron's web link has nothing to do with the efficacy of the device, it is a trademark infringement lawsuit disputing who can use what brand names in the course of selling the device. Why he would submit that link as proof of the device's effectiveness is beyond me.
He is a contemporary version of the snake oil salesman traveling in his wagon from town to town, lingering and peddling his worthless potion until Marshal Dillon has had enough and says, "you better move on...NOW" That is exactly what went down in Oregon.
Legitimate medical claims of a product's effectiveness are documented by random controlled clinical trials, the results of which are published in peer reviewed journals. We are all protected by this rigorous standard. The fact that Mr. Altadonna marketed an aspect of his business as "Wealth Creators" is legal, but in my view maligns the good services many chiros provide.
I hope the payors (including Medicare) are not wasting our insurance premium dollars paying claims for this malarkey. If Mr. Heron wants to pay out of his own pocket for this treatment I am totally fine with P.T. Barnum remarked "there is a fool born everyday", but sadly there will be vulnerable people in pain looking for a remedy to the extent they don't care if the treatment has been found to be effective. If past is prelude, Mr. Altadonna will shield his assets (which he has already commenced) pay a civil fine and move his wagon to the next unsuspecting town.

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Posted by LegalTom19
a resident of Danville
on Dec 16, 2010 at 5:34 am

Dr. Altadonna did not have an obligation to verify claims. He would have had to hire a patent attorney and do research on the machine itself. Sales reps do not have an obligation to verify manufacturer/product claims. The doctors who bought the equipment flew to the manufacturer and did their own due diligence. Dr. Altadonna didn't sell the equipment nor did he treat patients with it. Dr. Altadonna did go to chiropractic school but doesn't practice. He didn't prescribe the equipment to patients ever. The doctors who purchased the equipment from Axiom did and what I heard is that Dr. Altadonna fired the client immediately after he was aware of the inaccurate advertising claims.

But everyody is missing the point. The facts are this technology works even better than that initial study. The rest of the claims in question didn't change the fact thas that the machine continues to help thousands of patients per day in America and around the world, and is very safe. This is about the ego and careers of elected district attorneys and creating an innacurate portrayal of the facts in order to create controversy and to attempt to squeeze money out of this marketing company. Any real entrepreneur knows that anyone including D.A.s can create a frivolous lawsuit to virtually extort money out of people (as it seems the case with Lilly's post above).

You all should be more concerned about drug companies selling prescription drugs to the television audience; drugs that KILL people.

Why do you think the DA wanted this in the paper before he even proved his opinion? Because he has an agenda. Don't believe the article just because a D.A. is behind it.

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Posted by jrm
a resident of Vista Grande Elementary School
on Dec 17, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Legal "sales reps do not have an obligation to verify manufacturer/pproduct claims" as you so state? Not only does that reveal a lack of ethics on your part but it also reflects a significant misunderstanding of the FDA and marketing practices. Go look up "off label marketing claims" in your textbook and you will see it is a VERY serious offense not taken lightly by the FDA.

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Posted by Leslie Hodges
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Dec 20, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Hm... so does this mean car-salesman have to finance their own testing for every car they sell? I'd imagine that would be about 3yrs of their annual salary. Why doesn't the DA go after them, when a manufacturer has to pull a line of cars back in cause their claims weren't in line with the exact truth of the product? I hope this doctor fights this case. It's tragic that the DA has put years of our tax dollars into this. It's obvious this isn't the greatest use of our hard-earned money, especially finding out the technology does REALLY help people.

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Posted by Kitty
a resident of Diablo Vista Middle School
on Dec 22, 2010 at 10:14 pm

When we each close the door at night..... We know what we are involved in. Good or Bad, each person knows. Money talks and takes over.

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Posted by John
a resident of Danville
on Dec 26, 2011 at 9:03 am

Obviously this person didn't get it the first time in 2007 in Oregon, and is at it again to make a buck, he can't claim ignorance, so he should be held accountable patients before money, do no harm, he has his priorites misplaced, who would trust a person who pays restitution, then goes to a different state and shields his assests, proceeding to do the same thing, its like catch me if you can and looking for the best way to reach into your pocket.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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