Articles Posted in Products Liability

The recall of vehicles due to potentially dangerous airbag inflators shows no signs of slowing down. More than 29 million cars, trucks and SUVs have already been recalled, and a number of lawmakers have called for all vehicles in Washington and around the country equipped with airbags manufactured by Takata to be included. These calls grew louder on Feb. 23 when a Senate committee indicated that the Japanese auto parts manufacturer may have known about and concealed the problem.

The faulty airbag inflators have been linked with accidents that caused 10 deaths and more than 100 injuries. Automakers say that a combination of poor design and lax manufacturing processes caused the fault, which can lead to airbags exploding and showering vehicle occupants with metal fragments and other debris. It was initially thought that only vehicles in hot and humid parts of the country were affected, but the recalls were subsequently expanded.

According to documents released by a Senate committee, Takata’s internal documents show that the results of tests designed to measure quality and safety may have been manipulated to conceal the fault. The documents also reveal that some members of Takata’s management team urged the company to take a more proactive approach. If NHTSA decides to follow the wishes of lawmakers, up to 90 million additional vehicles may be recalled.

Hoverboards are prone to catching fire and are, therefore, “unsafe,” according to the U.S. Consumer Product Commission. The agency made the declaration in a letter released Feb. 18, which urged self-balancing scooter manufacturers to gain UL certification before selling more hoverboard products in Washington and nationwide.

According to the CPSC, there were 52 reports of hoverboards igniting in 24 states between Dec. 1, 2015 and Feb. 17, 2016. The resulting fires causedmore than $2 million in property damage and led to the destruction of two houses and a car. The acting director of the agency said that most of the fires could have been avoided if the hoverboards had been constructed to meet the voluntary UL safety standards.

The CPSC letter said that if agency employees find imported hoverboards that do not meet safety standards, they may seize them. The agency also indicated that it may seek a U.S. recall of non-compliant hoverboards, which are considered to be “defective.” The letter urges hoverboard manufacturers to ensure their future products meet the electrical standards outlined in UL 2272, which is aimed at self-balancing scooters. They are also encouraged to make sure all lithium ion batteries within the hoverboards meet the requirements under UN/DOT 38.3, which addresses dangerous goods for lithium ion batteries and metal.

Many residents of Washington like to include organic foods and supplements in their diets to avoid potentially unhealthy chemicals, but one organic supplier has had to issue a recall due to contamination from a living source. Products in Garden of Life’s Raw Meal powdered shake and meal replacement powder line have been connected with cases of Salmonella virchow infection in several states.

The product recall started on Jan. 29 and was expanded to include over two dozen additional products on Feb. 12. According to Garden of Life, organic moringa leaf powder from a specific supplier was the likely source of the contamination, and the company plans to reformulate all Raw Meal recipes to omit the leaf.

Health officials in Minnesota advised against consumption of any powders bought on or after Nov. 1 of last year, and they also cautioned not to use any powders with best-used-by dates of September 2017. The officials specified that all of the infected consumers at the time of the report had either used a vanilla or chocolate variety of a Raw Meal product.

Honda owners in Washington may have received notice of an expanded recall of cars that have defective Takata air bags. Since 2008, more than 6 million vehicles have been recalled due to faulty inflators on Takata air bags. There have been nine U.S. deaths connected with the inflators, and eight of them were in Hondas. The latest round of recalls is on late-model cars including the 2016 Acura ILX.

Honda issued the letter to dealers on Jan. 30 saying that it planned to recall as many as 2 million Acura and Honda vehicles. However, on Feb. 2, two U.S. senators said that all 24 million cars with Takata inflators should be recalled.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that its investigation into the recalls and the faulty inflators is still ongoing. NHTSA recalled about 19 million vehicles with Takata inflators through the end of 2015, and in January, Takata said that it planned to recall more than 5 million inflators located on the driver’s side.

Some Washington motorists may own a vehicle that was among the more than 51 million that were recalled in 2015. This set a new record, and there was a total of nearly 900 separate recalls. Most of the recalls related to air bags made by Takata Corp. that have so far been responsible for the death of eight people and injuries to more than 100 others. The faulty inflators meant the air bags were prone to explosion, and about 19 million vehicles were recalled in connection with the inflators.

Recalls were up because Takata Corp., along with General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, faced significant fines for being slow to report problems with vehicles. In response, auto makers have stepped up their recalls in an effort to fix defects as quickly as possible.

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration official says that fixing these problems is crucial. While most defects are fixed within 18 months, 25 percent still are not. The agency is calling for public opinion on an expansion of approaches to notifying consumers of recalls such as email or text messages.

Washington parents need to be aware that Perrigo, a manufacturer of children’s cough syrup sold at various retailers recently recalled five batches of children’s cough syrup. The problem with the syrup is that the dosing cups that were included have wrong markings, leading to concerns about possible overdoses.

The cough syrup is sold under a variety of different brand names and contains 100 mg of guaifenesin and 5mg of dextromethorphan. The company stated that it has notified the Food and Drug Administration and is issuing a voluntary recall to protect consumers. The company also stated that it was not the one that manufactured the dosing cups.

When taken in too high of a dose, dextromethorphan can cause serious side effects. Perrigo reported that potential side effects include coma, death, seizures, hallucinations, respiratory depression, tachycardia and others. The company has advised parents to not try to guess at the correct dose and to throw away the dosing cups. A medical professor said parents who notice any of the side effects occurring should immediately seek medical care for their children.

>The National Association of State Fire Marshals has published an advisory about hoverboards, a popular self-balancing scooter often bought for children. Numerous incidents of the toys exploding and starting fires have been reported in the United States and the United Kingdom, and families in Washington should only buy hoverboard brands that are UL approved. Caution during charging, which appears to trigger most of the fires, should be exercised as well.

Consequences of the fires have been serious. For example, one U.S. family lost its home to a fire started by a FitTurbo hoverboard given to a 12-year-old boy for his birthday. His mother reported seeing sparks shooting from the toy. The fire quickly spread through the home and caused extensive damage. In another incident, an 11-year-old girl felt her hoverboard get hot while she was riding it. She jumped off just in time to avoid being burned when it caught fire.

Similar hoverboard fires have alarmed UK officials. In response to numerous complaints, National Trading Standards inspected 17,000 hoverboards and identified potential fire risks in 88 percent of models. Explosion risks plagued cheap knockoff models that officials said were flooding the market during the holiday shopping season.

Washington residents may be interested to know that a judge in New York has said GM may be liable for punitive damages related to faulty ignition switches. In 2009 GM came out of bankruptcy as a new business entity. In essence, that would shield the company from lawsuits related to anything that happened during the existence of the former General Motors.

However, the judge said in his ruling that employees and knowledge may have been transferred from the old entity to the new one. He further said that the new GM could be liable for damages if it could be shown that the new company had knowledge of issues related to the old company. This is seen to be problematic for the new GM as it has admitted that it knew about faulty ignition switches.

According to one attorney, there are 250 cases against GM pending in state and federal courts. The attorney said that the ruling was a complete win for the plaintiffs as it allows jurors to hear evidence that may help them put a dollar amount on the lives lost in accidents related to the faulty switches. Furthermore, the ruling allows plaintiffs to pursue cases in which GM’s conduct may have led to a decline in the value of their vehicles.

Washington consumers who like cheeseburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches should be aware that Kraft has issued a recall of some of its American Singles cheese product slices on account of the possibility that they could pose a choking hazard. The recall, which is voluntary, was first announced on July 31 and has since been expanded.

According to Kraft, the recall involves Kraft Singles American and White American pasteurized prepared cheese product. The company issued the recall on account of the possibility that a thin strip of packaging could remain adhered to the slice after the wrapper has been removed. A consumer who eats the cheese while the film is still on the product could choke.

So far, 12 people have complained about the packaging, five of whom choked after eating the cheese slices. Approximately 335,000 cases of the product were affected, including cases shipped to the United States, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Netherlands, South Korea and the British Virgin Islands. The products involved have a “Best When Used By” date of Dec. 29, 2015, through Jan. 4, 2016, followed by the Manufacturing Code S54 or S55. Kraft Heinz Company is the world’s fifth-largest food and beverage company.

Washington residents who take dietary supplements should be aware of a consumer warning issued by the Food and Drug Administration on April 13 about a product called Tri-Methyl Xtreme. Three injuries were reported by consumers in Utah, New Jersey and California, and there is concern that the product said to contain anabolic steroids could cause liver damage.

Tri-Methyl Xtreme is distributed by a Las Vegas company called Extreme Products Group, and the supplement is marketed as a way to help build muscle and sold in some gyms and retail stores as well as online. The company claims that anabolic steroids are found in the supplements, and an FDA scientist said that anabolic steroids can cause serious and irreversible damage to multiple organs in the body. In addition to liver damage, synthetic steroids could also cause increased risk for strokes and heart attacks. Consumers should watch for ill effects like discolored urine, back or abdominal pain or unexplained fatigue

Dietary supplements cannot possess steroids or any prescription drug ingredients, but manufacturers are in charge of regulating their own products and making sure they are safe because supplements are not required to go through FDA effectiveness and safety reviews. The FDA often issues warnings when supplements are found with drugs that can be used to aid body building, sexual enhancement or weight loss.

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