Articles Posted in Product Liability

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Once again Toyota has come under fire, so to speak, because of a manufacturing/design defect in some of their vehicles. The problem is that the materials used in their heated seats – such a welcome luxury this time of year – are not as flame resistant as required by U.S. regulatory standards.

South Carolina Car Injuries

Toyota has issued a stop-sale order to their dealers for the affected models, which include the Camry, Camry hybrid, Avalon sedan, Avalon hybrid, Corolla subcompact, Sienna minivan, Tundra and Tacoma trucks made since August 2012, when the fabric supplier was changed. So far there hasn’t been a recall of cars already on the road.

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As temperatures drop, even in the moderate climate of South Carolina, families turn on the heat. Sometimes their effort to keep things toasty warm leads to a tragic fire and loss of valued property, if not lives. Some heat sources are particularly dangerous, e.g., space heaters and wood stoves.

According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), more than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heat sources in their homes. They can be an economical source of auxiliary heat as well.

Statistics show that heating is the second leading cause of all residential fires (cooking is first). The risk is increased for those heating with wood and solid fuels. In total, an estimated average of 50,100 heating fires in residential buildings occur in the United States each year, according to the USFA, resulting in an annual average of approximately 150 deaths, 575 injuries, and $326 million in property loss.

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Back in olden days, mom would put Junior down for a nap and the sound of his wailing, or her sixth sense, would tell her he was ready to get up.  As houses got larger, and technology got smarter, Mom and Dad or the babysitter began to rely on electronic monitoring devices.  As with many inventions, however, baby monitors sometimes come with unintended, disastrous consequences.

Baby Monitor Recalls
On November 21, 2013, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued Recall No. 14-028 for the Movement and Sound Monitor manufactured by Angelcare because of infant deaths associated with its use. This device includes a sensor pad which is placed under the crib mattress.  An attached 11-foot electrical cord goes to a transmitter which alerts parents of movement in the crib.  The problem is that children are being strangled on the cord.

One of the children was a 13-month-old girl who died in San Diego in November 2011.  Angelcare has settled a claim against it in that case.  Previously, an 8-month-old girl had died in Salem, Oregon.

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Have you noticed that the Christmas season starts earlier each year? Retailers have packed away all the Halloween stuff (that appeared on shelves around Labor Day) and are now carrying quite an inventory of Christmas decorations to enhance your chances of winning the neighborhood contest to see who can have the highest electric bill for the month of December. I’ll bet you’ve already seen some displays put up by folks who always want to be first . . . or whose kids are bugging them to death to get out the inflatable Snoopy and the multicolored strobe light dancing elves.

Safe Christmas Decorating
Before you start gathering the dusty supplies left from previous years, or purchasing new ones, it’s worth repeating some safety tips for outdoor decorating. The Consumer Product Safety Commission investigates complaints of malfunctioning or dangerously designed products and has issued numerous recalls for Christmas decorations. Here are a few of the recent ones for outdoor products:

  • On July 24, 2013, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published a recall regarding Holiday Light Bulb Sets sold by Big Lots from October 2012 to January 2013. The recalled 10-piece light sets are used to illuminate pathways or sidewalks during the Christmas holiday season. The sets contain ten 11-inch tall light stakes with a 5-inch colored bulb on each. The stakes are connected by a 15-foot long cord. The lights use plated steel conductors and have a plastic coating that is not flame retardant, which makes them a fire risk.

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A Pickens County nursing home is back in the news again – and not in a good way.

Thirty-six elderly patients at Majesty Health and Rehab in Easley were forced from their rooms in the middle of the night because of a gas leak.

Each year there are more than 20,000 complaints of elder care abuse in South Carolina retirement homes.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has continued receiving reports of injuries from the supplement Reumofan Plus and Reumofan Plus Premium since it issued a warning about the product in June. The FDA said it has heard reports of serious internal bleeding, stroke, insomnia, dizziness, problems with blood sugar levels, harm to the liver and kidneys, and even some deaths among users of the so-called “natural” supplement.

The supplement is sold as a remedy for arthritis, muscle pain, bone cancer and osteoporosis, a disease that causes bone to weaken. According to the FDA, the supplement contains substances not shown on the product labels that should be used only under in a doctor’s care.

Experts warn that some of the substances in the flagged Reumofan can also cause serious problems if a user suddenly stops taking the product. In fact, the FDA says that some consumers may experience “withdrawal syndrome” — a potentially life-threatening illness that can strike people who suddenly stop taking some drugs and medicines. For this reason, the FDA recommends that users of Reumofan Plus or Reumofan Plus Premium seek medical care as soon as possible, especially before they stop taking the pills.

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Stryker Orthopedics recently announced a recall for two of its hip replacement products, sold under the names Rejuvenate Modular and ABG II. Both Stryker’s Rejuvenate and ABG II models used so-called ‘modular neck’ technology, and the company says that the products are being recalled because of possible risks linked to the modular-neck stems.

Stryker announced its Rejuvenate and ABG II recalls in the midst of a growing amount of concern among researchers, doctors and patients about the safety of hip replacement technology. At the end of June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gathered experts and doctors for a panel focused on the safety and use of hip replacement technology.

The FDA panel mostly looked at the safety of so-called metal-on-metal hip joints, but the experts also looked at the numbers of safety concerns and complaints about other types of hip replacements as well. According to the FDA, they’ve had reports of nearly 40,000 ‘adverse reactions’ from hip joint replacements between 1992 and 2011. These ‘adverse reactions’ can include a whole range of health problems, injuries and other negative impacts that are the result of hip replacement products.

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A recent study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that more than half of all serious injuries involving fireworks happen in the 30 days surrounding the July 4th holidays–which means that the danger of serious burns and injuries to children and other family members exists long after the red, white and blue are boxed up and put away.

The study found that most of the injuries happened when people used fireworks improperly or when fireworks lit up or exploded by surprise. Last year, the CPSC heard reports of four people dying because of the use of professional-grade or homemade fireworks. The agency also had reports of nearly 10,000 others with injuries caused by fireworks.

As CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said, “For thousands of consumers, last year’s 4th of July celebration ended with a visit to the emergency room..

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Chicago-based Kolcraft Enterprises, Inc., has issued a recall for more than 36,000 strollers sold recently in the U.S. and Canada, according to a statement by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The recall affects strollers sold as “Contours Options,” both the three- and four-wheeled models. The recall announcement says that the strollers pose a danger to both children and adults for serious injuries to the hands.

According to the CPSC, the company has learned of three children who had fingertips cut off, as well as two adults who had fingers smashed or cut, while using the Kolcraft strollers. The company estimates that about 36,000 strollers in the U.S. will be affected by the recall.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently lowered the threshold for acceptable levels of lead in children, which means that kids previously thought to have safe levels of lead in their systems may now actually have lead poisoning.

The change targets the amount of lead in the bloodstream, and shifts the official level required for a diagnosis of lead poisoning in children. Under the new policy, a child with 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood would have lead poisoning. (A deciliter, or 1/10 of a liter, is equal to just over 3 fluid ounces, and a microgram is 1/1000th of a gram.)

The CDC decision drops acceptable levels of lead by half and marks the first change to lead poisoning levels in 20 years. The CDC ruling came after official recommendations from a committee of experts in January.

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