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Articles Posted in Products Liability

The controversy surrounding Bair Hugger surgical warming blankets doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. Just one year ago, there were approximately a dozen lawsuits pending against the medical device’s manufacturer, 3M. Today, there are nearly 900. Lawsuits claim that the warming blankets caused surgical site infections. Even worse, new evidence shows that 3M may have known about the risks for years, but failed to warn patients and physicians.

Most commonly used in knee and hip replacement surgeries, surgical warming blankets are associated with an even greater risk of causing infections in people with certain conditions. Some of these high-risk conditions include diabetes, immune deficiencies, obesity, and peripheral vascular diseases. Although the Bair Hugger warming blankets continue to be used widely throughout the medical world, questions about the device’s safety are quickly taking center stage. If you’ve been injured by a surgical warming blanket, contact a Boston defective medical product attorney today.

How Can Surgical Warming Blankets Cause Infections in Patient?

It may seem far-fetched to imagine a blanket causing life-threatening infections in a patient. How is this possible? Well, it’s not really the blanket itself that causes the infection, but rather the warming system that forces warm air into the blankets to keep a patient warm. Because the warming system sits on the floor, it can easily become contaminated. If contamination occurs, the warm air being forced into the blankets can also be contaminated. Having just undergone surgery, the patient will likely have at least one open wound on his or her body. If contaminated air reaches a surgical incision or wound, the bacteria may enter the patient’s body, resulting in infection. Basically, the warming system can circulate the contamination from a hospital floor into warming blankets that are placed directly on the patient’s skin. If you’ve been harmed by a defective medical product, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

Why Are Bair Hugger Warming Blankets Still Being Used?

If these devices are so dangerous, why are they still being used? Short answer – it’s complicated. For starters, the same question could be asked of a seemingly-infinite number of medical devices, pharmaceuticals, vehicle parts, and other consumer goods. The desire to get products to market fast can cast a dangerous shadow on potential dangers. Furthermore, determining the exact source of an infection is not exactly easy. This is especially true in hospitals. Patients acquire infections in hospitals with shocking frequency. In addition, infections can take weeks to become apparent. Proving that the nearly 900 claimants acquired infections via surgical warming blankets, therefore, can be challenging. That being said, the medical community isn’t going to voluntarily shoulder the blame for warming blanket infections.  And in light of new evidence, physicians are becoming increasingly skeptical of the product’s safety. Continue reading

Seat belt use first became regulated in 1983, when many states adopted laws requiring drivers and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts. Beginning in 1989, laws went into effect that required children in the back seat to buckle up as well. Although injury accidents have seen a dramatic reduction since the beginning of seat belt regulation, seat belts aren’t perfect. They can’t prevent every injury and sometimes they can actually cause them.

What Ford Models are Affected?

Seat belt-related injuries are usually a result of improper use or a manufacturing or design defect. In recent years, multiple vehicle recalls have been issued due to seat belt defects. The most recent recall comes from Ford Motor Company and involves the recall of about 680,000 Ford vehicles due to a seat belt issue. The models affected by the recall include:

  • Ford Modeo cars: 2015-2016
  • Lincoln MKZ: 2013-2015
  • Ford Fusion passenger cars: 2013-2015

Apparently, in all of the models above, heat generated can cause seat belt cables to break during the deployment of a belt pre-tensioner. The pre-tensioner tightens the seat belt in a crash, therefore, this defect may result in less protection during a collision. In fact, two injuries associated with the defect have already been reported.

Ford says it will instruct dealers to fix the problem by injecting a substance into the pre-tensioner that will protect the component from increased temperatures. Ford Dealers should begin fixing the defect at no cost beginning the week of January 16, 2017. If you’ve been injured due to a defective vehicle part, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

Major Vehicle Recalls of 2016

In many ways, 2016 has been a year of controversy, and lots of folks are ready to see this year come to an end. In addition to a politically-divisive presidential campaign and the loss of several music legends, 2016 saw a significant number of vehicle recalls. As this challenging year comes to a close, let’s look at some of the largest vehicle and vehicle part recalls of 2016.

  • Takata airbag recall: Due to defective inflator and propellent devices, metal fragments could shoot from the airbags when deployed, injuring or killing vehicle occupants. One of the largest vehicle part recalls in history, the Takata airbag recall impacted about 34 million vehicles worldwide.
  • Honda airbags: Nearly three million Honda vehicles were affected by this recall. In some Honda airbags, moisture intrusion could cause the inflator to rupture upon deployment.
  • Nissan passenger occupant classification systems: More than three million Nissan vehicles were impacted by a faulty occupant classification system which could incorrectly register an occupied seat as empty or an adult occupant as a child. This error could, in turn, result in the shut-off of a front passenger airbag.
  • Continental Automotive Systems airbags: Nearly five million vehicles with these airbags were involved in this recall. Due to possible corrosion of the power supply component, these airbags could fail to deploy during a crash or could accidentally deploy for no reason.

Continue reading

When most people think of IKEA, they think of affordable, sleek, modern furniture that customers assemble themselves. However, three recent tragedies may change the way some of us think about the stylish Swedish furniture company. Three wrongful death cases have been filed against IKEA for the deaths of three toddlers who were crushed when defective dressers fell onto them. The lawsuits, for three separate incidents, were filed in the state court in Pennsylvania. IKEA has agreed to settle the lawsuits, which claim the company was negligent in its manufacturing of the dressers, for $50 million.

Although these recent tragedies are especially disturbing, they are not the only wrongful death lawsuits filed against IKEA for defective furniture. In fact, there have been a total of seven deaths linked to the company’s unstable furniture. Further, new evidence shows that IKEA may have known about the risk of death. If you have been injured by a defective product, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

In the cases involving the three toddlers, IKEA initially denied blame, arguing that the parents were at fault for not properly anchoring the dressers to a wall. The manufacturer’s assembly instructions did, indeed, include this last step. However, the court ruled in favor of the victims’ families, saying that consumers commonly ignore instructions to anchor furniture to a wall. Although this last step may provide better stability, a reasonable person wouldn’t think that ignoring it would result in the death of a child. User error is certainly taken into account in defective product cases, however, it can only go so far. In the above cases, a warning to anchor the dresser was not sufficient to insulate the company from liability.

Massive IKEA Recall

Earlier this year, nearly 30 million IKEA dressers were recalled because they didn’t meet safety and stability standards. In addition to the recall and the large settlement, IKEA is increasing efforts to raise awareness about the importance of furniture anchoring through its “Secure It” program. If you’ve been injured by a defective product, contact a MA injury lawyer today.

The Four Elements of a Defective Product Liability Claim

If you have suffered personal injury or property damage because of a product, you may have a defective product liability claim. To win your case, you must prove that the elements below existed:

  • You were injured or suffered a loss as a result of using the product
  • The product was defective
  • The product’s defect directly caused your injury
  • You were using the product for its intended use

If any of these elements did not exist, you may have a difficult time winning a defective product lawsuit. With the help of a skilled defective product attorney, however, your chances of a successful lawsuit are dramatically improved. Defective product liability is a complex area of the law; find an attorney who has extensive experience in this specific area. Continue reading

A manufacturing malfunction has resulted in the recall of about 69 million Takata airbag inflators, used by 31 different vehicle makes around the world, primarily in cars made between 2002 and 2015. The chemical that is used to inflate and propel the airbag from its casing is prone to spontaneous detonation, which can result in airbags accidentally deploying or rupturing and causing dangerous situations while driving.  If the airbag inflator is improperly activated, it can result in the driver being peppered with metal shards from the airbag’s casing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirmed the 11th fatality stemming from these issues in the United States on Oct. 20th. Nine of these 11 deaths have occurred in either Honda or Acura models. More than 100 people worldwide have been injured as a result of this issue.

Automobile giants BMW, GM, Ford, Audi, Nissan, Jaguar/Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Fiat/Chrysler, Volkswagen, and Toyota are also affected by what has now become described by the NHTSA “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.” In total it is estimated that as many as 100 million vehicles worldwide could be potentially affected. Get the full list of vehicles affected HERE.  The most dangerous models are reported Honda and Acura models made between 2001 and 2003, to which U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “Folks should not drive these vehicles unless they are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired immediately, free of charge.”

Some carmakers not immediately complying with recall

The recall states that these faulty airbags should be replaced by 2019, but this hasn’t stopped Fiat Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Toyota or Volkswagen from manufacturing and selling new cars with these potentially deadly airbags. While this is not illegal due to the recall not being mandatory for another couple years, it is undoubtedly immoral and may certainly result in more accidents and potential fatalities.

These manufacturers argue that studies have indicated the airbags don’t become faulty and dangerous until around six years after they are built, due to the ammonium nitrate degrading over that time by heat and moisture. Some of the inflators have a drying agent built in to prevent this from occurring, but millions more do not. By putting either kind of these potentially-dangerous inflators in new cars, these manufacturers are announcing loud and clear that customer safety is not their primary concern. Continue reading

Citing safety reasons, the short-lived Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has been officially recalled by the worldwide leading technology company after at least five reported incidents within the past week of the phone’s lithium ion battery overheating and causing violent explosions.  These recent explosions put the final nail in the Note’s coffin because they happened with so-called “replacement phones,” which were supposedly safe; a measure that Samsung took after dozens of reports, just in the U.S., of the originally-launched phones having similar failures. As of Oct. 10, Samsung officially called for all Galaxy Note 7 phones to be returned and for its stores to stop selling the device.

All Galaxy Note 7 users should halt use of their phones and return them to their providers for a refund. Samsung announced that returns will be eligible for refunds until at least Dec. 31, 2016. Since one of the explosions happened mid-flight on a commercial airliner, the FAA has issued a statement forbidding the use of the device by flight crew or passengers on any aircraft.  The unprecedented recall of a device that just released in August will send serious shockwaves throughout the tech world. It has been reported that Samsung’s mobile phone stock dropped 8 percent due to the announcement, and The Verge reported they will lose approximately upwards of $17 billion. The exact cause of the mechanical failure is under investigation with Samsung and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Lawsuits likely incoming for Samsung

The recall is sure to spawn class action lawsuits and potentially civil suits against Samsung from the individuals who were harmed from the exploding phones.

One man from Nicholasville, Kentucky was woken up in the middle of the night by a sharp hissing sound. Scared to death, he saw his room filling with black smoke and saw his phone was ignited. A terrible smell filled the air. Later that day, the man went to the emergency room due to feeling nauseous, and reported “vomiting black stuff.”  To make matters worse for Samsung, one of their employees responding to the man’s correspondence about the incident accidentally sent the victim a text message outlining what was obviously intended to be an internal affairs conversation talking about how to handle the man’s situation.  “Just now got this,” the text message from the Samsung employee read. “I can try and slow him down if we think it will matter, or we just let him do what he keeps threatening to do and see if he does it.”  It isn’t known if the man was threatening a lawsuit, but he would have firm ground to stand on if he were to pursue a suit for a faulty product. That accidental text message might not look good for Samsung in a courtroom. Continue reading

Another recall may be on the horizon for Nissan; its 2012 Versa model is being federally investigated for faulty parts. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the vehicle’s airbags may go off at extremely inopportune moments. In some cases, it seems that simply closing the door too hard can cause the airbag to deploy.

Three complaints allege that Versa’s side airbags, mounted in both the seat or the headliner, have gone off following the slamming of a door. In addition to filling the vehicle with dust and forcing the owner to replace an expensive piece of equipment, a randomly-exploding airbag can also be dangerous. This potential recall will involve about 155,000 Versas in the United States. The NHTSA’s investigation will determine whether or not a complete recall is necessary. In the meantime, if you have a 2012 Nissan Versa, report any concerns to the feds rather than the dealer, and if you want to see if you may have a potential claim against the manufacturer contact a Boston motor vehicle accident lawyer today.

Takata Airbags – Largest Vehicle Parts Recall in History

But the complaints about Versa’s airbags are nothing compared to last year’s Takata airbag disaster. The Japanese auto-parts manufacturer recently recalled 34 million vehicles, the largest car and truck recall in US history, following at least six deaths and 100 injuries. According to claims, Takata airbags may explode and shoot shrapnel. Takata wasn’t quick to agree to the recall, however, insisting that a nationwide recall was unnecessary. They even hired three former US Transportation secretaries to help manage the crisis.

Record High for Vehicle Recalls in 2015

Nissan and Takata are far from alone when it comes to equipment defects; last year, the industry recalled nearly 64 million vehicles. This figure was more than twice the total of the previous three years combined. A total of 803 vehicle recalls was ordered last year. Of those, 123 came following NHTSA investigations and 680 were initiated by the automakers themselves. Congress has expressed concern over the reporting and investigation process when vehicle defects are identified.

A 2014 New York Times investigation of the NHTSA revealed that the agency’s response to vehicle defects was wrought with issues; they had been slow to initially identify problems and hesitant to act on them with their full legal powers.

In addition to the dangers associated with faulty or defective vehicle parts, you can also suffer damages due to economic loss. This was never more apparent than with the Volkswagen diesel emissions fraud lawsuit. More than 500,000 VW models immediately lost thousands of dollars in market value when it was discovered that the “bio-friendly” cars were actually releasing more toxic emissions than their standard counterparts. Owners of these vehicles were furious, and understandably so.   Continue reading

Bounce houses are temporary inflatable structures that are often rented for birthday parties, festivals, and other recreational purposes for use by children in and around Massachusetts. These houses are most common during the warmer weather.  Although a popular activity for parents to treat their youngsters with, bounce houses may have a hidden danger as a study published by the University of Georgia reports.  The new study highlights heat safety concerns with bounce houses that can endanger children.  The University of Georgia examines the theory of microclimates within the bounce houses.  The study investigated the potential heat-related risks that can be caused by microclimate environments in bounce houses, similar to microclimates in parked cars.  Parked cars have been notoriously dangerous on hot summer days, especially when children and pets are involved.  The report expands upon this danger and researches if the same risk could be applicable in bounce houses.  The paper titled, “Do Inflatable Bounce Houses Pose Heat-related Hazards to Children” was published July 28 in the early online edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.  Specifically, the study compared temperature and moisture conditions inside the bounce house to the open-air climate outside the bounce house, as well as any consequential health risks that could be sustained form such conditions.  “Heat illnesses like heat stroke can be deadly and occur in children participating in sports, left alone in parked cars, and as our study shows, potentially when playing in bounce houses,” said Andrew Grundstein, UGA professor of geography and co-author on the study.  “Children are more sensitive to heat than adults and parents need to carefully watch their children for signs of overheating when active on hot and humid days. Signs there is a problem may include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and flushed, moist skin.”  Continue reading

Dietary supplements and vitamins are a part of the daily routine of many Americans, but a recent report provides evidence that these daily supplements may actually be harmful to our health.  Consumer Reports published this report in which it showed that the makers of such dietary supplements do not have to adhere to many rules or regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  Without adequate guidelines for supplements, retailers and pharmacists may be unaware of potential side effects and drug interactions that can occur.  Another problematic element noted in the report is that these supplements are regulated as food, not as prescription drugs.  Therefore, the supplements do not need to be proven safe and effective and they are exempt from the rigorous procedures and testing that prescriptions drugs must undergo by the FDA.  Ellen Kunes, health editor at consumer reports, urges customers to do more research than just glancing at the label of supplements.  “Supplements have labels that don’t necessarily tell you what they are good for, how they are going to work, whether they will work,” she said. “You can’t trust that they’re going to work or that they will be safe just by looking at the label.”  In its report, Consumer Reports stated that almost 23,000 people are sent to the emergency room as a result of taking supplements every year.  Doctor Marvin Lipman, Consumer Reports’ chief medical advisor, offers a solution to concerned customers.   He instructs customers to look for a USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) label, which signifies the company has verified the ingredients and information that is on the label.  “There’s a paucity of products that are taking advantage of the approval process for responsible companies,” said Lipman.  “Without verification, you cannot be sure that what’s on the label is in the bottle.” Continue reading

Volkswagen AG has taken another step towards rebuilding relationships with its customers after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered the company cheated on vehicle emissions tests.  In September, Volkswagen confessed to installing software in its U.S. vehicles that identified when the vehicles were being tested, thereby altering the car’s performance accordingly to improve test results.  This resulted in the vehicles emitting 40 times the legal amount of pollution.  The consequential settlement includes almost 500,000 U.S. customers and government regulators and is valued at $4.7 billion.  The recent accomplishment by VW in the settlement includes preliminary approval for VW to buy back up to 475,000 vehicles from its customers with diesel engines.  U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer also set a date for potential final approval on October 18 in San Francisco.  The preliminary approval that has just been granted allows owners of 2.0 liter diesel-powered Volkswagen vehicles to determine how much money they are eligible to receive by going online a website.  Announced in June, the settlement is the largest automotive buyback in U.S. history, as well as the most expensive scandal rooted in the auto industry.  The future buybacks, potential vehicle repairs, and financial dues to government agencies account for $10 billion of the total settlement value.

Volkswagen has been working with regulators to establish various solutions to the emission problem, all which must be approved.  Two already discussed solutions are software renovations and the installation of new catalytic converters.  These fixes only apply to the 2.0-liter models, but VW is in the process of developing a proposal to fix 85,000 3.0-liter vehicles.  This comes after an initial proposal was rejected by the California Air Resources Board said a Justice Department lawyer.  This initial proposal included VW and Audi vehicle model years 2009-2016 but was deemed “insufficient” to adequately fix the emission problems.  Since the rejection, VW has been conversing with regulators about an improved proposal said Joshua Van Eaton, a Justice Department lawyer.  Breyer is hoping for updates on the solutions for 3.0 liter vehicles during an August 25 hearing.  Continue reading

Earlier this month, Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin was killed when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee pinned him between a fence and a mailbox pillar. The accident is being blamed on a confusing gear shifter in the vehicle. In response to Yelchin’s accident, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted an investigation into the gear shifters on Fiat Chrysler vehicles and found a total of 266 crashes, injuring 68 people. Since the investigation, Fiat Chrysler has recalled 1.1 million vehicles. Contact a Boston Defective Products Lawyer Today.

In addition to the 266 crashes, investigators also found 686 shifter-related complaints and negative customer feedback that began almost immediately following the release of the vehicles. According to the agency, Fiat Chrysler also appears to have violated standard design guidelines with the shifters.

So, What’s the Trouble with the Gear Shifters?

On Yelchin’s Jeep and others like it, it is difficult for drivers to determine if the vehicle is in “park” once they have stopped. There are several reports of vehicles rolling off once the driver exited. In newer models, a warning chime goes off and an alert message is displayed if the driver’s door is opened while the car is not in park. In a recently released statement, Fiat Chrysler urged customers to use parking brakes as an added precaution. In fact, the manufacturer mailed out letters with these instructions on May 14. Whether or not Yelchin received such a letter is not known

Too Little, Too Late

Since Yelchin’s death, Fiat Chrysler has stepped up its efforts to prevent future accidents. Beginning on June 24, the company began sending letters to owners advising them to make an appointment for service as soon as possible. Dealers will be able to resolve the dangerous design flaw by loading a new software into recalled vehicles. This software will automatically shift the vehicles into park when the driver’s door opens while the engine is running. The updates will fix 3.6-liter and 5.7 liter engine vehicles, which account for the majority of the recalls. Fiat Chrysler assures us that a fix for the remaining vehicles will be available soon. Continue reading