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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JohnsonAn ovarian cancer patient who had been using Johnson & Johnson talc for genital hygiene since she was 11 year old was awarded a $417 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson by a Los Angeles California Jury. This verdict is the highest of five previous product liability cases against Johnson & Johnson that were all tried in St. Louis, Missouri. It is also the third-largest jury award in the U.S. so far in 2017.

After a four-week trial, the jury awarded 62 year old Eva Echeverria $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages against Johnson and Johnson for failing to warn consumers that genital use of talc powders could raise the risk of ovarian cancer. Echeverria was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007. According to the lawsuit she used Johnson and Johnson talc for her personal hygiene many thousands of time over 40 years. She stopped using the talc in 2016 after watching a TV report that linked talc powder to ovarian cancer. Unfortunately it was too late for Echeverria who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a year later.  The cancer has now spread to different parts of her body despite 100 rounds of chemotherapy and several experimental treatments with painful side effects. Echeverria has a daughter and a grandson.

Despite having lost most talc powder cases, Johnson and Johnson is still denying their talc powder is unsafe. After the verdict, Carol Goodrich, Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman said “Ovarian cancer is a devastating diagnosis and we deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by this disease. We will appeal today’s verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder”.

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Best Lawyers Award BadgeNew york Product Liability Attorney Anthony GairOur NYC product liability attorney Anthony H. Gair was recently recognized by Best Lawyers as the 2018 “Lawyer of the Year” for Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs in the New York City area.

Only a single lawyer in each practice area and designated metropolitan area is honored as the “Lawyer of the Year,” making this accolade particularly significant. These lawyers are selected based on particularly impressive voting averages received during the peer review assessments.

Receiving this designation reflects the high level of respect a lawyer has earned among other leading lawyers in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism, and their integrity.

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AirbagTakata just recalled an additional 2.7 million vehicles that may have a defective airbag. The recalls affect Ford Mazda and Nissan models from 2005 to 2012 that have a PSDI-5 PSAN airbag inflator. These types of airbags are only installed on the driver side. The PSDI-5 PSAN airbag inflators are a different type of airbag than the type of airbags recalled in the past by Takata.

The PSDI-5 PSAN airbag inflator is a desiccated inflator. Desiccated inflators contain calcium sulfate the purpose of which is to prevent the ammonium nitrate inside the airbag to deteriorate in case of humidity or high temperature. The ammonium nitrate is the most important component of the airbag. It inflates the airbag in case of  an accident. If the ammonium nitrate deteriorates, the airbag may not inflate proprely and may explode causing potential injury or death to the car driver and the passengers.

In its report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Takata indicates that the PSDI-5 PSAN airbag inflator posed a potential risk to the car occupants. When testing the inflator, Takata found that the amonium nitrate used to inflate the airbag was showing signs of deterioration and could lead to a breakage over time. However Takata  also indicates that so far in all the testing conducted none of the inflators tested broke off.

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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.