Articles Posted in Product Liability

Since the beginning of February, the FDA has been busy with recalls related to undeclared peanut allergens.  A good number of the recalls are related to tainted cumin but not all. The foods involved are:

  1.  Pride of Szeged Sweet Hungarian Paprika (manufactured by Spiceco) 
  2. Goya and Kirby – Black Bean Soup and Black Beans with Creole Seasoning (manufactured by Goya)
  3. Whole Foods Market Divine Treasures 100,000 Smooches candy (manufactured by Whole Foods Market)
  4.  Whole Foods Market – prepared salads, tacos and seasoned meat items (manufactured by Whole Foods Market)
  5. Village Hearth, Lender’s, L’Oven Fresh and Kroger bagels (all produced by National Choice Bakery). This recall also involves tree nuts.
  6. Pepperidge Farm bagels (manufactured by Pepperidge Farms). This recall also involves tree nuts.
  7. Sara Lee, Thomas and Jewel bagels (all manufactured by Bimbo Bakeries) This recall also involves almonds.
  8. See’s Candies Classic Red Hearts and assorted chocolates (manufactured by See’s Candies). This recall also involves undeclared tree nuts.
  9. The Spice Mill Chef’s Choice Ground Cumin and Cajun Seasoning (manufactured by the Spice Mill)

Even more cumin-related recalls occurred in January.  For more details on these and other food recalls, go to http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/

Food allergies can be life-threatening. In fact, approximately 1,500 Americans die each year because of allergic reactions to food. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious allergic reaction to an undeclared allergen or contaminated food, we can help. Contact one of our award-winning attorneys today for a free, no-obligation consulation. Call us anytime at 866-812-8787

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. 

If you have an airbag system in your vehicle, you likely take comfort in this additional piece of safety equipment. But because of a defect, your airbag may now present a serious risk of injury. Takata Corporation, a Japanese company, is the second largest manufacturer of vehicle safety equipment including airbags. But in the past several years, Takata has experienced problems with its airbags. The defective airbags can explode causing injury and even death. The explosions are different from an intended deployment in a crash. Instead, the defective airbags actually detonate and shoot shrapnel at drivers and passengers. In fact, in at least one incident, the metal ejected during the airbag explosion was so hot it set fire to the instrument panel and glove compartment of the vehicle. 

As a result, in recent days, Nissan and Honda have recalled more than 3 million vehicles because of defective Takata airbags, and Mazda has recalled a smaller number of vehicles. More recalls may be looming as Chrysler, Ford and BMW are investigating the issue in their vehicles. And, it is important to note that these recent recalls are in addition to earlier recalls involving millions of vehicles affected with the same airbag problem.

The cause of the explosions appears to be related to inadequate pressure and excess moisture during production of the airbags. The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) is, of course, investigating the problem and is also studying whether driving in high humidity presents an increased risk factor for the explosions, which is troubling news for Tennessee drivers as we enter the hot and humid summer months.  You can visit the NTHSA’s website to determine if you vehicle is affected by the recall and the steps to take to address the problem.

Last month, Toyota reached a $1.2 billion settlement with the United States Justice Department to resolve allegations that the automaker had covered up defects in its cars. Of course, this was after earlier paying $66 million for failing to timely report problems with unintended acceleration in its vehicles. 

This month, General Motors is under fire for concealing defects in the ignition switches of more than 1.37 million vehicles which has been linked to 13 deaths. And, the U.S. Department has also filed a criminal action again G.M. alleging it concealed brake problems in its vehicles. Last year, Ford was fined $17.4 million dollars (the maximum fine at the time) for delaying a recall of the Ford Escape when the automaker knew the gas pedals could become stuck.

There appears to be an alarming trend of automakers covering up defects and delaying recalls. By law, automakers must report safety defects to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) within 5 days of becoming aware of an issue. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can open its own investigation if it notices a trend in consumer complaints or accident information.

Not too long ago, we told you about a recall involving Graco child safety seats, and we told you that recall would likely be expanded to Evenflo child safety seats because the two manufacturers used the same component supplier. It seems we were right. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced a recall of more than 1.3 million Evenflo child safety seats.   The buckle on the seat can become stuck in the latched position. Of course, this presents a risk of injury in the event of a crash or other emergency event. The recall involves a number of different models and you can check to see if you own one of the affected seats by clicking here. If you own one of the affected seats, Evenflo will provide a replacement buckle with installation instructions. 

This recall serves as an important reminder about two things. First, the importance of registering your products (whether your purchase them new or used) with the manufacturer so that you are automatically provided important information about recalls and other safety issues. Second, every child should be placed in a proper safety seat. A child safety seat can reduce the risk of a death to an infant by 71% and the risk of death to a toddler by 54% in passenger cars. For trucks, the reduction is 58% for infants and 58 % for toddlers. So be sure to buckle up!

If you or a loved one has been injured due to a defective product such as a child safety seat or has been involved in a car accident, you only have a limited time to pursue your rights. To discuss your case for free, contact one of our award-winning lawyers today at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or by filling out this formFor additional information on our fees and costs, click here. 

Did you know that liquid nicotine comes in hundreds of flavors ranging from menthol to chocolate to boston cream pie and strawberry daiquiri?   More importantly, did you know that just a teaspoon of liquid nicotine can kill a child? To say this is scary would be an understatement. In fact, the director of the San Diego division of the California Poison Control System has been quoted as saying it is not a matter of if a child will be seriously poisoned or killed, but a matter of when.

Electronic cigarettes are widely touted as a safe alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. Because the electronic cigarette is smokeless, the user does not inhale the tars and toxins in the tobacco smoke. But many electronic cigarette users are unaware of the hazards associated with the liquid nicotine. Oral ingestion of liquid nicotine or absorption through the skin can create toxic symptoms including rapid heart beat, dizziness, confusion, elevated blood pressure, nausea, diarrhea, seizures, etc. Ultimately, the toxicity can lead to a coma or death. 

In the United States, there is currently very little government oversight over liquid nicotine. The New York Times reports that vendors offer to sell the product by the gallon and barrel despite the fact that as much as a teaspoon can be lethal. In Europe, liquid nicotine must be sold in child-proof and tamper-proof packaging and with health warnings. In Canada, manufacturers must comply with these same regulations and also submit proof evidencing the quality and safety of the product.

Roger Bates got into the grain auger to break up material that would have clogged the machine.  But, the corn sucked him down so fast that he could not use the chain he had brought in with him as a safety measure.  Lucky for Mr. Bates, his grandson reacted quickly and decisively. He called 911, turned off the auger and then got into the bin to dig out some of the corn around his grandfather’s chest before the 35,000 lbs. of corn suffocated him.  Five hours later, emergency responders were able to free Mr. Bates from the bin. 

To say Mr. Bates was extremely lucky is an understatement, as fifty percent of all grain engulfments accidents end with the victim being suffocated to death. Over the last 50 years, there have been more than 900 grain engulfment accidents in the United States. 

In 2010, the number of grain accident engulfments reached an all-time high, so efforts were launched to improve safety, awareness and enforcement.  The United States Department of Labor has issued a hazard alert, and OSHA has developed a fact sheet to help employers maintain safe work places for their employees.

The National Highway Safety Administration (commonly referred to as “The NHTSA”) is the country’s watchdog on all things related to motor vehicle safety.  For instance, the NHTSA is the government agency responsible for testing all vehicles to ensure they comply with all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (i.e, things like crashworthiness, airbags, etc.)  The NHTSA also monitors customer complaints and accidents looking for trends which might necessitate a recall of a particular vehicle. 

Well, the NHTSA now has an app.  The app allows users to quickly look up a vehicle crash test rating and compare the ratings of different vehicles – a feature which would be very handy when shopping for a vehicle.  It also will provide you driving directions to the closest location providing assistance with installing child safety seats.  If you are having a safety issue or problem with your vehicle, you can report it to the NHTSA using the app.  And finally, you can be notified if your vehicle or a family member’s vehicle is the subject of a safety recall.  This is especially important for owners of used vehicles who may not have registered their contact information with the vehicle manufacturer and so might not receive recall notifications by mail. 

This app could be helpful in keeping up with information that can help keep you and your loved ones safe. 

 Roughly 3.8 million child seats are being recalled by Graco because the buckles may fail to unlatch.  Graco has explained the buckles get jammed by food particles and sticky drinks like juice getting into the latch area.  What is interesting about the recall is that Graco is not recalling another 1.8 million child seats that have the same buckle.  Graco defends this decision by pointing out that the non-recalled child seats are rear-facing and infants do not get food or drinks on their seats. 

Say what?  It seems the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) is not buying that explanation either.  And why should they when both the NHTSA and Graco have received customer complaints about the rear-facing buckles and harnesses.  In a harsh response, the NHTSA accused Graco of providing “incomplete and misleading” documents in response to the investigation.

If you have a Graco child seat, go to the NHTA’s website for full recall information.  Obviously, these child seats could pose a serious risk of harm in certain types of car accidents.  Even in the absence of an accident, some parents have been forced to cut the straps of the car seat in order to be able to remove their child.  

 Imagine you are standing at the counter at Walgreens or CVS and the pharmacist offers you a choice:  you can purchase either the brand name version of your drug for $400 or you can purchase a generic alternative for $50.  Very few people would not opt for the less expensive generic version.  But, there is something you should know before making a decision between generic and brand name drugs.  

Generic drugs manufacturers are not responsible for drug defects or for failing to warn about such defects.  So, if the drug poses a substantial risk of harm for diabetics but the label does not warn about it, the generic drug manufacturer is not responsible. The injured diabetic has no recourse. Think about that.  Not only did the generic manufacturer not have to invest any money in researching and developing the drug, but then if they copy the drug they are not responsible for any harm caused by it (unless the generic drug manufacturer makes a mistake in the formulation process and does not accurately copy the drug).  This crazy result is based on a 2011 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Mutual Pharmaceutical v. Bartlett. 

In November of last year, the FDA announced a proposed change to the current rule which would make generic manufacturers responsible for labeling in the same fashion as brand name manufacturers.  The original comment period for the proposed rule was 60 days but the deadline was extended.  The new deadline is March 13, 2014.   We will keep you posted about this important safety issue for drug consumers.