Articles Posted in Defective Products

A lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Marshall, Texas, alleges that thousands of highway guardrail end caps are defectively designed  with the result that when a vehicle runs off the road and collides with the end of the guardrail instead of cushioning the impact the guardrail spears the vehicle.  At issue is the Trinity Industries’ ET-Plus guardrail manufactured by a division of Dallas-based manufacturer Trinity Industries .   The Center for Auto Safety recently filed a motion requesting federal judge Rodney Gilstrap to unseal many of the documents in order to determine whether a recall of the  guardrails was necessary.

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The increase in oil and gas exploration and production in Texas is a mixed blessing. Along with an increase in jobs comes a substantial increase in loss of life, limb and property. Commercial auto losses and workers compensation claims are on the rise.

TXDOT data reflect that in 2013 the Eagle Ford Shale region had 236 fatal crashes and a total of 3,430 serious and/or fatal accidents, many involving oilfield trucks, which represents a 7% increase over 2012 statistics.

The Permian Basin area experienced 4,371 serious injury accidents including 358 fatalities representing a 13% increase over 2012.

General Motors recently admitted that it became aware of the defective ignition switches as far back as 2001 which caused the vehicles to shut off resulting in auto accidents. The defective ignition switches were manufactured by Delphi Automotive. A Dephi spokesman reports that the switches which were installed in approximately 1.6 million vehicles only costs between $2 and $5 dollars to produce and can be changed out in a few minutes by a trained GM mechanic.

The defective switches give rise to products liability causes of action potentially for both defective design and/or defective manufacture. In most states the liability attaches to both the manufacturer and any distributor/retailer in the chain of distribution.

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Discovery in a wrongful death case filed against General Motors has established that General Motors knew in 2004 that a defect in the ignition switch of Chevrolet Cobalts could cause the engine to shut off while the auto was being driven. The loss of power would cause a resultant loss of power steering, power brakes, airbags and the anti-lock function of the brake system.

The lawsuit arose out of the death of a 29 year old pediatric nurse who died in her 2005 Chevy Cobalt. The data from the black box indicated that the ignition defect caused the vehicle to stall causing a fatal crash. When General Motors learned of the defect they attempted an inadequate repair campaign but did not recall the switch until recently after at least six people died due to ignition switch failures.

The actual subjective awareness by GM of the severity of the ignition switch defect and their failure to recall the defective switches resulting in the death of numerous motorists exposes GM to the potential for punitive damages.

The dangers of tobacco smoke have been common knowledge since the Surgeon General first warned the American public more than 50 years ago. However, the dangers were generally thought to be to be limited to lung cancer, emphysema, and other respiratory related disorders. Individuals with lung cancer filed products liability lawsuits against “Big Tobacco” and States sued for the increased cost of healthcare for their residents.

According to a recent report released by the U.S. Surgeon General the effects cigarette tobacco smoke go far beyond lung related disorders and diseases. The report definitively links cigarettes to diabetes, colorectal cancer, arthritis, and erectile dysfunction.

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A jury rendered an actual damages verdict against Toyota for $3 million dollars. The case involved the injury of the 76-year-old driver and the death of her passenger when the 2005 Toyota Camry she was driving suddenly accelerated and crashed. The evidence indicated that software defects caused the crash. The jury also found that Toyota should pay punitive damages in an unspecified amount. Toyota settled the case in order to avoid a punitive damages verdict being entered.

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Tylenol is the brand name for over-the-counter acetaminophen made by McNeil Consumer Healthcare Products, a division of Johnson & Johnson. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), more people die as a result of an overdose of acetaminophen that all or the other over-the-counter pain medications combined. Many of the overdoses are the result of a consumer taking two different medications both of which contain acetaminophen. This is known as “double dipping” in the industry and the dangers of combining medications are either not known or under appreciated by the consuming public. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 300 people die each year from an accidental overdose of acetaminophen.

The problem is compounded by the fact that over 600 different medications containing acetaminophen have been approved for use in the US by the FDA, their normal dose is very close to the overdose limit resulting in a small margin for error, and when combined with alcohol acetaminophen can cause liver damage or even death.

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Google’s recent admission that no one sending communications to a Gmail account has any reasonable expectation of privacy raises the question whether a doctor, lawyer, accountant or any other professional charged with the duty of maintaining client confidentiality can ethically send confidential information through a Gmail account.

The Texas rules of ethics for lawyers imposes a duty to take steps necessary to maintain the confidentiality of certain client information. If an email service provider such as Google freely admits that communications via their service are not private then it stands to reason that any professional who sends information via Gmail may be waiving any privileges that would otherwise attach to information sent via Gmail.

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The National Highway Traffic and Safety Association entered into an a agreement with Ford Motor Company whereby Ford agreed to pay a $17.35 million dollar fine for dragging its’ feet regarding the recall of Ford Escapes and Mazda Tributes. The vehicles allegedly had a throttle defect which could cause the throttles to stick in the open position resulting in sudden acceleration of the vehicles. The throttle defects have been linked to nine injuries and one death.

The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act requires auto manufacturers to notify owners, dealers and NHTSA of known defects. NHTSA alleged that Ford failed to timely give notice of the throttle defect. Although Ford officially denied the allegations it agreed to pay the multi-million dollar fine.

Remember, this is the same Ford Motor Company that failed to disclose the gas tank defect in the Ford Pinto that resulted in the fiery deaths of Pinto drivers.

Johnson & Johnson’s own internal review of the hip implant known as the Articular Surface Replacement, or ASR, indicates that approximately 40% of the implants would fail within the first five years of implantation. Johnson & Johnson recalled the troubled hip implant in mid- 2010, yet did not release their internal analysis until after the recall.

The ASR recall is one of the largest medical device failures in years and raises questions as to what the managers of the DePuy Orthopedics Division of Johnson & Johnson knew about the hip implant’s problems before the implant was recalled. The ASR hip implant uses both a cup and ball component made of metal. Over time the grinding of the metal-on-metal device tends to produce metallic debris which damages the surrounding bone and tissue.

About 93,000 patients worldwide have received the Johnson & Johnson ASR. More than 30,000 of those patients are in the United States. Seven thousand ASR lawsuits have been consolidated in a federal court in Ohio and an additional 2,000 claims have been consolidated in a California state court action.