Peanut Plant Faked Lab Results? That's Just Nuts - and Criminal (If True)

The 2008-2009 salmonella outbreak prompted one of the biggest food recalls in this country’s history. 714 people were sickened and 9 people died as a result of tainted food. This month, federal prosecutors are seeking criminal penalties against the corporate management of a peanut company that faked lab results and failed to recall products they knew were contaminated with salmonella.

Peanut Corp. of America supplied peanut paste to companies like Kellogg’s to be used in peanut butter crackers etc., but often had trouble meeting demand. So rather than wait two days for salmonella and other contaminant testing, the company would ship the peanut paste on the same day it was made and use old lab results to attach to the product. Just as bad if not worse, the company failed to recall their product if testing revealed it was tainted. 

As evidenced by this case, the effects of food poisoning can go way beyond diarrhea and general malaise. It can cause serious injuries and even death. Individuals and corporations who recklessly expose the consuming public to such injuries should be held accountable for compensatory damages and punitive damages. And, when appropriate, they should face criminal penalties. 

New Tool in Tennessee for Reducing Car Crashes and Drunk Driving

For the last six months, the Tennessee Highway Patrol has been testing a new software system conveniently called CRASH – Crash Reduction Analyzing Statistical History. The software system is designed to help police predict the spots where crashes are likely to occur. While this is still a pilot program, the system has been accurate 75% of the time. The THP is also using software to predict where intoxicated drivers are most likely to be and at what time of day. Essentially, the software analyzes prior data and will predict where the greatest traffic risks are likely to occur given the day and time. Law enforcement can then direct its resources accordingly. The system cost $243,000 but was funded via a grant.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident and would like to discuss your case with one of our award-winning lawyers, please call us anytime at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 for a free, no-obligation consultation. We handle all car accident cases on a contingency basis so you never have to pay any money out of pocket to protect your rights.

USDA Hopes to Reduce Foodborne Illnesses in Poultry Plants with New Inspection Rules

For more than 50 years, inspections at poultry plants have been largely the same. That fact does not seem terribly remarkable until you think about the technological advancements we have seen in 50 years – from MRIs to DNA fingerprinting to electric cars. When presented in that light, you have to wonder why it took so long to implement changes that could improve food safety. 

At any rate, the changes are here and are estimated to prevent as many as 5,000 foodborne illnesses a year. Here are the basics of the new rules:

·       Poultry producers are required to perform microbiological testing at two points in their production process to prevent salmonella and campylobacter contamination. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, salmonella and campylobacter are two of the most common causes of foodborne illnesses. Salmonella alone causes 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths in the United States each year.

·       The maximum line speed for poultry plants will remain capped at 140 birds per minutes. Some had advocated for line speeds of up to 200 birds per minutes and the initial proposal had been for a line speed of 175. The lower line speed still requires an inspector to inspect 2.33 birds every second. Not surprisingly, many think such a speed still puts the public at risk.

·       In an effort to maximize federal inspectors time in the plant, plant employees will be allowed to conduct some preliminary sorting duties. Some fear this will eventually mean a reduction in federal inspectors. 

Only time will tell if the new rules are a victory for the poultry-consuming public so we will continue to watch this issue. To learn more about food poisoning, click here. If you would like to discuss a potential case, call us for a free, no-obligation consultation at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787. We handle all food poisoning cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we recover money for you.

Visibility and Motorcycles

 The most common type of motorcycle accident is a car turning left in front of the motorcycle.   Generally, this type of accident happens because the driver of the car is simply not looking carefully and fails to see the motorcycle.   The more visible a motorcycle is the better.

Loud pipes save lives.  While some motorcyclists prefer loud pipes because of the increased “visibility” they believe they provide, there is certainly no legal requirement that a motorcycle be heard before it is seen.  And some even believe that “loud pipes save lives” is a misconception.  In Tennessee, by statute, your motorcycle must have a muffler.  The law also prohibits the use of muffler cutouts.  But unlike a number of states, Tennessee does not have a maximum decibel level for muffler noise.  Regardless of the loudness of your muffler, other motorists have a responsibility to be on the lookout for motorcycles and give them equal access to the road.  And, if you travel to another state, those loud pipes just might garner you a ticket for a noise regulation violation.

Continuing on with the issue of visibility, Tennessee law requires motorcycles to operate with headlights even in the daytime.  And so that you can see other vehicles, your motorcycle must be equipped with a rearview mirror.   Other things a motorcyclist might do to try an increase their visibility to other motorists are:

·      Install a loud horn

·      Wear a bright colored helmet

·      Wear bright colored clothing

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident and would like to discuss your case with one of our award-winning lawyers, please call us anytime at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 for a free, no-obligation consultation.  We handle all motorcycle accidents on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we recover money for you.


Traffic Control Signals and Motorcycles: Proceed at Your Own Risk

Under Tennessee law, a driver of a motorcycle can proceed through a red light under certain circumstances.  T.C.A. § 55-8-110 (b) provides as follows:

(b) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the driver of a motorcycle approaching an intersection that is controlled by a traffic-control signal utilizing a vehicle detection device that is inoperative due to the size of the motorcycle shall come to a full and complete stop at the intersection and, after exercising due care as provided by law, may proceed with due caution when it is safe to do so. It is not a defense to a violation of § 55-8-109 that the driver of a motorcycle proceeded under the belief that a traffic-control signal utilized a vehicle detection device or was inoperative due to the size of the motorcycle when the signal did not utilize a vehicle detection device or that the device was not in fact inoperative due to the size of the motorcycle.

So what does all that mean?  Well, if it is actually a traffic-controlled signal and you, as a motorcycle driver, proceed safely through the red light, then no problem.  If it is a traffic-controlled light and you, as a motorcycle driver, proceed through the light but cause an accident because you failed to notice an oncoming vehicle or other issue, then you may be at fault.  And if you proceed through the red light and it was not actually a traffic-controlled light, then you could still be ticketed for running a red light.  So, all that to say, proceed at your own risk as a motorcycle driver when proceeding through a red light.   Here is an article that may help motorcycle riders determine which red lights are actually traffic-actuated.  

Lane Splitting Illegal for Tennessee Motorcyclists

John and Joy Day both love motorcycles.  In fact, their first date was a 17-hour motorcycle ride and hiking expedition.  Joy on a 100th Anniversary Edition Harley Sportster and John on a BMW 1200CLC.    So it is not surprising that at the Law Offices of John Day, we are profoundly interested in making sure motorcyclists practice safe and legal riding. And, of course, to the extent a motorcyclist is injured by the carelessness of another, our award-winning lawyers are here to help.   

Over the next few days, we are going to cover some of the basics of Tennessee’s motorcycle laws.  Today, we will start with lane splitting.  Lane splitting is the practice of riding a motorcycle in between lanes when traffic is stopped or slowed.   In some states such as California, lane splitting is a legal maneuver.  But in Tennessee, motorcyclists are not allowed to split lanes. 

Tennessee Code Annotated 55-8-182 provides the following rights and responsibilities for motorcycle riders and sections (b) and (c) specifically address lane splitting:

(a) All motorcycles are entitled to full use of a lane and no motor vehicle shall be driven in a manner that deprives a motorcycle the full use of lane.  (This does not apply to a two motorcycles riding side by side in a single lane);

(b) A motorcyclist shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken;

(c) No driver shall operate their motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lanes or rows of vehicles;

(d) Motorcycles shall not be operated more than two(2) abreast in a single lane.

(e)  The lane splitting provisions do not apply to police officers on motorcycles in the performance of official duties.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact us to discuss your case.  Call us anytime at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 for a free, no-obligation consultation.  We handle all motorcycle accident cases on a contingency basis.  

More Questions Surround Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and Other Transportation Networking Companies

Drivers who participate in transportation networking companies (TNC) may have a significant gap in coverage.  Some insurance carriers are taking the position that the TNC driver is engaged in a commercial service any time they are logged into a ridesharing app and just looking for a passenger.  Under such circumstances, if the driver is involved in an accident with another car or pedestrian and depending upon the language of the policy, the insurance carrier can take the position that the accident is not covered.  If the driver’s personal insurance does not cover the accident, then the injury victim must look to their own uninsured motorist insurance or that of the company i.e, Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, etc. 

Unfortunately, many individuals do not have uninsured motorist coverage.  Or, if they do have coverage, the limits are often very low and inadequate to ensure full compensation for significant injuries and losses.  As for the pursuing the transportation networking companies, their insurance may not apply since the driver was not actually transporting a passenger but instead was merely logged into the app and looking for passengers.  Coverage will turn on the terms of their policy.

As we have mentioned in prior posts here, here and here, there are many issues to be worked out with respect to this new means of transportation.  The Legislature will likely resolve some of the issues via regulations for these services.  Other issues will have to work their way through the court system. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident either as a driver, passenger or pedestrian, we may be able to help you recover compensation for your injuries.  Contact one of our award-winning lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation.  We handle all injury cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we recover money for you.   Call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787.   

Drug-Impaired Driving

 Drivers involved in fatal accidents are more likely to test positive for prescription drugs and street drugs then in the past. Here are some staggering statistics from some recent reports.

·       From 1993 to 2010, for fatal crashes, the number of drugged drivers with three or more drugs in their system almost doubled as it jumped from 11.5 % to 21.5%.  

·       Drivers involved in fatal crashes are more likely to be combining drugs with alcohol.  For instance, 55% of drivers who had used marijuana had also been drinking and 70% of drivers who tested positive for cocaine also had alcohol in their system.

·       Prescription drug use was highest in drivers over age 50

·       Marijuana use was highest in drivers under age 30.

·       A 2012 study reported nearly 10.3 million American had driven under the influence of illicit drugs in the past year.

Drugged driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.  Any agent that affects motor skills and brain functions puts everyone else on or near the road at risk including other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, etc.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact one of our award-winning lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case and your rights.  We handle all injury cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we recover money for you.  Call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787.  

Some Older Drivers Present Risk on Tennessee Roads

With age comes invaluable driving experience, but after a certain point it can also bring declining physical abilities which makes driving more dangerous.   Case in point: 78% of seniors drive regularly despite reporting slow reaction times and tiring easily behind the wheel.  13% of senior drivers reported difficulty hearing or seeing and 9 % report getting lost or feeling confused while driving. 

These days, I do not know what age qualifies one as being senior.  You can get an AARP card at 50 but the retirement age has been moved to 67.   One thing I do know is that with each passing year of my life, I think the age that one become a senior should get moved back. 

Given the squishy nature of when one becomes a “senior”, I elected to discuss the Tennessee crash statistics beginning at age 50.  Year to date, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, there have been over 3,609 car crashes involving drivers over age 50.  Note that this number excludes parking lot and private property car wrecks and car accidents  involving $400 or less in damage. 

Because Tennessee does not have any special testing requirements for older drivers, it is imperative that we all assess ourselves and our loved ones for continued driving ability.  By doing so, we ensure the safety of everyone.  

At the Law Offices of John Day, we handle all types of car accidents and would be glad to speak with you about your potential car wreck case for free and without obligation.  Just give us a call at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787.  We handle all injury cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we recover money for you.  

Funeral Processions and Car Accidents: Who Has The Right of Way?

A Tennessee statute provides that a funeral procession has the right-of-way when the lead vehicle properly identifies the funeral procession by using a flashing amber light or is identified as a police escort or other “properly identified” escort.  A funeral escort may also use a siren and flags to identify the funeral procession. The lead car must comply with stop signs and traffic-control signals such as red lights but the remainder of the funeral procession can proceed without stopping or obeying the traffic signal if each vehicle has its headlights on.  

As with anything else, there are exceptions to the right-of-way rule.  A funeral procession must yield the right-of-way to an authorized emergency vehicle (police, fire, ambulance) with its siren on.  A funeral procession must also yield the right-of-way when directed to do so by any law enforcement officer.

So as to minimize the effect on traffic flow, the funeral procession must maintain minimum speeds.  On a highway, the procession should go no slower than 45.  On other roadways, the procession should not go any slower than 5 mph below the posted speed limit.  A motorist who is following a funeral procession on a two-lane highway must not pass the funeral procession.  Likewise, a motorist confronted with a proper funeral procession must yield the right of way and must not drive or attempt to drive in between the vehicles.

I find that folks in the Tennessee are generally very respectful of funeral processions. But accidents do happen and every motorist should know their responsibilities when proceeding in or confronted with a funeral procession.  If you would like to know your rights with respect to any type of car accident, give us a call at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 to talk to one of our award-winning lawyers.  The consultation is free and without obligation and we handle all injury cases on a contingency basis.   

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About John A. Day

I am a fifty-three year old lawyer who is fascinated by the law of torts. I have studied the field for over twenty-nine years. I represent plaintiffs in personal injury and wrongful death cases.

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