Articles Posted in Product Liability

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has recently announced a recall of over 1,700 John Deere lawn tractors. The recall concerns a faulty brake arm that can fail while the vehicle is in motion, making it a potential crash hazard. The recalled mowers were sold between May and August of this year at stores nationwide for anywhere between $1,700 and $2,700. If you or a family member purchased one of these machines, it is highly recommended you stop using it and contact a local John Deere dealer for a free repair. Failing to do so could result in serious injury or death.
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A majority of New Jersey bicycle accidents result from driver error or dangerous roadways. However, there are some injury accidents that are the direct result of a defective bicycle part. All riders would be well advised to stay on top of recent recalls and to inspect their bicycles for potential mechanical issues before a long ride.

All New Jersey bicycle riders should take the time to visit the official website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to check if a bicycle or bike part they are using has been recalled. The list of recalled bicycle parts is listed on the site. A simple search of the website shows a number of recalls that have been issued since March, including:
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baby_toys_4504238.jpgThis holiday season, it is important that parents and gift givers stay abreast of what types of toys are considered safe for children. While the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has had to issue fewer toy recalls this year, there are still many potentially dangerous toys on store shelves. According to a recent news release by the CPSC, there are approximately 180,000 child injuries suffered in toy-related accidents each year. Many of these incidents can be prevented if parents are diligent in keeping unsafe toys away from their children.

In the fiscal year for 2011, there were 34 toy recalls in the United States. This number reflects a decrease from the 46 recalls in 2010, the 50 recalls in 2009 and the 172 toys recalls issued in 2008. CPSC’s statistics also show that there was a recent increase in toy-related fatalities – from 15 deaths in 2009 to 17 in 2010. More than half of those deaths involved choking incidents with balloons, rubber balls, and small balls.

Federal safety regulations that were passed last year limit the amount of toxins such as lead and cadmium that can be present in toys. However, this does not mean that all toys are now toxin-free. On the contrary, a number of toys in the market still have unacceptable levels of phthalates, which are industrial chemicals that are known carcinogens.

The potential dangers of Hurricane Irene still exist even though the storm has passed. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the United States Fire Administration (USFA) have stated that consumers need to be especially careful during power outages because the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire increase during such times. One of the many potential dangers in the aftermath of hurricane Irene is the use of portable generators. Generators that are in garages, sheds, basements and homes may have exhausts that contain high levels of carbon monoxide, which could cause lethal poisoning.

While portable generators can be extremely useful following a deadly storm, it is crucial that New Jersey residents use them safely and in an open space. CPSC reports that between 1999 and 2010, almost 600 people have been killed as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning due to these generators. Individuals without power may also try to use charcoal grills or camp stoves. These devices also release carbon monoxide. There were at least seven carbon monoxide-related deaths from use of charcoal or charcoal grills in 2007.

Other potential dangers in the aftermath of a hurricane involve downed power wires, damaged cable TV feeds, standing water and candle use. If you are in water of any kind, make sure you are not handling any electrical devices. Circuit breakers and wires in the wall that have become wet should not be powered. When using candles instead of a flashlight, make sure they are not placed near something that may catch fire.

Recent studies have shown that the use of some selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been linked to birth defects.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its findings of two separate studies in 2005 that concluded that pregnant women using Paxil during their first trimester of pregnancy were at a higher risk of having a baby with cardiac problems, such as underdeveloped arteries. Since 2005, additional studies have shown that the use of SSRIs can be harmful to the fetus and cause serious complications such as heart, lung and brain or spinal cord irregularities, as well as the misshaping of the skull, abdominal wall and other body parts.

A more recent study published by the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that out of 12,700 babies born between 1997 and 2004, 54% of infants were born with a major heart defect after the mother reportedly used the drug Bupropion during the first trimester. .
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A storage trunk that was sold by Target has seriously injured a child. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has claimed that “the lid of the trunk can drop suddenly when released, posing a strangulation hazard to small children opening or reaching into the trunks.” The CPSC has received two reports regarding this product, both involving injuries due to the lack of a proper mechanism that ensures that the lid stays propped open.

Earlier this year, a family sued Target and claimed that their 18-month-old child suffered brain trauma after the lid of the storage trunk collapsed on her head and cut of circulation and oxygen for an extended period of time. After the lawsuit was initiated, Target issued a recall for 350,000 of the “Woven Storage Trunks” that were distributed nationwide between February 2009 and April 2010.

Unfortunately, unsafe products are sold around the world every day, and many of them can cause serious injuries because of a malfunction or a design defect. If the product is misrepresented or gives the consumer a false sense of security, then the manufacturer can be held liable for any damages caused by the use of their product.
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has detected a rare strain of the E. Coli virus, which has been found in romaine lettuce. The New York State Public Health Laboratory, Wadsworth Center located in Albany, New York discovered the “E. Coli O145” virus.

The virus was detected on an unopened bag of shredded romaine lettuce from Freshway Foods, an Ohio based company. Freshway Foods has recalled various romaine lettuce products across the United States, including New Jersey.

The FDA has identified that the source of the contaminated lettuce was a farm in Yuma, Arizona, though no particular farm has been pinpointed as the culprit. After the initial recall by Freshway Foods, another food distributor in Moore, Oklahoma also issued a recall for its shredded romaine lettuce products, claiming that the product was also from the same farm in Yuma, Arizona.
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Each year, many products are recalled because they are defective and hazardous. Recently, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that certain brands of hooded, sleeveless girls’ vests were recalled because the drawstrings posed potential risk for strangulation.

In 1996, the CPSC Office of Compliance issued guidelines for the clothing industry to follow in order to reduce the risks involved with the design of the clothing. Almost 50 non-fatal incidents and 22 fatal incidents were reported between 1985 and 1999, all involving drawstrings on children’s clothing.

Luckily, no incidents with the hooded, sleeveless vests have been reported. However, as of 2006, the CPSC announced that any children’s clothing items that had drawstrings around the hood or neck would be categorized as defective in order to prevent accidental strangulations.

After an unfortunate sequence of fatal food-borne illness outbreaks involving various food products ranging from peanuts to cookie dough to spinach, a Senate bill, the Food Safety Modernization Act, has recently been approved. However, according to nj.com, even though the bill to refurbish the FDA’s food safety system was unanimously accepted, it may not receive a floor vote until 2010. This may be partly due to the issue of funding for the food safety reform, which would drastically improve and increase Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory powers.

The chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee says the new FDA program may cost almost $4 billion over a period of five years. Considering that the FDA safeguards approximately 80% of the U.S. food supply, which includes imports from over 200 countries, there is no doubt that this bill will greatly help their efforts and is worth the cost.

The reformed safety program would allow the FDA the ability to order a food recall rather than force them to wait for a producer to respond to a recall request. The Senate Bill will also enforce more regulated inspections, especially for high-risk facilities. If passed in 2010, this will be the first major food safety reform since the Great Depression.
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Auto accident victims who claim they have been injured as a result of auto product defects in New Jersey and across the nation from Chrysler and General Motors vehicles are being left high and dry because of the auto makers’ bankruptcy filings. According to this news report, consumers and consumer advocates are outraged that auto makers, that are being financed by tax payers, are throwing “consumer safety protections out the window.”

The bankruptcy of Chrysler and GM has led to new complications, particularly with regard to product liability lawsuits. According to several consumer advocates, the car companies will back up their warranties for auto parts, but will not take responsibility for personal injuries caused by defective auto parts. So, for example, if your brakes are bad, they’ll fix them. But if you crash and get seriously injured because of defective brakes, then your auto maker (Chrysler or GM) won’t be held liable for that.

Auto product defects are more common than we know or hear about every day. Thousands of auto accidents occur nationwide and in New Jersey because of defective auto products such as tires, airbags, seatbelts, seatbacks, engines and steering. Defective design of a vehicle can also cause catastrophic injuries or deaths in an auto accident.
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