Articles Posted in Product Liability

Over the past decade, manufacturers of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, have marketed their product as a safe alternative to smoking. Indeed, their efforts have been largely successful, with an estimated 2 million adults and teens reporting they have used an e-cigarette within the past three days.

e-cigaretteThat being said, the federal Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of e-cigarettes as a stop-smoking aid. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force agrees, noting that there is insufficient evidence supporting the use of e-cigarettes for those who want to quit smoking. Part of the reason why e-cigarette use has not been approved is the lack of longitudinal studies following the health of those who use them on a routine basis.

In recent news, according to a study released by researchers out of New York University and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, e-cigarettes may still pose a potential risk of lung cancer, bladder cancer and heart disease. Depending on the results of further research, users of e-cigarettes who develop lung cancer, bladder cancer or heart disease may be eligible for compensation through a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturers of these products.

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spilled baby powderEarlier this month, a Missouri jury returned a verdict assessing $110 million in damages against household product maker Johnson & Johnson in a lawsuit regarding its talcum powder products. This litigation marked the fifth trial that the company has faced regarding whether or not these products lead to the development of ovarian cancer. The plaintiff in this lawsuit, a woman from Virginia, alleged that she used the company’s talc-based products for over four decades and developed ovarian cancer as a result. The plaintiff was required to undergo chemotherapy after she was diagnosed with cancer, which later spread to her liver. In her complaint, the plaintiff specifically identified Johnson & Johnson’s Shower Powder and Baby Powder products.

The talcum powder that Johnson & Johnson uses for its talc-based products is sourced from a company called Imerys Talc America. This company is owned by another company based in Paris.

Currently, there are over 2,000 lawsuits containing similar allegations pending against Johnson & Johnson. One of the primary causes of action asserted in the complaints is that Johnson & Johnson failed to provide adequate warnings regarding the potential risk of developing certain cancers from the use of its talc-based products, despite evidence available at the time the product was marketed suggesting a linkage. These lawsuits are mostly still pending in St. Louis, Missouri.

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smartphone in carAdvancements in technology have made vast improvements in travel and transportation. Some of the biggest technological changes to how we get around are smartphones and other digital computer platforms. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for vehicles to be equipped with their own computer systems in the dashboard, which offer motorists a variety of assistance and luxury features. Now, developers are finding ways to put these technological advancements to use for driver safety.

A recent study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) has identified some important questions regarding how smartphones and vehicles could interface in the future. The report could spur some smartphone makers to include vehicle safety technologies in their infotainment system applications. This feature would then lock out or prevent the driver from accessing certain features while he or she is operating the vehicle.

The NHTSA released another study in 2016 that discussed a safety proposal for smartphone manufacturers. It suggests that the smartphone operating systems be equipped with a Driver Mode that will prevent the driver from accessing certain features on the phone while in transit. Some of the features that would be off-limits during travel would be social media, video, web surfing, and manual text entry. The proposal also considered taking Driver Mode one step further and having it automatically activate if the driver has not engaged it prior to operating the vehicle or if the driver has not paired it with his or her vehicle.

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woman in hospitalBreast implants are one of the most popular elective surgeries throughout the world. Although breast implants have been around for several decades, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently identified a possible linkage between these medical devices and anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). This condition is categorized as an uncommon type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The FDA first identified the potential connection in 2011.

Now, in 2017, the FDA has indicated that it has collected additional evidence regarding this linkage. When it first started its investigation six years ago, the FDA was only able to identify a few cases involving the development of the disease in relationship to breast implants. This made it more difficult to identify the factors that would contribute to the disease’s onset. The agency prepared a report detailing its understanding of the potential linkage and calling for the assessment of additional information and identification of additional cases.

In partnership with the World Health Organization, the FDA has now obtained additional information and data regarding the potential link between ALCL and breast implants. The World Health Organization is an international agency dedicated to improving human health throughout the world, particularly when it comes to combating diseases. The FDA’s latest announcement describes ALCL as a rare T-cell lymphoma that may develop after an individual receives breast implants.

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sad boyMajor retailer Target has announced a recall of over half a million toy eggs designed to absorb water after concerns that the toys could create a blockage in a child’s stomach if they are ingested. The toys were designed and packaged for Easter.

Since the toys are designed to absorb water, if a child accidentally ingests a toy, it will swell inside the body and create an intestinal obstruction. The reports also suggested that the toy may not show up on an x-ray, making a life-threatening condition even harder to identify and treat. This could lead to serious health consequences, including severe pain, discomfort, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, and even death.

Although there appear to be no reports of injuries associated with the toy at this time, the Consumer Product Safety Commission initiated a Fast Track Recall covering some 560,000 toys. They also alerted members of the medical community and instructed parents to take adequate precautions, including not giving the toy to children and returning the product immediately.

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man smoking ecigaretteE-cigarettes have emerged as a popular alternative to traditional cigarettes. Created by a pharmacist in China, they offer a less toxic method for ingesting nicotine, compared to traditional cigarettes. A liquid solution containing propylene glycol, water, flavoring, and nicotine is heated, producing the vapor.

Although the companies that manufacture e-cigarettes and the many available accessories claim that they are a safe alternative to smoking, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to back that claim. In fact, the federal agency has proposed banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and is in the process of requiring companies that make these products to place warning labels on them. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control have stated that there should be more regulations limiting the sale and advertising of these products to minors.

Beyond the health implications, there are concerns regarding whether the devices are safe. A recent article described one incident in which an individual was using an e-cigarette when the battery inside it exploded, causing him to suffer third-degree burns. Although the incident occurred over one year ago, the individual is still experiencing damaging effects and requires daily treatments and care.

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We live in a digital age, in which new technological inventions seem to be announced every single day. One of the most discussed technological inventions of 2016 and something that is sure to stay in the spotlight during 2017 is driverless cars. These machines offer consumers the convenience of a personal vehicle with the added bonus of not needing to pilot the car, leaving passengers free to read, catch up on work, or engage in other activities.

Recently, however, a federal class action lawsuit alleges that one of Tesla’s self-driving vehicles has logged 62 times more “sudden unintended acceleration” events than the average nationwide. The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit alleges that his Tesla vehicle, a Model X SUV, crashed through a wall in his garage as a result of one of these unintended acceleration

Tesla considers itself a software company, and its founder, Elon Musk, has described its vehicles as “computers on wheels.” The driverless function of the vehicle is intended to make all the decisions for the driver. Computer engineers who design the software are responsible for anticipating the many different scenarios that a vehicle may encounter and to program the computer to make the appropriate decisions necessary to navigate each scenario safely. In December 2015, Musk reported that the computer software was so advanced that the vehicle could not only track the car in front of it but also the two vehicles in front of it. He also stated that the vehicle could see through rain, snow, dust, and fog. He projected that by 2017, all Tesla vehicles will have full self-driving abilities.

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Smoke alarms are intended to protect homeowners, apartment dwellers, and other people from fire-related dangers. We are reminded on a constant basis that we should test our smoke alarms regularly to ensure that they are working and to make sure that we have enough smoke alarms installed throughout the house. This is considered so important that many fire departments often go door-to-door to test smoke alarms for residents.smoke detector

Along with smoke alarms, it is often recommended to keep a carbon monoxide monitor in the home. In some cases, the smoke detector and the carbon monoxide monitor will be combined into the same device.

Just like any other device intended for the home, however, a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide detector can put residents at serious risk if they are not manufactured appropriately. According to a recent report from Good Housekeeping, Kidde, a major manufacturer of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, initiated a major recall of its products after concerns arose that the devices did not function as they were intended. In some situations, the devices may fail to respond appropriately to an emergency situation, due to lack of power.

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white dehumidifier deviceMany household appliances are designed to improve our comfort and health around the home. There are countless appliances that may be in your home today. What many consumers often forget, however, is that these appliances also pose serious dangers if they are not designed in a safe manner. Recently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that the manufacturer Gree initiated a recall of 2.5 million dehumidifier devices because they are prone to causing fires. The recall happened after Gree received some 450 reports of fires associated with the machines. This has resulted in at least $19 million in property damage.

Gree sells its dehumidifiers under several different brand names, including Kenmore, GE, and Frigidaire. This is not the first time that the devices have been recalled. In September 2013, Gree instituted a recall and then updated it again in October of that same year. The recall was also expanded in January 2014.

Recalled devices include various pint sizes:  20, 25, 30, 40, 45, 50, 65, and 70. The brand names subject to the recall include Premiere, Kenmore, Norpole, Gree, GE, Frigidaire, Seabreeze, SoleusAir, Fellini, SuperClima, De’Longhi, Fedders, and Danby. These devices were sold a at a number of recall locations, including Kmart, Home Depot, HH Gregg, Lowe’s, AAFES, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Sears, Mills Fleet Farm, and Menards. Some of the devices were sold through online retailers like Amazon and eBay as well. Devices subject to the recall were sold between January 2005 and August 2013. They cost anywhere from $110 to $400.

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spilled talcum powderEarlier this month, a jury returned a massive $70 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc America in a lawsuit regarding the company’s talcum powder products. The verdict constituted $67.25 million against Johnson & Johnson, $65 million of which represented a punitive damages award. The jury assigned $2.75 million in damages against Imerys Talc America and $2.5 million in punitive damages. Unlike other types of damages, punitive damages are designed to punish a defendant that engages in willful, malicious, and reckless conduct.

The plaintiff, Deborah Giannecchini, a 62-year-old woman, alleged that she used Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder products for over 40 years until she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013. Based on her treating physicians’ analysis, Mrs. Giannecchini faces an 80 percent chance of dying as a result of ovarian cancer in the next two years. She has also undergone chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery in an attempt to treat her cancer. During the trial, the plaintiff’s lawyer offered evidence suggesting that Johnson & Johnson had been aware of the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer for three decades through their possession of scientific studies.

The basis of the jury’s conclusion was that Johnson & Johnson should have provided a warning to consumers about the risk of using talcum powder-based products and the potential to develop ovarian cancer.

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