Disclaimer - By publishing this information on this Web site, the Boston, Massachusetts law firm of Altman & Altman LLP is not claiming to represent any clients or cases mentioned here. The content provided is designed to inform readers and is not intended as legal advice.

Articles Posted in Defective Products

Earlier this week, a tragic accident involving a 16-year-old boy and an automatic seat in a Honda Odyssey Minivan occurred in Cincinnati, Ohio. As he reached into the back of the minivan to retrieve tennis equipment, Kyle Plush became trapped between the vehicle’s third row of seats and its rear gate. According to reports, the seats flipped backward as the high school sophomore was kneeling on them, trapping him in the cargo well. Following the accident, Autoweek reported that Honda Odyssey seats have been the cause of multiple vehicle recalls in recent months. The model involved in Plush’s death, however, was not one of the recalled vehicles. A Boston defective products attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Were Emergency Responders at Fault?

Plush’s tragic death has called into question the safety of the minivan and whether the seat was defective. The response of emergency responders is also being investigated. According to police reports, Plush called 911 by way of Siri on his smartphone. However, due to the distance between Plush and his phone, the young man was unable to hear the 911 responder asking for his location.

Five minutes after his 911 call, police arrived at Plush’s school—where the Odyssey was parked—but were unable to locate Plush or his vehicle. He was finally found, nearly six hours after his call for help, by his father. Sadly, he was pronounced dead at the scene. The coroner’s report listed asphyxia as the cause of death.

Following the incident, Cincinnati police have launched an investigation into Plush’s death. According to some reports, 911 responders may have failed to accurately relay information to the officers who searched for Plush in the moments following the call. Had they found him then, the 16-year-old may have survived.

800,000 Honda Odysseys Have Been Recalled

Between 2011 and 2017, approximately 800,000 Odysseys were recalled due to a defect in its second row seats. Apparently these seats could tilt forward if not properly latched. This defect caused a total of 46 minor injuries, but Plush was the first case involving a person being trapped in the Odyssey’s cargo well. Although Plush’s death was likely a freak accident, it may be indicative of a larger problem with Honda Odysseys, and many other recently-recalled automobiles. A MA defective products attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Besides posting videos about how to resolve the potential issue, Honda has yet to address its previous seating problems. And over the past few years, serious defects have plagued the auto insurance industry, with more than 70 million cars being recalled. One of the worst defects in recent history involved exploding Takata airbags, which contributed to at least 11 fatalities. Continue reading

Earlier this month, a pedestrian bridge collapsed at the Florida International University. Six people were killed and nine were injured. One of those injured—a cyclist—has filed the first lawsuit following this tragic accident.

According to the lawsuit, 24-year-old Marquise Rashaad Hepburn was cycling under the bridge when a large section of the bridge fell onto the roadway below. To avoid being crushed by the 174-foot span of concrete, a motor vehicle driver swerved, crashing into Hepburn. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

Hepburn’s lawsuit claims that the negligence of three companies contributed to the bridge collapse. It names the company responsible for designing and constructing the bridge, the company responsible for providing inspection services, and the company responsible for reviewing the bridge’s design.

Tests Were Being Performed at Time of Collapse

The brand-new pedestrian bridge wasn’t even officially open when the collapse occurred. All of the victims were on the roadway below. Inspectors had noticed some cracking a few days earlier, but said the cracks were not a safety issue. According to the complaint, stress tests of the bridge were being conducted on the morning of the collapse. Workers adjusted the bridge’s tension rods, a delicate process which can become problematic if a rod is over-tightened or made too loose.

Had traffic been re-routed during these tests, the injuries and fatalities could have been avoided. Further, a March 13 voicemail left by the bridge project’s lead engineer for an official of the Florida Department of Transportation, reveals the engineer’s comments about visible cracks in the bridge. According to the lawsuit, the engineer didn’t seem overly concerned with the cracks.

In addition to the pending civil lawsuit, the Miami-Dade Police Department is launching a criminal investigation into the matter.

What Causes a Bridge to Collapse?

Bridge failure can occur for myriad reasons. Some of the most common include:

  • Design defects
  • Improper construction materials
  • Inadequate maintenance
  • Inadequate inspections

Continue reading

If your baby has a VTech rattle or travel mobile, potential defects could result in serious injury. According to WebMD, the company issued a recall due to the risk of choking and “struck-by” injuries.

What Products were Recalled?

Although no injuries have been reported to date, the two products below pose a risk of serious injury or death. If you have either of these products, remove them from your home immediately.

  • Shake & Sing Elephant Rattle: At least five consumers have reported that the elephant’s ears have broken off. Being quite small, the ears pose a serious choking risk to young children and babies. As a result, about 280,000 rattles have been recalled. The affected rattles were purchased online and at retail locations, including Amazon and Walmart, between November 2015 and November 2017.
  • Lights and Lullabies Travel Mobile: The company indicated that this mobile can be “risky to kids” due to a “plastic arm that clamps to a crib can crack and cause the mobile to fall into the crib.” As a result, an infant can be struck by the mobile, resulting in head injuries or bruising. Between February and November 2017, approximately 37,000 of the affected mobiles were purchased online and at multiple retail locations.

If you have one of these recalled product’s, it is in your best interest to stop using it immediately. A Boston defective products lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a defective or dangerous product.

Child Injuries Related to Products or Objects in the Home

Fortunately, no injuries from the products above have been reported. However, defective and dangerous products injure thousands of children every year. Safe Kids Worldwide has released a report showing the severity of this problem. Some of the statistics from the report are included below.

  • The most common cause of serious injury to children in the home is suffocation. In fact, nearly 1,300 children died by suffocation in 2013.
  • In 2013, more than 22,000 children went to the emergency room for injuries related to suffocation.
  • The vast majority of children who die from suffocation are under age one (80 percent).
  • About 26 kids die annually due to furniture tip-overs and other “struck-by” injuries.
  • Approximately 188,000 children require emergency medical treatment every year due to injuries caused by children’s toys.
  • More than 150 children are fatally injured from choking each year.

Determining Liability

If your child has been injured by a product defect, who is liable? This is a complex question, requiring extensive research and the help of an attorney who specializes in product liability. The distribution chain for a product includes multiple parties; different companies often design the product, manufacture the product and sell the product, and any or all can be liable for a defect. Product defects generally fit into one of three categories – design, manufacturing or marketing. A MA defective products attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a defective or dangerous product. Continue reading

A recall affecting about 656,800 Toyota and Lexus vehicles was recently announced, involving vehicles manufactured between May 2015 and March 2016. According to Toyota, a defect in an open electrical circuit could prevent the air bag from inflating during a crash. As air bags are intended to prevent serious injuries and death in a motor vehicle collision, a non-deploying airbag could be fatal.

Toyota has announced that it will send recall letters to owners of affected models in March 2018. In the meantime, you may wish to contact Toyota if you own one of the defective models, which include:

  • Alphard
  • Corolla
  • Esquire
  • Highlander
  • Hilux
  • Levin
  • Lexus RX
  • Lexus NX SUVs
  • Noah
  • Prius
  • Probox
  • Sienta
  • Succeed
  • Vellfire
  • Voxy

As if the airbag issue wasn’t enough, one of Toyota’s most popular models, the 2018 Camry, is involved in a second recall. This time the defect involves an improper connection of fuel pipes and hoses, resulting in a potential fire hazard. Other vehicles involved in this recall are the Lexus TC-F, GS F and LC 500 vehicles manufactured in 2015 and after. A Boston defective products attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to a dangerous or defective product.

Takata Airbags

The largest auto recall of 2017 involved vehicles equipped with Takata airbags. About 34 million vehicles have been affected by the recall, and more are expected. Takata airbags have exploded during deployment, causing serious injuries to vehicle occupants. According to the NHTSA, anyone with a vehicle model equipped with a Takata airbag should avoid driving the vehicle, except directly to the manufacturer to have the dangerous defect fixed. Several Honda and Acura models are involved, as are various Toyota, Lexus and BMW models.

Types of Product Defects

Thousands of people are injured by defective or dangerous products every year. Defective product lawsuits can be quite complex as determining liability across multiple parties in a distribution chain can be a challenge. Defects can occur during the design, manufacturing, or sales process of a product, vehicles included. If a vehicle malfunctions while being used for its intended purpose, and the malfunction causes injury or property damage, who is liable?

  • Design defect – If the flaw occurred during the vehicle’s design, before it was even manufactured, the design company may be liable. In some cases, this is the same company as the manufacturer, but not always.
  • Manufacturing defect – If the design was safe but a manufacturing error caused a dangerous defect, the manufacturer may be liable.
  • Marketing defect – The design and manufacturing processes may have both concluded safely, however, missing warning labels or improper instructions could result in injury. If a car is equipped with a feature to turn off the side airbags, but there is no warning that using this feature also turns off the front airbags, any resulting injuries would likely be classified as a marketing defect.

A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a defective product. Continue reading

High-level falls can occur from any multi-story building, but when a building has old or broken railings on balconies or stairwells, the risk is particularly high. And high-level falls commonly result in serious injuries, including traumatic brain and spinal injuries.

Railings are generally anchored to a building to keep them in place, but railing systems can loosen over time, increasing the risk of failure. Without proper maintenance and regular inspections, old railings – which provide a false sense of security – can be deadly. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Defective Design

In some cases, railings are obviously old and worn, but even a railing that appears intact may be faulty or defective. And railings don’t need to be loose to fail; when a person falls through or over a railing because of poor design, they can be just as seriously injured. A little boy fell through a space in the railings of a Virginia hotel balcony in 2013, suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI). He was awarded $10.9 million in damages.

Generally speaking, it is the responsibility of a property owner to ensure that railings are safe if their properties are open to the public. This is also true of homeowners who invite guests onto their property. If Sara decides to have a party on her deck despite the loose, dilapidated railings, for example, she is likely to be liable if someone is injured when the railing fails. If, however, Sara just had a brand new railing installed, and someone is injured because of a design defect, the responsible party may be the designer, manufacturer or retailer.

Is the Railing Up to Code?

Landlords and business owners have an even greater responsibility to ensure that their railings are safe.They have a duty to maintain their property in a safe condition, which includes ensuring that deck, balcony, porch and stairwell railings are properly installed and compliant with local building codes. For example, railings must be a certain height to prevent adults from tripping and children from climbing over, and spaces between slats must be a certain height and width to prevent a child from trapping his or her head between them.

According to the CDC, nearly two million people are seriously injured or die from traumatic brain injuries annually, and many of these are due to falls. In fact, falls are the leading cause of TBIs, accounting for more than 35 percent of the injuries. And many fall injuries are the result of faulty railings or missing handrails in stairwells.

Sadly, the problem doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. There are an estimated 50 million wooden decks and balconies in the U.S. alone, and the majority are more than 25 years old. A MA personal injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

Child product manufacturer Fisher-Price recently recalled about 65,000 of its motorized infant soothing motion seats because of their potential to catch fire. According to reports, there have been more than three dozen cases in which the seats have overheated. One device actually caught fire. Fortunately, no injuries have occurred, but the recall serves as a reminder that infants and small children should never be left unattended, even in a child “safety” seat.

Product Liability

If you have been injured by a dangerous or defective product, you may be able to recover damages by bringing a product liability lawsuit against the responsible party or parties. When it comes to determining responsibility, the fault can lie with any party in the product’s distribution chain. Parties can include the product’s designer or manufacturer, the manufacturer of component parts, the product assembler, the wholesaler, or the retail store that initially sold the product.  A Boston product liability attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a dangerous or defective product.

Types of Defects

In order to win a product liability case, the plaintiff must be able to show that the injury was caused by a defective product, and that the product was made unreasonably dangerous by the defect. The three types of product defects are:

 

  • Design defects – These defects are present even before the product is manufactured.
  • Manufacturing defects – These defects occur during the product’s manufacturing or assembly. The design may have been perfectly safe, but an error in production caused the defect.
  • Marketing defects – When improper labeling or lack of safety instructions causes someone to get injured, this may be considered a marketing defect.

 

As mentioned earlier, the defect must make the product unreasonably dangerous. What does this mean? Well, consider a butcher knife. A butcher knife is dangerous by necessity. In fact, it would be made useless if the blade was too dull to injure someone. Although a knife is a dangerous product, a reasonable person would understand the inherent dangers. The knife would likely come with appropriate safety warnings, but it would be up to the consumer to use the knife responsibly and keep it out of the reach of children, for example. If a child injured himself on a such a knife, it would be difficult to argue that the injury was the fault of the knife’s manufacturer, designer, or retailer.

Possible Defenses

Product liability is a complex and constantly evolving area of the law. You might feel confident that a product defect caused your injury, but the manufacturer might argue that you altered the product once it was no longer under the manufacturer’s control. Another potential defense might be that your misuse of the product caused your injuries, and that the manufacturer couldn’t have anticipated this type of misuse. A MA product liability lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a dangerous or defective product, pharmaceutical, or medical device. Continue reading

A Philadelphia woman was awarded nearly $28 million for injuries she suffered while taking the anti-coagulant medication, Xarelto. The blood thinner, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson and Bayer AG, is linked to serious health risks, including excessive bleeding and death.

Lynn Hartman claims to have been taking Xarelto for more than a year when she was hospitalized for gastrointestinal bleeding. J&J and Bayer were ordered to pay $1.8 million in actual damages, and another $26 million for punitive damages. More than 20,000 Xarelto lawsuits are still pending against the companies.

J&J and Bayer recently won three Xarelto cases, after juries determined that the companies had provided adequate warnings about the drug’s risk of excessive bleeding. These wins were actually a victory for plaintiffs in other cases, however, including Hartman’s.

“The plaintiffs needed to put a win on the board to keep these other cases alive,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at Virginia’s University of Richmond. “Otherwise, the rest of the cases may have been seen as having little value.” A MA drug injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a defective or dangerous drug.

Xarelto Lawsuits Up 27 Percent this Year

The pharmaceutical giants say they will appeal the verdict in Hartman’s case, claiming that their product’s labeling “has always warned of bleeding events.” According to J&J, Xarelto lawsuits increased by 27 percent in 2017.

“Bayer stands behind the safety and efficacy of Xarelto and believes there is no basis in fact or law for the verdict, including the punitive award,” said Bayer spokesman Chris Loder, in a recent statement.

According to the FDA, Xarelto has been linked to at least 370 deaths and thousands of serious injuries. Yet the drug, which is Bayer’s number one-selling product, remains on the market. In fact, Xarelto sales generated about $3.2 billion last year. A Boston drug injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a defective or dangerous drug.

Why is Xarelto So Dangerous?

Xarelto belongs to a new class of blood thinners that have been hailed as lower-maintenance alternatives to their predecessor Coumadin. All blood thinners carry a risk of excessive bleeding, but Coumadin has an antidote to stop the bleeding. Xarelto, unfortunately, does not.

According to 75-year-old Hartman, she required four blood transfusions to treat the effects of blood loss she experienced while on Xarelto. During her trial, former FDA Chief David Kessler, argued that the drug’s warning labels understate associated bleeding risks, as well as failed to warn physicians that certain patients may have a higher risk of excessive bleeding.

Symptoms of Xarelto Complications

If you are currently taking Xarelto and develop any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Unexpected or uncontrolled bleeding
  • Coughing up blood
  • Vomiting blood
  • Black or bright red stool
  • Headaches that don’t go away
  • Dizziness
  • Wounds that don’t heal properly

Continue reading

Hundreds of thousands of people in the United States have what are known as “metal-on-metal” hip implants. These all-metal implants were thought to be stronger and provide better range of motion than their ceramic and plastic counterparts. Although all-metal hip implants may be more durable, they are definitely not safer.

The Worst Offenders

All hip implants come with a risk of complications, but the all-metal hip implants with the worst failure rates are the following:

  • Depuy ASR
  • Depuy Pinnacle
  • Stryker Accolade
  • Stryker ABGII
  • Stryker LFIT Anatomic Heads
  • Stryker Rejuvenate

The above hip implants are linked to unreasonably-high incidences of infection, nerve damage, dislocation, fracture, blood clots, and a serious condition called Metallosis. A Boston defective medical products attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by an all-metal hip implant.

Symptoms of Complications with a Hip Implant

The above medical complications can be quite serious if left untreated. So, how do you know if your hip implant is failing? Common symptoms of implant failure include:

  • Severe and chronic pain in the hip, groin, or leg
  • Mobility problems
  • Swelling around the hip joint
  • Clicking and grinding noises while walking

What Causes All-Metal Implants to Fail?

The hip implants listed above are made of chromium and cobalt, two different types of metal that create friction when rubbed together. Unfortunately, this friction may result in the release of metal debris into the blood stream and surrounding tissue. The release of too much metal debris can become toxic. When metal builds up in the blood and soft tissues, it can lead to a painful inflammatory condition called Metallosis. Left untreated, Metallosis can be fatal. A MA defective medical device lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by an all-metal hip implant.

Thousands of patients have suffered serious medical conditions and debilitating pain after receiving an all-metal hip implant. In addition to the medical complications listed above, all-metal hip implants are linked to the formation of pseudo tumors (non-cancerous cell masses filled with fluid), kidney and thyroid problems, bone deterioration, and cancer. And most of these patients required costly, painful revision surgeries to remove and / or replace the failed implant. Hip implants are supposed to improve mobility, reduce pain, and make life easier. Unfortunately, for thousands of patients, the opposite has been true. Continue reading

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), children’s car seats are commonly installed incorrectly. More often than not, actually. Thanks to research and advancements in technology, car seats get safer every year. But it seems that the safer they become, the more complicated they are to use, with a vast array of anchors, chest clips, tethers, and pages of confusing instructions. The NHTSA reports that 59 percent of car seats are installed improperly.

Pediatrician Benjamin Hoffman believes that percentage is much higher. According to Hoffman’s research, 95 percent of newborn seats are being misused. Rear-facing and forward-facing seats are also a problem, with an 80 percent rate of misuse. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if your child has been injured due to another’s negligence.

“If you give a test and 95 percent of the people taking it fail, you have to assume there’s something wrong with the test,” said Hoffman. “Car seats are hard to use and there’s a lot of factors that feed into that.”

The Right Seat for My Child

And the problems don’t only lie with the installation of the seats. Selecting the right seat for your child’s age, weight, and height can also be an issue. “Every kid is sized differently and every car seat is sized differently, so it can be difficult,” said AAA spokeswoman Beth Mosher.

Don’t let price fool you. “The least expensive car seat meets the same federal standards as more expensive car seats,” said Hoffman. The types, styles, and brands of car seats can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many retailers are flexible about allowing you to see if the seat works for you, and returning it if it does not.

Common Errors

Once you’ve purchased your seat, local police stations and AAA locations often provide inspections of car seats at no cost. The need for such a service is evidenced by attending any of the multiple car seat clinics offered around the country. During these inspections, the most common errors found include:

  • Switching to a front-facing seat before the child is ready.
  • Switching to a booster seat before the child is ready.
  • Improper use of hooks, tethers, and belts that lock the child’s seat to the car.
  • Failing to ensure that harnesses fit the child snugly.

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of one and 13. Many of these deaths can be prevented with a properly installed car seat. “It’s really important to continue to hammer on the industry that they need to help us protect everybody,” Hoffman said.

Is it Defective?

Sometimes the issue isn’t with the installation or use, but with the product itself. Millions of car seats have been recalled due to design flaws including flammable materials, and defective harness systems. Having your car seat inspected once you’ve installed it may help to detect any defective, broken, or missing parts. A Boston injury lawyer can help you recover damages if a defective car seat has caused harm to your child. Continue reading

Now that school is back in full swing, there are millions of children playing on playgrounds every day. Playgrounds provide kids with an opportunity to have fun, unwind, and engage in creative play. But when playground equipment is not properly maintained, or supervision is poor, injuries can occur.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 200,000 children go to the emergency room annually for playground injuries. Although the vast majority of these injuries are minor, children do suffer serious and life-threatening injuries every year. These include bone fractures, concussions, internal injuries, and amputations. In some cases, playground injuries can be fatal. Between 1999 and 2000, an average of 12 children died from playground-related injuries each year.

Was Negligence a Factor?

Playgrounds can be found at schools, daycare centers, community parks, and on private property. That being said, most playground accidents occur at school or daycare. To determine liability, you must first determine whether negligence played a role in your child’s injuries. A Boston personal injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if your child has been injured due to another’s negligence.

Factors to Consider

When determining negligence, several factors will be considered. These include:

 

  • Was the equipment properly maintained? If a child is injured on playground equipment that is worn, broken, sharp, or that has rusted, the school or daycare may be liable. It is their job to properly maintain equipment, and replace broken or damaged parts immediately. If the playground is located in a community park, the municipality may be responsible.

 

  • Was there adequate supervision? Schools and daycare centers are responsible for providing adequate – and competent – supervision when children are on a playground. One adult might not be enough; there should be an appropriate child-to-teacher ratio at all times. However, you can’t expect someone to supervise your child outside of school hours, at community playgrounds, or on private property unless a specific arrangement has been made. If you leave your son alone at a community park, for example, and he falls off the climbing wall while you’re gone, you can’t claim another’s negligence.

 

  • Were reasonable safety measures taken to prevent injuries? Playgrounds should be designed and installed to prevent injuries. That’s why you see soft ground surfaces instead of concrete, and equipment with round edges instead of sharp corners. If a playground lacks these safety measures, the school, playground designer or installer, business, or municipality might be on the hook for resulting injuries.

Continue reading