Articles Posted in Recalled Products

Shopping for a used car or truck? You probably assume that the dealer will have fixed any recalled parts and that it’s safe to drive off the lot. If that’s what you think, you’re probably wrong.

Already in 2014, 39.85 million vehicles have been recalled. How many of those do you think are sitting on used-car lots? And the dealer is not required to fix a recall defect on a used car before selling it. In fact, they don’t even have to tell you about the outstanding recall. Federal law prohibits auto dealers from selling new cars that are under a safety recall, but there is no similar law to protect used car buyers.

This is why nearly a dozen consumer safety groups have filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission urging the FTC to investigate and take enforcement action against CarMax, the used-car superstore chain. The groups allege that CarMax uses deceptive advertising and sales practices when it characterizes its used vehicles as “CarMax Quality Certified” and assures consumers that each used vehicle has passed a rigorous inspection. Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), said, “CarMax is playing recalled used car roulette with its customers’ lives.”

CarMax has responded to the petition by stating that it “carefully advises its customers to register their vehicles with its manufacturer as soon as they purchase the vehicle so they can be apprised of any future recalls.” As to existing recalls, CarMax pointed out that “manufacturers do not permit independent auto dealers like CarMax to repair recalls.” What they failed to acknowledge is that CarMax can have recalled cars repaired free of charge by authorized franchised car dealers . . . and then sell them. A NHTSA rule will take effect August 14 requiring all auto manufacturers who produce more than 25,000 vehicles a year to provide free, publicly accessible, VIN-searchable safety recall data on their own Websites, updated at least every seven days. Thus, CarMax and every other used-car dealer will find it even easier to check the safety recall status of their vehicles.

Here is what happened to Clarence and Angela Davidson, a California couple who bought a used 2010 Dodge Ram from the CarMax store in Irvine, CA, just two months ago. A short time after the purchase, the Davidsons contacted Chrysler because they wanted to add a feature to the truck. That’s when they were told that the truck had a serious safety defect and was under a federal safety recall. Chrysler had made the recall in 2013 because the rear axle pinion nut could come loose, causing a crash without warning. The Davidsons tried to return the truck to CarMax, but they were told that basically they were out of luck and they were responsible for getting it repaired. The couple then took the truck to a Chrysler dealership to have the safety recall repairs performed. A few days later, on May 30, when the Davidsons were riding in the Mojave Desert with their 12-year-old daughter in the back seat of the cab, the truck fell apart and caught on fire. Clarence pulled the girl out of the back seat just seconds before the entire truck exploded into flames, starting a fire that burned several acres and closing the highway for about four hours. We don’t know yet whether the accident was caused by a part under recall, but we do know that CarMax sold these folks a vehicle that was unsafe.

Currently, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act prohibits new car dealers from selling recalled vehicles without first fixing the safety defects, but it does not hold used-car dealers to the same standard. In a June 24 letter to the FTC, Sen. Charles E. Schumer said if the FTC does not act to prevent used car dealers from selling defective vehicles, he will take legislative action to address this issue.

As the Senator said, “used cars with a safety recall shouldn’t roll one inch off the lot.”

If you’re shopping for a used car or truck, check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of any used vehicle you are considering BEFORE you agree to anything. Look on the manufacturer’s website or call a local dealer and provide them with the VIN. They can give you recall information that could save your life.

If a defective vehicle has caused an injury or death in your family, call the South Carolina personal injury lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm – 1-888-440-3211. We’ve been securing justice for hardworking people and families since 1959, and we don’t believe any merchant should play Russian Roulette with your loved ones’ lives.

We seem to be stuck on the topic of car seats lately, having written about regulation reforms and how-to’s. But a recent recall by Graco, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of car seats and other equipment for children, deserves attention since it affects a massive number of seats in which a child can become trapped due to a sticking latch mechanism.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) asked Graco to recall the car seats and booster seats out of a concern that children could be harmed when the quick-release button isn’t quick and, in fact, in some cases doesn’t release at all. Graco “voluntarily” recalled 3.7 million toddler seats but so far has declined to recall an additional 1.8 million infant seats found by NHTSA to “contain a defect related to motor vehicle safety,” i.e., a latch that impedes the quick removal of a child in an emergency situation.

Graco says no injuries have resulted from the stubborn latches, even though desperate parents have reported having to cut the harness straps or call emergency personnel to extricate their child. NHTSA’s January 14 letter to Graco, however, mentions a pending California lawsuit that describes just the tragic situation NHTSA hopes to prevent. In that case, a two-year-old child was fastened into a Graco car seat and perished in a fire resulting from a car accident, allegedly because she could not be quickly removed.

This is the fourth-largest car seat recall ever, and if Graco does recall the rear-facing infant seats as well, it will be the biggest one in history. If you or a family member or your childcare provider uses a car seat, please check the label to see if it is one of the following Graco models:

  • Cozy Cline
  • Comfort Sport
  • Classic Ride 50
  • My Ride 65
  • My Ride 65 with Safety Surround
  • My Ride 70
  • Size 4 Me 70
  • Smart Seat
  • Smart Seat with Safety Surround
  • My Size 70
  • Head Wise 70
  • Head Wise 70 with Safety Surround
  • Ready Ride
  • Nautilus 3-in-1
  • Nautilus Elite
  • Nautilus Plus
  • Argos 70
  • Argos 70 Elite.

The Graco rear-facing infant seats still under investigation by NHTSA are:

  • Snugride
  • Snugride 30
  • Snugride 32
  • Infant Safe Seat-Step 1
  • Snugride 35
  • Tuetonia 35
  • Snugride Click Connect 40.

If you have one of the affected models, you can contact Graco here: http://www.pages02.net/newellrubbermaid/harness-buckles
They will provide you with a replacement buckle.

Here in South Carolina we’re blessed with moderate temperatures in November. That means the summertime burger grillin’ guys will be able to comfortably continue their outdoor cooking by frying the Thanksgiving turkey in one of those propane-fired deep-fat contraptions. Maybe this is one reason South Carolina is in the top ten states with the most grease and cooking-related claims in November, according to State Farm data.

South Carolina November Accidents

Fried turkey connoisseurs say cooking a turkey in hot oil makes for juicy meat and crispy skin and takes only a fraction of the time needed for oven roasting. They also think it’s more fun.

That may be true, but it’s dangerous as well. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), deep fryer fires cause an average of 5 deaths, 60 injuries, and more than $15 million in property damage each year. In fact, the NFPA goes so far as to say that “turkey fryers that use oil, as currently designed, are not suitable for acceptably safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer.”

So what causes the problem? Since a picture speaks a thousand words, we refer you to the following video produced by State Farm Insurance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQYTMFCLy5E

These are some of the turkey fryer catastrophes that were reported just in the last couple of years:

In November of 2011, an 87-year old man in suburban Chicago tripped and fell into a deep fryer. “We put the deep fryers on cardboard and I caught my shoe on the edge and just lost my balance,” he said. He had third-degree burns, the most serious kind, on his leg and underwent surgery at the Loyola Burn Center.

Also in 2011, firefighters responded to a fire in North Charleston, South Carolina, caused by a resident who accidentally set the exterior of the house on fire while cooking with a turkey fryer. Fire officials say damage was limited to the siding of the home. No one was injured in the incident.

Last year firefighters in Baltimore County, Maryland, were called when a deck caught fire. The turkey fryer was warming up and splattered over. One person was injured with burns to his arms and face.

Firefighters were summoned to a house in Crystal Lake, Illinois, in November 2012 to attend to a garage fire caused by the deep frying of a turkey. Damage to the garage and attached house was estimated at $80,000.

A Johnstown, Pennsylvania, home was damaged by a 2012 turkey fryer fire. Splashing grease set fire to a wooden deck and nearby brush and also damaged the siding on the house.

A turkey fryer fire in Laurel, Maryland, last year heavily damaged a home when the fryer caught the deck on fire. It then spread to the rest of the home, causing $100,000 in damage and displacing the family.

If you or someone in your family is just insistent on savoring a fried turkey this Thanksgiving, please follow these safety tips so you won’t be in this year’s news:

  • Look for the newer fryers with sealed lids to prevent oil spills.
  • Place the fryer in an open area away from all walls, fences or other structures.
  • Make sure there is at least 2 feet of space between the liquid propane tank and fryer burner.
  • Place the liquid propane gas tank and fryer so that any wind blows the heat of the fryer away from the gas tank.
  • Never use the fryer in, on or under a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, deck or any other structure that can catch fire.
  • Never cook in short sleeves, shorts or bare feet. Cover all bare skin when dunking or removing the bird.
  • Protect your eyes with goggles or glasses.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed (the USDA says 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds) and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don’t mix and water can cause oil to spill over, creating a fire or even an explosion.
  • Make sure the turkey is dry when placed in the hot oil. Slowly raise and lower the turkey to reduce hot-oil splatter and to avoid burns.
  • Don’t overfill fryer with oil. Turkey fryers can ignite in seconds after oil hits the burner.
  • Keep the fryer in full view while the burner is on.
  • Keep children and pets away from the cooking area.
  • If oil begins to smoke, immediately turn the gas off.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher appropriate for oil fires close at hand and be familiar with how to operate it.
  • Do not use a hose in an attempt to douse a turkey fryer fire.
  • If you do burn yourself, or someone else is burned, seek immediate medical attention.

And a couple of alternatives: You can purchase a fried turkey from a store or catering company. Or consider purchasing one of the new oil-less “fryers” which are powered by propane but the flame is enclosed within a double-walled heating chamber. Upon ignition, infrared waves cook the food and are said to produce results similar to those obtained with hot oil.

No one wants to receive a “Dear John” letter, but on October 22, 2013, thousands of animal doctors across the country received a “Dear Veterinarian” letter from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It asked the practitioners to help them solve the mystery of pet poisoning by jerky treats.

Keeping Our Pets Safe

For years, the FDA has received reports that some pets became ill after consuming jerky treats, and they have conducted laboratory investigations, without success, to determine the cause. The agency has already tested 1,200 samples without discovering the exact cause of any illnesses. And the number of reported illnesses is growing. As of September 24, 2013, the FDA had been advised of 3,600 dogs and 10 cats who were sickened, apparently by the treats; 580 of these pets died.

A New York State Department of Agriculture and Marketing study found low levels of antibiotic residues in some jerky pet treats, and several well-known brands were subsequently removed from the market in January 2013. The FDA is doing its own evaluation to determine the possibility that low levels of antibiotics can cause illness in dogs when fed over a length of time. But this is just one potential cause they are investigating.

The treats in question are jerky tenders or strips, made of chicken, duck, sweet potato, dried fruit, or combinations thereof. Signs of illness may occur within hours or days and may include decreased appetite, sluggishness, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption and/or increased urination. Some cases have advanced to pancreatitis, gastrointestinal bleeding, and kidney failure or the resemblance of a rare kidney-related illness called Fanconi syndrome.

The Dear Veterinarian letter asks animal doctors to advise their pet owners about the potential for illness and to report any suspected cases to the FDA and Vet-LIRN. Vet-LIRN is a network of government agencies, professional experts and diagnostic laboratories across the U.S. and Canada, working together to solve the problem. In an FDA Consumer Update, Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said, “This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we’ve encountered. Our beloved four-legged companions deserve our best effort, and we are giving it.”

The FDA website includes information on how to report a complaint about a pet food. You can find it here:

http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/ReportaProblem/ucm182403.htm

Defective products abound. Some are found in medical supply houses; some are driving down the road; and some are on our grocery store shelves. At the Louthian Law Firm, we have been helping hurting people for more than 80 years. And as every pet owner knows, when a furry member of the family gets sick or dies, the humans are heartsick, too.

The U.S. Senate recently held hearings to consider the legal implications of the automated robot-driven cars being tested in three states — Nevada, California and Florida.

Wonder why they’re spending time and money on unlikely scenarios right out of Back to the Future and The Jetsons? The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers predicts that 75 percent of cars on the road in 2040 will be self-driving. InsuranceQuotes.com put together this infographic pointing to other statistics that may surprise you about the car of the future. http://www.insurancequotes.com/self-driving-cars/
One of the models being tested is a modified Toyota Prius which includes these features to allow it to navigate public roads without a driver:
* A high-definition video camera mounted near the rearview mirror detects traffic lights and vehicles approaching from the sides.
* A LIDAR rotating sensor on the roof (like radar but using pulses of light rather than sound) scans a radius of 200 feet to create a dynamic 3D map of the environment, showing road edges, signs, guardrails and overpasses.
* Three radar sensors in the front bumper and one in the rear bumper measure distances to various obstacles and allow the system to reduce the car’s speed.
* A sensor mounted on the left rear wheel measures lateral movements and pinpoints the car’s position on the map.

The idea of roads filled with robocars sounds pretty far out, doesn’t it? But the fact is, automakers have been gradually adding active safety features for several years, including:
* Electronic stability control to help keep cars from skidding
* Active cruise control, which slows the vehicle to maintain a safe following distance
* Autonomous steering, which recognizes lane drift and guides the car back to the center of the lane
* Parallel parking assist systems
* Adaptive headlights.

Considering that more than 34,000 people were killed in car accidents last year, with human error the cause of more than 90 percent of them, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, it is clear that cars equipped with advanced technologies could save many lives. However, the cars of the future are creating thorny questions for policymakers today.

If a robotic car is involved in an accident, who’s at fault, man or machine?
Will a driver be responsible for infractions, such as running a red light, caused by a malfunction of the car’s sensors?
Are drowsy driving, texting and drinking behind the wheel likely to increase if drivers no longer need to be situationally aware?
And what about computer security and privacy concerns? According to a May 15 article in Columbia’s The State newspaper (http://www.thestate.com/2013/05/15/2773030/senate-considers-if-no-ones-behind.html), NHTSA has created a new division to focus on cybersecurity. NHTSA head, David Strickland, said the agency’s aim will be to “ensure that the driver cannot lose control and that the overall system cannot be corrupted to send faulty data..

Last year’s Santa Clara Law Review annual symposium drew legal scholars from around the country to discuss regulations and questions of insurance coverage and civil and criminal liability. “Technology is way ahead of the law,” said law professor Dorothy Glancy, who focuses on public transportation and privacy issues. “It’s going to be with us whether we think about these issues or not,” she said. “To think about the legal issues in advance – that’s a really good thing..

Yes, to plan for the future is a good thing, because the future really is now.

Baja Inc., more commonly known as Baja Motorsports, has re-issued a recall of approximately 4,300 of its DR50 and DR70 dirt bikes. The recall was prompted by a defect in the fuel tank systems of the affected models, which can cause the bikes to leak fuel and is a potential fire hazard. The defect has already led to burn injuries among riders, according to recall information posted on the Baja Motorsports website. According to the company, consumers should stop using the affected dirt bikes immediately and contact Baja for free repairs.

The recall officially began in March, but Baja Motorsports, based in Anderson, S.C., received reports of a significant amount of malfunctions and more consumer injuries after the recall notice had been announced–more than twice as many, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The original CPSC recall notice says that the recalled dirt bikes were sold exclusively at Pep Boys, between December 2010 and January 2011. The current CPSC notice, however, changes those dates to between December 2010 and January 2012 and no longer says the bikes were sold exclusively at Pep Boys.

Those who think they may have one of the affected models should check the bike’s VIN (vehicle identification number), which is located on the side of the bike, in the “gooseneck,” where the handlebars meet the body. The dirt bikes affected by the Baja recall have a VIN beginning with L98. For more information, people should contact Baja or read the current CPSC product recall statement.

This isn’t the first time Baja has voluntarily recalled a product. In 2010, the company recalled approximately 308,000 units because of a fuel system defect and a problem with vehicle throttles.

About The Louthian Law Firm
The Louthian Law Firm, P.A., of Columbia, S.C., has been obtaining fair compensation for personal injury victims since 1959. The firm was founded by Herbert Louthian, who has more than 50 years of trial experience and is licensed to practice in all courts in South Carolina. The Louthian Law Firm focuses on personal injury cases involving medical malpractice; car, truck and motorcycle accidents; and other serious and catastrophic injuries throughout South Carolina. For a free, confidential case evaluation, contact the firm by phone at (866) 410-5656 or through its online form.

The USDA ordered a meat recall after an investigation revealed a disturbing story about the inhumane methods by which one of our nation’s slaughterhouses treats its animals. According to an Associated Press report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of frozen beef from a California slaughterhouse which is the subject of an animal abuse investigation. Secretary of Agriculture, Ed Schafer, said that his department has evidence that the Chino based Westland/ Hallmark Meat Co. did not routinely contact its veterinarian when cattle became unable to walk after passing inspection, violating health regulations.

Federal officials suspended operations at Westland/ Hallmark after an undercover Humane Society video surfaced showing crippled and sick animals being shoved with forklifts. Authorities said the video showed workers kicking, shocking and otherwise abusing “downer” animals that apparently were too sick or injured to walk into the slaughterhouse. Some animals had water forced down their throats, San Bernardino county prosecutor Michael Ramos said. Federal regulations call for keeping downed cattle out of the food supply because they might pose a higher risk of foodborne illness and contamination from E. coli, salmonella or mad cow disease because they typically wallow in feces and their immune systems often are weak.

Continue reading →

In response to the laundry list of unsafe toys and recalled children’s products in the past calendar year, the nation’s top two toy sellers in the U.S., Wal-Mart and Toys ‘R’ Us, have announced that they will be imposing stricter measures on their suppliers – including tougher lead content standards. According to an Associated Press report, the new measures are meant to exceed federal standards expected from Congress in the wake of last year’s recalls of millions of toys because they contained excessive amounts of lead or other hazardous material.

Among the announced changes, Wal-Mart and Toys ‘R’ Us are:
* Setting a much tighter standard for the amount of lead allowed on surface paint for toys shipped to their chains on or after March 1.
* Phasing out chemicals found in PVC or vinyl that have raised safety concerns for young children
A top priority is to dramatically reduce the lead content in unsafe toys since lead can be very toxic to children. The current federal standard is 600 parts per million in surface coatings, but new legislation is being considered that would lower that to 90 parts per million. Both Wal-Mart and Toys R Us are requiring their suppliers to conform to the 90 parts per million standard for products shipped on or after March.

Continue reading →

If you have read our blog for any amount of time, you have seen countless entries about the recall of toys that contain lead paint. This recent rash of unsafe toy recalls reached a predictable end on Wednesday, January 30th when according to an AP article, lawmakers have stepped up and are asking the largest toy manufacturer in the U.S. to change the way it does business.

Dozens of federal lawmakers are demanding that Mattel stop selling toys that contain any amount of lead, claiming the toy maker is not going far enough to address safety concerns. The demand comes after Mattel’s issuance of recalls for millions of Chinese made toys last year because of concerns that lead paint levels exceeded U.S Standards. The demand, which was contained in a letter released by U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, was signed by more then 50 fellow lawmakers.

Continue reading →