Articles Posted in Personal Injury

Our nation’s veterans and active military members deserve our respect and appreciation for the tough job they do in protecting our country and our way of life. Unfortunately, veterans and active duty service members have not been treated with the type of respect we would hope when it comes to a brand of earplugs manufactured under the 3M umbrella, which has led to hearing loss and permanent hearing damage due to serious design flaws. If you or a loved one has suffered hearing loss as a result of the use of these earplugs, contact a personal injury attorney from Altman & Altman LLP today.

3M subject to many lawsuits over these common military earplugs

3M is a multinational conglomerate corporation which owns many subsidiary companies that manufacture any different type of medical and pharmaceutical products imaginable. One of these companies, Aearo Technologies, manufactured a type of protective earplug in 2000 that was intended to be useful when worn two different ways – one way would supposedly block out all loud sounds, while the other way would block out most loud sounds but still allow the wearer to hear soft sounds, like the instructions of a fellow soldier or commanding officer.

Aearo Technologies was bought by 3M in 2008, and since 3M won a bid to become the exclusive supplier of protective earplugs to the military between 2003 and 2012, they sought to continue selling these earplugs, which are called “Combat Arms.”

What is now the subject of many lawsuits is the fact that 3M allegedly knew from the moment they purchased the company that the Combat Arms earplugs had a crucial design flaw which essentially rendered them completely useless in a loud combat situation.

3M allegedly knew about this complaint because Aearo Technologies noted the presence design flaw during the earplug’s production in 2000 – when the technician testing the plugs took an extra step when inserting them to prevent the design flaw from affecting their sound blocking capabilities – a step that would not be immediately apparent to anybody unless they were made aware of it beforehand. There is good reason to suspect 3M would know about this flaw, because the technician that worked for Aearo Technologies was brought on board to work for 3M after they were acquired.

Lawsuits allege that both Aearo, and 3M after they acquired Aearo, knowingly misled the U.S. government and the thousands of U.S. military service members who relied on the faulty earplugs, which resulted in many cases of temporary and even permanent hearing damage.

These earplugs caused real damage, and Altman & Altman LLP can help

Research from complainants show that during the time interval in which 3M and Aearo was supplying Combat Arms earplugs to the military, cases of hearing loss and tinnitus in combat veterans spiked to a significant degree. This is simply unconscionable that a company trusted with the care of military service members could fail to protect one of their most crucial senses, despite having good reason to suspect there was a flaw in the design of one of their most highly sold products.

Selling defective products which are known to have a design flaw that renders them ineffective in their original purpose is unethical and it is also against the law. There is good evidence to suggest that 3M should have recognized the design flaw in these earplugs and accounted for that, but instead they chose to continue selling the earplugs to continue making a profit, allegedly at the expense of our brave men and women in uniform. Continue reading

The temporary, four-month ban imposed which prohibits the sale of all vaping products in Massachusetts has entered its second month despite multiple legal challenges from vape shop owners and the general public, and controversy around whether Governor Charlie Baker abused his authority as governor to implement the ban.

As the count of people who have suffered respiratory illnesses from vaping products continue to rise, the attorneys at the Cambridge personal injury firm of Altman & Altman LLP are ready to hear from you if you have reason to believe you or a loved one contracted a serious illness due to a vaping product.

These mysterious illnesses affect the lungs and total respiratory systems of the afflicted, and have been confirmed to have resulted in the deaths of at least two Massachusetts residents at this time. According to the Center for Disease Control, there have been 1,888 confirmed cases of EVALI – which is the abbreviation being used to described e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury – in 49 states (all except Alaska) and 37 total deaths across 24 states as of Oct. 29, 2019.

According to the CDC, a majority of the patients who have presented with this illness have a history of e-cigarette or vaping product use, and THC – the psychoactive chemical present in marijuana – has been in “most” of the samples tested by the FDA to date. Most patients have reported a history of using THC products as well.

However, the CDC also reports that THC products off the street or obtained from “informal sources” such as illicit dealers or friends and family members are linked to most of the cases and “play a major role in the outbreak.”

Response to the Massachusetts ban

For the reason above outlined by the CDC, certain vape shop owners and legal marijuana business advocates have criticized Governor Baker’s vape ban as being over-aggressive and overreactive, which is putting legitimate businesses at risk of financial ruin during the ban. After all, while it may only be a temporary, four-month ban, four months is an eternity in business time, especially if vaping products make up a significant portion of that business’s revenue.

A Massachusetts judge recently ruled that the Baker administration improperly went forward with the ban without any public hearings to assess the potential harm to businesses, which caused the administration to re-file the legislation for the ban. Despite the legal trouble, Governor Baker continues to stand by the ban and say that, until an exact root of the illnesses can be determined, it is a necessary step to preserve public health. Continue reading

Johnson & Johnson has recently had to pull over 33,000 bottles of baby powder off the shelves after the Food and Drug Administration discovered evidence of asbestos – which is known to cause cancer – in one of the bottles. It is not the first time Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder has been feared to introduce people to the risk of contracting cancer. If you have reason to believe you or a loved one has been exposed to cancer-causing elements via their baby powder, contact Altman & Altman LLP today.

More lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson contributes to long list

Pharmaceutical titan Johnson & Johnson is known throughout the world for being the corporate owner of widely-used products such as Tylenol and Motrin – in addition to hundreds of other products that span a wide range of industries. However, they may very well be more notorious for their long list of lawsuits that continues to grow with each passing year.

The company – which made nearly $82 billion in profit in 2018 – is embattled with over 100,000 lawsuits against it due to people claiming they have come into harm due to the use of their products. Over 15 percent of those are directly related to lawsuits coming from those who have used their talc-based baby powder products.

Users of their baby powder who have brought suit in the past have made claims that the baby powder contributed to their contracting of various cancers – from talcum powder contributing to ovarian cancer to the same powder causing mesothelioma, a form of respiratory cancer that is traditionally caused by asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that is confirmed to be an aggressive carcinogen.

As a result of the positive test for asbestos within the baby powder – which is manufactured in China – the FDA recommended that all users of Johnson & Johnson talc-based powders should cease using them immediately and indefinitely. Johnson & Johnson, meanwhile, has denied any wrongdoing and liability for the test, instead shifting an accusatory tone of defensiveness towards the FDA testing process.

This is not uncommon for large companies to do. Even in cases where Johnson & Johnson has been found to be negligent in their contributions to a victim’s pain and suffering, they have been unwilling to accept the verdicts set against them and take responsibility – like what occurred when they were hit with a monumental $8 billion jury verdict against them following a claim that their anti-psychotic drug Risperdal had caused the man taking it to develop female-like breasts. Continue reading

In the midst of what Governor Charlie Baker has called a public health crisis, all vaping products – whether used for marijuana-derived THC products or for nicotine – have been banned for four months, effective on September 24th in Massachusetts. The development has already resulted in a lawsuit against the state from vape shop owners and protests from those who say that vaping has helped them quit more harmful practices, such as smoking cigarettes.

The ban was initiated due to concern that has amplified following multiple deaths – at least seven nationwide as recently reported by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) – and hundreds of cases of a mysterious lung disease that has been attributed to the increasingly popular activity of vaping, which is the inhaling of a vaporized mist of substances that usually contains nicotine, marijuana’s psychoactive chemical THC or a combination of the two.

Massachusetts has vowed to study the phenomenon during the ban – which temporarily forbids the sale of all vaping products in the state – with the hopes of obtaining more answers about what is causing the health complications and how they can be prevented. The state has specifically cited a concern over the use of vaping products in younger generations, as there has been a well-documented rise in vaping use among children and teens nationwide.

What products are causing the health problems?

Perhaps the biggest question that remains unanswered in the vaping crisis is what products are causing the pulmonary issues that have resulted in deaths and hundreds of illnesses. Lab tests have confirmed that the majority of the illnesses have been caused by ingestion of harmful substances stemming from the use of illicit, black market vaping cartridges used in unregulated THC vaporizers.

This fact has led some vape shop owners – like the ones who have joined together to sue the state – to cry foul over the fact that their vape products are purely used for nicotine delivery and have all been approved by federal regulators. They argue that they are being unfairly and arbitrarily punished in a reactionary manner that will ultimately sink their businesses and cause undue financial harm to their employees – all without just reason as their products are not causing the illnesses.

Other have argued that banning legal vape products will simply turn people back to the black market – which obviously does not comply with the law regardless of the situation – or switch back to the much more readily harmful and available tobacco cigarettes. Protests have already occurred in Boston outside the State House with people arguing that the ban will actually cause more sicknesses and deaths as people will continue to purchase dangerous black market vape cartridges or smoke cigarettes, which are known to cause serious diseases.

It is unknown how the lawsuits will pan out and it is not known if the vaping ban will continue beyond its temporary, four-month status or if it will be ended prior to that date. All that is currently known is that debate will continue to rage about whether the ban is warranted, whether it is adversely harming small business owners and whether it is going to end up doing more harm than good. Continue reading

Pharmaceutical giant Bayer, who owns fellow agrochemical and agricultural biotechnical giant Monsanto, is reportedly seeking to settle over 18,000 lawsuits filed against it over claims that Monsanto’s wildly popular weed killer – Roundup – may cause cancer in individuals who have had prolonged exposure to the chemical over a long period of time. If you have any reason to believe your health was negatively impacted by use of Roundup weed killer, it is imperative you contact an attorney from Altman & Altman LLP immediately to potentially be eligible for a piece of this settlement.

Bayer is now looking to settle this large pile of lawsuits for a reported $8 billion, despite insisting throughout the increasing number of lawsuits filed that there is no credible evidence linking Roundup – or its primary ingredient, glyphosate – with an increased risk of contracting cancer.

Already, a jury verdict resulted in a more than $2 billion award for a California couple earlier this summer after they alleged that they both contracted non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma within four years of each other despite having no genetic history of the disease. Another man received a settlement worth more than $289 million last year, before having that lowered to $39 million.

Throughout these lawsuits and others, Bayer and Monsanto have testified that there is no evidence that Roundup causes cancer, but the fact remains that the World Health Organization maintains that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic,” meaning it is an ingredient that can increase the chance of contracting cancer in those exposed to it.

There’s still time to file a suit

Any reasonable person could look at this situation and ask one simple question: If Bayer maintains there is no credible evidence linking Roundup with developing cancer, why would they reportedly be willing to settle these cases out of court for $8 billion? The unfortunate answer is that it is likely more cost-effective and less distracting for Bayer. Bayer amassed nearly $40 billion in revenue in 2018, with a reported total list of assets worth over $126 billion.

While paying out $8 billion is certainly not a small price to pay for Bayer, it is well within their means and likely makes more sense than continuing to fight out the issue in court, which could continue for many more months, potentially years, and would also continue to keep them firmly in the public eye as news would continue to cover the suits throughout the litigation.

By taking care of the lawsuits in one large lump sum, they can potentially even save money – especially judging by the aforementioned $2 billion award that was granted to just two individuals.

However, nothing has been settled yet, and there is still time to file a complaint of your own against Monsanto/Bayer if you or a loved one has developed cancer after years of using Roundup weed killer. If you have no reason to believe their cancer was caused by something else, like genetic predisposition or exposure to other more established carcinogens (such as long-term smoking of cigarettes), then you may have a good chance of being able to collect as part of any large settlement. Continue reading

Juul Labs, the manufacturer behind the country’s most popular e-cigarette product, JUUL, are currently facing scrutiny from lawmakers in the United States House of Representatives for their alleged role in a sharp uptick in e-cigarette usage among young children and teenagers throughout the country.

The company has denied these claims, recently telling the economic subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that their goal has been to “eliminate cigarettes for good,” and that “Juul Labs isn’t big tobacco,” and that their top priority is “combating underage use.”

But can such a claim, that JUUL should not be compared to the villainous antics of big tobacco companies of the past, be taken for true at face value? After all, Altria – the parent company of Philip Morris USA, which manufacturers the iconic Marlboro brand of cigarettes – purchased a 35 percent stake of Juul Labs in December of 2018.

Experts have also found that Juul Labs has engaged in similar advertising campaigns – like using young, attractive models and marketing exciting names and tasty flavors – as tobacco companies of the past. These tactics, critics and lawmakers allege, have been specially crafted to make the products more attractive to young kids and teenagers. The brand used to have a strong presence on social media, but they have since shut those accounts down under increased scrutiny.

E-cig and JUUL use explodes among youth

According to government estimates and surveys, as many as 20 percent of high school students in America tried an e-cigarette product last year. Their widespread availability, price, variation of flavors and discrete size has made JUUL a common choice for teenagers. Electronic cigarettes also do not produce the pungent smell of a traditional cigarette, so they are able to secretly use them within buildings and in places that otherwise would be impossible with traditional cigarettes.

The prevalence of e-cigarette products pre-date JUUL, as they began to gain popularity in the mid-2000s, however JUUL has been able to capitalize on a market that has grown exponentially faster than scientific data has been able to keep up with.

Research on whether or not electronic cigarettes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes has taken time, and results remain inconclusive. As of this writing, there is no confirmed research to back up the claim that vaporized nicotine products are safer than traditional cigarettes. However, this hasn’t stopped e-cigarette manufacturers like JUUL from claiming their products to be a safer alternative. JUUL even includes testimonials on their website from people who “made the switch” from cigarettes to their products.

What research has shown, however, is that vaporized e-cigarette products contain other health risks that are still not well understood. For example, the chemical diacetyl – which is added to food products such as popcorn for its buttery flavor – is common in e-cigarettes and JUUL products for improving flavor and smoothness of the vaporized product. The problem is that when diacetyl is vaporized, it becomes a harmful respiratory irritant, potentially leading to serious complications such as popcorn lung. Continue reading

Hotels are in a constant race with one another to be the most stylish and modern in the hopes to attract customers away from their competitors. Unfortunately, what looks like the coolest or the nicest room accent may not be the safest – and in the case of so-called sliding “barn doors” within hotel rooms, they can be downright dangerous. If you or a loved one were injured following an incident with a hotel barn door, contact the personal injury attorneys at the Cambridge, Mass. firm of Altman & Altman LLP today.

What is a hotel barn door?

Barn style doors within a hotel room are doors that open via a sliding mechanism that is mounted to the wall above a doorway. They are often used as an entrance to the bathroom within the hotel room, and sometimes slide into recesses within the walls to give the illusion of “disappearing” when they are open.

Depending on exactly how they are manufactured, these types of doors can weigh over 200 pounds. There are various pieces required for their assembly, including pieces that make up the door, its mount, and then pieces that allow the mount to be secured to the wall. There are many moving pieces as well, which enables to door to slide from open to closed.

These doors often include various means to prevent misuse and malfunction, such as rails to keep the door on a track that prevents it from being lifted away from the wall, or from moving too far in any one direction. However, as with any product and manufactured item, these implements can be faulty or completely malfunction at the exact wrong moment, causing an injury.

How did the door cause your injury?

As established in the earlier portion, these doors can be extremely heavy. If the failsafe measures within the door were to fail, it could potentially cause the door to fall and land on someone in its path. Such an incident could cause significant injuries, such as broken bones and head injuries, like concussions.

There are various reasons why these doors could malfunction and cause an injury, many of which could potentially be grounds for a successful personal injury claim that could net you significant financial compensation, which could pay for medical treatment, physical therapy and make up for lost income from being unable to work while you recover.

Some examples of situations that may have led to a door malfunction include:

  • The door was improperly installed by the hotel’s contractor during renovations, either because they didn’t know how to properly install one or due to a mistake
  • The door’s design is faulty, making it possible to come off its railing or become unstable through normal use
  • The hotel failed to properly maintain the door over a number of months or years, which enabled screws mounting the door to the wall (or other functional components) to become loose and fallible, causing the door to fall during normal use

Continue reading

Soft tissue injuries are one of the most common types of injuries, and can occur from immeasurable amounts of different causes. They can also range in severity from minor bruises to more serious, lingering injuries such as torn ligaments. If you suffered a soft tissue injury due to the negligence of another person, property owner or other third party, contact a personal injury attorney from the Cambridge firm of Altman & Altman LLP today.

What kind of soft tissue injury did you suffer?

Soft tissue injuries can be caused by many different means, including trips, slip and falls, car accidents, being struck by an object or person, falls from various heights and other work-related types of incidents, such as falling debris. These injuries can greatly vary in severity and in the longevity of their occurrence.

You might imagine that the winter time is the most dangerous time for drivers. Especially in New England, and Altman & Altman’s home base of Cambridge and the Greater Boston Area, the thought of wintry storms causing whiteouts and freezing temperatures producing black ice conjures reasonable fear in many of us and absolutely causes deaths every year.

However, you may be surprised to find out that the most dangerous months to drive are actually the summer months – specifically June July and August – for a variety of reasons. Those months are actually responsible for 29 percent more fatalities than the most wintery months of December, January and February, according to a recent study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that examined 24 years of traffic accidents in America.

What makes summer driving more dangerous than winter driving?

There are many factors that contribute to car accidents, but some of the biggest reasons for traffic accidents increasing during the months where the weather is nicer and more predictable are as follows:

There are more people on the road

According to the NHTSA study, summer months lead to an approximately 20 percent increase in the number of total vehicles on the road at any given time. Simply put, more cars on the roadways lead to a higher probability of you becoming involved in an accident.

There are more young people on the road

Partially responsible for the uptick in the number of vehicles on the road is the number of students and young people on the road due to being on summer vacation and out of school. Younger drivers have less experience on the road and in control of their vehicles, which increases the likelihood of them being in serious accidents. Teenage drivers have the highest accident rate among any driving demographic.

Hotter temperatures lead to more tire incidents

While cold temperatures cause your tires to restrict and contract, hotter temperatures cause your tires to expand. With older tires and tires that have not been maintained, rapid expansion and the hot temperatures of asphalt during summer months can lead to an increased chance of a blowout, leading to serious accidents.

Summer time is construction time

When the weather gets nicer and asphalt plants open up, municipalities rush to get as much road construction done as possible. This work leads to road closures, detours and lane changes that can surprise motorists and cause congestion, leading to rear-end accidents and other crashes. Continue reading

Cycling is among the most popular ways to get around within the city, especially on the highly bike populated streets of Cambridge and the surrounding Greater Boston Area. However, cyclists must share the roads with motorists at all times, even if they are safely biking in bike lanes. Sometimes, when a motorist isn’t paying attention, they may open their car door right in the path of an oncoming cyclist. These incidents are known as “dooring” or being “doored,” which can result in horrendous injuries to cyclists. If you have been involved in a dooring incident, contact the Cambridge personal injury attorneys at Altman & Altman LLP right away to see if you may be able to file a personal injury claim.

Being doored is more common than you may think. One study of Cambridge bicycle accidents found that being doored accounted for about one in five cycling accidents, and the injuries sustained from these incidents can be quite severe, since they often involve high speeds and harsh impacts. Injuries from dooring incidents can include:

  • Deep skin lacerations
  • Road rash
  • Broken bones or teeth
  • Concussions or other brain injuries
  • Coma and death

Who is responsible for a dooring incident?

Massachusetts, along with many other states, has specific laws that are intended to protect cyclists from dooring incidents. In Massachusetts, passengers and drivers in automobiles are required to check their surroundings before opening their doors, and should not be distracted (for example, by a cell phone) when they do open their door.

These laws mean that, in the vast majority of dooring cases, the individual who opens the door without first adequately checking their surroundings will be at fault for any injuries that occur as a result. However, there are some important factors to keep in mind after being injured in a dooring incident in Massachusetts, due to how the state handles injuries from events that are covered by mandated personal insurance.

In Massachusetts, such incidents may first have to be covered by the “no fault” provision of insurance, which means a minimum of up to $8,000 of medical expenses can be covered by the at fault individual’s insurance. However, this provision may not always apply, especially if the dooring incident caused especially damaging injuries – like permanent scarring or debilitation. An experienced personal injury attorney from Altman & Altman LLP will be able to assess whether it makes more sense to go through personal insurance claim or to pursue a separate personal injury claim following your dooring incident. Continue reading

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