About Richard Rizk

“Helping Everyday People, Every Day” is not just a slogan. It is my passion. I seek justice for you, an injured and/or disabled person facing a powerful insurance company or employer. Why? Because helping folks in claim distress makes best use of my unique blend of insurance defense and inside claim handling experience. I worked for insurance companies or their law firms from 1990 to 2001. As a result, I know insurers and employers have great power and sometimes abuse that power. I now work to prevent that from happening. I opened Rizk Law Offices in 2002. I have a big heart and insights only a former insurance attorney can have. Call me if you think I might be able to help you. – Richard H. Rizk

CPSC Opens Investigation into Exploding Hoverboard Death

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) opened a federal investigation into a fire March 2017 that killed a 3-year-old girl and injured four others, two of them critically. The fire occurred when a hoverboard plugged into an outlet exploded in flames. More than six months earlier, the CSPC had issued an official recall of over 500,000 hoverboards over fire hazards posed by the devices’ lithium-ion battery packs.

CSPC Begins Investigating Manufacturers and Testing Hoverboards

Following reports between November and December 2015 of igniting and exploding hoverboards damaging property, with one home completely destroyed, the CPSC warned users not to charge hoverboards unattended, and announced that it would increase its scrutiny of the devices.

After reports of at least one hoverboard maker putting counterfeit safety marks on its products, the agency announced that it was investigating thirteen hoverboard companies and testing both new models and those involved in fire incidents at its National Product Testing and Evaluation Center. Its engineers monitored the voltage of the devices while in use, inspected circuit boards and batteries, examined previously-burned boards, and scanned the boards’ batteries. The information gained gave the agency enough evidence to issue notices to manufacturers and retailers about the devices’ safety.

UL Opens Its Doors to Hoverboard Evaluation Testing and Certification

In January 2016, the CSPC sent out a notice to retailers and manufacturers that it had determined hoverboards with exploding batteries were not safe unless they comply with safety standards set by Underwriters Laboratory (UL), an independent safety consulting and certification company. At the same time, UL announced that it would open the door to product submittals of hoverboards for “construction evaluation, testing, and/or UL certification.” The scooters were tested and certified using UL 2272, which covers the electric drive train, including the rechargeable battery and charger system combination.

CSPC Urges Hoverboard Makers and Sellers to Pull Products

In February 2016, the CSPC urged hoverboard makers and sellers to voluntarily take non-UL compliant hoverboards off the market immediately, considering them to be defective, presenting a “substantial product hazard.” The agency added in its notice that if companies don’t follow new safety standards they can face enforcement actions such as seizure of products and civil or criminal penalties. “From our perspective, a smart retailer will put in place a stop sale to find out if their inventory complies with our standard. If they are certain that it doesn’t, they

By |March 25th, 2017|Product Liability|

Those with Multiple TBIs at Risk for Suicide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recent studies indicate that the harmful effects of a traumatic brain injury are more severe when there have been previous brain injuries, and the life altering damage from multiple TBIs can lead to suicide immediately after the event or even years later.

Study Links Multiple TBIs with Suicide

Craig Bryan, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Utah and associate director of the National Center for Veterans Studies, studying active-duty soldiers in Iraq in 2009, gathered data about their suicidal thoughts after returning to base with traumatic brain injuries. Bryan’s study, published in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry in 2013, found that one in five patients, about 22 percent, who had experienced more than one traumatic brain injury (TBI) reported thoughts or preoccupation with suicide, compared to 6 percent of patients with only one TBI.

Soldiers in Bryan’s study with multiple TBIs were injured either in previous deployments or before enlistment, with some reporting as many as six sports related head injuries before enlisting. About 20 percent of service members sustained concussions during basic training. While deployed, some service members experienced as many as 15 TBIs, usually in an IED attack.

The Defense Department has estimated that 266,810 of the 1.6 million service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan received a traumatic brain injury between 2000 and 2012. A 2008 Rand Corporation study estimated the number of TBIs much higher at 400,000. All five branches of the service have dealt with high suicide rates in recent years. In 2011, 303 active-duty service members killed themselves, and in 2012 the number increased to 349. Considering those statistics, a soldier is more likely to die from suicide than from war injuries.

Risk of Suicide Greater with Mild TBI

Bryan said his data and other studies also suggest that mild head injuries tend to be more likely to lead to suicidal thoughts than more severe ones, possibly because those who sustain a mild TBI don’t take time for a complete recovery. Although the military screens all at-risk service members for concussions, according to its protocol for handling TBI, those with mild head injuries return to the field within five days. Bryan concluded that the military needs to allow more time for recovery and do more to screen those with TBIs for personal risk factors for suicide.

Learn more about issues impacting safety, well-being, and justice at rizklaw.com. To

By |March 25th, 2017|Brain Injury|

Inventor of Lithium Ion Battery Introduces Better Battery

 

 

 

 

 

John Goodenough, professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, has developed the first all-solid-state battery cells that are safer, faster-charging, longer-lasting and rechargeable, for handheld mobile devices, electric cars and stationary energy storage. 

Working at Oxford in 1980, John Goodenough and his colleagues invented the rechargeable lithium-ion battery, the standard for most of today’s electronic devices. Over thirty years later, Goodenough has invented an even better battery that is solid-state, with a glass compound instead of liquid seen in lithium-ion batteries.

Longer Lasting Battery with Faster Charges

Goodenough’s researchers demonstrated that their new battery cells have at least three times as much energy density as today’s lithium-ion batteries, to give electric vehicles more driving range between charges. The battery formulation also allows for faster charges (minutes rather than hours), with a greater number of charging and discharging cycles, to make them more long-lasting. His new battery also has triple the energy storage capacity of standard batteries, with a much longer longevity.

New Battery Safer than Lithium-Ion

Goodenough’s all-solid-state battery breakthrough, completed with Cockrell School senior research fellow Maria Helena Braga, is non-combustible. Today’s lithium-ion batteries use liquid electrolytes to transport the lithium ion between the anode (negative side of the battery) and the cathode (positive side of the battery). If a lithium-ion battery cell is charged too quickly, dendrites or “metal whiskers” form and cross through the liquid electrolytes, causing a short circuit that can lead to explosions and fires. The new battery relies on glass electrolytes that don’t cause dendrites to form.

Glass Electrolytes in New Battery Can Perform at Colder Temperatures

Solid-glass electrolytes can operate at -20 degrees Celsius, allowing a battery-driven car to perform well in subzero degree weather. The glass electrolytes also allow for the substitution of low-cost and earth-friendly sodium for lithium. Sodium is extracted from sea water and is widely available.

Although Goodenough has been through this before, his new solid-state battery may go through many obstacles between development and production before we see it in consumer products, to replace those fire-prone lithium-ion batteries.

Learn more about issues impacting safety, well-being, and justice at rizklaw.com. To schedule a confidential appointment to discuss a claim with an attorney, call (503) 245-5677 or email info@rizklaw.com.

By |March 19th, 2017|Product Liability|

Scientists Link Traumatic Brain Injury with PTSD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Data recently collected and reviewed from soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq who sustained a traumatic brain injury reveals a correlation between Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

In observance of March 2017 Brain Injury Awareness Month, researchers at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) and the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center published this month in the journal Neurology results of their study “Epidemiology and Prognosis of mTBI in Returning Soldiers: A Cohort Study.”

Reviewing data from screenings for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) of about 1,500 soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq between 2009 and 2014, the researchers found that nearly 50% of recently-deployed soldiers who sustained TBI reported at least one severe or very severe post-concussive symptom three months after returning home. Symptoms included headaches, sleep disturbances, forgetfulness, irritability, and trouble concentrating. Consistent with prior research, the study found that many of the soldiers with TBI also reported concurrent health issues such as post-traumatic stress.

Earlier Study First to Establish TBI PTSD Link

Findings published February 15, 2012 in the journal Biological Psychiatry following data collected from the 2012 Marine Resiliency Study (MRS), funded by the National Institutes of Health, US Department of Defense, and UCLA Brain Injury Research Center, showed the first evidence of a causal link between TBI and increased susceptibility to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The researchers theorized that PTSD could be a reaction to the same event that caused the TBI. Findings from lab research in the study showed that brain injury effects a part of the brain called the Amygdala, leaving it in a more excitable state, in preparation for more trauma.

The main causes of TBI in the military are blasts, motor vehicle accidents, and gunshot wounds. Most soldiers in the study reported having experienced one or more TBI before their most recent deployment, either before joining the military or during an earlier deployment. The rate of PTSD after brain injury is much higher in veterans than civilians due to multiple and prolonged exposure to combat, and symptoms last much longer (18-24 months on average) after the TBI.

Comparing TBI with PTSD Symptoms

While TBI is a neurological disorder caused by trauma to the brain, PTSD is a mental disorder. In civilian life, anyone (child, adolescent, adult, or elderly) who is exposed to a life-threatening trauma such as from a

By |March 18th, 2017|Brain Injury|

Is Your Burger Wrapped in Toxic Chemicals?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fast-food burger and fries you eat may be doing more than adding fat and calories to your body. According to scientists, the packaging they come in might be bad for you too.

Laurel Schaider, PhD, of the Silent Spring Institute in Newton, Massachusetts reported that, of 407 fast-food packaging samples tested, 33% had detectable levels of fluorine, in a class of chemicals known as PFASs (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), known to cause numerous health problems.

Previous scientific research has linked PFASs with cancer, thyroid disease, immunotoxicity, low birth weight, and decreased fertility. Nearly half (46%) of paper wrappers tested, such as burger wrappers and pastry bags, and 20% of paperboard samples, such as boxes for fries and pizza, tested positive for fluorine.

Damaging Chemicals from Packaging Remain in Body

While PFASs are used in food packaging for their water- and grease-resisting properties, research has shown that they can leach into food, and once ingested can stay in the body for days, weeks, even years. Our bodies accumulate PFASs from many sources. Microwave popcorn bags and pizza boxes as well as stain-resistant carpets and waterproof clothing may also contain PFASs.

As many as 80% of adults over the age of 29 eat fast food monthly, with about 50% eating fast food at least once a week. Of particular concern is the frequent exposure to these chemicals of children, whose developing bodies are more vulnerable to toxic chemicals. Approximately one-third of U.S. children eat fast food every day.

PFASs Banned In US but Still Found in Packaging

Research samples high in fluorine showed various types of PFASs, including long-chain PFASs. Due to health concerns, long-chain PFASs were phased out in the U.S. from 2000-2015, though they are still manufactured in other parts of the world, and may be finding their way into current packaging through recycled paper.

Long-chain PFASs have shown increases in cholesterol and thyroid disease, and may also contribute to heart and kidney damage. Shorter-chain PFASs are now used as substitutes in packaging because they don’t stay in the body as long. There is some concern, however, that they may produce the same kind of effects observed with the longer chain chemicals years after the trace of exposure has disappeared.

Learn more about issues impacting safety, well-being, and justice at rizklaw.com. To schedule a confidential appointment to discuss a claim with an attorney, call (503) 245-5677 or email

By |March 13th, 2017|Personal Injury|

Biomarkers Provide Evidence in Toxic Tort Cases


 

 

 

 

 

 

A toxic tort is a particular type of personal injury case involving exposure to a chemical or toxin that has caused medical injury. Because injuries in a toxic tort case might not occur immediately or be visible and the duration and amount of exposure may be unclear, they tend to be more complicated than other kinds of personal injury cases. Biomarkers that measure the effects of toxic exposure on the human body provide evidence of both cause and effect in these types of cases.

A plaintiff in a toxic tort case may have suffered health problems from exposure to one of the following:
• Contamination of groundwater or soil from dumping of wastes and chemicals
• Contamination of air or environment from release of noxious gases or toxins
• Mold (particularly black mold)
• Asbestos
• Lead paint

A toxic tort case may be brought against a company that dumped pollutants in the groundwater, a manufacturer of asbestos, a landlord who didn’t make sure an apartment was free from mold or lead paint, or the manufacturer of a dangerous drug.

Causation One of the Biggest Hurdles in a Toxic Tort Case

The most challenging part of any toxic tort claim is proving and measuring damage suffered by the plaintiff and determining the cause of that damage. Proving cause may involve:
• Medical testimony from experts linking the toxin and the illness
• Evidence of the exposure
• A high incidence of similar illnesses in people who suffered similar exposure
• FDA or other product recalls or public warnings about the dangers of a product

How Do Biomarkers Measure Toxic Exposure?

Biomarkers are indicators of molecular changes in blood or tissue that can show an abnormal condition or disease. A biomarker can be measured and quantified, such as blood pressure, presence of certain chemicals in blood, or genetic mutations.

Outcomes of toxic tort cases frequently are based on measurement of biomarker data, which may reveal exposure to a toxin, such as cigarette smoke, benzene, and asbestos, and as well as aid in the diagnosis of disease caused by that exposure. In this way, biomarkers measure both cause and effect.

Cancer Biomarkers Indicate Genetic Damage

A cancer biomarker is a substance or process that will indicate the presence of cancer in the body. It may be a substance secreted by a tumor or a specific response of the body to the presence of the cancer, such as a genetic mutation.

Advances in

By |March 10th, 2017|Personal Injury|

Jerome Larkin presents to 9th Circuit May 10th

On May 10, Jerome Larkin of Rizk Law will appear before the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on behalf of appellant Tricia Cooper. The Court will decide whether Intel / Reed Group/ CAFS abused discretion in declining Ms. Cooper’s long term disability claim based on outmoded science (concerning fibromyalgia). See, Tricia Cooper v. Intel Corp. LTD Plan [3:13-cv-01852-HZ]. Oral Argument is slated for 10am at THE PIONEER COURTHOUSE 700 SW 6TH AVE, 2nd floor, Portland, OR

By |March 9th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Automakers Named in Takata Airbag Hazard Cover-up

 

 

 

At least four automakers knew that Takata airbags were dangerous and could rupture violently, yet continued to install those airbags in their vehicles to save on costs, according to a recent class action suit filed by lawyers representing victims of the defect.

Takata Enters Guilty Plea

Takata admitted to hiding problems for years in their inflators that can cause them to explode with too much force, shooting shrapnel into drivers and passengers, resulting in at least eleven deaths and over 100 injuries in the United States. On February 27, 2017, Takata Corporation pleaded guilty to a criminal charge and agreed to pay $850 million in restitution to automakers, $125 million for victims and families and a $25 million criminal fine for concealing a deadly defect in millions of its air bag inflators.

Four Automakers Named with Takata in Class Action Suit

Also on February 27, 2017, Ford, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota were named in a class action lawsuit along with Takata. During testing of Takata’s inflators in 1999 and 2000 at Honda’s facilities, at least two inflators ruptured. Over Takata’s objections, Honda pushed a problematic configuration of the propellant. In 2004, Honda and Takata became aware of an airbag explosion in a Honda Accord that shot out metal fragments and injured the car’s driver, but the companies considered it an “anomaly” and did not issue a recall or seek the involvement of federal safety regulators. Honda, of course, denied allegations of wrongdoing, saying that it “reasonably believed, based on extensive test results provided by Takata, that they were safe” and believed that it acted “promptly and appropriately” in handling known airbag defects.

Toyota knew of the airbag defects when a Takata inflator ruptured at a Toyota facility during testing. Although Toyota considered Takata’s quality performance “unacceptable and had “large quality concerns” about the supplier,” it continued to use Takata airbags for cost reasons.

Takata engineers for years knew that the explosive propellant in its airbag inflators was sensitive to moisture, making it particularly unstable, yet adopted it despite concerns over its safety. In 2005, Nissan began to investigate the use of adding a drying agent to Takata’s airbag inflators.

Ford also chose Takata inflators for cost reasons, over the objections of its own inflator expert, who opposed the use of Takata’s propellant because of its instability and sensitivity to moisture.

There was circumstantial evidence that German carmaker BMW was

By |March 4th, 2017|Product Liability|

How Can Alcohol Affect my Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Claim?

Many unsightly injuries and devastations occur at the hands of alcohol. Just last year, approximately 10,265 people died in a drunk driving incident, up 3.2% from 2014 statistics. If alcohol was a factor in your personal injury case, you may be interested in knowing whether or not that can affect your claim.

Besides suing the alcohol-impaired driver who caused the accident, depending on the circumstances around your case you may be able to file a claim against the bar, bartender, or server who did not utilize discretion when serving the driver alcohol. In Oregon, “dram shop” laws are laws that place liability on the entities that sell alcohol for the negligent and reckless actions of their impaired patrons. Almost all states have some type of dram shop protections for victims of drunk drivers.

What is “Dram Shop”?

The term dram refers to a unit of measure by which alcohol used to be measured. A dram shop was an establishment in 18th Century England that sold gin by the spoonful, or “dram.” In the time before dram shop laws, courts did not usually allow parties to sue businesses that sold alcohol for over-serving, since the serving itself did not cause the injury or death. Today, 43 states and D.C. have at least some dram shop law in effect for which an injured party or the family of an injured party are able to sue alcohol vendors or retailers for monetary damages.

Put simply, dram shop cases are those in which businesses that sell and serve alcohol are sued for serving a patron too much to drink. There are third and first party dram shop cases in which an establishment can be partially liable for a personal injury or wrongful death.

A first party dram shop case is one in which the inebriated patron is also the injured party. In this case, the intoxicated person sues the establishment for serving too much to drink. This type of dram shop case is not permitted in most states as people should be held accountable for their actions. In some states, only minors are allowed to file a first party dram shop lawsuit. First party cases are extremely difficult to pursue because it’s tough to persuade a jury to sympathize with someone who should have known when he or she was not fit to drive.

Throughout Oregon, the most commonly pursued

By |February 28th, 2017|Personal Injury, Wrongful Death|

What Makes Lithium Ion Batteries Volatile?

 

 

 

In the past two months three major manufacturers have issued recalls involving lithium-ion battery packs in their computers due to overheating and danger of combustion. What makes lithium-ion batteries volatile and why are they so often used in power electronics?

On January 2, 2017, following reports of battery packs overheating and melting, Toshiba expanded its recall of laptop computer battery packs due to burn and fire hazards from overheating. 91,000 units were previously recalled in the U.S. on March 30, 2016. About 83,000 units in the U.S., 10,000 units in Canada, and 5,000 units in Mexico were included in this January, 2017 recall.

On January 24, 2017, Hewlett Packard expanded its recall of lithium-ion batteries containing Panasonic cells used in HP notebook computers due to incidences of overheating, posing fire and burn hazards, and in one case causing property damage. The batteries are compatible with HP, Compaq, HP ProBook, HP ENVY, Compaq Presario, and HP Pavilion notebook computers, and were sold with computers between March 2013 and October 2016.

On February 7, 2017, although no incidents were reported, Sony expanded its recall of VAIO laptop computer Panasonic battery packs due to risk of burn and fire hazards from overheating. This recall added about 700 units to about 1,700 units it previously recalled on June 15, 2016. The expanded recall involves Panasonic lithium-ion battery packs installed in 18 models of Sony’s VAIO Series laptop computers. In 2006, millions of lithium-ion battery packs made by Sony were replaced after several hundred overheated and a few caught fire.

What Causes Lithium-Ion Batteries to Overheat?

Lithium is the least dense metallic element, making it able to pack more power in a small space than other types of battery. Lithium is also highly reactive, causing it to be combustible. In a lithium cell the electrolyte is a solution of lithium salts and organic solvents. When the battery is charged, lithium ions are driven from the electrolyte solution into a carbon anode, and when the battery is discharged ions flow back, creating a balancing flow of electrons in a circuit that powers the device.

If there is a small fault or damage in the extremely thin separators that keep the elements of the battery apart, an internal short-circuit can occur causing a build-up of heat and what is known as “thermal runaway,” in which the battery can burst into flame. Lithium batteries can

By |February 26th, 2017|Product Liability|