Before you buy your children’s Christmas gifts this year, it is important that you do your research.
According to World Against Toys Causing Harm (W.A.T.C.H), one child is treated in U.S emergency rooms every three minutes for a toy-related injury. In 2017, thirteen of these cases resulted in death with the victims all being under the age of twelve.
To ensure you are keeping your children and family safe this Christmas, be sure to do the following:
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) monitors and regulates all toys on the market to ensure that products made-or imported into the United States before 1995- follow their standards.
Toys made of fabric should be labeled as flame resistant or flame retardant.
Stuffed toys should be washable.
Avoid purchasing older toys as they may not meet current safety standards.
Between January 2017 and October 2018, an estimated 3.5 million units toys were recalled in the United States and Canada. While the CSPC provides up to date information regarding product recalls, many consumers are never notified of these updates so its imperative that you monitor these sites regularly.
W.A.T.C.H also releases a list of safety alerts and lists of the most dangerous children’s toys on the market.
Remain cautious when purchasing new toys. Defects and poor design are red flags that there is a safety concern. Carefully read any and all warning labels and look out for the letters “ASTM“. This is to let you know that the toy meets the national safety standard created by the American Society for Testing Materials.
You should also ensure that the toy you are giving your child is age appropriate. For example, toys with small parts can present an increased chocking risk for toddlers and young children.
If you believe that a toy you have purchased is unsafe or does not meet CPSC guidelines, you can call their hotline at (800) 638-CPSC.
If injured by a dangerous consumer product, you may be able to recover damages by filing a product liability lawsuit. The attorneys at Reyes, Browne & Reilley can help you get started today. Contact us now for legal help at 214-526-7900.
Manufacturers create and market hundreds of dangerous consumer products every year in the United States. In fact, each year manufacturers or the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalls 400 and 450 products. Here are seven unlikely consumer products that may cause injury or death of which you should be aware.
1. Drop Side Cribs
In 2011, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned drop side cribs, but many of them are still being sold at garage sales or through individual sellers. Because the moveable side is droppable, the drop may result in suffocation of a baby. In fact, the cribs were associated with approximately 32 deaths since the year 2000, according to a 2012 article on ConsumerReports.org.
2. Maytag Dishwashers
While it sounds unlikely that a dishwasher could cause any significant harm, Maytag recalled 1.7 million of its dishwashers in 2010. The machines may contain faulty wiring, responsible for causing multiple fires.
Other brands also fell under the recall.
Performa by Maytag
Another product linked to causing fires is dehumidifiers. LG dehumidifiers were subject to a recall in 2009 following 11 incidents; then LG received 16 additional reports of house fires related to the dehumidifiers. There were no injuries, but significant property damage exceeding $1 million.
Most bathrobes aren’t dangerous, but in the fall of 2009, the company Blair LLC recalled an additional 138,000 robes after 162,000 were already subject to a recall from the spring. The recall was because of the robes’ risk of flammability; nine people wearing the robes died as a result of catching fire, according to the October 2009 recall by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
5. Freezer Gel Pack
Anyone who frequently packs to-go lunches is probably familiar with the bright blue freezer gel pack. While the packs can be great at keeping items cold, they can also be dangerous. Some of the packs contain diethylene glycol, which can be poisonous if ingested. If the freezer pack tears and starts to leak, both children and adults may be at risk of poisoning.
Many families chose a minivan as their vehicle of choice. In 2014, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave poor safety ratings in the small overlap front crash test to these models.
Chrysler Town & Country
Dodge Grand Caravan
7. Easy Bake Ovens
Most parents are familiar with the popular childhood toy, Easy Bake Ovens. The ovens allow little ones to test their skills in the kitchen, resulting in big smiles and yummy treats. However, at least 77 children have suffered burn injuries from certain models of the ovens, reports DailyFinance.com. There was a recall for the ovens in 2007.
Contact a Product Liability Attorney Today
If injured by a dangerous consumer product, you may be able to recover damages by filing a product liability lawsuit. The attorneys at Reyes, Browne & Reilley can help you get started today. Contact us now for legal help at 214-526-7900.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and serious injury for children over one years of age, and every day an unrestrained child under the age of five is killed in a traffic crash in the United States.
The safest place for a child in a car is in a rear seat, properly buckled into a child safety seat, or a booster seat – but what type of Child Car Safety Seat should you be using?
If your child is:
Under a Year old and less than 20 pounds, use a rear-facing infant car seat. A rear-facing infant car seat should never be placed in the front seat of a car with an airbag. The infant child seat should sit at a 45-degree angle or the angle specified on the seat. This helps keep the baby’s head from drooping forward and cutting off the airway.
Under a Year old and less than 30 pounds, use a rear-facing convertible car seat. A rear-facing convertible car seat should never be placed in the front seat of a car with an airbag. The convertible child seat should sit at a 45-degree angle or the angle specified on the seat. This helps keep the baby’s head from drooping forward and cutting off the airway.
Use a convertible car seat if the child is at least one year old and 20 to 40 pounds. You may turn the seat to face forward.
At least one year old and 30 to 40 pounds, use a booster seat with a harness.
Over 40 pounds and less than 4’9”, your child should use a booster seat but remove the harness straps. The booster seat must be used with a lap/shoulder seat belt until the child is about 4’9”.
Over 4’9” tall, your child must use a lap/shoulder seat belt. Children younger than 13 years old should never ride in the front seat of vehicles with active passenger airbags.
On Sunday night, a self-driving car operated by Uber struck and killed a pedestrian, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, on North Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona. It appears to be the first time a self-driving car has killed a human being by force of impact. The car was traveling at 38 miles per hour.
An initial investigation by Tempe police indicated that the pedestrian might have been at fault. According to that report, Herzberg appears to have come “from the shadows,” stepping off the median into the roadway, and ending up in the path of the car while jaywalking across the street. The National Transportation Safety Board has also opened an investigation.
Likewise, it’s difficult to evaluate what this accident means for the future of autonomous cars. Crashes, injuries, and fatalities were a certainty as driverless vehicles began moving from experiment to reality.
Even so, crashes, injuries, and fatalities will hardly disappear when and if self-driving cars are ubiquitous. Robocars will crash into one another occasionally and, as the incident in Tempe illustrates, they will collide with pedestrians and bicyclists, too. Overall, eventually, those figures will likely number far fewer than the 37,461 people who were killed in car crashes in America in 2016.
When people get into car crashes with one another, vehicular negligence is typically the cause. Determining which party is negligent, and therefore at fault, is central to the common understanding of automotive risk. Negligence means liability, and liability translates the human failing of a vehicle operator into financial compensation—or, in some cases, criminal consequence.
Overall, there’s recognition that self-driving cars implicate the manufacturer of the vehicle more than its driver or operator. That has different implications for a company like GM, which manufactures and sells cars, than Google, which has indicated that it doesn’t have plans to make cars, only the technology that runs them. The legal scholar Bryant Walker Smith has argued that autonomous vehicles represent a shift from vehicular negligence to product liability.
On today’s roads, product liability claims arise in cases like the failure of Bridgestone/Firestone tires in the late 1990s, and the recent violent rupture of Takata airbags.
These situations represent fairly traditional examples of product liability: A company designed, manufactured, or marketed a product that didn’t do what it promised, and harmed people as a result.
The pedestrian killed by a self-driving Uber in Tempe shows that the legal implications of autonomous cars are as important, if not more so, than the technology. Read more about the possible legal action that can be taken in The Atlantic article, “Can You Sue a Robocar?”
Deane Berg of Sioux Falls, S.D., was the first to go to trial after suing Johnson & Johnson over accusations that its talcum powder products caused her ovarian cancer. A jury found the company negligent but did not award damages. Credit Zora J. Murff for The New York Times
Thousands of women across the country are suing the consumer goods giant Johnson & Johnson over its baby powder, claiming that talcum particles in the popular product caused their ovarian cancer.
The plaintiffs, however, are not working as a team. They are taking the company to court one at a time.
In many product liability complaints, class action status is difficult to win, given the various ways the product can be sold and used. Such cases often end up being individually litigated with the expectation that there will eventually be a mass payout.
This approach can be effective, according to plaintiffs’ lawyers. Each successive verdict, they say, sends a signal about how much plaintiffs can expect to be paid if, and when, a company agrees to settle.
“You can’t get to a global settlement until both sides have a really clear sense of the strengths and weaknesses and value of these claims,” said Nora Freeman Engstrom, a professor at Stanford Law School. “And the only way to test that is on the battlefield, which is trial.”
But going to court is expensive and risky — for both sides.
The tally of damages from verdicts against Johnson & Johnson is already in the hundreds of millions of dollars. And the harm to the company is not just financial: Its reputation could suffer if baby powder, one of its longest-standing products, is seen by the public as unsafe.
The cases are emotionally compelling.
Many of the plaintiffs — 4,800 as of July 2 — are extremely ill. In addition to seeking restitution, they are asking that Johnson & Johnson add a warning to its baby powder label or replace the product entirely with a similar one formulated with cornstarch.
Class action status “ends up taking the individuality out of the cases,” said Allen Smith, a lawyer who has represented plaintiffs in all of the cases to go to trial. And, he said, each victim “deserves the opportunity to have her day in court as fast as possible.”
But the safety concerns are based on inconclusive science.
Talcum powders contain talc, which includes moisture-absorbing particles of oxygen, magnesium and silicon. Asbestos, a known carcinogen that sometimes appears in natural talc, was stripped from all commercially used talc in the 1970s, according to the American Cancer Society.
Plaintiffs in the talc cases, citing studies from 1971 on, said that talc in baby powder can be absorbed by the reproductive system and cause inflammation in the ovaries when applied for feminine hygiene purposes.
But the National Cancer Institute said on its website that “the weight of evidence does not support an association between perineal talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.”
As for sending a signal, the cases are mixed at this point.
Johnson & Johnson has lost six of the seven cases decided so far. A New Jersey state court judge dismissed two other complaints last year before they reached trial, ruling that the plaintiffs lacked credible scientific evidence.
Johnson & Johnson, which is appealing the verdicts that favored plaintiffs, said in a statement last month that it was “guided by the science.” It did not comment on whether it planned to pursue a global settlement.
“Ovarian cancer is a devastating diagnosis and we deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by this disease,” said Carol Goodrich, a spokeswoman for the company. “We are preparing for additional trials in the U.S. and will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”
The company is no stranger to enormous legal challenges.
As of early July, Johnson & Johnson faced lawsuits stemming from its blood thinner Xarelto, which 20,000 plaintiffs said caused uncontrollable bleeding. Another 55,500 cases concern pelvic mesh for women, which attorneys general in Washington and California said caused urinary dysfunction, loss of sexual function, constipation and other complications.
The first talc trial was in 2013 in Federal District Court in South Dakota. A jury found Johnson & Johnson negligent in a complaint filed by a Sioux Falls resident, Deane Berg, 60, but did not award her damages.
Ms. Berg, who used the company’s baby powder for 40 years and developed ovarian cancer in 2006, said she had turned down a $1.3 million settlement offer from the company. She instead wanted, but failed to force, the company to put warning labels on the product or to remove it from shelves.
Ms. Berg said she had endured “brutal” chemotherapy for six months and had also sustained permanent hearing loss, nerve damage, anemia and depression. Her cancer is in remission.
“It would be better to put all of these cases together and go after Johnson & Johnson for the whole thing,” she said.
So far, pretrial procedures in nearly 900 talc cases have been consolidated into what is known as a multidistrict litigation, or MDL. Complaints filed in different federal courts are being transferred to a single bundle in Federal District Court in New Jersey, where Johnson & Johnson is based and where many of its employees would probably serve as witnesses.
MDLs tend to reduce costs and time. Only one set of expert witnesses needs to be called. Lead lawyers chosen for each side oversee the process.
More consistency from the courts could mean a smaller legal bill for Johnson & Johnson.
By 2007, three years after the drugmaker Merck removed its Vioxx pain medication from pharmacy shelves, the company had paid more than $1 billion in legal fees over nearly 20 trials before agreeing to spend $4.85 billion to settle 27,000 lawsuits. Plaintiffs claimed, and evidence showed, that the drug increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
For Johnson & Johnson, which recorded $806 million in net litigation expenses for the 2016 fiscal year and at least $400 million during the second quarter of fiscal 2017, the most painful blow in the talc litigation came on Aug. 21.
That was when a jury in Los Angeles County Superior Court awarded Eva Echeverria, 63, of California, $417 million in her case against the company.
The decision included $347 million in punitive damages, which are awarded in only 5 percent of civil trials in which plaintiffs are successful, according to government data. Juries typically tack on punitive damages to a standard compensatory award when they deem a defendant’s behavior to be especially harmful.
“To me, that’s a very prudent, reasonable award, to be honest,” said Mr. Smith, one of Ms. Echeverria’s lawyers.
Clients must wait out the appeals process before receiving a payout, Mr. Smith said. Not that Johnson & Johnson, which recorded $16.5 billion in profits last year, would appear to be too worried about the money.
“In the history of major litigation cases against big pharma, there’s only been a few that really raise the bar to impacting the stock, but we haven’t seen those in a long time,” said Damien Conover, an analyst at Morningstar. “There’s a lot of room for a company like Johnson & Johnson to digest legal costs.”
The accident left one of the company’s driverless Volvos on its side, but fortunately led to no serious injuries.
A picture of the crash scene shows two other damaged cars sitting next to the Volvo, one of which has smashed windows and particularly bad dent marks, suggesting the accident happened at some speed.
“The vehicles collided, causing the autonomous vehicle to roll onto its side,” Tempe Police Department spokesperson Josie Montenegro told Reuters. “There were no serious injuries.”
Two ‘safety’ drivers were sat in the front seats of the Uber car at the time of the crash, and nobody was in the back.
According to Ms Montenegro, the crash happened when the driver of a second vehicle “failed to yield” to the Uber car while making a turn.
Uber is looking into the incident, and has halted its self-driving car programs in Arizona, Pennsylvania and California – the three states in which testing was taking place – while its investigations are ongoing.
For those who use ridesharing companies like Uber, it is important to know what to do if you are ever in an accident, understand who is at fault in the event of a ridesharing crash, and how to receive payment for any injuries or other losses you sustain.
A train slammed into a FedEx truck in North Salt Lake, Utah, on Tuesday. The cause of the crash is unknown for the time being, but the safety gates were up at the time, which suggests some sort of signal malfunction. The gates are programmed to move to a down position in the event of a signal failure or malfunction, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, and it is unknown why they did not in fact close. No one was seriously injured.
The smash, which sent a whole cloud of packages flying, was capture by the dash cam of a police car.
“The agency has never had an accident like this before, and UTA is investigating why and how it happened to ensure it doesn’t occur again,” the Utah Transit Authority said in a release. And while there were no severe injuries, you can bet there were some delivery delays.
In incidents such as these, a train doesn’t have the distance required to stop the majority of the time and the results are devastating. But, not all train accidents are the driver’s fault. Train engineers and the companies that employ them are capable of negligence.
There are multiple scenarios where a vehicle can stall on a rail crossing and the railroad company may still be liable by virtue of their obligation to make an attempt to avoid an accident.
Reasonable efforts must still be taken by the train’s crew to avoid the collision. If they follow normal protocol and the collisions occurs, the accident is deemed unavoidable and the railroad company is not liable. However, when the train engineer fails to follow normal protocol and there exists the possibility that the engineer’s actions were outside of the scope of reasonable or appropriate actions, then it is easy to conclude that the engineer, at a minimum, contributed to the car driver’s demise, and a lawsuit is warranted.
The second common cause of vehicles being struck on tracks, which is what seems to have happened here, is that the rail crossing is itself defective. This may happen due to damage to the railroad crossing warning system, power outages, or damage that was neglected by the train company for months. Since the rail crossing is the property of the railroad, they will of course bear significant liability for causing the accident.
If you believe that your loved one was wrongfully injured or killed in an accident involving a train, you may be entitled to compensation. It is important you have an attorney who understands your rights as the family of the deceased victim and can reach a favorable outcome to reimburse you for any losses that you may have suffered as a result of the railroad company’s negligence. Contact the Reyes Browne Reilley law firm today at 214.526.7900.
WASHINGTON — The federal government has bet on driverless vehicles as a way to reduce road fatalities. Now, it is also betting that drivers and passengers will be safer if cars can talk to one another to prevent accidents.
The Transportation Department proposed rules on Dec. 13 that all new cars and small trucks contain communications technology to broadcast data to one another about their speed, location and direction they are traveling.
Under the new rules, cars would be able to use wireless technology involving chips and a dedicated band of radio airwaves to detect if another vehicle around the corner and hundreds of yards away was moving too fast in its direction and headed for a collision. What happens next would be up to the automaker, which would decide if it would put in place automated response technology to brake or simply provide a visual or audio warning to a driver.
The vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology, which is separate from driverless car tech, is viewed by regulators as the most effective fix for vehicle deaths. Along with future plans for rules that would mandate that cars communicate with stoplights and signs, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it believes that the communications technology can help reduce crashes — not including those involving drivers under the influence — by 80 percent.
“We are carrying the ball as far as we can to realize the potential of transportation technology to save lives,” Anthony Foxx, the transportation secretary, said in a call on Tuesday. He added that the vehicle-to-vehicle technology would provide “360-degree situational awareness on the road and will enhance vehicle safety.” The agency is considering similar rules for big trucks.
There are hurdles to Mr. Foxx’s vision. The dedicated airwaves being considered for vehicle communications are being tested by the Federal Communications Commission for potential interference with other Wi-Fi users. There are also potential cyber security risks when cars are connected online. Mr. Foxx said the vehicle communications systems would be encrypted.
The proposal, which will be open for three months of public comment, requires cars to be able to broadcast and receive data from one another. The carmaker determines what to do with that data, be it automated braking or visual warnings on a dashboard. A driver can turn off warnings or automated response features but will not be able to turn off the basic communications abilities under consideration, the N.H.T.S.A. said.
The rules would apply only to new vehicles. If the rules are passed, the agency predicted that it would take about two years before half of all new cars had the communications technology and four years for all new cars.
It is unclear how the Trump administration and the incoming transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, will view the technology mandates and guidelines for autonomous vehicles or vehicle-to-vehicle communications. President-elect Donald J. Trump has vowed to unravel regulations that have been onerous for businesses.
Mr. Foxx said he thought automakers would support his proposal.
“Many, many stakeholders in the automotive industry believe this rule is essential,” Mr. Foxx said. “I can’t speak for the next administration, but from a safety perspective, this is a no-brainer.”
The rules were first discussed by the N.H.T.S.A. two years ago and build on a plan to generally make humans a smaller part of the driving experience.
The agency’s long-term vision is for smart cars to be connected to one another and to road infrastructure such as stoplights. Driverless cars, which mainly use GPS, cameras and radar to detect movements through streets, would also be enhanced with technology to communicate with other cars.
The conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute immediately called the new mandate a “midnight” political ploy by the Obama administration and said the incoming administration should abandon the plan.
The rules are “all pain, no gain,” said Marc Scribner, a research fellow at the organization, who added that “hypothetical safety benefits will be trivial for the next 15 years, at which point far superior automated vehicle technology may be deployed to consumers.”
AAA, which has supported Mr. Foxx’s agenda on car technology and driverless vehicles, said even if new technologies eventually replaced radio communication among cars, the current proposal is a strong solution for safer roads.
“We need redundancy,” said Jill Ingrassia, AAA’s managing director for government relations. “And we need critical mass for this to be effective.”
Ed Walters, an adjunct professor of robotics law at Georgetown University, said the rules were “100 percent good for safety.”
“You have all these carmakers developing autonomous vehicles,” he said, “but no one car is as smart as all cars together.”
In the late 1990s, General Motors switched airbag suppliers from the Swedish-American company Autoliv to the much cheaper Japanese supplier, Takata.
Prior to the switch, GM asked Autoliv to match the cheaper design, according to Linda Rink, who was a senior scientist at Autoliv assigned to the G.M. account at the time.
But when Autoliv’s scientists studied the Takata airbag, they found that it relied on a dangerously volatile compound in its inflater, a critical part that causes the airbag to expand.
“We just said, ‘No, we can’t do it. We’re not going to use it,’” said Robert Taylor, Autoliv’s head chemist until 2010.
Today, that compound is at the heart of the largest automotive safety recall in history. At least 14 people have been killed and more than 100 have been injured by faulty inflaters made by Takata. More than 100 million of its airbags have been installed in cars in the United States by General Motors and 16 other automakers.
“General Motors told us they were going to buy Takata’s inflaters unless we could make a cheaper one,” Ms. Rink said. Her team was told that the Takata inflaters were as much as 30 percent cheaper per module, she added, a potential savings of several dollars per airbag. “That set off a big panic on how to compete.”
Even with the record recall, deadly accidents and research critical of ammonium nitrate, Takata continues to manufacture airbags with the compound — and automakers continue to buy them. The airbags appear in the 2016 models of seven automakers, and they are also being installed in cars as replacement airbags for those being recalled.
A previous generation of airbags supplied to Nissan had the problem of deploying too forcefully and were linked to at least 40 eye injuries in the 1990s.
Takata began experimenting with alternative propellants but in the late ‘90s their inflater plant experienced a series of explosions that destroyed equipment and derailed production greatly. It was in front of this backdrop that Takata embraced the cheaper new compound, ammonium nitrate.
It was around this time the team at Autoliv was asked to study the Takata design.
“We tore the Takata airbags apart, analyzed all the fuel, identified all the ingredients,” he said. The takeaway, he said, was that when the airbag was detonated, “the gas is generated so fast, it blows the inflater to bits.”
Chris Hock, a former member of Mr. Taylor’s team, said he recalled carrying out testing on a mock ammonium nitrate inflater that produced explosive results that left his team shaken. “When we lit it off, it totally destroyed the fixture,” he said. “It turned it into shrapnel.”
These defective airbags made by Takata have been tied to 14 deaths and more than 100 injuries. The ensuing recall has turned out to be messy, confusing and frustrating for car owners.
Reyes Browne Reilley is a Dallas, Texas, based Martindale-Hubbell AV-Rated personal injury law firm. Our Dallas personal injury lawyers have a nearly combined 100 years experience representing plaintiffs in personal injury, business, and dangerous prescription drug & device litigation. Call us today for a free consult to find out more.
In what is certain to be a landmark decision, a Missouri jury has awarded the son of an African-American woman, and the woman’s estate, a total of $72 million in a wrongful death lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson. Of the $72 million in damages, $10 million are compensatory damages going to the son and $62 million in punitive damages to the estate. The successful plaintiff’s lead attorney, Jim Onder said after the verdict that $31 million of the compensation will go to the Missouri Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund.
Ms. Fox’s attorneys claimed that an internal memorandum proved that the company knew many years ago of the link between the use of its baby powder and shower products to ovarian cancer in women and did nothing to warn consumers. After the verdict, one of the jurors, Jerome Kendrick, is quoted in the St. Louis Post Dispatch as saying “They tried to cover up and influence the boards that regulate cosmetics. They could have at least put a warning label on the box but they didn’t. They did nothing.” In addition, the Associated Press reports that a consultant to Johnson and Johnson wrote a memo to the company equating the risks of using their baby and body powders with the risks of getting cancer from smoking cigarettes stating “to ignore such risks would be denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary”. According to the company memo, the Johnson and Johnson worried about declining sales as more and more people become aware of the health risk of the product implying that a warning label would accelerate the sales decline. The memo also that the company deliberately targeted Hispanics and African Americans in their marketing strategies.
The plaintiff had been a long-term user of Johnson and Johnson’s Baby powder and Shower to Shower body powder for feminine hygiene, having used the product regularly for 35 years when she died three years ago. Her son is quoted as saying to the AP that his mother’s use of the products “became second nature, like brushing your teeth.”
In the wake of the guilty verdict against Johnson and Johnson, the company could now face an avalanche of lawsuits related to its talcum-based baby and body powder products. Before the verdict, approximately 1200 lawsuits have been filed.
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