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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New York Product Liability Attorneys Tony Gair and en RubinowitzSuccessful product liability lawyers possess an exceptional set of skills. Not only do they have to be able to sit for hours to decipher  extremely technical documents but  they also have to deal with clients suffering life changing injuries or grieving over a loved one who wrongfully died, most of the time in dramatic manner. They also need to juggle tight deadlines, keep their calm and always be courteous with all parties involved. A recent article  in Law 360 describes the 5 top qualities of a top product liability attorney as:

  1. Having a head for science and engineering
  2. Being able to deal with serious injury and death
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Anton YelchinA defective car killed Anton Yelchin and his parents are suing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, manufacturer ZF North America and car dealership chain AutoNation for the wrongful death of their son. 29 year old Anton Yelchin, a “Star Trek” actor was killed last June in front of his house. The actor had just exited his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Because of a defect in the design of the electronic gear shift position indicator, Yelchin thought his car was in “Park” position but it wasn’t. Therefore the parking break wasn’t engaged. The vehicle started to move toward him rolling backward and  fatally crushed him against the security gate.

The car maker was aware of the design defect and in April it had recalled more that 1.1. million Jeep Grand Cherokees after receiving 41 reports of injuries related to the gear shift. According to Yelchin’s parents, a recall notice was received in the mail seven days after the death of their son. The parents said that it was too little too late.

See our previous blog for more info about the recall and read more about Anton Yelchin parents’ lawsuit in US Magazine

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imageSome potentially contaminated flour was recalled by General Mills and the FDA has warned consumers not to eat raw dough. Since last December the FDA has received reports of 38 people that have been contaminated by a strain of bacteria called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121,  while eating or handling raw dough from flour produced last November by General Mills in Kansas City. 10 of the 38  people had to be hospitalized.  Patients usually recover within a week but severe infections can lead to a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. Children below 5 years old as well as adults with a weak immune system are the most at risk.

The dough is only dangerous for consumption while eaten raw which happen mostly when consumers eat the scraps while preparing cookies or other baked goods. Children who play with home made play clay are also at risk of being contaminated.

The following types of flour were recalled: Gold Medal, Signature Kitchens and Gold Medal Wondra. Consumers who have bought these types of flour and have then in their pantry should discard them.

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A defectively designed gear-shifting control in some previously recalled 2014 and 2015 Fiat Chrysler Jeep Cherokee models caused 266 crashes and 68 injuries according to a report that was recently published by the National Highway  Traffic Safety Administration.  The report doesn’t mention any deaths despite the fact that Star Treck actor Anton Yelchin was killed on June 19 after his 2015  Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled backward and  fatally pinned him against a wall. According to the report, rollaway crashes are prone to happen with these types of gear-shifting controls because they are confusing for the driver. Most reported cases involved drivers who believed they were in the Park  position and exited the car. Read more in the Claims Journal

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Another defective Takata airbag killed a woman last Sunday in Malaysia. The victim had a minor accident and the airbag deployed and exploded spraying metal shards. Her chest was bleeding and she died moments later. More than 100 people have been injured and 11 have died so far from defective Takata airbag accidents. For a detailed analysis of the recall see “Takata Airbag Recall-Everything You Need to Know” in Consumer Reports. Last May in Texas a 17 year old girl died the same way. Takata airbags are found on most Asian branded cars and more than 100 million vehicles have already been recalled worldwide making this recall the biggest and most complex worldwide recall ever. The recalls of defective airbags are still ongoing. The last victim was driving a Honda City subcompact and her accident happened just days after Honda Malaysia announced a recall of an additional 145,000 vehicles. Read more in the NY Daily News

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After 3 children were killed by unstable dressers and chests that tipped over on them IKEA is recalling 29 million defective products. The recall involves MALM chests and dressers as well as other chests and dresser models that have more than 3 drawers. These products are unstable and can tip over if they are not properly anchored to the wall.

After two young children died in tip over accidents involving MALM chests in 2014,  Ikea and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) launched a repair program offering a free wall anchoring repair kit. Unfortunately this repair program wasn’t enough. Additional tip over incidents were reported including a 22 year old boy who died last February after a MALM 6 drawers chest fell over on him. Following this fatality, IKEA and the CPSC announced Today the above voluntary recall.

Consumers can require a free wall-anchoring kit or return the furniture and obtain a full refund for dressers purchased after 2002, and a partial store credit for older ones.

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Almost every day defective products that can potentially injure or kill consumers are being recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The number and diversity of products being recalled are on the rise. Last year in the U.S. there were more cars recalled than cars being sold. Does this mean that more defective products are being sold or that the consumer is better protected?

In a recent article in the New York Times, Stacey Colley  explains that better detection technology and stricter safety rules have lead to an increase of products recalls. The recent massive recall of frozen fruits and vegetable by CRF Frozen Foods is a good example of how new technologies can help in identifying  dangerous products and recalling them. After the Ohio Department of Agriculture found a bacteria responsible for listeria in a bag of frozen food during a routine test, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  used a technology called whole genome sequencing to determine if people got sick from eating contaminated CRF Frozen Food. The CDC found that 8 people in 3 States had to be hospitalized after eating CRF products that contain the listeria strain.

Recalls have also increased in number and in complexity. Before it was easy to trace defective products from small local suppliers. Now suppliers are fewer but they are giants and their products can be disseminated all around the country or the world.   The most recent example is the Takata airbag inflater recall. the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that that it is the most complex recall it has ever overseen.

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FirestoneDefective products are killing and injuring people every day. In the US the Consumer Product Safety Commission  is in charge of protecting consumers from these dangerous products. When a product is deemed dangerous by the CPSC, it will be the object of a recall.  In a recent article, the New York Times looked at some of  the most notable product safety recalls over the last 10 years. Among them, the deadliest defective products were the Firestone tires that were recalled by the CPSC in 2000 . 271 people died in car accidents because of tire failure and tread separation. The largest one was the recall of 150 million pieces of toy jewelry sold in vending machines for 75 cents or less.  The toy jewelry was recalled for containing lead that could harm children if swallowed. The jewelry was never linked to any reported injuries.

Read the complete article

 

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J&J Baby powderJohnson and Johnson failed to warned about the risk of ovarian cancer for women using its talc powder for genital use. Yesterday the company was order to pay $55 million damages to a female consumer who blamed her ovarian cancer on the use of of the famous baby powder for genital use. This is the second product liability lawsuit that Johnson & Johnson has lost for failure to warn about the risk of ovarian cancer. In February a similar lawsuit brought by the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer at 62 years old led to a $72 million verdict against the company. J&J is now facing more than a thousand similar lawsuits.

The use of talc for feminine genital hygiene has been a controversial subject for decades. In 1971, British researchers looked at ovarian tumors under a microscope and found that 13 out of 10 were embedded with talc. A more recent study by Dr Daniel Kramer, a gynecologist and Harvard Medical School Professor found that women who used talc powder on their genitals had a 33% higher risk of ovarian cancer than women who didn’t use talc on their genitals.

So far 20 studies have found a relation between the use of talc for feminine hygiene purposes but other studies also found no association.

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confidentialMost product liability lawsuits against manufacturers never go to trial. For obvious reasons, companies don’t want regulators or the public to know that some of their products have injured or killed someone. Therefore they will often reach a confidential settlement agreement with the injured plaintiff or Estate.  In this secret pact the plaintiff usually agrees to keep the lawsuit secret as part of the settlement agreement. Such settlements may be perceived as a win win situation for both parties as the plaintiff is being compensated for his loss and avoiding a costly trial while the manufacturers can deal with the defective product internally, avoiding expensive recalls and other profit killing consequences.  However concealing important information about dangerous products may put the public at risk of an accident with more people being injured or killed. Some manufacturers simply put profit ahead of safety and find it cheaper just to pay for a lawsuit rather than correct a defective product. This type of reasoning is especially true with the automobile industry and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently published a notice entitled “Recommended Best Practices for Protective Orders and Settlement Agreements in Civil Litigation” to try to fight this very disturbing problem. In a recent article in Fair Warning, Ben Kelley a board member of the Center for Auto Safety, and author of  “Death By Rental Car: How the Houck Case Changed The Law,”  comments on the vicious consequences of such contracts. However many manufactures refuse to settle absent such an agreement. An attorneys first obligation is to the client. In very strong liability cases it is often possible to successfully refuse to include a confidentiality clause. If the defendant refuses to settle and the offer is a good one the plaintiff’s attorney should , obviously, only proceed to trial with the client’s consent. In our experience in such cases the manufacturer will often back down.

Read the complete article here