Articles Posted in Product Liability

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From Toyota’s unprecedented $1.2 billion settlement with the Justice Department to General Motors’ recall of 1.6 million vehicles over faulty ignition switches, vehicle recalls have dominated the news lately. While companies are, appropriately, penalized for failing to notify the public and the government of potentially harmful defects, we often fail to heed their warnings.

Over the past 20 years, the number of vehicle recalls issued has more than doubled, but, as vice president of Edmunds.com Scott Oldham recently told NPR, “most recalls go unnoticed by the general public.”

One reason consumers are missing recall notices is that we may be mistaking them for junk mail. NPR reports that many automakers mail their recall notices and sometimes not even first-class.

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Recent news reports and a blog in Thecaliforniainjurylawyer.com are critical of a delayed recall of robes by a company. After nine deaths and several burn injuries, Blair LLC has voluntarily recalled their full-length chenille robes and other chenille products due to their flammability problems.

All nine deaths occurred before the April 2009 recall but since then other injuries have taken place. Effective immediately, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is advising women to discontinue wearing these dangerously flammable garments.

All nine women who died were cooking with their robes on when they suddenly caught fire. The fire spreads so quickly that the victims never have a chance to remove the garments.

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I have recently written on the number of examples where tort reform has not worked. Workers compensation is a failure, as workers have no right to sue their employers for negligence. Health insurance companies, operating under ERISA laws deny coverage wrongfully, and often, and have no legal recourse. In none of these examples has there been a fair treatment of those injured due to the negligence of another. Instead there has been a compromise of their rights, allegedly for the sake of society.

One frequent argument proposed for tort reform is that a less expensive and more effective method of controlling negligence is through government supervision and regulation. Nothing could be further than the truth as evidenced by the recent Los Angeles Times article on October 21, 2009 investigating Cal OSHA penalties for employer negligence. I invite your review of this article personally becasue I believe it deserves a Pulitzer for fair and in depth investigative reporting by Jessica Garrison.

An employer, Bimbo bakeries in California, had six amputations and a fractured hand at the workplace between 2003 and 2006. Cal OSHA investigated each of these violations, determined them to be caused by a serious failure to abide by safety regulations, maintain guards on equipment and operate the factory safely. Investigators levied fines anywhere from $2000-$21,000. However, the article pointed out that the Cal OSHA appeals boards waived almost all of the fines assessed and levied against this particular employer, not because they found the investigations without merit, but according to Candice Traeger, chairman of the appeals board, a backlog of cases drew a federal complaint causing the board to settle thousands of cases for pennies on the dollar.

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Aqua-Leisure Industries has voluntarily recalled it baby float products upon immediate recommendation from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Several baby floats have been found to have seats and straps that tear, causing babies and small children to fall into or under the water. There have been 31 incidents to date and fortunately no deaths. Float devices include the names, “Deluxe Baby Boat”, “Baby and Me Combo”, and many animal-shaped flotation devices. For a full list of products and corresponding pictures, please visit www.cpsc.gov.

The flotation products were sold at stores such as Target, Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart, Dollar, Ace Hardware and Walgreen’s from December 2002 through June 2009. Although the recall does not include all of Aqua-Leisure’s products, it’s a good idea to inspect any flotation device when it comes to the safety of your children in a pool or lake. These straps can break without warning and create a major risk of drowning.

If you know someone who has been injured in an accident through a product defect, you need to speak with a California personal injury attorney before the statute of limitations has expired. Allen, Flatt, Ballidis and Leslie have served the community of Orange County since 1974. Call us at 1 888 752-7474 anytime for a free consultation..

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Cell phones produce heat, as anyone who has been on the phone can attest, after a few minutes. Heat has been known to cause destruction of cell membranes and was thought to increase the possibility of brain tumors. However, less visible is the electromagnetic radiation from a cell phone. There has been wide speculation that this radiation may also cause injury to the brain and or several types of cancer. In a call to action, many studies were orchestrated over the last 8 years and, like global warming and the debate about tobacco in the 60’s, it is not surprising that there is disagreement.

A number of Independent studies have concluded there is a higher risk of brain cancer in users of cell phones, particularly in young users less than 18 years of age and in those that use a phone for more than 10 years. Some studies have estimated the risk as high as 240%. Now do I have your attention. Cell phone industry sponsored studies have naturally declared such conclusions groundless. Who is right!

As a California personal injury attorney of 25 years, I have seen the willingness of large industry to slant the truth about safety for profit. Tobacco was the recent Goliath to fall, but car manufacturers, crib manufacturers, and a slew of other products I have written about over the last few years, demonstrates that manufacturer studies are not to be trusted as reliable.

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Two people have died due to sudden and unexpected acceleration of their 2005 Toyota Camary. The National Transportation and Safety Board still maintains that there is no problem with the car. Let me tell you the facts as reported by the police departments that investigated the accidents. You can probably see that a defect exist, why can’t the NTSB?

Anne Ezal was going to lunch at the Pelican Point Restaurant in Pismo Beach,California. The restaurant parking lot was downhill of the restaurant. After travelling down the hill and coming to a stop in a parking spot at the bottom of the parking lot hill, the Camary suddenly accelerated, jumped a curb, went through a fence, negotiated a dirt extension of the lot and then tumbled over the bluff, a feature of the restaurant views. There was no reason to accelerate after pulling into the parking spot and coming to a stop. The vehicle fell 70 feet killing the driver. There was no explanation why the car suddenly accelerated, and why it kept accelerating though the entire distance traveled before careening over the cliff. The passenger witness said that the driver was doing everything she could to stop the car while approaching the cliff.

In Oklahoma later in 2007, Jean Bookout and her friend Barbara Schwarz were exiting a Highway ramp in Oklahoma. She was also driving a 2005 Camry. The car suddenly accelerated, and to try to stop the car, the driver put on the emergency brake, leaving 100 feet of skid with one tire alone. The vehicle would not stop and the car ran into an embankment with huge force, causing the wrongful death of the passenger and severely injuring the driver.

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Everyone knows that if a company files bankruptcy, they get out of many debts. Personal innjury due to defective car manufacturing is such a debt. If there is not enough cash or assets to pay off all debt, then injured victims are the last to get paid.

Unfortunately, this seems backwards. Companies that are owed money get paid first, as long as they have a lien or secured interest. the government gets paid and even the workers get paid. After the dust settles, the victims, through no negligence of their own, get left holding the bag. when the injuries are serious by the way, there is rarely enough insurance and so the public pays for the victim’ medical and health care for the rest of their life.

You can change this, at least with the GM non-sense. Gm will not assume liability for already pending claims, unless you voice an opinion. Please contact your congressional members and urge that they sign to Jeremy Warrimer Consumer Protection Act. The bill makes automakers retain their insurance for liability claims for any defective products made by them. Call or write today!

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Family members of victims from the crashed Continental Connection Flight 3407 sat horrified listening to cockpit voice recorders of the two pilots before the plane went down in Buffalo, New York in early February. Both pilots were yawning, talking about how that they felt uncomfortable flying in icy weather and how little they had slept in the last 24 hours. This is not the type of conversation that exudes confidence while flying in cold, icy conditions.

In addition, while the in-flight emergency is quickly happening, the captain makes a deadly decision-pulling up instead of bringing the nose down while the plane was stalling. It was later confirmed by Colgan air, owners of the commuter jet that the captain had never been trained on this type of “stick pusher” in the simulator, and had in fact never been fully trained in emergency procedures.

The Federal Aviation Administration is now looking into allegations of over pilot scheduling, fatigue, training issues and lapses of discipline in the cockpit.

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The ailing car maker, General Motors, has had severe financial problems recently and now nearly 1.5 million cars are being recalled on fears of engine fires, and potentially serious injuries.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHSTA, GM automobiles that were built between 1997 to 2003; models Regal, Impala, Lumina, Monte Carlo, Intrigue and Grand Prix are all affected. These cars all have a 3.8 liter, V6 naturally aspirated (non-turbo) engine.

In some cases of hard braking, drops of engine oil can sometimes drop down on the exhaust manifold and start a small fire. If left unchecked, the fire can easily spread into a major engine fire which could cause the occupants of the vehicle serious personal injuries.

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Several injuries to children have led to two separate high chair recalls by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) in the last month. The first brand is the Fischer- Price, 3-1 high chair that was sold in Target stores from December 2008 to March 2009. This model poses possible traumatic brain injury risk to young children. In one case the child fell backwards when the seatback detached unexpectedly and fractured the child’s skull.

The second brand is the Evenflo Majestic high chair. These chairs were sold to nationwide retailers Babies ‘R’ Us, Toys ‘R’ Us, Walmart.com and Burlington Coat Factory. This chair has had several moderate to serious injuries reported by not only falling incidences but choking hazards as well.

For a full list of model numbers and brands you can visit the CPSC’s website at www.cpsc.gov.

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