Watsonville chiropractor held liable for deceptive ads
Sentinel Staff Report
Article Launched: 12/07/2006 4:00:00 AM MST
Monterey County prosecutors have won a $25,000 judgment and an injunction against a Watsonville chiropractor in a case involving deceptive advertising.
The ads, published in Monterey County newspapers, touted a spinal traction device known as the DRX-9000, and offered to send consumers a free report about a medical breakthrough based on an "accidental NASA discovery" that "outer space quickly and easily solves 86 percent of back pain."
The civil judgment against Watsonville chiropractor Charles Strong was the second of two secured by prosecutors who started investigating the advertising claims a year ago, said John Hubanks, Monterey County deputy district attorney.
Prosecutors earlier obtained a judgment against Tony Hoang, a Monterey chiropractor.
The chiropractors ran the ads, provided by the manufacturer, without verifying the truth of the claims, Hubanks said. That made them liable.
"They are professionals," he said. "They had a duty to verify claims."
Hubanks said the claims were "absolutely false." He said, for example, that NASA has determined that space travel has a detrimental effect on spinal anatomy and astronauts returning to space frequently suffer from back pain.
Strong did not return a call Wednesday.
But Hubanks said both chiropractors cooperated with prosecutors.
Hubanks said prosecutors didn't release the information about the judgments "to harp" on the two chiropractors, but rather to get the word out about the fraudulent treatment. Consumers are paying from $2,000 to $15,000 for packages of treatments that, in certain patients, might actually aggravate their conditions, he said.
"These ads are all over the state now and in newspapers in most of the country," Hubanks said. "It's a large problem."
The Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners issued a warning about the ads just last month.
A task force made up of prosecutors from 10 California counties, including Santa Cruz, is investigating the manufacturer, Hubanks said.
He said it's unknown how many local consumers were duped by the ads, and prosecutors are asking people who responded to them to contact the Consumer Protection Unit at 647-7770.