Articles Posted in Products Liability

Louisville, Kentucky media report that an adult female, a male youth and a female youth perished when the Hyundai they were passengers in exploded into flames following a crash.  Louisville Metro Police Department says that a Toyota van initially struck the car as it traveled westbound on I-64 on Saturday evening. Then, another car, also a Hyundai, struck the first Hyundai sending it into the concrete barrier separating the lanes of travel.

Next, after the drivers of the Hyundai that crashed into the barrier and the Toyota exited the vehicles and began to converse, the Hyundai caught fire. The three passengers still in the Hyundai died from their injuries.

It is very early into the investigation and details are sparse, but it appears driver error by Toyota van operator may be the initial cause of the accident. However, many questions remain, chiefly including why the Hyundai burst into flames after the crash. A full investigation is necessary to determine whether some type of mechanical failure, shoddy maintenance of defects within the car and its component parts led to the explosion. These types of fires are not supposed to happen. The friends and family of the victims will undoubtedly want answers to these questions.

Kentucky health officials are asking for people’s patience and cooperation as they investigate the cause of 51 confirmed positive test results for Salmonella; 75 people suffering from gastrointestinal illnesses; and 11 individuals hospitalized. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention people that suffer from Salmonella often develop symptoms 12 to 72 hours after being infected such as; diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. This illness can last up to seven days and may even require hospitalization if symptoms are severe enough.

As the investigation continues to pinpoint where exactly this illness began, the restaurant owner of Eagles Roost, a sports bar in Irvine, Kentucky came forward and confirmed on local media that his restaurant is responsible for at least 19 out of the 51 illnesses. As of February 19, the restaurant has yet to reopen due to voluntarily closing for cleaning.

Judy Collins, senior regional epidemiologist, assures the public that they are doing their very best to identify all possible causes of this outbreak as quickly as possible. However, investigations such as this one require time due to many factors involved in searching for the source of the problem.

Earlier this week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reclassified transvaginal mesh implants, which are used to treat female pelvic organ prolapse as high-risk devices. These products must now go through a stringent approval process before being marketed and sold. Vaginal mesh products have contributed to serious complications in women, resulting in erosion and organ perforation, and causing many complaints by patients of pain and severe infection. The implants are now classified as a Class III devices. Thus, the FDA now needs to have more than just written support of the products’ safety as “substantially equivalent” to a product already approved by the FDA in order to be used and sold.

Vaginal mesh devices were previously approved through a much more lenient process in 2002 as Class II medical devices, meaning that several companies, including Johnson & Johnson’s unit Ethicon Inc. and Boston Scientific Corp, among others, were not required to perform any type of clinical testing to support the safety of the devices prior to releasing them on the market. The current cases against Ethicon, now numbering more than 23,000, allege that Ethicon did not provide adequate warnings of the dangers and severe risks of the devices when used to treat pelvic organ prolapse in women. The new requirements give companies that are already making the products about two and a half years to submit their premarket approval application while companies introducing new transvaginal mesh devices for pelvic organ prolapse must submit a premarket approval application before marketing the devices.

This reclassification was undertaken with hopes that it will help address the major risks associated with the surgical mesh implant, and ultimately to improve the lives of women suffering from pelvic organ prolapse. William Maisel, chief scientist for the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement Monday, “We intend to continue monitoring how women with this device are faring months and years after surgery through continued postmarket surveillance measures.”

Bahe Cook Cantley & Nefzger is currently offering free case evaluations to men who may have suffered cardiac problems due to their use of testosterone therapy medications, such as AndroGel.

More than 2,200 cases have been filed on behalf of men who have suffered heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular complications after using testosterone replacement medications.  These cases are currently pending in a Multi-District litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against both manufacturers and distributors of the Low-T drugs.  The lawsuits allege strict liability for design defects and failure to properly warn consumers, as well as negligence, breach of warranty, fraud, and unjust enrichment, among other things.

On March 3, 2015 the U.S. Food & Drug Administration ordered manufacturers of prescription Low-Testosterone medications to modify their labeling practices in two ways.  First, the labels must include a warning of the association between using testosterone replacement therapy and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.  Second, the labels must clearly state that the drugs have not been proven safe or effective for treating low testosterone levels in aging men.

With the Takata airbag recall continuing to grow, it is by far the largest auto recall in U.S. history. This not only means that millions of Americans are being affected, but millions are also living in fear that their vehicles may be equipped with the explosive airbags.

That fear may soon come to an end. SafeCar has announced that all vehicle identification numbers (VINs) affected by the recall are now loaded into a Lookup Tool on their website, SafeCar.gov.

Not only is this tool free to the public, but it also produces results within seconds and will inform consumers about all open recalls on their vehicle. SafeCar has also created a video which explains what to expect if your car is recalled and what you should do next.

Weeks after a congressional House subcommittee held a hearing over the defective airbags produced by Takata Corporation, Honda has added 1 million more vehicles to a growing recall list. This recall is already the largest auto recall in history, and the number of vehicles affected has continued to grow.

Two weeks ago Honda had announced that it would recall about 350,000 Hondas in high humidity states. On Monday, the company announced that it would be expanding the recall to encompass the entire nation after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration demanded it do so. This will add over a million 2001-2005 Civics and 2003-2007 Accords to the recall.

Last week Honda confirmed that Kylan Langlinais, a Louisiana woman, was the 7th person killed by a defective Takata airbag. Langlinais died at a hospital just 4 days after the 2005 Accord she was driving crashed into a utility pole.

While ensuring the safety of drivers still with defective airbags has been the primary focus of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, civil penalties are not out of the question. Langlinais’ family has filed a lawsuit for her death. Takata could potentially be liable under a products liability theory for placing a defective product into the hands of its consumers, which has caused, and has continued to cause, countless injuries and several deaths.

Bahe Cook Cantley & Nefzger is currently reviewing and accepting cases of people injured by these defective airbags on a nationwide basis.

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A congressional House Commerce and Energy subcommittee held a hearing on defective airbags produced by the Japanese company, Takata Corporation, whose airbags have been known to explode and fire out shards of metal when they inflate. This has been the biggest auto recall in U.S. history. So far, nearly 34 million air bags have been recalled, which has not been enough to prevent countless injuries and at least 6 deaths.

Kevin Kennedy, the executive vice president of North America Takata expressed deep regret and said they were doing everything in their power to address the safety concerns raised by airbag ruptures. Kennedy noted that Takata had upped production of replacement airbags and expected to produce 1 million per month by September. However, Kennedy admitted to still using ammonium nitrate even though the company has acknowledged that it may be a factor in the defective airbags. Furthermore, the logistics of replacing the defective equipment has yet to be worked out. In order to figure out a strategy, Takata will be working with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Even with production increases, the confusion and fear amongst consumers is palpable. One in seven registered vehicles in the U.S. has been effected by the recall. Automakers are left trying to figure out which cars are affected by the expanded recall, and for some consumers who know they have defective parts, supply has not caught up with demand.

Transvaginal mesh is an implant typically manufactured with a plastic material called polypropylene.  The product was created to repair conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.  The mesh was used fairly commonly to treat women over the past two decades until several products were recalled in the summer of 2011.

Last month Federal District Judge Goodwin was tasked with a legally complex analysis regarding the applicability of punitive damages in the case against Boston Scientific.  While civil litigation is not typically fashioned to impose a penalty on defendants, under limited circumstances a civil defendant may be forced to pay punitive damages above and beyond the compensatory damages calculated to make the plaintiff whole.   These damages are often imposed when defendants had express, direct knowledge that their misconduct could cause injury, and continued the acts nonetheless.

In denying the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment on the issue, Judge Goodwin concluded that a reasonable jury could find Boston Scientific acted with reckless and/or conscious disregard of the health and safety of its consumers, and therefore, summary judgment was inappropriate.   Judge Goodwin also concluded that a reasonable jury could find that the Defendant knew its product would probably cause injury to another person, and placed it in the stream of commerce anyway.

A trial in South Georgia concerning the death of a four year old boy is renewing debate over Jeep safety. Remington Walden died in the backseat of his family’s 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee when the car erupted in flames after being rear-ended at an intersection. The family’s lawyers allege that the carmaker has long been aware of the fatal defects that caused the child’s tragic and painful death, including the fuel tank placement just 11 inches from the rear bumper.

BCCN reported in October of 2009 that the Jeep Grand Cherokee fuel tank was 400% more likely to cause a fire and endanger or kill the vehicle’s occupants than other SUVs.  The Center for Auto Safety had at the time asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to recall all such cars made between 1993-2004, asserting that data showed that these cars were 4 times more likely to result in a fatal fire during a crash than other sport utility vehicles. The government currently links at least 70 deaths to these vehicles’ defects.

Fiat Chrysler recalled more than 1.5 million vehicles, including all 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty models as well as the ones suggested years earlier by the Center, under government pressure in June 2013. The company continues to insist that the vehicles met safety requirements at the time they were built, and that they were not defective. Sergio Marchionne, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO, stated in a deposition that the company believes that the cars are no more susceptible to fire than other SUVs.

A former engineer with Takata, the company now embroiled in a recall impacting major car manufacturers including Nissan, Honda, Ford, BMW, and more, has come forward to offer whistle-blowing testimony to the United States Congress regarding the company’s fatal and negligent practices.

Mark Lillie claims that the company had been warned that the ammonium nitrate they used in their designs was unstable and would result in catastrophic failure. Takata has been criticized for continuing to use the chemical compound in replacement designs. In addition, Lillie has said that airbag inflator plants were not up to standard and were unable to properly manage the ammonium nitrate-based airbag inflator design, lacking the expertise needed to create safe products.

More than 24 million cars have been recalled in the wake of the growing number of fatalities associated with the airbags.