February 26, 2013

Wire and Plastic and Glass, Oh My! Are These Things in Your Food?

Product recalls occur on all types of products, but for some reason, those involving food seem to get more press than others. Lately there have been a lot of products that have been tainted with some sort of bacteria, like e coli or salmonella, but four recent recalls have been caused by foreign objects being found in foods.

BBU Inc. has recalled many of their bread products and one type of bun that they bake because there may be wires in them. While it is unclear how they discovered the possibility of this, they think a bad screen at a company that provides flour for some of their baked goods may be the culprit. None of the affected goods are still on store shelves, but the company would like consumers to check at home to see if they have any of these products still in their homes. The link to the official recall with the specific product names is given at the end of this article.

While some may joke that you never know what’s in sausage, finding a piece of plastic in your breakfast meat would definitely be a turn-off. Smithfield Packing Company, based in Virginia, has recalled 38,000 pounds of sausage produced under the name “Gwaltney mild pork sausage roll.” Two people contacted the company after finding pieces of what were most likely plastic gloves in their sausage.

Two recent recalls involve the possibility of glass being in food. The Kellogg Company has recalled several batches of its Special K Red Berries cereal in three different box sizes. The company is asking its customers to check their cereal boxes and to contact them if they have one of the boxes in question. They will send a coupon for a replacement box of cereal and may ask for the bad cereal back as part of their investigation. Nestle, which owns the Lean Cuisine brand, recalled their Mushroom Mezzaluna Ravioli product after three customers reported that they found glass in their meals. Nestle also told customers to contact them for a coupon as they puzzled how this could have happened since they do not have any glass in their factories that manufacture the affected products.

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December 11, 2012

Food Poisoning Set to Be Diagnosed Sooner, But at What Cost?

Anyone who has ever suffered from food poisoning knows the agonizing sickness and pain it can bring. For about 3,000 people each year, it is even fatal. A faster diagnosis that would lead to quicker treatment and relief seems like a no-brainer. But these next-generation tests come with a caveat; you will know sooner that you have food poisoning, but you may not know what food caused it. This is because these new tests that may be available as early as next year do not require a lab to grow a culture to determine the exact cause of the illness.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is concerned about these next-generation tests for another reason. Without the grown cultures, it will be more difficult to determine if the food poisoning was an isolated incident or a national contamination. Currently, incidents of food poisoning are tracked in a national database called PulseNet. Investigators can review the cases and determine whether or not they are related. In the fall of 2012, people across the country, including in Kentucky, became ill after eating peanut butter. Because detailed cultures from the victims nationwide were documented in this database, officials were able to determine that the contamination came from certain brands of peanut butter and narrowed the problem to one peanut processing plant. Once the source of the contamination is discovered, the affected products can be recalled and production can be halted until the contamination is cleared. This keeps additional people from falling victim to food poisoning from the same source.

The CDC states that the faster tests, once available, should be used to determine the general cause of the food poisoning so the victim can be treated more quickly, but that the cultures should still be grown so the exact strain of bacteria can be noted in the database. Of course, doing both tests costs more money, and it is not clear who would pay the extra amount. Consumers do not want to see their medical costs rise, but medical offices and labs would most likely not be willing or able to absorb the additional costs.

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November 30, 2012

Toys Less Dangerous This Year than in Previous Years, but Still Proceed with Caution

As parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins head out to shop for little ones this holiday, they face the challenge of not only finding toys that the kids will like, but also of finding toys that are safe. Each year, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) researches and tests hundreds of toys to determine how safe they are for children.

In previous years, the level of lead in children’s toys was a big problem and led to numerous product recalls. In 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was passed, and one of the subjects it covers is the amount of lead allowed in items for kids. The act required that the amount of lead in children’s toys be no more than 600 parts per million on the date the act was enacted and subsequently reduced over the course of a year down to 100 parts per million. If the manufacturer claimed a certain product could not be made within the lead limits set by the act, the Consumer Product Safety Commission would review the product and determine the amount of lead below 300 parts per million allowed for that specific product. If the Commission determined that a part of a toy was “not accessible to a child through normal and reasonably foreseeable use and abuse,” that particular part could contain higher levels of lead. These levels are set to be reviewed every five years to determine whether or not the lead amount could be lowered.

This year, in testing about 36 toys for lead and other toxic substances, PIRG only found one action figure toy that tested too high for lead, a big improvement over previous years before the new act was passed. Toys that pose a choking hazard or are very loud were also a high priority for PIRG this year. Small magnetic toys designed for adults were a major concern. Not only is it dangerous if one magnet is swallowed, but if more than one are swallowed, the danger is multiplied because the magnets can attach to each other, potentially damaging internal organs and causing serious injury to children. Other choking hazards included small plastic foods meant to be used with play kitchens and small plastic bands found on the tires of little racing cars that could come off and be swallowed.

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November 7, 2012

Faulty Car Products or Incorrect Maintenance Can Cause Kentucky Car Accidents

In a recent car accident in Washington County, Kentucky, a woman lost her life and her passenger was critically injured. Police believe the accident can be attributed in part to a tire blowing out on the car. They theorize that when the tire blew, the woman lost control and the car went off the road and rolled upside down.

Generally, when a car accident occurs, it is the result of driver error, and the at-fault driver is normally not entitled to any type of compensation for their injuries. However, in car wrecks such as the one mentioned above, the accident may have been caused in part by a defective or faulty part. Investigators who determine the causes of car accidents need to consider at all of the possible reasons an accident may have occurred. Investigators in this accident will most likely look at the tire to determine if it was defective, if it was improperly inflated or installed, or if something on the road caused it to blow.

If the tire was defective, a product liability case could be made against the manufacturer that made the tire or the company that sold the defective product. These companies should not be offering products to consumers unless they are properly made and tested to ensure their safety. If the tire had been improperly installed or inflated, the shop or garage that did the work may be partially liable for the accident. In these situations, both the family of the deceased driver and the injured passenger may be entitled to compensation from the companies that were at fault. If the tire had been improperly maintained by the driver of the car, her family probably would not be entitled to any compensation because the tire failure would be no one’s fault but hers.

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September 24, 2012

FDA Believes Product Designed to Help Infants may be

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has amended its warning regarding a product that has now been linked to the deaths of seven infants. The product, manufactured in St. Louis, MO, is called Simply Thick. Simply Thick, as the name implies, is an additive used to make liquids thicker. It was created for use in breast milk or baby formula to help infants who have trouble swallowing.

In May 2011, the FDA warned that the product should not be used for premature infants born before 37 weeks who were still hospitalized or had been recently released because it could cause inflamed intestines, or necrotizing enterolocolitis (NEC). NEC can result in an infant requiring surgery to remove part of the intestine, a narrowing of the intestine that may cause blockage, or even death. At the time of the 2011 warning, two premature infants had died from NEC after being sent home from the hospital with the recommendation to use Simply Thick. Since then, 22 more infants have become ill, including one full-term infant, and five more have died, prompting the FDA to review their previous warning. As of September 18, 2012, the FDA is now advising that the product not be given to any infant, premature or full-term.

One wrongful death lawsuit has been filed claiming Simply Thick caused the death of a 17-week-old infant. The lawsuit alleges that the infant was being given Simply Thick as prescribed by the neonatologist when he fell into a coma. He died two days later. This tragedy occurred one day after the FDA had issued their warning in 2011. The FDA has said that further testing needs to be done to determine if there is a link between Simply Thick and NEC, and if so, what that link is.

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August 9, 2012

Kentucky and Indiana Drivers May Be Affected by Hyundai Car Recall

Hyundai is the latest car maker in the news for a large recall on two of their vehicles. Recalls occur when a potential problem that affects numerous cars, trucks, or SUVs is discovered either through company testing or driver complaints. Obviously it is better if these issues are discovered by the company before any type of car accident occurs, but that is not always the case.

The smaller of the two recalls affects over 22,000 2012-13 Hyundai Sonatas. The company has received 16 complaints of the side airbags deploying without a car accident occurring. While airbags can save lives during an accident, they can cause injuries such as bruising or burning. These injuries are certainly better than broken bones or organ damage that might happen in an accident without airbags, but if an accident has not occurred, these injuries cause unnecessary pain and potential scarring and cost the victim in lost wages in medical expenses. A deployed airbag, whether front or side, can also limit the visibility of the driver, which may cause a serious accident.

The larger product recall involves the 2007-2009 Hyundai Santa Fe. Almost 200,000 are being recalled in the U.S. These vehicles have the opposite problem from the ones above. In these vehicles, certain airbags may not deploy, even when involved in an accident. The issue stems from faulty sensors that may not detect a light passenger sitting in the front seat. Originally designed to keep the front passenger seat airbag from deploying if a child is in the front seat, these sensors may not cause the airbag to deploy if a smaller adult is in the passenger seat.

How do these recalls work? Anyone who owns one of the affected vehicles will receive a recall notice by mail. The owner will need to set up an appointment with their local Hyundai dealer and the side airbags will be replaced in the Sonatas and the Occupant Classification System software will be updated in the Santa Fe SUVs.

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November 22, 2011

Latest Product Recall by Toyota Puts Product Liability in Spotlight

Earlier this month, Toyota again recalled a large number of vehicles due to safety concerns. This recall is a result of potential steering problems in vehicles that have V6 engines. The more than 420,000 vehicles affected in the United States include Camrys, Avalons, Siennas, Highlanders, and a few Lexus models with model years ranging from 2004 to 2006. No accidents have been reported in connection with this recall, but the issue could cause a warning signal to light up, an unusual noise to occur, and the ability to steer could be compromised. Recall notifications will begin to be distributed to affected Toyota owners in January 2012, but people are encouraged to make a service appointment if they experience of these issues before they receive the recall.

This latest recall is reminiscent of the vast recall Toyota began in February of 2.17 million vehicles with potential defects that could cause dangerous unwanted acceleration. The most recent recall brings the total number of Toyota recalls to over 13 million since 2009. Unlike the recent steering problem that has caused no known accidents, the uncontrollable acceleration involved in the earlier recall is thought to have caused accidents involving injuries and even death, and has been the subject of numerous lawsuits.

One such lawsuit was filed by the husband of a woman who was killed when the 2009 Corolla she was driving suddenly accelerated and crashed into a cement barrier. The lawsuit claims product liability and negligence by Toyota, the company that provided the electronic sensors for the vehicle, and the dealership that leased the car to the victim. Product liability arises when an individual or company sells a product that is defective in a way that it is dangerous and could cause harm to the consumer or his property. Product liability can be claimed even if the seller is unaware of the defect in the product. Negligence occurs when the sellers and manufacturers do not fulfill their duty to ensure the products they are offering are safe. Not notifying consumers about the potential dangers of a product once they are discovered also constitutes negligence. This particular case claims that Toyota and the parts makers were negligent because not enough testing was done on the products to ensure they were safe. Toyota and the dealership were negligent because they were aware of the issues before the victim leased the car, but did not tell her about the potential risks associated with driving the vehicle.

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August 25, 2008

Kentucky Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Lexington Condo Complex After Girl Gets Stuck in Pool Drain

In Fayette Circuit Court, the mother of Kiah Milsom, the 14-year-old girl who died of a severe anoxic brain injury after drowning in the pool of a condominium complex in Lexington, Kentucky, is suing Aintree Condominiums Inc. for wrongful death.

Kiah and her friends had trespassed onto the condo complex property on July 20, and they were swimming in the pool at around 4am when her arm got sucked into the pool’s drain. Kiah reportedly was underwater for about 20 minutes until emergency workers, who were summoned, were able to free her. She sustained a traumatic brain injury from the accident and died several days later at the University of Kentucky Hospital.

In her lawsuit, Kiah’s mother Lisa Ann Scott accuses the condo complex owners of negligence and states that they either knew or should have known that the pool drain pump was dangerous. By law, a pool drain is supposed to have a properly secured cover, and the lawsuit contends that the pool’s drain cover was missing.

Premises Liability
Property owners are supposed to make sure that there are no unsafe conditions on a premise that could lead to serious injuries or death. Failure to fulfill this duty of care can be grounds for a Kentucky premises liability lawsuit if someone is injured or dies.

Dangerous Pool Drains
Pool drains have been known to cause serious injury or death if they are not properly covered and secured. Over the past three decades, there have been reports of a number of incidents where children, in particular, have gotten stuck in a pool drain and have been unable to release themselves. Serious injuries have included intestines being pulled from the trapped person’s body, near drownings, traumatic brain injuries, and deaths. It is important that you speak with Kentucky personal injury lawyer to determine whether you have grounds to file a claim against any negligent parties.

Mother of drowned girl sues condo owners, Bluegrassbeat.com, August 22, 2008

Teen dies of injury from pool accident, Kentucky.com, July 27, 2008

Related Web Resources:

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act

'She Died in My Arms': A Mother's Mission for Safe Pools, ABC News, July 23, 2008

August 5, 2008

Kentucky Accident Lawyers: Two Friends of Girl Whose Feet Was Severed on Thrill Ride Can Join Her Family's Kentucky Personal Injury Lawsuit

In Jefferson Circuit Court, Judge Barry Willet has ruled that the two girls that were sitting with Kaitlyn Lassiter, the then 13-year-old girl whose feet were severed while riding the Superman Tower of Power ride at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom last year, can join in the Lassiter family’s personal injury lawsuit against the amusement park.

Arin Valsted and Blair Johnson are friends of Kaitlyn, and they were sitting next to her when the accident happened on June 21, 2007. They sustained bruises and cuts during the incident and continue to seek counseling. The two girls are seeking damages for medical costs, pain, and emotional trauma.

While the judge is allowing Arin and Blair to join the lawsuit, their parents, who had wanted to sue the Six Flags park for emotional trauma and travel costs incurred while helping their children recover from their injuries, cannot join the suit.

The Lassiter family filed an amusement park accident lawsuit against the Louisville park after a cable that snapped on the ride severed Kaitlyn’s feet. Their lawsuit contends that Six Flags could have prevented the serious injury accident if they had properly maintained the ride. The ride is no longer in operation and state officials are citing a faulty cable and the amusement park operators slow response during the incident as causes of Kaitlyn's serious injuries. A personal injury trial is scheduled to begin in January.

While thrill rides at amusement parks can be a great source of enjoyment for children, they can also lead to serious, even fatal injuries, if a ride malfunctions or a ride operator makes a mistake.

Injuries to Minors
In Kentucky, an injured minor cannot file a personal injury lawsuit without the assistance of a parent, a guardian, or another adult.

Kentucky Kingdom Suit Expands, Courier-Journal.com, August 5, 2008

Judge: Teens can join Kentucky amusement park suit, WHAS.com, August 4, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Factors in ride accident cited, Courier-Journal.com, May 31, 2008

Read the Six Flags Accident Report (PDF), WHAS.com

A good personal injury lawyer can determine whether your child was injured because a driver, a doctor, a product manufacturer, an amusement park, the owner or a business or residence, or another party was negligent.

July 7, 2008

Louisville Mother Sues Crocs Inc. for $4 Million After 3-Year-Old’s Foot Gets Caught in Airport Escalator

In Kentucky, Alison Cox Pregliaso, a Louisville mother, is suing Crocs Inc, for her 3-year-old daughter’s personal injuries. Pregliaso’s daughter sustained permanent injuries last month when her foot got caught in an escalator at Hartsfield-International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. Her daughter was wearing Crocs footwear.

Not only did the shoe get shredded, but Pregliaso says that her daughter’s big toe broke and its skin was ripped off. Pregliaso is suing the company for $4 million in punitive damages.

According to the personal injury lawsuit, filed in Kentucky in federal court, Pregliaso is accusing the manufacturer of trying to blame the children or parents for her Crocs-related injuries. This is not the first time a child has been injured while wearing Crocs. In February, the parents of a 3-year-old injured at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York sued Crocs for $7 million. In another Crocs-related injury accident last September, a 4-year-old Croc wearer got hurt when his foot got caught in a mall escalator.

Earlier this year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that there have been at least 77 escalator entrapment incidents since January 2006 involving soft-sided flexible slides and clogs. Although the report did not name Crocs directly, the CPSC said that the shoe line is part of this category of shoes.

In Japan, the Trade Ministry asked the Crocs manufacturer to change its design following 65 complaints of escalator accidents over a six-month period involving mostly children using Crocs and fake Crocs.

If you or your child were seriously injured because of a defective product, it is important that you speak with an experienced Louisville, Kentucky products liability law firm that can help you evaluate your case during your free consultation. A good defective products lawyer can assess whether a defect occurred during the design, manufacture, or marketing process. The responsible party can also be held strictly liable for the injury accident even if they didn’t do anything negligent but the product still proved dangerous for use.

Crocs cited in lawsuit over girl's injuries at airport, AJC.com, July 2, 2008

Crocs and similar soft shoes linked to escalator entrapments, Consumer Report, May 20, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Crocs Inc.

Crocs shoes dangerous on escalators, The Japan Times, April 19, 2008