DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog

Patients Suffer Serious Infections from Defective Scopes

Posted in Defective Products

Outbreaks of potentially deadly bacterial infections caused by defective duodenoscopes have been identified in 25 separate locations nationwide, affecting dozens of patients, according to a recent U.S. Senate investigation. The scopes are used to examine the duodenum, or the upper part of the small intestine.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the 301-page Senate document focuses on Olympus Corp., the manufacturer of the scopes. The investigation determined that the manufacturer knew that the scopes had a design defect that greatly increased the risk of infection during surgeries, but it continued to make and sell the devices without alerting hospitals or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the risks.

Olympus Corp., a Japanese company, sells 85 percent of the duodenoscopes used in the U.S., according to the Times. In June 2012, the company received concerns about the scope, questioning whether the device’s design made it too hard to sterilize properly.

Per the investigators: “The faith that patients, doctors, hospitals and public health officials placed in Olympus to thoroughly test their cleaning instructions before putting devices in the marketplace was clearly misplaced.”

The report also noted that: [Olympus] failed at every level to meet basic expectations of transparency and openness and to actively engage with FDA to address contamination issues… This disregard for the spirit, and sometimes the letter, of the law resulted in potentially preventable serious and potentially fatal illnesses in hospitals around the world.”

Olympus allegedly did not warn about this increased risk of infection until February 2015, after a “superbug” infected seven patients at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Nationwide, at least 141 patients reportedly suffered similar effects.

In March 2015, the FDA issued a safety alert that addressed the steps Olympus had promised to take in order to correct the problem. These included offering more detailed information about the scopes’ design and labeling and fixing defective scopes in order to reduce the risk of cross-contamination and infection.

Defective medical equipment can cause serious harm, but hospital errors overall may thankfully be on the decline. What’s causing this positive trend, and will it continue? Learn more: Are Hospital Errors Really Becoming Less Common?

Our Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys would be happy to provide a free and thorough consultation about your recent accident and possible case. Call or email us today to explore your strategic options.

Honda Expands Recalls After Authorities Confirm a Ninth Takata Air Bag Death: Car Industry Rocked by Challenges in Its Wake

Posted in Consumer Safety, Defective Products

As this blog and other news sources recently reported, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has confirmed a teenager received fatal injuries from a crash in July linked to a defective Takata airbag.

This latest death brings the total number of reported fatalities directly associated with Takata air bags to nine. Seven other fatalities occurred in the U.S., and one occurred in Malaysia. While all the deaths have involved Hondas, 100 people globally have sustained injuries from driving a variety of models that have the flawed air bags.

Honda just announced an expansion of the recall to include 127,000 more CR-Vs from 2003 to 2004. The company also added a small number of 2016 CR-V models. According to the NHTSA, the industry expects Mazda and Subaru to recall more 2005 to 2008 models, including the Legacy and Outback.

This huge, sprawling recall has taken an enormous bite out of Takata’s profits. Honda, a manufacturer that owns a 1.2 percent stake in the company, said last month that it would not purchase any more air bags from Takata. (For more information on the severing of the relationship between Honda and Takata, see Facing Substantial Fines Over Airbag Defects, Takata and Honda Part Ways.) Following quickly on the heels of this announcement, Ford, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan declared they would discontinue their air bag contracts with Takata. In addition, the embattled air bag company will pay a $70 million civil penalty.

Meanwhile, court documents unsealed late in December have added yet another wrinkle to the story. The New York Times reports: “Explosions in Takata’s airbags raised alarms at the highest levels of the airbag manufacturer and its biggest customer, Honda, more than five years ago, according to internal documents unsealed by a Florida court… The documents were unsealed as part of a lawsuit brought against Takata in Florida. According to minutes of a meeting at Honda’s American headquarters in Torrance, Calif., on July 22, 2009, Hidenobu Iwata, who at the time oversaw the automaker’s manufacturing operations in the United States, pressed Takata’s president, Shigehisa Takada, on the extent of the defect. “I am constantly worrying how far it spreads out,” Mr. Iwata told Mr. Takada and other Takata executives at the meeting…”

Our Washington D.C. auto accident attorneys would be happy to provide a free and thorough consultation about your recent accident and possible case. Call or email use today to explore your strategic options.

Latest Air Bag Death Reveals Inefficiencies in U.S. Recall System

Posted in Automobile Accidents, Consumer Safety, Defective Products

Last July, the driver of a Honda Accord died in an accident due to a faulty Takata air bag – one of the models recalled by Takata in a massive company move. This latest tragedy highlights the vivid dangers posed by defective car safety products.

Per the Los Angeles Times: “The accident occurred in July near Pittsburgh. The teenage driver, who was not identified, was in a 2001 Honda Accord, which has been under recall.

“We are working hard to understand this crash and the cause of the injuries that resulted in this fatality,” American Honda said in a statement. The company said it had not yet had an opportunity to inspect the vehicle.”

Honda reports that it made repeated attempts to notify the owner of the needed repairs from 2010 to 2012 but received no response. Last July, the ownership of the un-repaired car changed hands just prior to the fatal crash.

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Edward Markey, D-Mass issued a joint statement on the matter: “The identification of yet another preventable death — this time a young boy and well after when this safety defect was first made known — reiterates the urgent need for swift recall of all cars with these potentially defective airbags.”

Critics say the auto industry needs to address issues with the recall system. Repairs can take years to complete, and a substantial percentage of defective cars never receive the needed servicing. Automakers might be better served by devising a more modern system of alerting owners to the dangers involved in driving recalled vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also recently expanded the Takata recall to include more Honda, Subaru and Mazda models. Motorists can go to http://www.safercar.gov/, a NHTSA-run website, to check and see whether their vehicles are on the recall list. The auto companies make the repairs free of charge.

Replacement parts are not available for every recall model – this problem can lead to extensive delays. Owners should find alternative transportation until their vehicles are safe to drive. For more thorough information on Takata story see here: Update on Takata Airbag Recall and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About It.

Call our Washington D.C. auto accident attorneys for a free consultation about your potential case.

Safe Driving Tips for Extreme Winter Weather

Posted in Automobile Accidents

Severe winter weather, frigid temperatures, and ice and snow produce an array of driving hazards. Exercising caution and knowing what to do in adverse conditions can protect you from accidents and injuries. Here are strategic tips to stay safe on the road, no matter what Old Man Winter throws at you.

Precautions for Cold Weather Driving
To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, don’t warm up your car in a garage or enclosed area. Keep enough gas in your tank to fill it at least halfway to prevent a gas-line freeze. Always carry hats, gloves, food, water, medication, blankets and a cell phone in your vehicle. If you become snowbound, stay inside your car; but put a brightly colored cloth at the top of a window to signal you’re in trouble.

How to Drive on Black Ice
When rain falls at temperatures at or below 32° F, it freezes, creating ice on the road. People commonly call this ice “black ice” because it blends in with the road. Motorists have trouble spotting it, which makes it even more dangerous. When you encounter black ice, take your foot off the accelerator and don’t hit the brake. Keep the steering wheel steady, and avoid over-correcting the steering if the car slides.

How to Drive in the Snow
AAA recommends doing everything slowly involved in snow driving, including accelerating, decelerating, turning a corner and stopping. Allow yourself a longer distance to come to a halt, and avoid stopping whenever possible. AAA recommends a method of braking that consists of putting your heel on the floor and applying firm, steady pressure to the brake. Finally, if you don’t absolutely need to go out, stay home.

For more information, see our Checklist and Tips for Safe Winter Driving.
Call our Washington D.C. car accident attorneys for insight into your possible case.


7 Tips for Protecting Children From the Dangers of Cold Weather

Posted in Child Safety, Community Service

Frigid temperatures transform the mid-Atlantic landscape into a dazzling snowy wonderland, creating opportunities for children to enjoy winter sports as well as spend more time indoors. Yet kids need extra protection from the cold because their judgment isn’t fully developed, and their small size makes them more likely to lose body heat quickly. Here are some winter weather safety tips to keep in mind.

1. Keep Infants in a Warm Room
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that infants younger than one year should never sleep in a cold room, because they are unable to generate enough body heat through shivering.

2. Dress in Layers
Dress your children in several layers. Be sure they wear a neck scarf and warm gloves along with a cap that covers their ears.

3. Exercise Caution Using Space Heaters
Don’t leave your children unattended near a space heater. Since it’s impossible to watch kids 24/7, wait until your young ones get older before you use these heating devices.

4. Wear Helmets During Sports Activities
Have your children wear helmets when sledding, skiing or playing ice hockey. Make sure the helmets fit properly, and work with other neighborhood parents to enforce the “helmets on, or the fun’s over” rule.

5. Follow Safety Precautions When Ice-Skating
Never allow your children to skate alone. They should skate only in designated areas. Be sure to check for cracks and holes in the ice, especially when the temperature creeps up.

6. Drink Plenty of Fluids
In cold, dry temperatures, children lose more water through their breath. Keep them hydrated with soup and hot drinks.

7. Watch for Signs of Hypothermia
Be on the alert for symptoms of hypothermia, which include unusual clumsiness, slurred speech and shivering. This condition is a medical emergency, so call 9-1-1 if you suspect it.

To learn more about how to protect your child in cold weather, see Pediatric Group Issues Winter Safety Tips for Kids and Parents.

Please get in touch with our Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys today to explore how you can obtain fair compensation and justice in your potential case.


Most Hazardous Toys of 2015

Posted in Child Safety, Defective Products

Toys have the potential to harm children in many ways. Health risks include choking, damaged hearing and the ingestion of toxic chemicals as well as injuries to any part of the body. The Public Interest Research Group’s Education Fund released its annual Trouble in Toyland report of dangerous toys. Below are the worst offenders.

Fun Bubbles jump rope from Dollar Tree. It contains 10 times the maximum allowed quantity of the banned phthalate DEHP along with large amounts of another toxin, phthalate DIBP.
• A fairy wand at Dollar Tree. The rod has small parts that can break off and cause choking.
Nickelodeon Mermaid Dora the Explorer from Target, Disney Planes and Disney Pixar Cars Riplash Racers from Marshalls, Disney Finding Nemo Dory figurine and G2 Air Mini Football from Five Below. The labels don’t adequately warn of choking hazards.
Mega Value Pack 16 Latex Punch Balloons, Mega Value Pack 12 Water Bomb Packs and Balloon Animal Kit from Party City. While they have choking warning labels, they also have confusing labels saying the toys were for children aged 3 and older.
Vtech Go! Go! Smart Animals, Vtech Go! Go! Smart Wheels, Vtech Spin & Learn Color Flashlight, Fisher Price Click n Learn Remote, and Leap Frog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set from Target. The extreme noise level of the toys stays within federal standards, yet it could damage the ears of children (not to mention annoy parents and neighbors to no end!).
Singing magnets and Sizzlers noise magnets from Dollar Tree. Although their size falls within federal standards, they still pose a swallowing danger. Ingestion would cause severe internal damage.

Children are also very vulnerable in the car. With due diligence, you can reduce or eliminate some of those risks. Read more here: Consumer Reports Reveals 5 Eye Opening Developments Regarding Child Car Safety.

Our Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys can provide a free consultation about a recent accident and explore your strategic options for fair compensation.

Volkswagen Recall Spreads as South Korea Recalls Over 125,000 Cars

Posted in Automobile Accidents, Defective Products

Volkswagen’s (VW) troubles continue to mount following the exposure of the carmaker’s attempt to conceal the magnitude of smog-causing emissions from its vehicles. In September, the company admitted to installing software in up to 11 million diesel vehicles around the world that tremendously understated emissions of nitrogen oxides. Now, following a California recall of VW vehicles, South Korea has ordered a sizable recall.

After the South Korean environmental ministry tests showed evidence of VW’s deceptive manipulation, the agency ordered a recall on more than 125,000 vehicles. It also fined VW $12.31 million and ordered the company to submit a recall plan by January 6, 2016. The recall models include Euro 5 engine vehicles with 2,000cc and 1,600cc diesel “EA189” engines, which the country sold primarily between 2008 and 2015. Once the ministry completes its testing, the vehicle recall could expand to other models.

South Korea’s action came on the heels of a California recall of 16,000 diesel vehicles. The order from the California Air Resources Board involved all Porsche and Audi vehicles having 3.0-litre diesel engines in the model years 2009-2015.

As a consequence of the scandal, VW’s profits in South Korea have taken a tumble. Its percentage of imported vehicles in the country declined from 15.7% in September to 12.34% in October. In addition, the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association reports that sales dropped from 2,901 registered vehicles in September to just 947 in October.

Have you ever wondered how much you should worry about a vehicle recall? See Does a Vehicle Recall Mean Emergency? Sometimes, But Not Always.

Our Washington D.C. auto accident attorneys would be happy to provide a free and thorough consultation about your recent accident and possible case. Call or email use today to explore your strategic options.

Toyota Recalling Another 1.6 Million Cars Over Takata Air Bag Debacle

Posted in Consumer Safety, Defective Products

The latest Toyota recall of 1.6 million vehicles with defective air bags represents only a part of the 15 million vehicles with this problem that the carmaker has recalled since 2013. This recall involves 22 models sold in Japan, including the Vitz and Corolla, manufactured between January 2004 and December 2005, along with models in Britain, Italy and Spain. Japan’s Takata makes the hazardous inflators that explode too forcefully and send out shrapnel.

While no one has reported a harmful incident relating to the air bags with Toyota vehicles, a person in a Nissan car incurred an injury recently in Japan. However, prior incidents illustrate the danger of the defective inflators. They have been responsible for eight deaths and hundreds of injuries worldwide.

The air bag problem has caused Takata’s profits to take a nosedive. Toyota, Nissan, Ford and Honda have elected not to use the defective air bags in vehicles under construction. Moreover, American carmakers have recalled 19 million vehicles with the inflators, an action that drove the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to impose on Takata fines of up to $200 million, which is the largest civil penalty in the organization’s history. (For more information, see Air Bag Manufacturer Takata Faces $70 Million Fine for Defective Air Bags.) In November, Takata reported that recall costs led to a half-year loss of $45.8 million. The inflator manufacturer also cut 75 percent off its profit forecast for the year.

Call our Washington D.C. auto accident attorneys for a free consultation about your potential case.

Consumer Advocacy Group Releases List of 10 Unsafe Toys for 2015

Posted in Child Safety, Defective Products

Some manufacturers overlook safety hazards in the design and construction of children’s toys. World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (WATCH), a toy advocacy safety group, says the market contains an array of dangerous play items, and they urge parents to be extra careful when shopping for them online.

Per the WATCH website, here’s the mission of this safety crusade: “Although parents have a right to expect that toys they give to their children are safe, unsafe toys remain an ongoing problem. One child is treated in a U.S. emergency room every three minutes for a toy-related injury. From 1990 to 2011, there was a 40% increase in toy-related injuries. Consumers can help children enjoy a safer holiday season knowing what traps to avoid when selecting toys. W.A.T.C.H.’s “10 Worst Toys” list, a hands-on tool for consumers, raises awareness of the different types of potential hazards to avoid while toy shopping.”

Here is WATCH’s list of the ten most unsafe toys of 2015.

1. Bunnies by the Bay makes “Bud” Skipit’s Wheely Cute Pull Along, which sells for $29.99. The toy has the potential to cause choking injuries.
2. GD.Jiefeng Toys makes Foam Dart Gun, which sells for $13.99. It is a realistic toy weapon.
3. Toys R Us, Inc. makes Stats’ 38″ Quick-Folding Trampoline, which sells for $49.99. This jumping equipment could cause head, neck and other injuries.
4. Skyrocket Toys makes Poo-Dough, which sells for $4.99. It contains wheat, so it has the potential to produce an allergic reaction.
5. Imperial Toy makes Splat X Smack Shot, which sells for $10. The shooting device has the potential to cause eye injuries.
6. PlaySmart makes Kick Flipper, which sells for $19.99. It could cause head and other bodily injuries.
7. Playmates International Company makes Leonardo’s Electronic Stealth Sword, which sells for $24.99. The toy weapon has the potential to cause blunt force injuries.
8. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. makes Kid Connection Doctor Play Set, which sells for $4.97. It has the potential to produce ingestion and choking injuries.
9. Early Learning Centre makes Pull Along Zebra, which sells for $20.99. The toy has the potential to result in entanglement and strangulation injuries.
10. Hasbro makes Jurassic World Velociraptor Claws, which sells for $19.99. It has the potential to cause eye and facial injuries.

Here are 6 signs that your toys might be defective.

Call our Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys if your child was seriously hurt by a defective toy or product.

7 Holiday Safety Tips

Posted in Consumer Safety

Everyone looks forward to the holidays, since they involve celebrating the spiritual significance of the occasions as well as cherishing time with family and friends. However, activities associated with this time of year present various risks to health and property. Here are some safety tips to help prevent unpleasant things from putting a damper on your festivities.

1. Manage Stress
The hustle and bustle of holiday pursuits, such as decorating, shopping and partying, can take a toll. Pace yourself and take breaks when you feel anxiety mounting. Get enough sleep at night, so you’ll have the energy you need for this busy time. Consider this research as a cautionary tale:

“In laboratory settings, researchers can zero in on particular stressors and their effects on health measures, such as how well the immune system responds to injury. In 2005, Kiecolt-Glaser and her microbiologist husband Ronald Glaser enlisted 42 healthy couples to test how interpersonal stress might affect wound healing. On two separate occasions, the couples came to a clinic in the morning, ate breakfast, gave a blood sample and endured some mild discomfort as a nurse used a medical device to raise a small suction blister wound on one arm. Next the couples underwent either positive social support counseling about their marriage or, at a separate visit, were led into a discussion of their marital disagreements.

The scientists checked the wounds in the following days. Couples healed in a median of five days after friendly counseling but took six days after a session about marital conflicts. When the conflict sessions were split into couples who got confrontational versus those who were more easygoing, the hostile couples took a median of two days longer to heal, the researchers reported in JAMA Psychiatry.”

2. Prevent Fires
Sadly, every year fires destroy people’s homes because of holiday-related hazards. Place candles away from curtains and trees, and if you have pets or children, you may want to avoid them altogether. Keep real Christmas trees watered, check strings of lights for frayed wires and never leave a fireplace unattended. Install a carbon monoxide and smoke detector in your home.

3. Avoid Injuries When Decorating
Instead of standing on furniture to put up decorations, use a step stool or ladder. The National Safety Council recommends using a ladder model with slip-resistant feet and wearing slip-resistant shoes when climbing on one.

4. Ensure Food Safety
Thaw food in the refrigerator, and use a thermometer to ensure you cook meat to the proper temperature. Don’t leave perishable items unrefrigerated for more than two hours.

5. Never Drink and Drive
Even one alcoholic beverage can impair driving ability. To be sure you get home safely after a night out on the town, have a designated driver along who will abstain from liquor.

6. Prevent the Spread of Germs
No one wants to spend the holidays nursing a cold, so take measures to minimize the spread of germs. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. Wash your hands with soap and running water.

7. Prepare Your Vehicle for Emergencies
Amid the season of ice and snow, you never know when the elements could leave you stranded. Keep a winter emergency kit in your vehicle that includes water and nonperishable food as well as first aid supplies, blankets and a battery-powered radio.

You might also want to brush up on Tips to Protect Yourself Against Extreme Cold.

Our Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys can suggest a smart, tested strategy for how to seek compensation after an accident. Call or email us for a consultation.