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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.”