Articles Posted in Defective Products and Devices

As 2015 comes to a close and we reflect on the year, the really big stories impacting consumers are tough to miss. Volkswagen’s scandal involving “clean diesel” that wasn’t clean at all; Takata’s scandal involving faulty airbags that can cause serious injury and death when they are meant to protect; and, General Motors’ defective ignition switches that have led to catastrophe for drivers are the triumvirate of auto industry scandals. It is tough to imagine a year in which auto consumer trust has been so shaken or in which so many millions of us have been affected by the actions of companies we rely on for safety.

Volkswagen has admitted to committing a major fraud on consumers looking for an environmentally friendly vehicle. A company with such highly-respected brands such as Audi and VW has taken itself through the reputation ringer. The smart VW tech car engineers thought they would outsmart emissions regulations and created a software program for their “clean diesel” cars that fools emissions tests. It allows vehicles that are actually spewing 40 percent higher emissions than are permitted under law, to fake results when tested only to return back to the excessive emissions when the car is driven again. After an avalanche of news and litigation concerning Volkswagen’s “clean diesel” fraud woes, the class actions filed against the car manufacturer have now ended up in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. “Clean diesel” car owners have sued because they have a big problem. Their cars cannot meet emissions standards and dealers won’t take them back. Unless VW comes up with a fix, the cars aren’t worth much. The Multidistrict litigation (MDL) will likely result in a settlement with the car giant since they have admitted to having defrauded consumers. The question is, how much will VW pay for its big “mistake.”

The Takata defective airbag recall is also affecting millions of car owners. These airbags which were installed into vehicles made by at least 10 car manufacturers, have airbags that can suddenly deploy and can cause serious injury and death. The airbags spew shrapnel that has caused catastrophic harm to vehicle occupants. The majority of the vehicles are from model years 2002 through 2008, but has now expanded to 2104 for some vehicles. The problem with these airbags is the inflator, which has a metal cartridge that holds propellant wafers. The defective airbags can spray metal shrapnel inside the vehicle, harming drivers and passengers. Consumers can find out whether their vehicle is part of the recall by visiting the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration’s website that includes the VIN numbers for all recalled vehicles that could have the dangerous airbags.

And last but not least, the trust-shattering scandal involving General Motors’ faulty ignition switches has been in the news for several years now. These switches can cause the vehicle to turn off unexpectedly and have caused about 170 deaths. The company is in the process of settling litigation from a fund established for the benefit of crash victims and their loved ones. For over a decade, GM engineers knew the ignition switches were defective and still allowed them to be installed into their vehicles. GM has admitted to this and has promised to alter the culture that allowed this to happen. The callous and cynical attitude towards their customers is difficult to imagine. Families that have lost loved ones due to these ignition switches are most affected by the utter lack of care or concern for their safety by the iconic American car-maker. But in reality, we are all affected by each of these scandals and frauds, because we should be able to trust the companies that create motor vehicles. Probably the worst damage that has been done to consumers as a whole is the trust that has now been forever shaken in these brands. They will have to work very hard indeed to regain that trust.

Hersh & Hersh is dedicated to helping injured and harmed consumers and their families. For over four decades, we have represented clients harmed by defective products and have been involved in some of the largest recalls in the United States. We have earned a reputation from our clients and our peers for excellence in law practice and compassionate representation. If you have a question about an injury or harm, contact us for a free consultation.

Recently, a Los Angeles jury awarded a hip implant plaintiff over $4 million dollars in a case involving a defect in manufacturing which eventually caused the hip to fracture and fail within the plaintiff’s body. The plaintiff sued Wright Medical Technology, Inc. for the failed hip implant. In interviews with the National Law Journal, the lawyers involved in the case report that the verdict is significant, but not just for the plaintiff whose implanted hip failed but for other patients who are similarly situated. Not only is the manufacturer of the hip implant named in literally scores of lawsuits, the case signals the potential for more major verdicts against it. The company has issued a statement that it will appeal the recent verdict.

The company has attempted to limit the scope and impact of this verdict. The jury found that the implant defect was in the manufacturing process. The company has stated that this case is out of the ordinary and that it involved a specific component failure. Other cases pending against the company, include multi-district litigations in California and Georgia and involve metal-on-metal hips in which the hip implant has caused injury or has failed. The consolidated cases mainly involve a specific hip implant known as the Conserve.

When patients are preparing for a hip implant, or an implant of any kind, it is important that they research not only their medical team and its experience with implanting devices, but also the type of implant that will be inserted into their bodies. Ensuring that both the surgeon and the device has an excellent track record is of utmost priority. For more information on the issues concerning hip implants please consult the Food and Drug Administration‘s website.
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The Toyota Motor Corp. and U.S. subsidiaries have agreed to settle investigations by 29 attorneys general and will pay 29 million dollars to participating states. The settlement closes the claims with these states that the company misled consumers about the safety of its vehicles.

Toyota has been paying out significant reparations for many safety and communications issues associated with various defects. For example, the company already paid a large sum totaling $48.8 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for its failure to let regulators know about defects that became the subject of recalls.

The company has also recently agreed to pay about $1.4 billion to end national class action claims that its vehicles suddenly and unintentionally accelerated, which devalued the owner’s vehicles. The company had been sued by hundreds of owners since about 2009, when the car maker began receiving complaints about the sudden acceleration issue. Some individual cases involving injury and death due to the defect may still be litigated. The company is said to be trying to settle some of the larger of these cases before they get to juries.

The state investigations resulted from the claims of sudden acceleration. The company had insisted that its vehicles were safe, despite recurring issues with the acceleration systems in several models. Toyota has agreed to correct communications issues between Japan and the United States with regard to safety problems. It must also advise buyers about defects in previously-owned vehicles and repairs made on those cars.
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The federal government has sued the manufacturer of the Nap Nanny, sold in stores nationwide including San Francisco, because the products’ maker has failed to voluntarily recall it. As San Francisco child injury lawyers, with a long history of expertise in infant safety recalls, we applaud the efforts of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The problem with the product is that “at least five infant deaths and more than 70 complaints” of infants falling out have been provided to the federal government. They say that the maker of this product was not providing sufficient warnings to consumers about the dangers and risks associated with it.

The Nap Nanny has been sold for several years and includes a foam pad with a cover made of fabric. The baby is supposed to be strapped into a three-point harness. The product has been sold in several versions, but essentially it is a baby recliner designed for sleep, rest, and play.

The original Nap Nappy was recalled in July of 2010 after one infant died and 22 others were found hanging out or falling over the edge. The CPSC says that the manufacturer has not warned consumers of the risks of using it, even after these incidents occurred.

According to the CPSC, the various generations of the product contain “defects in the design, warnings, and instructions that pose a substantial risk of death and injury to infants.” The government has asked that the manufacturer cease selling the products and let the public know that it is not only defective, but that they are entitled to a full refund for it.

The CPSC noted that after its staff had discussed this course of action, the company refused to recall the product voluntarily in a way that “would address the hazard posed by consumer use of the product in a crib or without the harness straps being securely fastened.” Instead, the manufacturer says that they “stand behind the safety of the product when used as instructed.” They say that parents whose children have been injured or have died did not use the product correctly and that the product is not dangerous when used properly.

We urge parents to review their use of this and other child and infant products. If you purchased one of these products, return it to the store where it was purchased and let them know you are aware that the federal government says it is unsafe.
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This past year has been very eventful for the San Francisco, California injury lawyers who sponsor the California Injury Attorney Blog. We have represented injured consumers for four decades, in cases in a broad array of matters, involving workers’ rights in wage and hour claims, defective medical devices such as defective hip replacements, and accidents of all kinds that have adversely impacted the lives of our clients. We are gratified by the work we do to help our clients through the most difficult experiences of their lives.

Over this past year, we have brought our readers stories and information about serious potential for injury related to medical devices, drugs and other products. We have told you about infant and child safety and recalls related to products that have, or might, cause injury and harm to kids. We have informed you about the victims of defective medical devices, such as defective DePuy Hip Implants, and pharmaceuticals.

We informed you about the hearings of an FDA Advisory Committee in Washington DC that concerned the injuries to women in the use of transvaginal surgical mesh for pelvic organ prolapse and urinary stress incontinence. We attended these hearings to keep you apprised and up-to-date on the status of this growing area of concern for women, as failures and injuries of this surgical method were found to carry too many risks. We told you about the alternative ways of making these repairs for women suffering from various medical issues that do not lead to the great potential for new injuries from surgery.

We successfully litigated several very important wage and hour cases, including those involving Terminix and Marcus & Millichap. In these actions, we were able to secure employees of these companies the wages they were due and had not been paid.

In the Terminix matter, we presented as co-counsel, a landmark case that involved the company’s failure to provide rest breaks and required inspectors to work more than the number of hours per day allowed under California law. The inspectors also worked nights and weekends without additional compensation, which was a failure to pay overtime wages. The jury returned a verdict that protected workers’ rights.

We settled a major case involving a man who suffered a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury that was caused by a rear-end collision. The significance of this matter has broad implications for those who have been seriously injured, but whose injuries in the past have been ignored because, for example, they do not show up on an MRI. We helped determine and prove that this man had suffered major memory loss, impaired cognition and other debilitating problems, due to a rear-end collision. This injury is only now becoming better understood by experts in brain injury.

We will continue to dedicate our law practice the protection of consumers and the public. If you have any questions about what we do or how we might help you, please contact our law firm to speak with one of our lawyers. Our consultation on any injury or consumer matter is free of charge.

The lawyers of Hersh & Hersh wish all our readers a very happy and healthy 2012.

Earlier this month, we advised our readers that the FDA had issued a safety warning regarding the use of transvaginal surgical mesh in various surgeries for women suffering from conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse. The FDA’s action was the result of thousands of women reporting serious complications with this implantable device.

In a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, that was also published by the LA Times, examples of the complications women have suffered have been reported in great detail. As personal injury lawyers representing women who have suffered from these complications, we are painfully aware of them. There are other ways for surgeons to correct medical conditions such as pelvic prolapse and patients must be very cautious in allowing a surgeon to insert surgical mesh transvaginally.

The recent press on these procedures appears to target the lack of training of some surgeons performing these procedures and using this device. And as is pointed out in the Chicago Tribune piece “the FDA hasn’t required companies selling mesh products to prove they’re safe or effective when used in the pelvis, even though the potential harm can be substantial.”

We are well-aware of the serious medical consequences women have suffered when the mesh is used for pelvic prolapse and related surgeries. And once implanted, it is often difficult if not impossible to remove the mesh due to the development of scar tissue surrounding the device.

The renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and some other major clinics, will simply not perform these procedures using surgical mesh. They prefer to use other very viable ways to correct these issues through the abdomen.

But as reported in the Chicago Tribune, some doctors believe there are patients for whom this is the best alternative where anesthesia use can be a risk factor or for women with recurrence of prolapse. They seem to point to the surgeon’s skill and training as the issue, rather than an inherent problem with the use of mesh in this context.

However, the FDA has had thousands of reports of complications. As injury lawyers who have helped women suffering from some of the excruciating and life-changing results of the use of transvaginal surgical mesh, we urge patients to talk with their doctors about the risks of the use of mesh.

While mesh may be a possible corrective device in other types of surgeries, such as hernia repairs, using this transvaginally may not be a risk that should be taken when the complications can be worse than the original condition. Clinical outcomes have not been shown to be better using surgical mesh — this is something that all patients looking for surgical correction should consider.

As noted in the Chicago Tribune piece, the FDA is looking at various “regulatory options related to mesh, including reassigning products used in vaginal prolapse surgeries to Class III, the most tightly regulated type of device. Should that occur, companies would have to provide much more data about the products’ effectiveness both before and after they come out on the market.”

An FDA public hearing in September is expected to bring out many women who have suffered from the use of this device. The agency will be considering its fast track approval of the use of mesh for this purpose and could reclassify it, making it far more stringent for companies advocating its use in this context.

We urge women to contact our law office to discuss complications from the use of mesh in their surgeries. We will consult with you at no charge.

As California personal injury lawyers, we deal with a wide variety of defective products and devices that have caused injury or death. Recently, we shared with our readers the FDA’s safety warning concerning surgical vaginal mesh, which is implanted in women to correct various medical problems, but has been shown to have serious adverse consequences in many patients. And we are involved in the recent recall of DePuy’s defective hip implants, representing clients who have been implanted with these devices.

Another major area of our injury law practice relates to dangerous or defective products that have harmed or killed children. Our law firm was at the forefront of the largest crib recall in the history of the country. We are always interested in safety improvements to all products, including those intended for children.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted to approve a new safety rule for children’s outerwear. The final rule covers certain outwear and other clothing with drawstrings around the neck or waist. These have been found to have a serious risk of entanglement in playground equipment and car doors.

Twenty-six children have reportedly died after a drawstring became tangled on a playground or in a vehicle door. These incidents include dragging hazards as well as strangulation hazards.

The agency issued guidelines for a voluntary industry standard in the late 1990’s, and fatal accidents have declined. But unfortunately, there are still many non-compliant products on the market and the agency has recalled over 100 of these in the past four or five years.

In a related matter, the CPSC has settled with Macy’s Inc., of Cincinnati, Ohio, which will pay a civil penalty of $750,000 for selling non-compliant drawstring clothing for children for a period of four years. Although Macy’s denies knowingly selling recalled products or failing to immediately report the sale of non-compliant products, they apparently are willing to pay a price to close the matter with the agency. The settlement includes sweatshirts, sweaters and jackets sold at either Macy’s stores, or stores owned by the company including Bloomingdales and Robinsons-May.

Retailers and distributors have specific reporting obligations under federal law to report information that supports “the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard, creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or fails to comply with any consumer product safety rule or any other rule, regulation, standard or ban enforced by CPSC.”

This particular hazardous group of products is still of concern to the CPSC. They want to know about incidents or injuries involving these products on an ongoing basis.

The injury lawyers at San Francisco, California’s Hersh & Hersh, have represented victims harmed by defective medical devices and other products for over four decades. Please contact our law office for a free consultation regarding your situation with one of our trial attorneys.

Many Americans get hip replacements every year. When these devices operate correctly, mobility and quality of life can be improved for patients who would otherwise be restricted.

Recently, DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., recalled two of its ASR hip implant devices. This recall has and will lead to many difficulties for patients who have been implanted with these devices which is known to be defective.

Two types of Depuy ASR hips were recalled by the manufacturer. Between 2005 and 2009, nearly 95,000 patients were implanted with either the ASR XL Acetabular System or the ASR Hip Resurfacing System. The sheer numbers involved in hip replacement surgeries make a recall of these devices particularly disturbing.

These hip implants have been shown to deposit dangerous levels of metal debris in some patients’ bodies and blood streams. This will result in high levels of particular metals in patients that include chromium and cobalt, among others. Friction occurs with these hip replacements, due to their metal-on-metal design and that is how the metals end up becoming debris in the patient’s body.

The result of the defects is that many patients who were implanted with these devices will need to undergo another surgery to remove them. In these revision surgeries, the defective devices will be removed and will be replaced with another hip implant.

Sadly, many of the implanted patients are elderly and will have a difficult time with a second major surgery that will be required. Regardless of age, this is a major surgery and having to have a second hip surgery due to a defect in the implant, is a terrible outcome for those patients that will have to undergo this ordeal. In addition to the issues with metals in the blood, patients have experienced pain, hip popping, difficulty walking and many other symptoms.

Given that the manufacturer will not compensate patients at the level needed for long-term care, surgeries, lost wages and/or emotional distress, it is very important that patients who have been implanted with the DePuy hip replacement implant contact experienced defective medical device lawyers.

If you have been implanted with a DePuy hip and are experiencing symptoms contact our injury law firm immediately. If you have not yet experienced symptoms, but would like to know your rights Hersh & Hersh can help. Contact us to arrange a free consultation with an attorney experienced in defective medical device litigation.

The California Injury Attorney Blog is pleased to provide readers with information about the new crib rule that has been issued by the federal government.

Our affiliated consumer law firm, San Francisco’s Hersh & Hersh, has been at the center of the cases involving infant deaths due to defective and unsafe cribs. Our work was instrumental in securing major recalls concerning infant safety and we were involved in the largest recall of cribs and bassinettes in American history.

Many Americans have been asking the CSPC questions regarding the new rules. According to the federal government, most questions have concerned the drip side, but the new standard impacts more than the drop side and includes: the crib’s mattress support, slats, and hardware.

The new standards require all of these to be more durable. In addition, crib manufacturers must test their cribs and have a higher burden to prove to the government that they have complied through rigorous testing. The new standards go into effect on June 28, 2011.

Childcare centers and public accommodations must comply by December 28, 2012.
It is very important for consumers to know that not only does the new standard involve new cribs it also involves resale of cribs. Both full-size and non full-size cribs are covered.

If you would like more information about crib safety please visit the Crib Information Center for the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. There you will find specific instructions on how to put your baby safely to sleep and what to look for in your baby’s nursery and crib to ensure safety.

In the coming weeks we will provide more information about the new crib standard.

The lawyers of California’s preeminent consumer law firm, Hersh & Hersh have compassionately represented the families of children and infants who have been injured or have died in a tragic incident. We have represented families of babies who have died in defective and dangerous cribs. Please contact our offices for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys regarding any questions you have if your child or infant has been injured.

Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune published a major report on the dangers of crib bumpers. The California Injury Attorney Blog’s affiliated law firm, Hersh & Hersh represents one of the families featured in the article. We want to ensure that other families protect their children from these dangers.

Preston Maxwell died at age seven weeks. His dad put him to bed one night earlier this year and by morning the baby was found dead in his crib. The baby was found with his nose “pressed between the mattress and crib bumper pad” and his autopsy report concluded that he had suffocated. In other words, the baby’s face ended up wedged between the mattress and crib bumper pad.

According to the Tribune article, the “U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said it will re-examine the safety of crib bumpers.” This will include reopening files on infant deaths to evaluate the “safety of bumper pads on store shelves and rethinking how investigators examine deaths where bumper pads are present.”

It is not yet known how many infant deaths have been caused by crib bumpers, but since the CPSC is now taking another look at this product, there might well be many more deaths that will in the end be attributed to something that has been present in baby nurseries for years.

One pediatrician studied the safety of bumper pads and three years ago issued a report that concluded 27 infant deaths were caused by these products over two decades. He used CPSC data to determine this.

In some cases, the deaths have been erroneously attributed to SIDS, when in fact other circumstances in these baby’s cribs were overlooked. Due to the pediatrician’s report, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested that parents avoid the use of crib bumpers.

Another product in many infant cribs are sleep positioners. These are supposed to keep infants from rolling onto their stomach which is suspected as a cause of SIDS. In Preston’s case, he was placed in a crib positioner, but “rolled out of his positioner and landed with his face between the bumper pad and mattress,” states the Tribute article.

This past fall, the FDA urged parents to stop using these positioners and issued a warning concerning them. Additionally, the FDA sought the halting of manufacturing and selling of this product.

The national consumer lawyers of California’s Hersh & Hersh would like parents to ensure their infants are safe. If you would like more information on the dangers of crib bumper and/or baby positioners, please contact our law firm to speak with one of our lawyers.