Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf is a New York Plaintiff's personal injury law firm specializing in automobile accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice, products liability, police misconduct and all types of New York personal injury litigation.

Articles Posted in Product Liability

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Colgate Total potentially dangerousTriclosan and triclocarban are two potentially dangerous antimicrobial ingredients that can be found in many consumer products. These two ingredients as well as 17 other antimicrobial ingredients were banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last September in “antiseptic wash products that are intended for use with water and are rinsed off after use, including hand washes and body washes”. However the scope of  the FDA final rule was too narrow and many consumer products such as Colgate’s Total toothpaste still contain these dangerous ingredients.

According to “The Florence Statement on Triclosan and Triclocarban”, a recent scientific statement published by the journal “Environmental Health Perspectives”, the usage of these two chemicals  is still widespread. Because they are mostly used in wash products, they end up in the sink with the water and have negative repercussions on the environment.  They have been detected in aquatic plants and animals as well as in human blood and breast milk. It is present in the urine of most humans. Previous studies have  linked Triclosan and Triclocvarban to developmental problems in animals. They may potentially affect pregnant womenand harm human fetuses and newborns.

In the “The Florence Statement on Triclosan and Triclocarban” the scientific community, health professionals from all around the world and various US  universities and medical institutions are urging manufacturers around the world to limit or to stop using these ingredients in their products. They also ask that regulatory authorities such as the FDA re-evaluate the safety of these chemicals and to make sure that products that still contain them are banned or at least clearly labelled.

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defective harness tagSome of the Graco My Ride 65 convertible car seats may be defective and may not restrain a child in a car crash. Improper restraint of a child significantly increases the risk of severe injury or death of a child in a car accident.  Improper restraint is one of the most common causes of pediatric fatality in motor vehicle accidents in the US (see more info in our other blog published  Today).

In previous tests of the Graco My Ride 65 car seat, the National Highway traffic Safety Administration found that in some cases the harness webbing restraining the child wasn’t resistant enough ant that it could break in the case of a serious car crash.  After internal investigation, the manufacturer Graco concluded that the defective harness webbing were associated with a single batch of sewn webbing and that an estimated 10% of the recalled seats were defective.

The recall affects model numbers 1871689, 1908152, 1813074, 1872691, 1853478, 1877535, 1813015, and 1794334. Only units manufactured on 7/22/2014 and that have a webbing code 2014/06 on a tag on the harness webbing are affected.

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GM logoAfter the scandal of the defective ignition-switch that lead to the death of at least 124 people, GM is again suspected of mishandling a recall related to defective headlights.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced this week in a report that they are now investigating a 2015 GM recall of  429,000 vehicles with a possible defective Headlamp Driver Modul (HDM). The 2015 recall occurred after customers complained that the HDM was not operating proprely and that the low beam headlamps and daytime running lamps were failing to illuminate. The following vehicles were recalled: model year (MY) 2005-2009 Buick LaCrosse, 2006-2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer/GMC Envoy/Buick Rainier, 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer EXT/GMC Envoy XL, 2006-2008 Isuzu Ascender/ Saab 9-7X, and 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix vehicles.

The NHTSA now suspects that the scope of the GM recall was too limited. Since the recall occurred the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) received 128 complaints related to issues with headlights of GM cars that were not included in the recall but built in the same year as the recalled models. Most vehicle owners complained that they simultaneously lost both headlights with no warning. The ODI also found out that vehicle owners whose cars were repaired after reporting that headlight failed to illuminate had the same component replaced as the component that was replaced in the recalled cars.

So far no crashes have been reported. In one of the reports the owner of a 2007 Chevrolet TrailBlazer said that both headlights failed as he was driving during a rainy night on a steep curvy highway. He explained that he was facing a truck in a curve and as he dimmed his headlights they both shut down and all he could hear was the horn of the truck trying to avoid his car. When he complained to GM, GM’s answer was:  ‘No recall. Your problem.’

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defective Tic Tac Toe GameA defective child product was recalled Today by Target. If you recently bought the Magnetic Tic Tac Toe Game you should be aware that this game set is defective and extremely dangerous for your children. The magnets can detach from the game pieces and pose a chocking hazard. Additionally if a child swallows more that one magnet, the magnet can attach together and create serious injuries such as intestinal obstructions, perforations, sepsis and death.

If you owned this game (see picture)  stop using it immediately and contact Target for a refund.

Read more on the CPSC website

 

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hoverboardA 3 year old girl died from her injury after a hoverboard explosion caused a major fire in her apartment in Harrisburg, PA, last Friday night. The hoverboard battery was charging at the time of the explosion.  The girl fell from the second story of her home as she was trying to escape the blaze that was ravaging her apartment. Her two sisters suffered critical burn injuries and her dad as well as a teenage boy who was in the house at the time of the accident, were treated for smoke inhalation. Dennis Voe, a 21 year old  firefighter who was en route to the fire was struck by a car and died from his injury as well.

It is the first time that a hoverboard explosion is directly linked to a fatality. The accident prompted a federal investigation. Previously the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) investigated multiple cases of burn injuries related to defective hoverboards. So far investigations have led to the recall of approximately half a million hoverboards with defective battery packs. At least 8 models manufactured in China with defective lithium battery packs were part of the defective models recalled. Despite the many fires and injuries caused by exploding hoverboards many families still buy them and use them.

If you or your children own one of them, you can check the list of the hoverboards recalled by CPSC. However, please remember that owning a hoverboard that is not on the list is not a guarantee that the battery may not be prone to fire hazard.  Do not charge your hoverboard at night when you sleep but during the day in a location where you can keep an eye on it and where there is an extinguisher nearby.

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Elliot-KayeWhen a company discovers that one of its products is defective, the potentially harmful product must be recalled and consumers must be warned about the products hazards. Companies that fail to timely do so may be subject to multi-million-dollars civil lawsuits by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

In the past the CPSC had a weak reputation but since Elliot Kaye took over as Chairman, the Commission became much stricter. While in 2009 the total amount of penalties imposed by the CPSC didn’t even reach $10 million, the total penalties for last year  was $26.4 million. So far this year, this amount reached $31.25 million.  The lowest amount of 2009 is also related to the fact that up to 2008, CPSC penalties were capped at $8000 per violation. In 2008, after several children died after ingesting lead tinted toys the Congress decided to increase the cap to $100,000. The Congress also increased the  aggregate limit of $1.825 million for a series of related offenses to $15 million. Nominated by president Obama, Kaye was hoping to increase penalties even further.

Companies have often considered potential civil penalties related to defective products as a “cost of doing business”. This is exactly what Elliot Kaye has been fighting.  During his tenure at the head of the CPSC, several companies including Johnson Health Tech, Philips Lighting, Teavana, Jarden Consumer Solutions and Gree Electric Appliances had to pay multi-million-dollars settlements for failing to timely report product hazards.

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In Suarez v. W.M. Barr & Co., Inc. Docket#15-3602, a Product Liability case Juan Suarez purchased Professional Strength Goof Off to remove paint from a concrete basement floor; its primary active ingredient is acetone, which is extremely flammable and evaporates quickly at room temperature. The can contained warnings in English and Spanish and instructed users who wanted to remove concrete stains to “[a]pply directly. Agitate with brush.” Juan claims that he read most of the warnings and opened a window and two doors to the outside. It is unclear whether he turned off pilot lights for two water heaters and a furnace in a separate portion of the basement. While Juan was using a broom to spread the product, a fire erupted and severely burned his face, head, neck, and hands. Juan sued. The district judge rejected his claims on summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed rejection of a failure‐to‐warn claim. The warning label adequately identified the principal hazards and precautionary measures to be taken while using the product. The court reversed rejection of the design defect claims under both strict liability and negligence. Juan adequately established that the fire may have been caused by static sparks created when Juan agitated Goof Off with a brush as the label instructed. A genuine factual issue exists as to whether an ordinary consumer would expect a fire to erupt under these circumstances, whether this risk outweighs the product’s benefits, and whether the manufacturer should have known that agitation could create static sparks sufficient for ignition. Read Full Opinion here.

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Clarence Ditlow, a very influential and effective activist who protected consumers from unsafe vehicles died from colon cancer on November 10. He was 72 years old.

Clarence Ditlow who started as a lawyer for Ralph Nader’s Public Interest Research Group in 1971 had been at the head of the Center for Auto Safety for the last 40 years.  A lawyer and an engineer, Ditlow dedicated his life to improve the safety of anyone driving or riding a car. A workaholic who received only a modest salary, he spent his life going after negligent automakers and complaisant regulators.

Tirelessly assembling evidence about the causes of car accidents and the injuries or deaths resulting from these crashes, he exposed safety defects in millions of motor vehicles. His work lead to massive safety recalls and saved an untold number of consumers from deadly accidents.  He was considered the “guardian angel” of American motorists.

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Johnson and Johnson talcA jury found that Johnson & Johnson engaged in “negligent conduct” in making and marketing its talc products. In a trial that started a month ago, a St Louis jury found that Johnson & Johnson talc products have caused or contributed to the stage IV ovarian cancer of Deborah Giannecchini.

The 63 year old woman was awarded $67.5 million for punitive damages and $2.575 million in compensatory damages. $2 million of the punitive damages will come from Johnson & Johnson talc supplier, Imerys. This is the first time that the the talc supplier has also been held liable for damages. In two previous similar product liability lawsuits filled in St. Louis, Johnson and Johnson lost $ 55 million and $72 million and was the only company held accountable for damages. Approximately 2,000 similar cases have been filed against Johnson and Johnson with approximately half of them filled in St. Louis.

In New Jersey, two product liability cases against the talc manufacturer were rejected by a judge who decided that there was no reliable evidence that talc powder was linked to ovarian cancer.

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GMTwo product liability cases related to General Motor’s defective ignition switches (see previous blog) have been settled in federal court this week. The cases are two of several bellwether trials that will provide guidance from the hundreds of lawsuits that have been brought against General Motors.  So far 3 of these bellwether cases have been settled by GM, 2 were won by GM and another one was dropped before trial.

The two cases settled for an undisclosed amount involved two women who were driving at low speeds. In the first case, Stephanie Cockram from Virginia struck a wall after losing control of her vehicle. The airbag never opened and she suffered head injury, jaw injury and a broken hip. In the other case Amy Norville from Kentucky lost control of her vehicle after trying to avoid a deer. She hit a tree and again the airbag didn’t deploy. Her neck was fractured and her sternum broken.