In this Blog category you will find articles legal issues relating to injury do to the failure of a product or service. Personal Injury at work and Insurance Liability Claims may require the help of an attorney. A good lawyer can protect your rights under the law.

Johnson & Johnson Withheld Levaquin Risk of Peripheral Neuropathy

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A lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on December 6, 2016 by a California man left with a debilitating form of nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy after using the popular antibiotic Levaquin in 2013.

Levaquin is part of a class of antibiotics, known as fluoroquinolones, which also includes Avelox and Cipro. Use of the antibiotics has been curtailed in the past year as more information about the risk of peripheral neuropathy and other health problems has surfaced. Peripheral neuropathy involves damage to the nerves, causing persistent pain, burning, tingling, numbness, weakness and sensitivity to light touch, with impaired movement.

FDA Required Stronger Warnings for Levaquin and Other Fluoroquinolones in 2013

An FDA advisory panel looked at the safety of this class of antibiotics, used to treat sinus infections, urinary tract infections, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) worsened by bronchitis, and voted in 2013 to recommend that the FDA strengthen the drug’s warning labels for treatment of sinusitis, urinary tract infections, and bronchitis.

In 2013, the FDA used a drug safety communication to announce that it was requiring manufacturers of Levaquin and other fluoroquinolones to provide label warnings that symptoms of nerve damage may continue for months or even years after taking the drug. Johnson and Johnson ignored this requirement.

Johnson and Johnson for Years Concealed from Medical Community Levaquin’s Risk

The December 2016 lawsuit states that the global drug maker Johnson and Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals’ subsidiary knew about the link between Levaquin and nerve damage for years, and ignoring the FDA’s requirement, failed to warn the medical community or users of their antibiotic that they may be left with irreversible peripheral neuropathy.

The 2013 warnings provided gave false and misleading information for consumers and the medical community, suggesting that reports of nerve damage were rare and temporary. “The truth, however, is that the onset of irreversible peripheral neuropathy is often rapid and discontinuation of the drug will not ensure that the peripheral neuropathy is reversible,” the lawsuit states.  The language regarding the “rare” risk of peripheral neuropathy was buried at the bottom of a long list of adverse reactions included on the Levaquin label.

October 2016 Lawsuit Also Revealed Concealment of Peripheral Neuropathy Risk

Earlier, in October 2016, a group of 48 plaintiffs filed a joint lawsuit naming Bayer Healthcare, Merck &

By |December 10th, 2016|Product Liability|

Lightning Playground Slides Recalled After Child Finger Amputations

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Following incidents of broken welds causing children to suffered finger amputations, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on December 7, 2016 issued a recall of the Lightning Slide stainless steel playground slide manufactured by Playworld Systems, Inc,.

About 1,300 Lightning Slides, manufactured in the United States by Playworld Systems, Inc. of Lewisburg, PA and Horizon Industries, of Columbia, PA, have been sold by independent distributors over the last sixteen years with stainless steel welds attaching the bedway to the sidewalls that can crack and separate, allowing a child’s fingers to get caught in the space.

Playworld Recalls All Lightning Slides Sold in Past Sixteen Years

All of the 1,300 slides, sold to schools, parks and government entities across the country between November 2000 and October 2016 for between $1,500 and $4,000, have been recalled due to the defect. Playworld and CPSC warned organizations that purchased the affected slides to immediately stop allowing their use, to prevent exposing children to risk of amputation and laceration injuries.

Because there is no manufacturer information on the defective slides, the CPSC warned parents and caregivers to be extremely cautious when allowing children to use metal slides at public or school playgrounds, and said the stainless steel slides may have single or double bedways and could be attached to a playground system or stand alone.

Playworld Systems is handling the recall, offering a free replacement slide and free installation. “A temporary barrier will be shipped to consumers prior to shipment of a replacement slide to prevent children from using the slide,” CPSC’s notice said.

CPSC Fast Track Recall Process Encourages Playworld Voluntary Recall

CPSC tells customers to immediately stop using the recalled slides and contact Playworld at 800-233-8404 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, email info@playworld.com or online at https://playworld.com/ and click on “Slide Safety Recall Information” for replacement slide information.

Playworld is also contacting consumers who purchased the affected slides directly. Playworld’s voluntary recall was encouraged by the CPSC’s Fast Track Recall process, meant to speed up recall announcements to protect consumer safety.

By |December 10th, 2016|Child Injury Accidents, Product Liability|

CPSC Stops Short of Banning Unsafe Crib Bumpers

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Despite mounting evidence that padded crib bumpers, designed to keep a baby from hitting her head on crib slats, are a suffocation hazard and may be linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, in September 2016, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff released an analysis of child deaths associated with crib bumpers that was scientifically questionable, and inappropriately came to the conclusion that it should not take any action on these products.

American Association of Pediatrics Issues Policy Statement on Crib Bumpers

Multiple safe sleep experts, including Rachel Moon, MD, FAAP , lead author of American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) October 24, 2016 policy statement, “SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths,” reviewed the CPSC’s evidence and found the CPSC’s analysis and conclusion flawed. “Because there is no evidence that bumper pads or similar products that attach to crib slats or sides prevent injury in young infants, and because there is a potential for suffocation, entrapment and strangulation, these products are not recommended,” the AAP’s statement concluded.

American Journal of Pediatrics Article Reaffirms Crib Bumper Danger

In November 2016 the American Journal of Pediatrics (AJP) published an article written by Bradley T. Thatch, M.D., George W. Rutherford, Jr., M.S., and Kathleen Harris, of the Washington Department of Pediatrics, St. Louis, Missouri titled “Deaths and Injuries Attributed to Infant Crib Bumper Pads.” Analyzing the CPSC’s database for deaths related to crib bumpers for the years 1985 to 2005, the authors found that, between those years, 27 children from 1 month to 2 years old died from suffocating or strangling related to crib bumpers. The authors also searched other Consumer Product Safety Commission databases for crib-related injuries that potentially might have been prevented by bumpers, and examined 22 retail crib bumpers and described features that could be hazardous. “These findings suggest that crib and bassinet bumpers are dangerous. Their use prevents only minor injuries. Because bumpers can cause death, we conclude that they should not be used,” the article stated.

CPSC Delays Banning Crib Bumpers

Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission acknowledges the danger that crib bumpers pose, it has stopped short of banning the products, and instead places the responsibility on the parent or caregiver rather than the manufacturer. “We strongly warn parents and caregivers not to use padded crib bumpers. . . We strongly believe that the risk of death from padded crib bumpers

By |December 6th, 2016|Child Injury Accidents, Product Liability|

Consumer Advocate Clarence Ditlow Leaves Auto Safety Legacy

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November 10th saw the passing of Clarence M. Ditlow, III, since 1976 the Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety. For four decades Mr. Ditlow’s persistent pressure on safety agencies and automakers forced improvements in the auto industry in safety, reliability, and fuel efficiency. His accomplishments included millions of safety recalls and lemon laws in 50 states.

The Center for Auto Safety was founded in 1970 by Ralph Nader and Consumers Union to provide consumers a voice for auto safety and quality in Washington, to help owners of defective vehicles fight back. The installation of air bags was a key goal at one of the first staff meetings, eventually becoming standard in all vehicles. Since the Center was founded, the death rate on America’s roads has dropped dramatically, from 5.2 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 1969 to 1.1 per 100 million vehicle miles in 2010.

Under Mr. Ditlow’s direction, the Center played a major role in the following recalls:

  • 6.7 million Chevrolets for defective engine mounts
  • 15 million Firestone 500 tires
  • 1.5 million Ford Pintos for exploding gas tanks
  • 3 million Evenflo child seats for defective latches

In the past seven years, the Center was the primary force behind the recalls of:

  • 7 million Toyotas for sudden acceleration
  • 2 million Jeeps for fuel tank fires
  • 11 million GM vehicles for defective ignition switches
  • 60 million faulty Takata airbag inflators

Mr. Ditlow, with other representatives of the Center, testified 50 times before congressional committees regarding auto safety, warranties and service bulletins, air pollution, consumer protection, and fuel economy.

Under Mr. Ditlow, the Center for Auto Safety became the leading consumer advocate for passage of:

  • The 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
  • The fuel economy provisions of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (which established the first Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency CAFÉ standards)
  • The disclosure to consumers of automotive technical service bulletins which auto companies send to dealers alerting them to hazardous conditions in their cars

The Center’s current projects include the 2008 Safe Climate Campaign, advocating more efficient, less-polluting vehicles to fight global warming.

Praising his work, Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal said in a statement in the Congressional Record of September 29, 2016:

“Through a lifetime of work improving automotive and safety laws, Mr. Ditlow has helped save thousands of lives and prevented many more injuries that would otherwise have occurred. A tireless

By |November 23rd, 2016|Auto Accidents, Product Liability|

Samsung Hopes to Buy Its Way Out of Recall Mess

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After its stunning quality control failure with its exploding Galaxy Note 7 Phone and more recently exploding washing machines, Samsung announced its $8 billion purchase of Harman International Industries, to make it a market leader in mobile devices, home automation, and connected cars.

Harman International Industries, a leader in connected car solutions, supplies over 30 million vehicles with infotainment, telematics, safety, and security solutions. About 65% of Harman’s $7 billion in revenues last year came from the automotive market, and its backlog orders hit $24 billion at the end of June.

Samsung is the world’s biggest manufacturer of smartphones and consumer electronics, however, its biggest weakness is its dependence on mobile devices, which accounted for 46% of its top line last quarter, and its mobile device business has recently been shrinking due to its costly Note 7 blunder. To diversify away from that market, Samsung launched new wearable devices and smart appliances, and acquired smart home company SmartThings two years ago. With its Harman acquisition, Samsung hopes to enable synchronization of data between its phones, Samsung/Smart Things smart appliances, and Harman-equipped cars.

Samsung CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon said the acquisition “perfectly complements Samsung in terms of technologies, products and solutions, and joining forces is a natural extension of the automotive strategy we have been pursuing for some time.” By merging Harman’s automotive businesses with Samsung’s mobile and smart appliances businesses, he hopes to make Samsung more competitive with Apple and Google’s Alphabet.

Analysts believe that tech giants now see a peak in smartphone demand, while there is a vast untapped automotive/mobility market aimed at self-driving vehicles that will continue for some time. Samsung’s acquisition of Harman should make it a major player in the rapidly growing market for auto infotainment, software and connected car technology.

Samsung’s plan sounds ambitious, but it could be held back by technical issues. After its SmartThings platform was plagued with glitches earlier this year, researchers found that the platform was poorly protected from malicious attacks. Can Samsung buy its way out of problems caused by poor quality control, or will those problems expand to its new acquisition?

By |November 19th, 2016|Product Liability|

Determining Liability in a Self-Driving Car Crash

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Volvo, Ford and other car makers have said they will accept “full liability” in the future when a car crashes in autonomous mode, because the technology will be that good. An accident involving a fully autonomous vehicle, with or without a driver behind the wheel, will then be an issue of product liability, assuming the owner of the vehicle has followed proper maintenance. Until full autonomy is achieved, both car maker and vehicle owner will share liability.

In May 2013, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a “Preliminary Statement of Policy Concerning Automated Vehicles,” that included the following set of definitions regarding levels of vehicle automation.

Level 0: No-Automation

The driver is in complete control of the primary vehicle controls (brake, steering, throttle, and motive power) at all times, and is solely responsible for monitoring the roadway and for safe operation of all vehicle controls.

Level 1: Function-specific Automation

The driver has overall control, and is solely responsible for safe operation, but can choose to cede limited authority over a primary control, the vehicle can automatically assume limited authority over a primary control, or the automated system can provide added control to aid the driver in certain normal driving or crash-imminent situations.

Level 2: Combined Function Automation

The driver is still responsible for monitoring the roadway and safe operation and is expected to be available for control at all times and on short notice with no advance warning.

Level 3: Limited Self-Driving Automation

The driver can cede full control of all safety-critical functions under certain traffic or environmental conditions and rely heavily on the vehicle to monitor for changes in those conditions requiring transition back to driver control. The driver is expected to be available for occasional control, but with sufficiently comfortable transition time.

Level 4: Full Self-Driving Automation

The vehicle is designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip. Such a design anticipates that the driver will provide destination or navigation input, but is not expected to be available for control at any time during the trip. The vehicle may be occupied or un-occupied. By design, safe operation rests solely on the automated vehicle system.

Vehicle Autonomy Continues to Evolve

Vehicle automation has been evolving for quite some time. In 1958, Chryslers and Imperials featured “Auto-Pilot,” designed to help drivers maintain a constant speed and warn drivers of excessive speed.  Anti-lock brakes

By |November 18th, 2016|Product Liability|

Aluminum Promising Battery Alternative to Fire-Prone Lithium

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Stanford University researchers have discovered that aluminum may be the sought after alternative to volatile lithium commonly used in batteries.

Superior Recharging Capacity of Aluminum Battery

Stanford University professor Hongjie Dai has developed a high-performance aluminum battery that may replace lithium-ion batteries, which occasionally burst into flames. Unlike previous unsuccessful attempts with aluminum, his battery uses a graphite cathode along with an ionic liquid electrolyte. “The electrolyte is basically a salt that’s liquid at room temperature, so it’s very safe,” said Stanford graduate student Ming Gong, co-lead author of the study. The result is a safe and durable battery with superior recharging capabilities of more than 7,500 cycles without a loss of capacity, compared with lithium ion batteries, which last about 1,000 cycles.

While a lithium ion battery can take hours to recharge, the aluminum battery recharges in only one minute. Because of its capacity to be recharged quickly tens of thousands of times, it could be used to store renewable energy on the electrical grid, which could solve current problems of inconsistent renewable sources like wind and solar. “The grid needs a battery with a long cycle life that can rapidly store and release energy,” Hongjie Dai explained. “Our latest unpublished data suggest that an aluminum battery can be recharged tens of thousands of times. It’s hard to imagine building a huge lithium-ion battery for grid storage.”

Flexibility with Lower Cost Compared to Lithium Batteries

Another feature of the aluminum battery is its flexibility. It can be bent and folded to fit into flexible electronic devices. Aluminum is also a less expensive metal than lithium.

More Improvements in Cathode for Greater Power

Generating around 2 volts, higher than anyone has achieved before with aluminum, the aluminum battery still produces about half the power of a lithium ion battery. Because of this, the aluminum battery will need more improvement to replace lithium in high energy demand products like cell phones and laptops.

Hongjie Dai says that improving the cathode material could eventually increase the voltage and energy density. “Otherwise, our battery has everything else you’d dream that a battery should have: inexpensive electrodes, good safety, high-speed charging, flexibility and long cycle life. I see this as a new battery in its early days. It’s quite exciting,” he said.

By |October 16th, 2016|Product Liability|

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Owners Continue Using Fire-Prone Phones

 

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What does it take to make a cell phone user put down the phone? Thousands of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 cell phones owners continued to ignore warnings and held onto their devices, using them until replacement.

Galaxy Note 7 Sales and Use Continues after Safety Warnings

Warnings by safety agencies and technology experts that users of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones must power down and stop using the phones due to recent reports of explosion and fire made little impact on both sales and usage of them. As of September 14th, 87 percent of Note 7s were still actively being used.

What Makes Lithium-ion Batteries Fire-Prone

Smaller devices like cell phones, with greater processing power, are pushing batteries to the limit. To meet demands of technology, lithium-ion batteries used in cell phones have greater power storage capacity and are more volatile than lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars and in medical devices. Overcharging a lithium-ion battery or charging it above 120 degrees Fahrenheit or in temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit causes “thermal runaway” and cell rupture, which may lead to combustion.

Lithium-ion Battery Misuse Disables Fail-Safe Circuitry

To reduce risk of combustion, lithium-ion battery packs contain fail-safe circuitry that disconnects the battery when its voltage is outside the safe range. However, overcharging, temperature extremes and prolonged use causes premature aging of the cells, disabling the safety mechanism.

Lithium-ion Battery Combustion Due to Manufacturing Defects

Lithium-ion batteries work by separating their positive and negative sides with a thin layer called an electrolyte, which is perforated to allow lithium ions to pass through from one side of the chamber to the other. When this happens current is generated.

After conducting product quality tests, Samsung reported that, due to a faulty manufacturing process with the Note 7 lithium-ion batteries, the positive and negative ends of the battery come into contact with each other, leading to short circuitry with overheating and combustion.

Lithium-ion technology Inherently Unsafe

Lithium-ion technology is used in almost every cellphone, laptop, tablet, camera and gaming device because it is cheap, efficient, relatively-safe and can pack a lot of charge in a small package. However, according to Vibha Kalra, PhD, professor of chemical and biological engineering in the College of Engineering at Drexel University in Drexel’s blog, “the components used in lithium-ion batteries are inherently unsafe, so even a ‘minor’ manufacturing defect or battery abuse can be dangerous.”

Samsung’s Note 7

By |September 20th, 2016|Product Liability|

The Push for GMO: What’s Really Behind It

 

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were first bred into plants in the early 1990s with the promise that they would increase nutrition, provide resistance to drought, and create faster growth. Another trait that has been bred into GMO crops is resistance to herbicides used to kill weeds, while not effecting the crop.

GMO Crops Bred to Withstand Higher Amounts of Glyphosate

The majority of GMO crops, including corn, soybeans, canola, cotton and alfalfa, have been bred to resist one best-selling herbicide called glyphosate, a broad spectrum herbicide that is designed to kill a variety of weeds. Glyphosate is the primary active ingredient in a popular herbicide sold in stores and now also in the herbicides of a number of other manufacturers.

Weeds Evolve Resistance to Glyphosate

Since the herbicide glyphosate was first used in 1970, weeds have adapted and evolved resistance to it, requiring stronger and stronger amounts of glyphosate to kill them. Considering the increasing number of GMO crops today that are designed to resist glyphosate, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 180 to 185 million pounds of glyphosate are used in US agriculture each year.

The Effect of Glyphosate on Plants Animals and Humans

Unlike other herbicides, glyphosate does not directly kill the weed or plant with which it comes in contact. Instead, it binds to important minerals such as manganese and calcium needed for growth, making them unavailable to the plant. Because manganese also is essential for plant defense against diseases in the soil, the extensive use of glyphosate has caused an increase in crop diseases.

There is recent research suggesting that the increase in crop diseases caused by glyphosate could be effecting animals fed GMO corn and soybean feed. Veterinarians have also identified genetically modified plants, especially soybeans and corn consumed by cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and poultry, as the cause of reproductive failure in animals (infertility, miscarriage and spontaneous abortions). Scientists have suggested that humans consuming these plants and animals may be likewise effected.

By |October 26th, 2014|Product Liability|

NHTSA Air Bag Safety Warning to Get Cars Fixed

 

Following over a decade of reports of defective air bags, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued in October 2014 an urgent plea to more than 4.7 million people driving cars made by Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, General Motors and Ford to get their cars fixed.

The inflator mechanisms in the air bags made by Takata Corp. can rupture, causing metal fragments to fly out when the bags are deployed in crashes, and have been linked to at least four deaths and multiple injuries. Safety advocates say that more than 20 million vehicles in the U.S. are equipped with the faulty air bags.

Honda Files First Report of Air Bag Failure

Honda first reported to NHTSA the air bag failures in 2004 and settled confidentially with people injured by the air bags, but the automaker did not issue a safety recall until late 2008, and then for only about 4,200 of its vehicles found to be equipped with the potentially explosive air bags. In none of the four instances of ruptured air bags, did Honda go beyond the standard form and separately alert NHTSA that the air bags posed an explosion risk.

Honda Alerts Takata about Defect

In 2004, Honda alerted Takata about the air bag ruptures. Takata reported that it was unable to find the cause, but said it found an unusually high incidence of inflator failures along coastal areas with high humidity. Both Honda and Takata reported to NHTSA changing explanations about why the airbags continued to rupture. Federal regulators were also slow to react, and made a cursory follow up and closed the inquiry before Takata provided all of the relevant documents.

2014 Honda and Toyota Air Bag Recalls

In June 2014, Honda and six other automakers recalled over 3 million vehicles in some high humidity regions in the United States, as part of a “field action” requested by NHTSA to replace air bag inflators made by Takata in 2000-02.

On October 20, 2014, Toyota issued a recall covering Takata passenger air bags in 247,000 older model vehicles, including the Lexus SC, Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia and Tundra. The recall covered vehicles in South Florida, along the Gulf Coast, in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa—areas with high humidity. At that time, Takata was still trying to determine the cause of the defect.

By |October 25th, 2014|Product Liability|