Articles Posted in Products Defects

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Creepy crawlies belong outside, not in houses. People try many different methods to discourage bugs from entering their homes, whether it be a house or an apartment. There are many products one can use to kill bugs and keep them out of the home. But these products contain a lot of chemicals and can harm humans as much as bugs. And one needs to be cautious because these chemicals are highly flammable, as was shown in the fogger explosion in Chinatown recently.

Exploding Bug Bombs

A woman had a problem with bugs infesting her apartment. She purchased foggers, also known as bug bombs, to deal with the problem. Foggers release a fine mist of chemicals into the air that filter into walls and small places to kill bugs. “A single six-ounce can is enough to treat 6,000 cubic feet of space, which translates roughly to an 800-square-foot apartment with a seven-foot ceiling.”

The woman used about 20 foggers in the bedroom of her two-room apartment on one day. The next day she used another 20 foggers in her main room. “However, she failed to turn off her oven’s pilot light, and the meeting of the flame and the highly flammable contents set off a powerful explosion, fire officials said.” The explosion blew out the back wall of the building and collapsed part of the building.

Pest Control

Pesticide chemicals are highly poisonous and volatile. The Environmental Protection Agency published a Citizen’s Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety. The guide details how pesticides should be handled and applied. It also goes through precautions to prevent child poisoning.

Bug Spray.jpg

There are a number of different types of pesticides. They tend to be grouped according to either the targeted pest or the chemical families they derive from. They can be solid form where the targeted insect eats the insecticide. There are sticky tapes used to physically trap insects, and there are liquid forms in spray cans and foggers.

Government statistics state that “every year there are about 500 fires or explosions linked to [foggers] across the country.” Foggers may appear easy to use, for a person can pull the tab and leave the residence, but many people are not using them correctly. Foggers do not work against bedbugs and are not the most effective defense against cockroaches. And once a person has set off a fogger, they must wait a number of hours before re-entering the residence and opening windows for proper ventilation. Without following these requirements, many people end up being poisoned.

Pesticides Can Lead to Legal Liability

While the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a good axiom to follow when dealing with pest control, things can still go wrong. Just because you followed the instructions on the product doesn’t mean you can’t get poisoned and become ill. If you decide to go the professional route, you could still become ill. If you have been injured by use of pesticides and used them according to all instructions, there is a possibility the pesticide was not properly labeled. If you become ill after a professional treatment, the pesticide company may not have been following proper protocol or given proper instructions on what to do after the treatment was completed. If you have questions, contact our knowledgeable attorneys to assess your situation.

Photo Credit: Håkan Dahlström via Compfight cc

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Exploding cars are de rigueur in action movies. But in real life, it is pretty scary. Think about the Ford Pinto and one pictures exploding gas tanks. This was used to great comic effect in the movie “Top Secret,” a parody of WWII spy movies. But there have been “32 rear-impact collisions that caused fatal fires resulting in 44 deaths in Grand Cherokees, and five accidents that resulted in seven deaths in Jeep Libertys” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Investigation

On August 23, 2010, NHTSA opened an investigation into possible fuel tank explosions during rear-end collision and impacts. This investigation covered Jeep Grand Cherokees for model years 1993 to 2004, Jeep Cherokees for model years 1993 to 2001, and Jeep Libertys for model years 2002 to 2007. This investigation started as a safety defect investigation, but was upgraded to an engineering analysis to determine if the “vehicles contain a defect that presents an unreasonable risk to safety.” NHTSA said the design of the vehicle with “the location of the gas tanks behind the rear axle of the Jeeps could make them more vulnerable to being ruptured in an accident.”

By the end of this investigation, NHTSA recommended that Chrysler issue the recall and listed the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Liberty as defective vehicles.

But Chrysler refused to issue the recall on June 4, 2013. “Chrysler said it did not agree that the vehicles, among its most profitable models, were unsafe, adding that fire-related accidents involving the vehicles were rare and not related to a defective design.”

After discussions between Chrysler’s chief executive and the head of NHTSA, Chrysler agreed to the voluntary recall. Chrysler agreed to “put trailer hitches on some older-model Jeeps to protect them in the event of rear-end accidents.” This was in exchange for NHTSA to stop describing these models as defective.

Will this recall affect Chrysler’s bottom line?

As noted, the fix here is adding a trailer hitch, which puts more space between an impacting car and the gas tank. These parts do not have to be specifically manufactured. The parts can be pulled from a bin and “installed for a little more than $150 per vehicle retail, with labor.” Automotive News commentator Larry P. Vellequette figures that “Chrysler’s total exposure is maybe $120 million to $150 million.” While this is not an insignificant amount of money, it is still less than a year’s worth of profits for Chrysler.

Does a mandatory versus voluntary recall make a difference in safety?

According to NHTSA, over the past decade there has been, on average, 600 vehicle recalls, 20 tire recalls, and 8 child restraint recalls per year. In 2011, the most recent data available, that amounted to 15.5 million individual recalls. That is a lot of recall notices, so much so that a citizen can subscribe to receive email notifications from HNTSA for their make and model year of car. Registered owners of the Jeep models included in this recall should receive a notice about the recall and what to do to have repairs done.

If you have been injured as a result of a defective automobile, contact our personal injury attorney to help protect your rights.

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Under the lip of the kitchen sink. In the corners of the shower. Around the base of the bathroom sink faucet. Then there are always the science experiments in the back of the refrigerator. These are common areas of mold growth. Mold can be a good thing, like penicillium that produces the antibiotic penicillin. But too much penicillium, or aspergillum, or cladosporium can result in black mold that can endanger a person’s health. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that mold exposure can cause “allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.”

Mold in New York

Molds are prevalent in moist areas. If there are leaks in pipes or a roof, that can be enough create the right conditions for mold growth. Richard Fields saw mold in his apartment in August 2003. He went to the hospital in September 2003 for headaches and nosebleeds. He told the doctor he had mold in his apartment and the doctor said the mold could cause his symptoms. Fields filed suit in January 2006 for mold exposure against the Lambert Houses Redevelopment Corp, the owner and manager of Fields’ apartment building. Fields amended his complaint to add estimated medical expenses.

At his deposition, Fields testified he saw mold in his apartment in January 2003 and sought treatment for exposure in February 2003. Lambert Houses Redevelopment Corp. moved for summary judgment to dismiss the complaint claiming Fields’ claims were time-barred. Fields opposed the summary judgment motion, submitting his hospital records showing he had visited the hospital in February 2003, but had not sought treatment for mold exposure until September 2003. The court denied the motion for summary judgment stating that it was an issue of fact about whether Fields had timely filed his suit.

Lambert Houses Redevelopment Corp. filed an appeal to the Appellate Division, First Department. The Appellate Court upheld the Supreme Court, Bronx County decision that the timely filing of suit was an issue of fact to be decided at trial.

What to Do About Mold

If there is a leak, the EPA recommends cleaning and drying damp areas within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. Hard surfaces can be cleaned with water and detergent and dried completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles may need to be replaced. The EPA recommends keeping relative indoor humidity to between 30 and 60% and venting moisture-build-up areas such as kitchens and bathrooms to the outdoors.

For individuals sensitive to molds, exposure can cause nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritations. More serious reactions can include fever and shortness or breath. For individuals “with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, [they] may develop mold infections in their lungs.”

The New York State Department of Health gives information on molds on their website. The website gives some basic instructions on getting rid of mold. The information was gathered and assessed by the New York State Toxic Mold Task Force set up in 2010. The Task Force recommended improving building codes to prevent and minimize potential water problems in new buildings as well as existing buildings.

If you have found mold in your residence or workplace and have not had a positive response from your landlord or employer to remedy the problem, seek advice from our NYC personal injury attorney to protect yours and your family’s health.

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There is a reunion or a wedding reception or another party at a hotel ballroom. The room is resplendent in opulence and old friends are renewing acquaintances. Dinner is announced and everyone sits down for a feast. After a wonderful evening, the attendees return home with wonderful memories. But after a day or two, the attendees start to have symptoms of abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and low-grade fever. The doctor diagnoses it as norovirus.

Currently around the country norovirus is making people ill. Norovirus is highly contagious and commonly acquired through contaminated food or water. But it can also be “acquire[d] through close contact with an infected person.” Larger norovirus outbreaks are traced back to food preparation. Food poisoning is always a possibility whenever one goes out to dine. On May 1, 2013, Newsday reported that a hotel in Westchester County is being industrially cleaned top to bottom, overseen by the local health department, after 300 people complained of illnesses after attending events there. Norovisus is the confirmed cause of all the illnesses. How the virus came to be in the hotel has not been determined. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report in January that a new strain of norovirus called GII.4 Sydney is causing most of the current outbreaks and is highly contagious.

Getting sick is always a pain, but losing workdays and paying out for doctor’s visits can cost. While norovirus symptoms will last for a few days, some people may become severely dehydrated and need medical attention. So now lost revenues from missing workdays, doctors visit copayments, and hospital costs add up. Is there a way to recoup your loses?

It is possible to file a lawsuit for food poisoning. Suing over a few days of living in one’s bathroom would not be worth the cost. But hospital costs are another expense all together. Proving that a particular food or place caused an illness can be difficult. In the hotel scenario, it would be easy to track the illness back to the hotel because of the number of people infected. Professional food preparers are required to serve untainted food.

Now you have proof of the specific virus, but whom do you sue? The hotel? What if the hotel hired caterers? Your attorney will make this decision. And if others were made ill in the same incident, then it may be more prudent to file a class action lawsuit with the other attendees. Your attorney will review current cases to see if one has already been filed.

How do you protect yourself and prevent the further spread of nonovirus? The CDC recommends washing hands with plain or antiseptic soap and scrub not only the palms, but also the backs, between fingers and under nails. Scrub for at least 20 seconds. The CDC recommends humming Happy Birthday twice while scrubbing and rinsing under running water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used after hand washing, but they are not recommended to be used alone.

If you have contracted norovirus or other contagious illness from a professional food preparer and lost significant work days and amassed high medical bills, you might want to consult our NYC personal injury attorney about possibly recouping your loses.

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A pocket bike, which may also be referred to as a mini-motorcycle or pocket rocket, is a small gas-powered bikes that look like miniature replicas of full-size motorcycles. Even though they are small, they come equipped with a 40cc engine and can even reach speeds of 40 to 50 miles per hour. The pocket bikes range in price from $185 to $600. They are sold in auto part stores, discount stores and over the Internet. They almost never come with helmets or any other safety equipment.

Although one would not think so by looking at them, pocket bikes present many of the same hazards as full-size motorcycles. While pocket bikes look fun and small enough for children, they are deceptively fast and dangerous. Even though the bikes are low to the ground, when an accident occurs at 40 to 50 miles per hour, the rider is very likely going to experience significant injuries. The speeds of pocket bikes only add to the amount and severity of injuries, including higher chances of spinal cord injuries and head injuries.

The operation of pocket bikes is illegal in most cities and states for use on public roadways. Importantly, the pocket bikes lack many essential safety features like horns, visibility reflectors, break stop lights, brakes on both wheels, turn signal lights, rear view mirrors or vehicle identification numbers. Unfortunately, the reality is that some people will still choose to ride pocket bikes on public streets no matter what the law says. The low profile of pocket bikes makes them easy to miss or see to a car, or especially a large sport utility vehicle or truck, backing out of one’s driveway or coming around a blind corner. In addition, the height of the pocket bikes puts the rider’s forehead at the same height as most car bumpers.

While less common, hearing loss can also result from using pocket bikes. Though the engines in pocket bikes are not large, they can still produce sufficient sound to cause hearing damage, especially with children. Plus the high noise level may prevent the rider from hearing the sound from an oncoming car or warning horn.

A number of serious injuries and death have occurred on pocket bikes. One Kansas rider died after he was hit when a car ran a stop sign. A Missouri rider died when a car in a parking lot struck him. Finally, in New York a rider hit a pothole and sustained fatal injuries as a result. However, the number of serious injuries and deaths is difficult to ascertain because they are not reported.

The written warnings of pocket bikes are often inadequate to convey the seriousness of the potential dangers. The warnings are especially inadequate to young riders, because they do not come accompanied with any type of video or graphic pictures to help explain the dangers to the riders or their parents.

Like any product, the manufacturers and distributors of pocket bikes are required to properly warn their intended users of the dangers inherent in using the bikes. If you or a loved one is injured while operating a pocket bike, it is important to seek legal counsel to explore your rights.

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Sustaining an injury, whether it is a slip and fall or a car accident or something else entirely, can be a scary and confusing time. For many people, sustaining a serious injury is among the lowest points in their lives. It can be particularly confusing when someone else is at fault for your injury. While no one wants to think about bringing a lawsuit immediately after an injury occurs, it is in your best interest to prepare as though a lawsuit will occur.

First, you need to make sure that your medical needs are taken care of. It will not do you any good to start any of the other steps if you have not ensured that your medical needs are met. In fact, it may hurt your lawsuit if you neglect your medical needs, as the defendant could argue that your injuries were increased by a failure to seek immediate medical attention.

It is important to retain any physical evidence related to your injury. Preserving any physical evidence of the incident can help to prove your claim in court. You should, when possible, gather the evidence as soon as you can, because accident scenes can change or be altered. For example, make sure you keep any torn clothing, broken equipment and important documents, and try to keep them in the same condition.

Photographs of car accident scenes or the area where someone fell can provide a lot of information for your attorney. Taking photos is very easy, as well, because so many people have smartphones with cameras. You should generally try to take photos of the scene from multiple angles. Remember, it is better to have too many photos rather than wishing you had taken more.

A witness can be very helpful in proving your claims. Once an incident occurs, if you are not too injured, try to obtain the name and contact information for anyone that may have seen what happened. Remember that people may move, ignore phone calls or simply forget, so you should always try to find as many witnesses as possible to ensure that you have someone able to confirm your story.

Police Report
If you are involved in a car accident, or any other incident where law enforcement was summoned, like an assault, then a police report will be created. You are entitled to receive a copy of the officer’s police report. Generally, you just need to contact the police department to request your copy, although sometimes it may take a few days and you may be required to pay a small fee.

The police report can provide significant evidence to help bolster your case. For example, in a car accident, the report will often provide a description and diagram of the accident, along with the officer’s conclusion regarding fault. Some police reports even contain the names of witnesses. In short, a police report provides information that is valuable throughout the case, from determining whether to sue to settlement negotiations to trial.

Finally, you should try to write down as much as you are able, particularly right after the incident. Be as descriptive as you can, and include what you noticed about the scene before the incident. Make sure that you take notes regarding exactly what happened, including both before and after the incident occurred. And don’t forget to include your emotional state as well, as that can be important. Also, documenting your injuries, and especially any difficulties with everyday life can help to establish how your injuries have affected you.

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Chantix, also known as Varenicline (var en’ i kleen), is a prescription grade smoking cessation tablet that is intended to be taken orally once or twice a day with a full glass of water and food. Chantix is typically prescribed for a 12-week period, at the end of which, it is anticipated that many people will cease smoking. It has been on the market for about 5 years and became the best-selling drug of its type, both in the United States and overseas, until recent negative publicity began to detract from its success.

Formerly, the side effects associated with Chantix, as listed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (a division of the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health) were nausea, constipation, gas, vomiting, heartburn, bad taste in the mouth, increased or decreased appetite, trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, unusual dreams or nightmares, drowsiness, and headache. The more serious side effects included swelling of the face, tongue, lips, gums, throat, arms, or legs, difficulty swallowing or breathing, rash, swollen, red, peeling or blistering skin, and blisters in the mouth. Other sources reported risks such as loss of consciousness, visual disturbances, suicides, violence, depression, and worsening of diabetes.

Recently, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial that included 700 smokers with cardiovascular disease who were treated with Chantix or a placebo indicated a link between Chantix and adverse cardiovascular events. The cardiovascular events included angina pectoris, nonfatal myocardial infarction, need for coronary revascularization, and new diagnosis of peripheral vascular disease or admission for a procedure for the treatment of peripheral vascular disease. These warning are now being added to the Warnings and Precautions section and the patient Medication Guide.

An even newer study, published in a Canadian medical journal, showed a link between Chantix and an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and other serious cardiovascular events for smokers without a history of heart disease compared to smokers who did not use the drug. This new study analyzed 14 randomized clinical trials which involved 8,200 patients and completely excluded those with cardiovascular disease. The study revealed an absolute difference of 0.24 percent and a relative different of 72% in serious cardiovascular outcomes between people who took Chantix compared with people who were taking a placebo. When assessing the studies of smokers with and without pre-existing disease, Chantix was associated with 1 extra cardiac event for every 28 smokers treated. One more person quit for every 10 who took Chantix.

Chantix’s manufacturer, Pfizer, and the FDA reported plans to conduct a joint analysis of clinical trials on cardiovascular events, but it was not slated to be performed until next year.

How do these drugs become approved? The company that desires to market a drug must test it and submit evidence that it is safe and effective to the FDA. The FDA has five major centers, which are responsible for ensuring the safety of over the counter and prescription drugs, medical and radiological devices, food, cosmetics, biologics, and veterinary drugs. Although the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) does not test drugs, the FDA Office of Testing and Research does conduct related limited research (developing new scientific methods and regulatory testing, providing scientific support, providing scientific training, and so on). The CDER’s physicians, statisticians, chemists, pharmacologists, and other scientists review the drug sponsor’s new drug application (NDA), which contains its research data and proposed labeling. In order to protect and promote public health, the FDA may order additional clinical trials (Phase IV trials), clinical holds, and risk management plans.

The New York Times, Study Links Smoking Drug to Cardiovascular Problems, Duff Wilson, 07.04.2011.

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By Kathleen Beatty

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The New York products liability attorneys at our firm are always monitoring the changes in laws affecting those who are injured. We follow the changes in many areas including those that affect the safety of our children. At home and while traveling, nothing comes before ensuring that our young children are protected. For many years, drop-side cribs were very popular as they allowed the parent or guardian to easily lift the child from the crib.

However, earlier in the year, Graco as well as other manufacturers recalled these cribs due to several deaths that occurred when the infants were stuck in the movable side of the crib.

Today the Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) has taken a closer look at the history and dangers and finally decided to ban the sale of drop-side cribs permanently. According to the CPSC records, 32 infants have died as a result of this danger in the past ten year period. 14 additional deaths are suspected as well. The unanimous decision of the CPSC states that it will be illegal to manufacture, sell or resale the cribs. Of additional importance towards the safety while traveling and at hotels or resorts, the CPSC has set a two year time frame for these businesses to stop using them. So though, it will be illegal after 2012, we strongly recommend that all parents find suitable and safe cribs when traveling with their young children and if a drop side crib is all that is available, please make sure its not from the various brand of millions of drop-side cribs recalled over the past few years.

The responsibility in New York for premises liability is based upon the an obligation and duty of the owners of property to maintain their premises and their furniture in a reasonably safe manner.

Leav & Steinberg, LLP recently represented a woman who was seriously injured while staying at a New York Hotel when defective carpet caused the nail tacking to come up puncturing her foot and causing permanent injuries.


Drop-side cribs finally outlawed, Jennifer LaRue Huget,, December 15, 2010

By Edward A. Steinberg