Consumer Health Digest #10-03

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
January 21, 2010

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.

FTC issues "Do Not Call" update. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has issued two reports on its program to stop unwanted telephone solicitations. [FTC Approves two reports to Congress on the National Do Not Call Registry. FTC news release, January 4, 2010] More than 191 million numbers have been registered, including more than 18 million new numbers in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009. Since 2003, when the Registry opened, research has shown widespread public awareness of the program and a steady increase in the number of phone numbers registered. Together, the FTC and the Federal Communications Commission have collected penalties totaling over $22 million from violators, and most consumers who have joined the Registry have reported dramatic reductions in the number of unwanted calls they receive. The reports also noted that mass use of pre-recorded sales messages ("robocalls") are illegal without written consent in advance. Robocall recipients can complain even though their number is not registered.

Chiropractic class-action complaint dismissed. A Canadian judge has rebuffed a stroke victim's effort to stop inappropriate chiropractic manipulation and force provincial regulators to deal with this problem. Sandra Nette, who was paralyzed by a neck manipulation, filed suit in 2008 against the chiropractor who treated her. In addition to litigating on their own behalf, she and her husband asked the court to permit them to represent all persons who paid for or received spinal manipulation (other than spinal manipulation to treat a diagnosis of acute or sub-acute uncomplicated back pain) from an Alberta chiropractor during the previous decade. The suit also targeted the Alberta Ministry of Health and the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors (ACAC), both of which, the suit alleged, had failed to regulate chiropractors sufficiently. In 2009, the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench concluded that the Ministry of Health did not owe a private duty of care to individual citizens and dismissed it as a defendant. In January 2010, the court dismissed the ACAC after concluding that (a) it did not owe a private duty of care to individual citizens and could not be held responsible for the conduct of its members, and (b) disputes about false claims by the association would be a matter for review by the legislature rather than the courts. The court also refused to certify the suit as a class action. The malpractice suit against the chiropractor is still active and will proceed. The plaintiffs have not decided whether to appeal the recent ruling. [Barrett S. Stroke caused by neck manipulation triggers class-action lawsuit. Chirobase, January 20, 2010]

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This page was revised on July 5, 2012.