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Articles Posted in Product Liability

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Following General Motors car recalls related to a defective ignition switch, The NHTSA has opened a Timeless Query, TQ14-001 and sent a Special Order to GM with a list of 107 questions that must be answered by April 3rd 2014.
In a recent article in the New York Times, Christopher Jensen looks at some of the most interesting and unusual questions.

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A methylmercury strict product liability claim against Bumble Bee will proceed. A New York federal Court refused to dismiss claims that the tuna company is strictly liable for and was negligent in failing to warn about the mercury in its products in a lawsuit alleging personal injury from excessive consumption of Bumble Bee’s tuna products which contain methylmercury. Porrazzo v. Bumble Bee Foods, LLC, No. 10-4367 (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D.N.Y., order entered February 27, 2014).

Read more on Lexology

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GM.jpgAdding to the costs of potential product liability lawsuits and the costs of replacing the defective ignition switch, General Motors is now facing a fine from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The agency announced yesterday that it “opened an investigation into the timeliness of General Motors’ recall of faulty ignition switches to determine whether GM properly followed the legal processes and requirements for reporting recalls”.


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Last week the plaintiff’s lawyer in a now settled product liability lawsuit against GM that showed that the car maker knew about the defective ignition switch before the cars were sold, sent a letter to the NHTSA asking them to require GM to explain why it only had recalled half of the cars affected by an ignition switch issue that previously led to the death of his former client (Melton v. General Motors et. al.,).

In a previous blog we also questioned this recall.

Today General Motors announced that it was doubling the size of last weeks recall to include all models with a defective ignition switch. In addition to the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5 recalled on Feb. 13, GM said it will recall another 748,000 cars in the U.S., including 2003-2007 Saturn Ions, 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHRs and 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky models.

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A defective ignition switch can turn off the engine and disable the airbag on six different models of General Motors cars but last week the company decided to only recall two models even though management is perfectly aware that 4 other models have the same defect.

Read here the investigation of Christopher Jensen from the New York Times.

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Imported sub-standard quality and defective drugs were the central theme of FDA Commissioner, Margaret Hamburg’s visit to India. The visit was organized after the FDA recently banned the import of drugs and drug ingredients from several large Indian manufacturers for quality reasons. The commissioner met with health officials, regulators and drug makers executives including those of the banned companies.

Both countries agreed that their regulators would work more closely to better coordinate regulatory oversight as well as organize seminars, webinars, meetings and training sessions.

India is the second largest drug importer in the US after Canada and supplies 40% of the generic and over the counter drugs used in the US. Recently the FDA has been concerned by the increase of defective or low quality drugs imported from India. Weak domestic regulatory oversight and a lax approach to quality control by some manufacturers are the main reasons why a significant quantity of low quality or defective drugs reach the American market undetected.

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Imported high risk defective drugs are a rising concern for the FDA. The agency wants to spend more resources to fight the “bad guys” and provide incentives to drug manufacturers who are adopting best practices for supply chain integrity by giving them expedited access for the importation of up to five of their drug products. The pilot will last two years and if effective, will be open to additional companies.

Companies that have qualified for the pilot are

• AbbVie Inc.

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90% of dangerous and defective children products are not being returned or repaired according to a new report by the Children Safety Advocate Group Kids in Danger. Because it takes an average 14 reports of design complaints and two reports of personal injury related to the product for the manufacturer to initiate a recall, some of the products may have been discarded or may not be used anymore by the parents at the date of the recall. However such a high percentage indicates that many dangerous products that have already injured or killed children are still being used by parents that are unaware of the recall. According to the report, in 2012, 584 incidents and 39 personal injuries were reported after a juvenile product was recalled.

These numbers demonstrate that manufacturers and the Consumer Product Safety Commission have to find a way to better communicate recalls to consumers. The report also shows that social media is a very effective way to communicate recalls but is not used enough by manufacturers.

Parents also have to be responsible and fill out the product registration card for all juveniles products so that the manufacturer can automatically reach out to them in case of a product recall or any other safety issue. Unfortunately only 30% of parents fill out the registration card for juvenile products.

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Two pending product liability lawsuits including one wrongful death lawsuit, 6100 consumer complaints and a recent recall letter from the NHTSA following an Engineering Analysis of the Office of Defects Investigation have convinced Graco Children’s Product to conduct a recall of the seat harness buckles on most of its children car seats models manufactured since 2009. The defective harness buckles are becoming more difficult to open over time or become stuck in the latched position especially if it gets clogged up with food or dirt. Stuck or sticking buckles may prevent or impede the removal of the child from the car seat in a case of an emergency. According to the NHTSA Graco has been named defendant in two product liability lawsuit related to defective harness buckles. The first one is a consumer class action complaint alleging that the buckles is unreasonably difficult to unlatch or simply doesn’t unlatch. The second lawsuit is related to the death of a young child who died in car fire. Plaintiff alleged that parts in Graco car seat design made it extremely difficult to remove a child that was secured in the seat during an emergency. The recalls 3.7 millions units. Parents who own a defective car seat model and have previously registered it with Graco will automatically receive a Consumer Notification Letter with instructions on how to order a buckle repair kit. Parents who didn’t register their products can order the blucke repair kit online.

Click here for complete list of defective models and contact details.

Read the product recall request letter from the NHTSA