Friday, December 2, 2011

Honda Recalls more vehicles for airbag problems: Accord, Civic, Odyssey, Pilot, CR-V and other models, manufactured in 2001 and 2002.

Honda Airbag Recall Expands

Honda said there have been 20 accidents so far related to this problem, including two deaths in the U.S. in 2009.
One of the deaths was Ashley Parham. The high school student died after a crash in the Carl Albert High School parking lot in 2009.
Midwest City police officers said her Honda Accord's airbag exploded, sending metal fragments into her body. She died from her injuries.
The Japanese automaker announced the recall Friday, which affects the Accord, Civic, Odyssey, Pilot, CR-V and other models, manufactured in 2001 and 2002.
The recall spans 273,000 vehicles in the U.S., some 27,000 in Canada, nearly 2,000 vehicles in Japan and another 2,000 in other countries. It affected 170 vehicles in Europe.
The latest recall is an expansion of recalls for the same problem in 2008, and again carried out in 2009, as well as last year. The recall now covers about 2 million vehicles worldwide, according to Tokyo-based Honda.
Honda spokesman Hajime Kaneko said the cause for the latest recall was the use of incorrect material in the chemical used to deploy air bags.
The initial cause of the recall was excessive moisture in the inflator propellant, which is part of what inflates the air bag.
But that problem was found later to affect more vehicles than initially estimated, as incidents didn't stop, and the recall was expanded to account for the possibility that the problem was caused by a defective stamping machine used during production, he said.
Honda is extremely sorry about the recalls but believes the problem has now been taken care of, with no more recalls linked to this problem expected, he said.
The automaker intends to contact owners of the affected vehicles at the end of December.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Chevrolet Volt Batteries Catch Fire After Crash Tests

NHTSA launches formal probe into safety of Volt battery.

The New York Times (11/25, B6, Bunkley, Subscription Publication) reported, "Federal safety regulators on Friday said they have begun a formal defect investigation of the Chevrolet Volt because a second battery caught fire after a crash simulation." The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has "been examining batteries in several plug-in cars since a June fire involving a Volt that had been heavily damaged in a government crash test." The agency said that "on Thursday, a Volt battery pack that was intentionally damaged Nov. 17 as part of that testing caught fire."

Bloomberg News (11/25, Keane, Welch) reported that the NHTSA is "is concerned that damage to the Volt's batteries as part of three tests that are explicitly designed to replicate real-world crash scenarios have resulted in fire," the agency stated on its website. Still, the NHTSA "said it doesn't know of any crashes outside of testing that have led to battery-related fires in Volts or other cars powered by lithium-ion batteries. Chevy Volt owners whose vehicles have not been in a serious crash don't need to be concerned, the agency said."

The AP (11/27) reported, "GM, which was informed of the investigation on Friday, said in a statement that the Volt 'is safe and does not present undue risk as part of normal operation or immediately after a severe crash.'" These "latest fires are in addition to a battery fire in a crash-tested Volt six months ago."

GM spent $1.78 million on lobbying during third quarter. The AP (11/23) reported, "General Motors Co. spent 29 percent less lobbying the federal government in the third quarter this year than last, but it still spent $1.78 million to influence legislators and agencies on gas mileage and pollution regulations, electric vehicle infrastructure funding, distracted driving regulations and other issues." Data show that GM "spent $2.49 million on lobbying in last year's third quarter and $1.94 million in the second quarter of this year." The automaker "had a dozen lobbyists dealing with Congress, the White House and federal agencies including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Energy, Defense, Transportation and State departments; and other parts of the government."

Monday, November 21, 2011

JFK 50 Mile 2012--Race Report

One word to sum it all up PERFECTLY AWESOME! It was one of those races where everything clicked, and I felt great, and was only feeling stronger as the race went on. I owe it all to my superb support crew, who were right there every time and helped carry me through. I don’t know what you want to hear about, so I will fill you in on everything as best I can, so you can plan for next year. Training was the key, back to back long runs on weekends, and track on Weds, everything else was recovery or just slow miles with the dog.

Overall time: 7:57:46

Finished in 87th Place

Overall pace 9:22

Race Recap

Went down the day before drank a bottle of Pedialite with a tablespoon of salt in afternoon. Pre-Race meal was chicken Parmesean and a salad. Drank a 20oz bottle with one scoop Infinit and 1 table spoon of Baking soda, and 3 Siberian Ginsing tablets, Ibuprofen.

A good solid 7 hours of Sleep

Woke at 4:30—1 cup coffee. Ate oatmeal, a banana, drank another 20 oz bottle of 1 scoop Infinit with 1 tablespoon baking soda mixed in, 3 Siberian Ginseng and Ibuprofen. Arrived at H.S. at about 6am, ate power bar. About 6:40 began walk to start line (about 1 mi away); was just chatting with fellow runners, when we heard the gun go off, no warning and we were still about ¼ from the start, I still have no idea where the start line was. Was a mad scramble, According to my watch, first mile was an 8:57, I was trying to move up and get ahead of the masses before entering the Appalaichan Trail. Mile 2 was up hill on the road, most people walked, but I kept a jog to get a head of the people. Entered the woods at about mile 2.5 to the trail, in about 24:30. The next 13 miles was on the trail steep up and steep down (twice across 2 peaks). It was brutal. Hoyt would have loved it, trail running at its best. It was fairly spaced out so you had some room to maneuver, but it was still crowded, difficult to pass, but I didn’t have to worry about that because mostly I was being passed. Lots of walking up the hills in the woods, and down the steep switchbacks at about mile nine and then coming out at Weverton Cliffs at about mile 15. The pace for the miles on the trail were anywhere between 11:00 and 13:00, slow going for me as I am not a good technical trail runner, that was about the only thing ugly about the race, was my running form in the woods, portions of the trail were very steep up and down and very rocky. I got pretty beat up in the woods, rolling my ankle a couple times near the end at about mile 14, and taking lots of odd steps, stretching my legs in funny ways (tweaked hamstring). It took me about 2:55 to complete the first 15 miles and get out of the Appalaichan Trail alive. I think that’s about a 10:50 pace. Over that stretch I took 2 Gu Roctanes and ate 2 packs of Cliff Margarita Blocs (both were great throughout race). Took water and a S-Cap at mile 9.3 aid station.

Exited the Woods at Weverton Cliffs at about Mile 15 Aid Stop, happy to be alive and in tact, drank water. Met Ann and the kids there, Ate a peanut butter and fluff sandwich (tasted great), Gu Roctane and 3 more Cliff Blocs. Picked up more Gu Roctane and Cliff Blocks, stuffed them in my bike shirt and kept moving picked up bottle of Infinit I carried with me.

On to the C&O Canal:

This was awesome, started feeling real good, so happy to be off the trail and the rocks and run on flat surface, beautiful scenery, started to hit comfortable stride, hitting about an 8:35 pace. Next 27 miles were on the C&O Canal, kept pace right at about 8:20-8:30, ran a couple miles under 8:00; nutrition was basically a Gu Roctane and a package of Cliff Blocs every hour, and sipping on Infinit (2 scoops) in between. Took water at aid stations. This was where I truly felt great and one of those days where you are just floating along, I do not believe I got passed by any runner on the canal trial, and just kept passing people. At about mile 24, I started believing I could have a shot at breaking 8 hours because I was feeling great, and I felt I could run a 3:45 marathon from here, Next saw Ann and the kids at about mile 27 at the Anteitem Aid Station, drank some Coke, Gu and Blocs, S-Cap and kept on moving. Great to see everyone, felt re-energized and kept on trucking down the canal path feeling great. About mile 33, got a little stomach pains and stopped in the port-o-potty for a couple minutes at mile 35, jumped out felt better and kept moving to mile 38 and the Taylors Landing Aid station, where Ann and the kids were there smiling again, Jen and Ryan were there, all a welcome sight after some long miles on the canal, according to the watch, still hitting about 8:20 miles at this point. Drank some coke, Gu, Cliff Blocs, and grabbed another Infinit bottle, everyone ran with me a little while which was great. Four more miles on the Canal Path, exited the canal path at about mile 42, was nice to have a change of scenery, walked up a steep hill off the path and up the road (first and last time I walked since the trail)Got up that hill and had about 7 miles to go to the finish. The count down begins, and this is the point were I started really believing I could break the 8 hour mark, if I could keep all my miles under 9:00. I did averaging 8:35 over the last 7 miles. Saw Jen and Ryan at mile 46, great to get a pick up and encouragement. I passed a few runners, and was also passed by three runners, felt strong and rolling along, legs and stomach felt good, but ready to get to the finish. I think I took another Gu at about mile 45, ate a couple Blocs and sipped on Infinit. Ann met me about ¾ mile from the finish and cheered me in, helping push me up the last hill. Great to see all the cheering faces at the finish, ran the last mile in 8:09 and felt incredibly, indescribably AWESOME, well worth it! Any other details, I will fill you in and I expect to see you at the start of the 50th Annual JFK 50 in 2012! Post-Race beverage of choice: Stella Artois

Thursday, November 10, 2011

GM Recalling 38,000 Pontiac G8s to Reprogram Air-Bag Module

General Motors Co. is recalling 38,400 Pontiac G8 models to reprogram the front-passenger air-bag module.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Saturday that the air-bag modules for the 2008 and 2009 models might not comply with federal standards for head injury protection.

No complaints, crashes or injuries have been reported related to the issue, GM said.
But the company found that in case of a crash, the air-bag sensor could be delayed and put some passengers at increased risk for a head injury. GM said crash tests found that the risk was limited but slightly higher for small women sitting in the front passenger seat.
GM dealers will reprogram the sensing and diagnostic module at no charge.
The G8 was manufactured in Australia and imported to the United States

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Toyota Steering Defects Recall

Toyota recalls 550,000 cars for steering issue

Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it is recalling about 550,000 vehicles worldwide _ mostly in the United States _ for problems that could make it harder to steer.  Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it is recalling about 550,000 vehicles worldwide — mostly in the United States — for problems that could make it harder to steer.
The recall affects 447,000 vehicles in North America, as well as 38,000 in Japan and another 25,000 in Australia and New Zealand, said Toyota spokesman Dion Corbett. In Europe some 14,000 vehicles are being recalled along with 10,000 in the Middle East and 14,000 in Asia outside Japan.
Toyota has received a total of 79 reports about the defect dating back to 2007, said Corbett. There have been no reports of accidents or injuries related to the problems, he said.
Toyota's reputation has taken a hit over the last two years due to a string of huge recalls that have ballooned to 14 million vehicles over that time, including millions recalled last year for acceleration problems. It faces damage lawsuits and lingering doubts in the U.S. about whether it had been transparent enough about the recall woes.
Japan's largest automaker has been trying to communicate better with customers and empower regional operations outside Japan to make safety decisions.
The news comes a day after Toyota said its July-September profit slid 18.5 percent to 80.4 billion yen ($1 billion) on plunging sales caused by parts shortages from the tsunami disaster in northeastern Japan.
It now faces such uncertainties from flooding in Thailand, where it has many suppliers and three assembly plants, that it declined to release an earnings forecast for the full year through March.
The latest recall is due to the possibility that the outer ring of the engine's crankshaft pulley may become misaligned with the inner ring, causing noise or a warning signal to light up, the company's U.S. sales unit said in a press release. If the problem isn't corrected, the belt for the power steering pump may become detached from the pulley, making it suddenly more difficult to turn the steering wheel.
In the United States, the automaker is recalling 283,200 Toyota brand cars, including the 2004 and 2005 Camry, Highlander, Sienna and Solara, the 2004 Avalon and the 2006 Highlander HV. Its recall of 137,000 Lexus vehicles includes the 2004 and 2005 ES330 and RX330 and 2006 RX400h.
Those affected elsewhere include certain models of the Alphard, Highlander, Highlander hybrid and some Lexus models, Corbett said.
In the U.S., Toyota will mail owners a notification to make an appointment with an authorized dealer to have their car inspected once replacement parts have been produced in sufficient quantities.
If needed, parts will be replaced for no charge, the company's American sales unit said. Notifications will be mailed starting in January.
In the meantime, if an abnormal noise is heard coming from the engine compartment, the owner is asked to make an appointment with any Toyota or Lexus dealer to have the vehicle inspected for this condition, the release said.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Study Finds Half of Children's Booster Seats are Unsafe

Half of children's car booster seats aren't good enough to ensure a proper fit with safety belts, a safety group funded by the insurance industry says in a report out Thursday.
This shows a good belt fit on a booster seat, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. One key: The lower belt sits flat across the upper thighs, not the abdomen
Six were so bad the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recommended parents avoid them.
Booster seats, which are recommended for children who have outgrown forward-facing child seats, are designed to raise kids up so adult-sized safety belts fit properly. Children aged 4-8 in booster seats are 45 percent less likely to be injured in a crash than those using only seat belts.
Not all boosters are doing that well.
Still, a record number of booster seats got the top rating for their ability to properly secure children in cars, but Booster seats were rated based on how well they fit 4 to 8 year olds with the lap and shoulder belts in a wide range of vehicles.
The IIHS says its ratings are important because it's impossible to tell which booster seats are better just by comparing prices, brands or features.
Child-safety advocate Joseph Colella calls it "a very significant regulatory shortfall" that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration doesn't evaluate booster seats based on how well they position seat belts seeing "that is their primary function." The IIHS' ratings put pressure on manufacturers to improve belt fit, but Colella says it should be required, not voluntary.
Although the IIHS says booster seats have improved in the three years it has been testing them, it is concerned that those requiring parents to check the fit still outnumber the good ones. Of 83 seats tested, 41 got a "check fit" rating, and 31 were rated "best bets" or "good bets" by the IIHS.
Four booster seats made by Evenflo and two by Dorel's Safety 1st brand were rated so poorly the IIHS recommended consumers not use them. They are: the Evenflo Chase, Express, Generations 65 and Sightseer models and Safety 1st's All-in-One and Omega Elite.
If seat belts aren't positioned properly, children can hit parts of the vehicle in a crash and even be injured by the belts, which can slice into internal organs.
The IIHS also reported states that raised the requirements for booster seats to cover children through ages 7 or 8 had 17% fewer fatal or debilitating injuries to booster seat-aged children.
The IIHS singled out the Canadian company Harmony Juvenile Products as a "standout" in booster seat design because all five of its seats were "best bets." The first inflatable booster seat, the Bubblebum, also got the top rating.
"The best protection is not provided by 'a booster' but by 'the right booster' for the child and the vehicle," says Colella of Traffic Safety Projects.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Volkswagen Recalls Vehicles for Fuel Leaks

Washington— Volkswagen of America is recalling 168,000 2009-2012 diesel vehicles over concerns fuel injector leaks could start an engine fire.

The German automaker said in a notice posted Thursdayon the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website it is calling back its 2009-2012 Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, Golf and Audi A3 that have its 2.0 TDI diesel engine. The recall includes 161,144 VWs and 7,131 Audi vehicles. No fires, crashes or injuries have been reported.
VW said about 20 percent of vehicles recalled have fuel injection lines with potentially faulty material. The automaker said one supplier used a faulty part in assembling fuel injectors — and the failures only related to one of four injector lines. The company began investigating the issue in March 2010 after a warranty return of a single report of fuel leaks. The company didn't discover a cause, but as additional fuel leaks were reported, it notified its parent company in Germany, VW AG, about the issue in February of this year. VW plans to notify dealers and owners next month.
In February, NHTSA upgraded an investigation into 2009-2010 diesel VW Jetta, Golf and Audi A3 models to an engineering analysis after it received 160 complaints and field reports alleging incidents of engine stall and/or loss of power that appear to be related to high pressure fuel pump failures. Approximately half of the reports indicate that the failure resulted in an engine stall incident, with many of these alleging stall incidents at highway speeds in traffic with no restart. There has been one minor crash alleged to have resulted from failure in the vehicles. VW has said it believes the problem is gasoline contaminated diesel fuel — consumers using the wrong fuel.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

800,000 Vehicles Recalled for Safety Defects Last Week

Automakers, including Hyundai Motor Co. and Subaru recalled more than 800,000 cars and trucks last week for defects including faulty airbags, according to federal regulators.

Separately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a preliminary defect investigation into 205,661 Ford Motor Co. minivans for the model years 2004 to 2005 following complaints that the service jack provided by Ford could collapse when in use and cause the vehicle to drop.

One of those reports said a person died after the Ford jack collapsed while he was working beneath the vehicle, according to a notice posted on NHTSA’s website.

The agency said it is investigating the issue to determine if a safety defect exists. NHTSA also upgraded two other probes into 431,000 Honda Motor Co. CR-V crossovers and 200,000 Jeep Liberty sport-utility vehicles built by Chrysler Group LLC.

Last week, Hyundai recalled more than 205,000 Veracruz and Sante Fe crossovers for model years 2007 and 2008 due to a defect in a part of the driver’s side airbag called the clock spring. The spring develops a high resistance over time and may not deploy in a crash, increasing the risk of injuries.

Subaru issued three separate recalls last week, including more than 295,000 vehicles for the model years 2002 to 2007 because a component in the front control arms can break if exposed to salty or humid environments.

The Japanese automaker also recalled more than 195,000 Outback and Legacy vehicles for model year 2010-2011 because components in the wiper motor could overheat and catch fire.

Subaru also recalled nearly 70,000 Outback and Legacy cars for the model year 2011 because the moonroof glass could come loose and detach.

Other automakers who issued large recalls last week were Hyundai affiliate Kia and Volkswagen AG .

Kia recalled more than 10,000 2007-2008 Sorento passenger cars because of a computer glitch that could turn off the front passenger airbag when an adult is in the passenger seat.

VW recalled more than 30,000 Jetta sedans for the model year 2011-2012 because some vehicles had a too-long stainless steel exhaust tip that could burn a person’s leg.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

BP, Transocean, Halliburton to Blame for Catastrophic Gulf Oil Spill

Federal report on deepwater spill blames .

The Wall Street Journal (9/14, Gold, Subscription Publication) reports that a federal report into the cause of last year's Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf will be released Wednesday, and it blames BP, the crew of the drilling rig owned by Transocean, and the cementing process used by Halliburton, in addition to offering 50 recommendations for changes to offshore drilling.

BP scientist suggests company ignored critical information before spill. The AP (9/14) reports that according to documents and interviews, "A BP scientist identified a previously unreported deposit of flammable gas that could have played a role in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but the oil giant failed to divulge the finding to government investigators for as long as a year." BP petro-physicist Galina Skripnikova revealed this information in a deposition with attorneys two months ago, saying that she did not relay the new information to drilling engineers on the Deepwater Horizon to warn them to hold off proceeding with the well ceiling process, and suggesting that she assumed the information would be passed up the corporate chain.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Nissan, Volvo and Lexus Recalls

Three Automakers Issue Recalls Over Front End Problems.

The Wall Street Journal (7/31, Welsh) reported, Nissan, Volvo and Lexus recently recalled a number of vehicles because of a range of front-end problems that could lead to the vehicles losing control. Nissan is recalling an estimated 20,000 Altima sedans from the 2011 and 2012 model years so that it can replace transverse link bolts that may not have been tightened to the proper specification. The recalled vehicles were built from April 25 through June 10, 2011, at the company's plant in Canton MS. In a filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Nissan said that if the bolts ultimately came loose, a driver could lose control of the vehicle and crash. Volvo is recalling 8,406 S80 sedans from the 2007 model because of an apparent problem with the vehicle's power steering. The vehicles subject to the recall were built from March 8, 2006, through May 16, 2007. The third auto manufacture, Toyota is recalling Lexus RX 350 crossover SUVs from the 2011 model over concerns that a brake problem could adversely affect the performance of the vehicles' antilock-brake and stability-control systems. Toyota said the recall affects 32 vehicles built from Aug. 30, 2010, through May 18, 2011.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ford rcalling more vehicles for fuel tank problem

Ford Motor Co. said today it is recalling nearly 3,000 2007 Five Hundred and Mercury Montego sedans to replace the fuel tanks.

In a notice posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website, Ford said the fuel tanks on 2,945 vehicles may not have proper welds between the fuel tank and fuel filler neck.
As a result, some may not have enough strength in the event of a severe rear impact. An improper weld could result in a crack in the joint which could cause a fuel odor or fuel leak.
Ford said minor fuel leaks have been reported in a small number of warranty claims.
The automaker said the vehicles being recalled were built at its Chicago Assembly Plant from Sept. 5 through Sept. 11, 2006.
Although Ford believes that the majority of the suspect tanks have been replaced due to dashboard warning lights stemming from evaporative emission leaks, Ford will recall the vehicles built in the suspect period "in an abundance of caution."
There have been no reports of crashes, injuries or fires resulting from the condition, Ford said.
Ford will begin notifying owners on Aug. 15, and will give them until Aug. 31 to file for reimbursement if they have previously replaced their fuel tank for the same problem. They can also seek reimbursement through their dealer.
Ford told its dealers it must replace fuel tanks in recalled vehicles -- even if owners have previously replaced them.
The fuel tanks were manufactured by Visteon at their facility in Chicago. This facility only built tanks and is no longer in operation. Visteon no longer manufactures fuel tanks.
Ford investigated the issue in 2009 after receiving two reports of minor fuel leaks and four reports of fuel odors or warning lights, but closed the investigation after determining the issue did "not represent an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety."
It continued to investigate the issue in 2010 and this year.

Chrysler recalls Dodge ram Pickups for TieRod Problem

Chrysler Group will recall more than 243,000 Dodge Ram pickup trucks because of potential problems with tie rod assemblies that may increase the risk of a crash, the automaker and U.S. safety regulators said.

To be recalled are 2008-2011 Ram 2500 and 3500 4x4 models, 2008-2011 Ram 3500 Cab Chassis 4x2 models, 2008 Ram 1500 Mega Cab 4x4 models, and 2003-2008 Ram 2500 and 3500 models, according to a filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
About 243,000 of the recalled trucks are in the United States. Of those, about 74,000 have already received service on the tie rod assembly, the NHTSA filing said.
Also, about 35,000 pickups in Canada will be recalled as well as some 2,750 in Mexico and 5,700 in other countries.
A Chrysler spokesman said there have been a few crashes and at least one minor injury as a result of the issue.The trucks "may experience a fracture of the left tie rod stud,"
Chrysler told NHTSA. "This condition tends to occur during low speed parking lot type maneuvers when the (driver) is making a left turn."
This may result in the "loss of directional stability" in the left front wheel, increasing the risk of a crash, Chrysler said.
Chrysler said that the risk is highest when making a sharp, 90-degree turn.
The automaker has not yet determined when customers will receive letters alerting them to the recall.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chrysler recalls 242,780 Dodge Ram pickup trucks

DETROIT (Reuters) - Fiat SpA's Chrysler Group LLC will recall about 243,000 Dodge Ram pickup trucks because of potential problems with tie rod assemblies that may increase the risk of a crash, the automaker and U.S. safety regulators said.
To be recalled are 2008-2011 Ram 2500 and 3500 4x4 models, 2008-2011 Ram 3500 Cab Chassis 4x2 models, 2008 Ram 1500 Mega Cab 4x4 models, and 2003-2008 Ram 2500 and 3500 models, according to a filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The vehicles "may experience a fracture of the left tie rod stud," Chrysler told the NHTSA. "This condition tends to occur during low speed parking lot type maneuvers when the (driver) is making a left turn."
This may result in the "loss of directional stability" in the left front wheel, increasing the risk of a crash, Chrysler said.
Chrysler said that the risk is highest when making a sharp, 90-degree turn.
The filing made no mention of injuries or crashes linked to the problem.
Chrysler has not yet determined when customers will get letters alerting them to the recall.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hot Coffee- Set to Premier on HBO

2011 HBO Summer

Documentary Series

HOT COFFEE premiers

June 27, 2011


HOT COFFEE examines the dangers of so-called "tort reform" and its threat to our civil justice system. Using the now-infamous legal battle over a spilled cup of McDonald's coffee as a springboard, the film follows four people, including McDonald's plaintiff Stella Liebeck, whose lives have been affected by their inability to access the courts, and examines the role of corporations and a complicit media in promoting "tort reform." Directed by former trial lawyer and first-time filmmaker Susan Saladoff.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chrysler Recalls Numerous Vehicles for Steering Problems

Chrysler Group LLC said Thursday it will recall 11,351 vehicles — covering more than half of its 2011 models — because some have a missing or incorrectly installed steering column pivot rivet that could affect steering in a crash. The recall covers the Dodge Journey, Jeep Wrangler, Chrysler 200 and 200 convertible, Dodge Avenger, Dodge Nitro, Jeep Liberty, Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot, Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country. All were built between mid-April and mid-May at Chrysler's plant in Perrysburg, Ohio

Thursday, June 16, 2011

GM Recalling Cadillac for Airbag Problems

DETROIT - General Motors is recalling 50,500 Cadillac SRX luxury crossover models because the performance of the front passenger airbag differs from the owner's manual.

The recall, announced by GM on Friday, affects 47,401 vehicles in the United States, with the remainder in Canada and Mexico from the 2011 model year. The automaker said it knew of no crashes, injuries or complaints related to the issue.
The SRX and the CTS sedan are the top-selling Cadillac models in the United States this year, both with sales of more than 22,000. SRX sales rose 18 percent through the first five months.
GM said the SRX air bags are programmed to turn off the right side roof-rail airbag if someone sits in the front passenger seat, but the owner's manual says that airbag will deploy whether or not the seat is occupied. Because the action of the airbag and the manual do not match, that violates federal safety standards.
The repair will require software to be reprogrammed, GM said.
It is an issue only in North America because that is where the automatic occupant sensing system is used; exported models use a manual key to disable the passenger side airbag. The key disable system does not suppress the roof rail airbags.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Pennsylvania Government is Trying to Overturn Hundreds af Years Worth of Law and Take YOUR RIGHTS AWAY!

The government is trying to take your rights away. Don't let it happen.

Car Company Bailouts Leave Victims Behind

Vicki Denton died several years ago after the airbag in her 1998 Dodge Caravan minivan failed to deploy during a head-on collision in the Georgia mountains. In 2009, a jury found Chrysler responsible for her death because of a manufacturing defect, awarding her surviving son and other relatives $2.2 million.

The family was near collecting those damages on the eve of Chrysler's government-brokered bankruptcy. Now, two years removed from a $12.5 billion bailout, Chrysler Group LLC still hasn't paid the damages, and doesn't have to.
The reason: The company's restructuring allowed it to wash away legal responsibility for car-accident victims who had won damages or had pending lawsuits before its bankruptcy filing. The same holds true for General Motors Co., which discarded the liabilities as part of its own $50 billion bailout and restructuring.
In rescuing the car makers, the U.S. government prevented a potential meltdown of the auto industry and further shocks to the economy. But in the process, it created a wide universe of relative winners and losers. The U.S. Treasury received large ownerships stakes in the restructured auto makers, as did union retiree trusts. Chrysler's banks got some, not all, of their loans repaid in cash, and GM's lenders were fully repaid. On the other side, thousands of dealers, asbestos victims and other creditors received little to no recompense.
Among the creditors who suffered most, car-accident victims represent a distinct mold. Unlike banks and bondholders, this group didn't choose to extend credit to the auto makers. As consumers, they became creditors only after suffering injuries in vehicles they purchased.
"This was not a normal case. The government was deciding who was going to be taken care of and who was not," said David Skeel, a University of Pennsylvania law school professor and bankruptcy expert who has testified before Congress on the auto bailouts. Even if the auto makers had legal rights to leave behind product-liability claims, "there is a deep unfairness," he said. "It would have been easy enough to set something aside for them."
Chrysler and GM were insolvent and "came to the taxpayer and asked for help," says Ron Bloom, the president's chief adviser on manufacturing policy and a member of the auto task force that negotiated the car makers' restructurings. "In a situation like that everybody simply cannot get everything they were promised or the check would have been a multitude of what we in fact spent."
Under a special section of the federal bankruptcy code, Chrysler and GM's key assets were sold to new companies owned by Fiat SpA and the U.S. government, respectively. None of the car makers' creditors would have fared better had the companies liquidated, a scenario prevented by the sales. Still, the auto rescues raised a vexing legal question: Should companies be allowed to discard responsibility for previous product-liability lawsuits and other legal burdens through bankruptcy sales?
In court papers, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber, who oversaw GM's restructuring, said the question represented "the only truly debatable issues in this case." Legal precedents on the matter were mixed, he wrote, and the bankruptcy code's intent remained "inconclusive." Still, he allowed GM to leave the liabilities behind in large part because Chrysler's judge made a similar decision and other recent cases had allowed it.
Judge Arthur Gonzalez, who umpired Chrysler's case, said in court papers that legal precedents allowed the auto maker to be sold "free and clear" of such liabilities.
Leaving behind product-liability claims didn't initially raise red flags for the president's auto task force, said people familiar with the negotiations. In part, that was because such methods had been used in other bankruptcy sales. But also, setting aside more money for accident victims, these people said, could have prompted complaints from others who felt shortchanged by the restructurings, at a time when government bailouts were unpopular.
President Barack Obama instructed the task force to avoid playing favorites, follow the broad parameters of the bankruptcy code and defer to the companies in areas where they appeared knowledgeable and experienced, Mr. Bloom said. "We were cautious about substituting our judgment for long-established legal precedent for how you deal with this," he said.
After protests from more than a dozen Republican and Democratic state attorneys general, GM agreed to remain exposed to lawsuits involving car accidents that occurred after the bankruptcy sales, regardless of when the vehicles were purchased. Chrysler soon followed suit. But those who had cases pending, or had won damages, before the bankruptcies, will likely receive far less than they believe they're owed.
All told, more than 2,500 litigation claims totaling roughly $3.3 billion have been asserted against Motors Liquidation Co., the formal name for GM's bankruptcy estate, according to the most recently tally, nearly all of them stemming from product-liability lawsuits.
Plaintiffs have been bargaining with Motors Liquidation lawyers in conference rooms across the U.S. to get whatever they can, often 30 cents on the dollar in the form of shares and warrants from an unsecured creditors' trust that received 10% of new GM stock.
Some have settled. Others have refused to accept terms offered in mediation. Callan Campbell, who was rendered a quadriplegic in 2004 when a GMC Jimmy sport-utility vehicle she was riding in flipped and the roof caved in, says she rejected an offer from lawyers with Motors Liquidation, and hopes to go to trial to recoup more.
GM has argued in similar cases that such injuries are caused by drivers falling into the roof rather than the roof collapsing.
Chrysler has no money set aside for unsecured creditors, so no detailed tally has been made of claims against it, and accident victims who weren't compensated before the bankruptcy are unlikely to get much. In Hiawassee, Ga., Ms. Denton's family isn't optimistic about getting any of the damages they're owed by Chrysler. The money would "help us take care of things," including unpaid hospital bills, says her sister-in-law, Leslie Denton, who with her husband cares for Vicki's surviving son Brett, now 13 years old.
Chrysler argued unsuccessfully that Ms. Denton ignored an airbag warning light inside her minivan, among other things.
In separate statements, Chrysler and GM each expressed sympathy for those with product-liability claims while emphasizing that they were among many stakeholders called upon to sacrifice. Jobs were lost when factories and dealerships closed. Tens of thousands of asbestos claimants who allegedly got sick working on car brakes and clutches were left behind. Even though Chrysler lenders received $2 billion and GM bondholders took equity for their claims, they couldn't be fully repaid.
Car-accident victims "shouldn't get a higher percentage" of distributions than others, said Harold John, a 64-year-old consultant in Chesterfield, Mo., and former GM bondholder. "I put up hundreds of thousands of dollars of bonds," said Mr. John, who held more than $500,000 of the securities. "We were the largest group of unsecured creditors. We're the ones that had the most money into General Motors."
Dealers are also struggling in the aftermath of the bailouts. Glen Rapp, a 72-year-old Chevrolet dealer in rural South Dakota, says he can't sell new GM vehicles or perform warranty work since the auto maker terminated his contract in bankruptcy court. The move "probably cut our income by about 50%," said Mr. Rapp.
Legal precedent is mixed for discarding exposure to product-liability lawsuits through bankruptcy sales. In 1995, a Texas bankruptcy court ruled that the purchaser of Fairchild Aircraft Corp. remained responsible for lawsuits arising from one of the company's old planes that later crashed. That case was cited by the state attorneys general and others who argued the auto makers had to take on liability for future accidents involving old vehicles.
Still, lawsuits arising before a bankruptcy sale closes have a much tougher time surviving, and some recent precedents give companies wide latitude to abandon such claims. American Airlines, for instance, didn't have to assume Trans World Airlines' liabilities related to employment discrimination complaints when buying the airline out of bankruptcy.
Among the largest unpaid awards is nearly $23 million owed to the parents of Joshua Flax, an eight-month-old infant who died when the Dodge Caravan minivan he was riding in was rear-ended. On Jun 30, 2001, Rachel Arnold, Joshua's mother, was with a group knocking on doors as part of a Jehovah's Witness ministry in a Nashville suburb. By midmorning, the group had finished visiting a house beside a curved, two-lane road surrounded by trees and brush. Ms. Arnold's father, Jim Sparkman, drove the group down the winding driveway and turned left into the far lane.
As he turned, a speeding pickup truck rear-ended the minivan. The front passenger seat flew backward, according to reconstruction experts, and the passenger's head collided with Joshua's forehead. The infant died the next day.
Nearly a year later, the parents sued DaimlerChrysler AG, then Chrysler's parent. During the trial, Chrysler said the passenger seats were designed to "yield" on impact because if they were too rigid, they could cause injuries to people sitting in them in more serious crashes. But a former Chrysler employee testified that the auto maker knew eight years before that the seats had safety problems and covered them up.
Chrysler in a statement emphasized the accident was caused by the pickup-truck driver and that the minivan's seat designs exceeded federal safety standards.
After years of litigation and appeals by Chrysler, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in July 2008 that Jeremy Flax, the child's father, and Ms. Arnold were entitled to punitive damages for the wrongful death of their son.
The company appealed again. In May 2009, weeks after Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, preserving the damages owed.
Mr. Sparkman, Joshua's grandfather, still seethes that the auto maker hasn't paid his daughter's damages.
"We did what we were supposed to do, we went through the legal system," he says. "This is a real person. It's not just something to write off on the ledger book."
About a year after Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection, Ms. Arnold and Mr. Flax were able to get about $5.8 million from the auto maker's product-liability insurer, a policy that kicked in partly because the damages were so high. A large chunk of it went toward legal fees and expenses, leaving roughly $2 million for them to split.
Ms. Arnold, 34, recently purchased a new 4,600 square-foot house, a luxury she says sometimes weighs on her. Mr. Flax, 39, says he had trouble running several music stores he owned after Joshua died and was forced to file for personal bankruptcy. His proceeds from the Chrysler insurer went toward paying his own creditors.
Mr. Bloom, the former member of the auto task force, says the bankruptcy sales required difficult trade-offs: "It was terrible because in the case of product liability, you're talking about individual human beings who, through obviously no fault of their own, suffered."
But, he adds, "They are victims of a company and a system that simply doesn't have the resources to deal with the promises made. Taxpayers do have a right that when the government helps, that the help comes with conditions. I don't think it should be open-ended."

Toyota Prius Recall

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 106,000 units of its first-generation Prius hybrid vehicle to fix a power steering problem that can make the car difficult to turn.

About 52,000 of the cars were sold in the United States and 48,000 in Japan, Toyota said.
Toyota recalled 2001-2003 model year Prii because nuts securing the pinion shaft in the steering gear box can become loose over time. In a worse case, drivers can notice “significant increased steering effort when making a left turn,” the company said.
Meanwhile, Toyota said it is ramping up its return to full production following the March 11 earthquake that paralyzed Japan’s automotive supply chain and shut down assembly plants.
Toyota says its Japanese operations will be back to 90 percent normal this month, while output in Europe, China and Thailand returns to nearly 100 percent by the end of June.
Improved expectations
The revised schedule marks an improvement over the 70 percent utilization rate Toyota had earlier predicted for its Japanese plants in June. The world’s largest automaker still expects its U.S. plants to operate at about 70 percent normal through July, a spokesman said.
Toyota is publicly sticking to its November or December target for a return to full global output. But that benchmark means being able to fill any order for any car in any variant.
Hitting raw volume targets will likely come earlier.
A person familiar with Toyota’s plan says the carmaker now expects annual production for the year through Dec. 31 to rebound to the same level as last year, despite the earthquake.
Toyota is expected to recoup lost output by ramping up production in second half, partly by working extra days and increasing line speed. Last year, Toyota made 7.62 million vehicles.
Complaints received
Separately, Toyota said it received the first complaint in Japan in August 2007. Since then, there have been a total of 28 complaints in Japan and one from the United States.

Toyota is investigating one minor accident that may be linked to the problem. The Prius, now in its third generation, is the world’s best-selling hybrid vehicle.

Toyota said its dealers will install improved nuts to secure the pinion shaft at no charge to customers. The repair will take about four hours, it estimated.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

CPSC announces recall of over two million Stihl yard power tools at risk of fuel leaks

CPSC announces recall of over two million yard power tools at risk of fuel leaks.

The AP (5/25) reported the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of over two million lawn power tools "because of a potential fire or burn danger." The CPSC said fuel caps on "gas-powered Stihl (steel) trimmers, brush cutters, KombiMotors, hedge trimmers, edgers, clearing saws, pole pruners and backpack blowers" were subject to fuel spills because "the level of ethanol and other fuel additives in the product can distort the cap."

CNNMoney (5/25) reported, "Stihl said it has received 81 reports 'of difficulty installing and/or removing the fuel caps and fuel spillage,' but no reports of injuries." According to the CPSC, the products "have been manufactured in the United States since 2002." Stihl customers are advised to "immediately stop using" the tools and bring them to a Stihl site for repairs at no cost.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Toyota Slow to Respond to Customer Complaints

Toyota panel says company outlook made it slow to respond to acceleration complaints.

The New York Times (5/24, Bunkley, B1, Subscription Publication) reported, "Toyota's tendency to dismiss customer complaints and lack of a clear procedure for handling safety problems were among flaws identified Monday by a panel investigating the automaker's recalls of more than 14 million vehicles because of problems that included acceleration and floor mats." The panel was convened by Toyota and led by former "former United States transportation secretary, Rodney E. Slater." The panel found that Toyota is "slow to discover" problems "because it viewed complaints made to the company or to federal regulators about sudden acceleration skeptically and defensively."

The AP (5/24) reported, "The panel says Toyota should appoint executives who are responsible for safety and should give more power to regional executives outside Japan." And panel member Brian O'Neill "said data from dealers, customers, government regulators and other test groups can be cumbersome and difficult to decipher. But it's crucial to pay attention to it and use it to track potential defects and improve design."

Bloomberg News (5/24, Ohnsman) reported the North American Quality Advisory Panel "led by former Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater, reviewed Toyota's operations for more than a year before issuing a report yesterday." In response, "Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies, a Rehoboth, Massachusetts-based advocacy group that researches auto defects and works with attorneys suing carmakers, said yesterday that NASA's report showed 'deficiencies' in Toyota's vehicle electronics. 'NASA identified numerous failures in Toyota electronics that could lead to unwanted acceleration,' Kane said in an e- mailed statement."

The Washington Post (5/24, Whoriskey) reported the panel found that "Toyota management gave too little weight to feedback from customers, regulators and independent rating agencies, and centered too much control in its Japanese headquarters." The Post notes that "in February, NASA investigators rejected claims that electronic defects caused Toyota cars and trucks to accelerate out of control."

The Los Angeles Times (5/24, Bensinger) reported, "Toyota Motor Corp. responded slowly and ineffectually to a growing sudden-acceleration crisis because it was hampered by a top-down management style that gave short shrift to customer complaints." While pointing out that the panel did not consider the causes of unintended acceleration, "Toyota has held up the NASA report, which was released in February, as an indication that it was not to blame for the rash of sudden-acceleration complaints, first brought to national attention after a 2009 crash near San Diego killed four people." An unidentified DOT spokeswoman "said the agency would not be commenting on the panel's report."

USA Today (5/23, Woodyard) reported on its "DriveOn" blog that the panel "came up with some concrete recommendations. For instance, the panel argues for putting a single Toyota executive in charge of North American operations. It should also create a 'Customer Representative Team' to ferret out criticisms and outsiders' views of Toyota and take the beefs directly to the company's president."

Monday, May 23, 2011



"Gear Up For Safety!"

Friday May 27, 2011

WHO: Atlee, Hall and Brookhart, LLP, East Hempfield Township Police Dept., Local Fire Depts. and the Hempfield Rec Center, join forces in a campaign to educate and seek to prevent accidental childhood injury - a leading killer of children

WHAT: SafetyFest: Bicycle Rodeo, Fire Safety, and Child Seat Safety Inspections

WHERE: Lancaster County Public Safety Training Center, 101 Champ Blvd., Manheim, PA 17545

WHEN: Friday May 27, 2011 from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

WHAT: This family-style interactive SafetyFest will be fun and educational for the entire family, learn about bicycle safety, fire safety and child seat safety ~ And thanks to our community partners, it's FREE ~ and so you won't want to miss it!

What to Bring: Bicycle and helmet, comfortable clothes, and child safety seat for inspection

THE RISK: Accidents to children are frequent in summer months when school is out. We don’t want families to take a break from safety and this SafetyFest will show them how!

THE KEY: SafetyFest will focus on bicycle safety, car seat safety, and fire safety.

Pre-registration is appreciated so we can plan better, contact HARC 717-898-3102. Please reference Safety Fest –Bike Rodeo # 10834 and/or Safety Fest—Car Seat Check # 10835

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Safety Hazard--Over Half of Children can undo Car-seat Restraints--Highlighting need for Safer Designs

Over half of children can undo car-seat restraints.

HealthDay (5/1, Dotinga) reported, "A team of researchers led by Dr. Lilia B. Reyes, a clinical fellow in the department of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine, surveyed 378 parents and found that just over half reported that at least one of their children had managed to unbuckle a seatbelt in a car seat at some point." Of the children who "unbuckled their seatbelts, 75 percent were aged 3 or younger; some were as old as 78 months, or over six years." In a release, Reyes said, "Perhaps passive safety locks on the seatbelt can be developed, as a potential option for intervention."

Clear Discharge Instructions from Emergency department are Critical

Verbal Discharge Instructions Are Often Incomplete

Few emergency department patients received full discharge instructions, and patients' understanding of the instructions was rarely assessed.

Clear discharge instructions are an important communication tool and an essential part of an emergency department (ED) visit. Researchers analyzed audio-recorded verbal discharge instructions for 477 adult female patients at two EDs to assess inclusion of nine components of the instructions and to evaluate the quality of each component (minimal, adequate, or excellent).

Most patients were given an opportunity to ask questions (91%), although the quality of the interaction was usually minimal. Most patients also were given instructions about medications (80%), an explanation of their symptoms (76%), instructions about follow-up care (73%), and instructions about self-care (69%). Fewer patients received an explanation of their expected course of illness (51%), recommendations for a specific time for follow-up (39%), or instructions about symptoms that should prompt return to the ED (34%). Patients were rarely given an opportunity to confirm understanding of the instructions (22%), and, when they were, the quality of the interaction was usually minimal.

Comment: Discharge instructions, at the very least, should provide each of the above components, particularly clear instructions regarding the symptoms that should prompt further evaluation. Lack of clear discharge instructions often is a key element in medical malpractice suits.

— Richard D. Zane, MD, FAAEM

Published in Journal Watch Emergency Medicine April 29, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Faulty DePuy Hip Implants

Johnson & Johnson subsidiary sued for peddling faulty hip implants.

The New Jersey Law Journal (4/26, Gialanella) reported Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics faces a Federal putative class-action suit for consciously selling defective hip implants and delaying a recall for two years. The latest suit, from North Jersey Municipal Employee Benefits Fund is one of at least 139 against DePuy. The Fund alleges "tens of thousands of patients" received the implants and "thousands of third-party payers" purchased them. DePuy allegedly continued to tout the implants' safety after the FDA received nearly 400 complaints "from patients suffering from malfunctions such as device loosening, misalignment, dislocation, fracture and the generation of harmful metal debris from metal-on-metal friction." Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary Johnson & Johnson Services Inc. are also named in the suit.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

NHTSA reviewing Jeep Liberty corrosion issues

Federal safety regulators have opened an investigation into 370,000 Jeep Liberty vehicles over corrosion issues.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a notice posted Friday it is reviewing the 2002-2005 Jeep Liberty after receiving nine complaints about rear control arms failing due to excessive corrosion.
Two of the complaints alleged the failure occurred at speeds of 50 mph or greater. Three complaints alleged that the failure resulted in a loss of vehicle control.
This is the third NHTSA probe into corrosion issues on Jeep Liberty vehicles.
In November 2003, the DaimlerChrysler recalled 336,000 2002-2003 Jeep Liberty SUVS because some experienced a loss of lubrication that led to corrosion of the lower control arm ball joints. In some instances, drivers lost control of vehicles.
In August 2006, DaimlerChrysler recalled 825,000 2002-2006 Jeep Liberty SUVs over the same issue after NHTSA had opened an investigation.
The automaker again replaced lower ball joints because they could be corroded and lead to a possible separation causing a loss of control.
Three years later in April 2009, Chrysler LLC recalled 42,469 2002-2003 Jeep Liberty for corrosion issues in 22 cold-weather "salt belt" states to address upper ball joint separation issues, including Michigan.
That followed at least five reports of incidents at speeds of 40 miles or greater. NHTSA closed its 18-month-old investigation after Chrysler announced the recall.
Chrysler -—which has it corporate offices closed today — didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
NHTSA's preliminary investigation is the first step. In some cases, the government closes an investigation if it doesn't find a safety defect or it may upgrade the investigation to an engineering analysis.

Nissan recalls 271,000 SUVs on steering risk

DETROIT -- Nissan Motor Co. recalled nearly 271,000 older-model Pathfinder and Infiniti QX4 SUVs in North America due to the chance that road salt and water could collect to cause a loss of steering, U.S. safety regulators said.

Affected in the United States and Canada are about 225,650 Pathfinders from model years 1996 to 2004 and about 45,330 Infiniti QX4 SUVs from model years 1997 to 2003.
The recall affects Pathfinders and QX4s in Canada and 20 cold-weather U.S. states where road salt is used to keep roads clear of snow and ice.
Road salt and melted snow can collect in the strut housing and may cause corrosion that could lead to difficulty in steering and even loss of steering, which could cause a crash, regulators said.
Nissan will inform customers of the recall be mid-May, and its dealers will inspect and fix the issue free of charge.
No injuries have been reported due to this issue and there is a report of an accident that was caused by it, but Nissan said that report could not be confirmed as linked to the corrosion issue.
Nissan said their tests have indicated that only a small portion of the recalled vehicles are expected to need repair.
Inspection at Nissan dealers should take a half hour to an hour but repair or replacement will take longer, said a Nissan spokesman

Toyota to recall 308,000 RAV4s, Highlanders for airbag fix

DETROIT -- Toyota Motor Corp. said today it would recall about 308,000 RAV4 and Highlander SUVs because of the risk airbags sensors could fail and cause the curtain airbags to deploy.
About 214,000 RAV4s and 94,000 Highlanders and Highlander HVs will be recalled from the 2007 and 2008 model years, according to a company statement.
The recall only affects vehicles sold in North America, Toyota said.
Toyota said owners of the vehicles would be notified of the recall by mail in May.
Toyota said that, in cases where two sensors fail at almost the same time, the side curtain airbags designed to protect passengers in a rollover accident could be inflated outside such an accident.
In cases where just one of the sensors fails, the airbags warning light will be activated, the automaker said

Eliminating Joint and Several Liability will Ultimately Burden Victims and Taxpayers

Pennsylvania litigator says erroneous theory behind efforts to eliminate joint and several liability. Civil litigator Larry Coben criticized the theory behind legislation eliminating joint and several liability in Pennsylvania, writing in the Legal Intelligencer (4/26, Coben) that "an apportionment statue ...assumes the reliability of allocating percentages of fault" and "relies upon the false inference that any tortfeasor, once found liable, is only partly responsible because there are other negligent parties." Coben said corporations and wealthy defendants use apportionment to avoid liability by hiring top-notch attorneys to "deflect responsibility to those with limited resources and avoid paying for the harm caused." Coben said eliminating joint and several liability will ultimately burden victims and taxpayers.

Medical malpractice reform said to increase US deficit.

Medical malpractice reform said to increase US deficit.

Writing for the Huffington Post (4/27), Joanne Doroshow of the Center for Justice and Democracy highlighted a March analysis from the Congressional Budget Office determining that savings from malpractice reforms would be minimal. Doroshow argued that reforms imposed by HR 5, which includes a $250,000 noneconomic damage cap will actually increase the US deficit. According to Doroshow, malpractice victims who cannot secure compensation through litigation will turn to avenues like Medicare and Medicaid. The CBO's prediction that reform will reduce health spending by 0.4 percent doesn't account for this. Nor does the CBO consider "that these kinds of extreme 'tort reforms' would weaken the deterrent potential of the tort system, with accompanying increases in cost and physician utilization inherent in caring for newly maimed patients."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Recent Product Recalls

Product Recalls

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. Like the attorneys at Atlee, Hall & Brookhart, LLP, the CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a hazard or can injure children. Below is a list of the recent recalls that people should be aware of.

Consumer Product Safety Commission Recent Product Recalls

April 25, 2011

-Children's Scooters Recalled by Kiddieland Due to Laceration Hazard
-Disney Princess Plastic Trikes Recalled by Kiddieland Due to Laceration Hazard
-75 Drownings and Near-Drownings in 15 Weeks; Pool Safely PSAs Urge Parents to Watch Children At All Times Around Pools and Spas This Summer
-June Deadline Set for End to Globe Fire Sprinkler Model J Sprinkler Recall; Property Owners Should Act Now To Request Replacement of Sprinkler Heads
-Aquarium Heaters Recalled by United Pet Group Due to Fire and Laceration Hazards
-Photon Climbing Carabiners and Quickdraws Recalled Due to Risk of Injury
-Pacific Trade International Recalls Candles Due to Fire and Burn Hazard
-Spot Recalls Satellite Communicator Due To Loss of Emergency Communications Capability
-Lithium-Ion Batteries Used with Bicycle Lights Recalled by GeoManGear Due to Fire Hazard
-CPSC Approves New Mandatory Standard for Toddler Beds
-ADP Recalls to Repair Unit Heaters Due to Fire Hazard
-Lennox Industries Recalls to Repair Garage Heaters Due to Fire Hazard
-Wrist Rattles and Baby Booties Recalled by Midwest-CBK Due to Choking Hazard
-Cub Cadet Recalls Riding Lawn Mowers Due to Fire Hazard
-Girl's Clothing Recalled by My Michelle Due to Risk of Lead Exposure
-Redken 5th Avenue NYC Recalls Guts Spray Mousse Foam Due to Risk of Rupture
-Rogue Fitness Barbell Brackets Recalled by Coulter Ventures Due to Injury Hazard
-CPSC: Parents, Caregivers Should Consider Safety Before Opening Windows
-Active Leisure Tents Recalled Due to Fire Hazard; Sold Exclusively at Costco
-Fashionviews Inc. Recalls P.Jamas Children's Sleepwear Due to Violation of Federal Flammability Standard
-Stained Glass Soldering Irons Recalled By Cooper Tools Due to Burn Hazard
-Williams-Sonoma Recalls Hot Chocolate Pots Due To Burn and Laceration Hazards
-Pampers® Natural Stages Pacifiers Recalled by Key Baby Due to Choking Hazard
-Arm's Reach Concepts Recalls Infant Bed-Side Sleepers Due to Entrapment, Suffocation and Fall Hazards
-Infantino Recalls Toy Activity Trucks Due to Choking Hazard

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Judge rules to end NFL lockout

Judge rules to end NFL lockout, antitrust claims remain unresolved.

The Washington Post (4/25, Maske) reported on Monday, a Federal judge sided with NFL players in lifting the league-imposed lockout, "ruling that they are suffering irreparable harm from the shutdown of the sport and that the owners' action is improper because the players no longer are represented by a labor union." According to sources, both sides "believed [Judge Susan Richard] Nelson's ruling" opened the free agent market and "several people on the players' side of the dispute said they expected some players to show up for work Tuesday at teams' facilities."

Reuters (4/26) reports in her 89-page ruling, Nelson wrote, "This particular employment dispute is far from a purely private argument over compensation," noting "the public interest represented by the fans of professional football, who have a strong investment in the 2011 season, is an intangible interest that weighs against the lockout." How league owners and players will resolve disputes over the NFL's nine billion-dollar yearly revenue is still unclear.

The Wall Street Journal (4/25, Futterman, Subscription Publication) reported in response to Nelson's ruling, an NFL statement asserted, "We will promptly seek a stay from Judge Nelson pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals...We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes." Referring to players' antitrust claims, the league added, "But we also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal."

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Jeff Tambroni is one of the most promising young coaches in all of lacrosse. He’s widely respected for his ability to do more with less, and seems destined to slip on a National Championship ring during his career. He’s guided Cornell to eight consecutive Ivy League titles, three Final Four appearances, and one championship game in ten years as the head of the Big Red.
In taking the reins at Penn State, a collective gasp spread throughout D-I. Tambroni has proven himself a winner in the Ivy League, and has everyone wondering what kind of damage his teams can do at a state school that seems committed to seeing lacrosse succeed. With a new recruiting base, the resources of a vaunted athletic department, and the ambition of Tambroni, Penn State could quickly become a national contender. With all that said, what is it that’s so special about Tambroni? What does he do to develop his players, motivate his teams, and churn out one successful season after another?
When talking about his coaching style and philosophy, Tambroni speaks definitively of two events. First, he talks about the 2004 Cornell team and George Boiardi. For Tambroni, Boiardi was “the ultimate team guy”, and that year’s team was “the greatest team, genuinely investing in one another.” Boiardi was known as a selfless leader, a captain, who passed away on the field during a game in 2004. Boiardi’s untimely death set off a spark in Tambroni and that year’s squad that pushed them together. Through that experience, and the questions and concerns that naturally followed, Tambroni gave pause and looked inward. “Through his passing,” Tambroni recalls, “it put my profession in perspective.” In looking more closely at his job as a coach, Tambroni came back to the importance of relationships, heartfelt and meaningful relationships with players, assistants and parents.
Through the experience, Tambroni not only looked inward, he was keenly aware of the grief and strength those around him displayed. In particular he speaks of the “inspiration the Boiardi family has provided us.” In watching the Boiardi family, Tambroni seems to have found a bit of a guiding beacon, a depth of fortitude and compassion he not only respects, but seemingly strives to emulate. As he says, the Boiardi family was “unbelievably powerful in their message of faith and their message of life.”
At this point in the conversation it’s clear that Tambroni’s not slinging the same old coaching clichés. He’s not simply trying to build up accountability by empowering his athletes to be self-motivated achievers. It’s as if he’s trying to stay true to unwritten principles that a life-altering experience instilled in him. At different moments he seems to have stopped and truly questioned himself, his practices, and what’s important. Through those moments he’s gained a sense of clarity that, “nothing is more gratifying than those hugs and longstanding connections.” In short, he’s committed himself to investing in players as people, developing relationships that will thrive long after the last whistle blows.
Tambroni has seen the face of grief in his locker-room, and emerged with a resolve to commit himself to his players and the promise of connecting. He then explains how he works to connect, and the second experience that has shaped him as a coach.
He directs the conversation to an unlikely source: three girls. As the father of three daughters, the challenges of being a good dad guide his coaching. “For me personally, I try to treat kids here the same way I’d want someone to treat my kids.” His voice is gritty with conviction as he talks about what the ideal caretakers of his children would do, explaining that they’d “look my kids in the eye, tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.” It doesn’t sound easy when he says it, and the difficulty seems to be the point.
As a coach, Tambroni seems to be continually balancing two drives: Build relationships, and push those same people to be better. It’s a delicate balance, but he doesn’t flinch. “Admittedly so, we’re really hard on our players,” he offers, but he also describes his efforts to call a player after he was particularly demanding, text guys when they take exams, have off-field meetings, and check up on guys who are sick or hurt. Spring breaks are filled with team events: movies, comedy clubs, hanging out as a group of guys.
It’s not to say that Tambroni isn’t willing to be like the players. In fact, he wants them to know he likes to enjoy himself. However, he also wants to maintain the boundaries of the coach-player relationship. He’s willing to extend himself, be there for players, but he’s not going to stop pushing them.
Tambroni’s focus on his players may not be unique, but his self-awareness and struggle to balance two goals that often radically conflict may be. He cares for his players immensely, but he also cares about seeing them succeed. He’s balancing compassion with the conviction that the people around him can be something better than they are. Perhaps that single struggle is what makes him one of the very best.
It’ll be exciting to watch Penn State emerge in the up-coming seasons. It seems predestined that they’ll become a national contender. But in the mean time, take note of the coach on the sidelines. He may look calm and controlled, but he’s likely frenetic inside – if not from the desire to see his players develop, than from the pride he has in watching the people he cares for achieve.

How Our Cars Got Safer

How our cars got safer

Traffic deaths in the United States have dropped to their lowest level since 1949, according to a report released this month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Remarkably, this drop occurred even as Americans drove 21 billion more miles in 2010 than they had the previous year.
The drop in fatalities is due in large part to the fact that cars are getting safer. Since the introduction of the Ford Pinto nearly four decades ago — a car synonymous with danger, destruction and executives putting profits ahead of consumer safety — amazing advancements have been made in auto safety. The technology is better, regulations are stronger and buyers have more information. Not surprisingly, consumers are drawn to cars with the latest safety features.

Yet these factors alone do not tell the whole story. History shows that litigation and the civil justice system have served as the most consistent and powerful forces in heightening safety standards, revealing previously concealed defects and regulatory weaknesses and deterring manufacturers from cutting corners on safety for the goal of greater profits.

The Ford Pinto litigation sent a strong message to the auto industry. Unfortunately, manufacturers have still sold dangerous cars. In June 2004, a Dallas-area mother stopped her Ford F-150 truck to speak with her husband through the driver’s side window. Her 3-year-old daughter leaned out the passenger’s side window and accidentally hit the rocker switch, causing the window to close on her neck. When her parents noticed moments later, it was too late — their daughter was strangled.

As power windows became more common, so too did instances of children being strangled. Seven children died within a three-month period in 2004. Manufacturers were aware of the issue, and the fix was relatively simple and inexpensive. In response to regulations in other countries, European and Asian cars already used a safer switch — one that must be pulled up to raise a window — and so did many U.S. manufacturers on cars they offered to foreign markets. Yet incredibly, U.S. manufacturers did not install the safer switches on domestic cars because NHTSA had no rules governing power-window safety. Litigation eventually forced universal acceptance of the safer switches in 2006.

It is easy to take for granted just how much safer vehicles have become and how safety measures have been standardized. For years, the auto industry has worked to undermine regulations and limit its liability by pushing for complete immunity from lawsuits when their vehicles comply with minimum federal safety standards. This would, in short, be devastating for consumers.

Recall that the Pinto’s design met all government standards of the time. Had compliance with federal standards been a complete defense of vehicle safety, Ford could not have been held accountable for the many burn victims that the company was later shown to have anticipated.

Put another way, without the civil justice system, gas tanks would still explode in rear-end collisions, seat belts and airbags would not be standard, and cars would roll over onto roofs that would be easily crushed.

There are multiple reasons behind the welcome news that traffic deaths continue to decline. But the role of the civil justice system is often overlooked. Litigation has spurred safety innovations in vehicles for more than half a century and will continue to be essential in keeping Americans safe and holding manufacturers accountable.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ford Recalling more F-150 Trucks for Airbags that Could Deploy Unexpectedly

Ford expands F-150 recall by 1 million pickups, U.S. says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Ford Motor Co. and U.S. safety regulators have agreed to a greatly expanded recall of the best-selling vehicle in North America, the Ford F-150 pickup truck.

The recall is for a possible short circuit that could cause airbags to deploy unexpectedly and involves nearly 1.2 million F-150s and some Lincoln Mark LT vehicles, said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The recall covers F-150s from the 2004 to 2006 model years and Lincoln Mark LTs from model year 2006.

Previously, 144,000 of the pickup trucks were recalled. The expansion comes after talks between the automaker and the safety regulators in Washington.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Jaime Jackson has been Selected to Serve on the 7th Circuit Electronic Discovery Pilot Program.

Jaime Jackson has been Selected to Serve on the 7th Circuit Electronic Discovery Pilot Program.

The 7th Circuit Electronic Pilot Program has been on the forefront of identifying and dealing with electronic discovery issues in litigation. The 7th Circuit Electronic Discovery Pilot Program was developed as a result of a recognized need by business leaders, and practicing attorneys for reform of the civil justice pre-trial discovery process. The 7th Circuit Electronic Discovery Committee, is co-chaired by The Honorable James Holderman, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and The Honorable Nan Nolan, E.S., Magistrate Judge, and includes trial judges, lawyers, including in-house counsel, private practitioners, government attorneys, academics, and litigation support experts. The committee’s aim is to reduce the rising burden of cost of discovery of electronically stored information. As part of its work thus far, the committee has produced the Principles relating to the discovery of electronic stored information. The committee continues its work in addressing electronic discovery issues that have far reaching ramifications across the United States.

Mercedes-Benz recalls M-Class SUVs over cruise-control concerns

Mercedes-Benz recalls some SUVs over cruise-control concerns.

Reuters (4/5, Woodall) reported Mercedes-Benz issued an international recall of some of its M-Class SUVs over cruise control malfunctions that could cause a crash. Over 130,000 US vehicles are being recalled and approximately 50,000 in Germany. Rob Moran, spokesman for Mercedes-Benz USA attributed the problem to a faulty brake lamp switch, which makes it difficult to disengage vehicle cruise control. Mercedes will begin replacing switches on model year 2000 to 2002 vehicles and a few 2000 to 2004 AMG models in the beginning of September.

The New York Times (4/5, Jensen, Subscription Publication) "Wheels" blog reported Mercedes noted "other ways to disengage the system," including "the cruise-control stalk." Drivers can also disengage by braking harder or decelerating to speeds below 25 mph. Moran said "the company is not aware of any accidents."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Deal Reached on Access to Toyota's Source Code

Toyota Motor Corp. has agreed on the final details about how to turn over its source code, the "crown jewels" of the company, to the lead plaintiffs lawyers in the multidistrict litigation over sudden acceleration.

The plaintiffs lawyers insist that the source code will provide evidence that defects in the electronic throttle-control system caused sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles. Toyota has maintained there are no problems with the electronics but has agreed to turn over its source code to plaintiffs' engineers under stringent security.
On March 31, U.S. District Judge James Selna, who is overseeing the case in Santa Ana, Calif., signed an order under seal approving the deal.
"Toyota is pleased to have reached an agreement on a source code protective order that ensures the security and strict confidentiality of this invaluable intellectual property," said Toyota spokeswoman Celeste Migliore.
"Even after more than a year of litigation, plaintiffs' counsel have still offered no credible scientific theory or even a description of an alleged defect in Toyota's Electronic Throttle Control System, and we are confident the evidence will show that no such defect exists," she said. "We hope the source code review will proceed expeditiously so this case can move to trial as soon as possible, and we look forward to defending ourselves vigorously in court at that time."
Among the security measures in place are iris scans required for entry into a secure room in a neutral facility where the source code can be accessed. Engineers are required to print documents on numbered paper containing radio-frequency tags.
Both sides were close to an agreement but hit an impasse in recent weeks over which computers would have access to the source code. During a March 15 court hearing, lawyers on both sides came up with a compromise to have the source code provided on a single computer located in a locked vault, while the engineers worked in the secured room.
But Toyota's lead lawyer on the source code issues, Joel Smith, managing partner of the Columbia, S.C., office of Bowman and Brooke, told Selna at that time that he was having trouble getting approval from Toyota executives in light of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Mark Robinson, a senior partner at Newport Beach, Calif.-based Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson, who is co-lead counsel on one of the plaintiffs' steering committees in the case, confirmed to The National Law Journal that the parties had reached an agreement on the final issue.
"Without getting into the specifics of the security at this place, we did come to an agreement on this protected vault or lock box," he said.
Robinson has said that he expects the secure room to be set up quickly so that his engineers can analyze more than 8 million lines of Toyota's source code.
Toyota has recalled 8 million vehicles and paid $48.8 million in civil penalties due to defective gas pedals and floor mats attributed to sudden acceleration.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Honda Recalls Civics for Potential Fuel Leak Problems

DETROIT (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co is recalling about 21,700 of its current-model compact Honda Civic cars due to the possibility that fuel will leak in a roll-over crash, the company and U.S. regulators said on Thursday.
"If a vehicle is involved in a roll-over crash, a cracked roll-over valve may allow fuel leakage from the gasoline tank into the evaporative emissions canister," Honda said in a statement. "No crashes or injuries have been reported related to this defect."
More than 18,000 cars will be recalled in the United States and about more than 3,600 in Canada, the company said.
Honda suspended the sale of some Civic vehicles on Monday because of unrepaired models on dealership lots, The Detroit News reported, citing government regulators.
The automaker told dealers on Monday "a stop sale is in effect for a limited number of 2011 Civic 4-door and 2-door models" assembled at factories in Indiana and Canada.
Honda also warned dealers that if they sold a vehicle on the stop sale list and "should an unrepaired vehicle cause an injury or damage because of the recalled item, the dealership will be solely responsible to the damaged party, and will be required to defend and indemnify American Honda for any resulting claims," the News said.
The repair will require removal and inspection of the fuel tank unit.
Honda said that about 1 percent of the recalled 2011 model year vehicles are likely to have the problem. In a roll-over crash, a fire could occur, said the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.Owners of the recalled vehicles will be informed by mail by mid-April, the company said

Read more:

Monday, March 14, 2011

CPSC launches product safety database Friday.

CPSC launches product safety database Friday.

The New York Times (3/11, Martin) reported the Consumer Product Safety Commission will launch its product safety database Friday, despite possible budget cuts and objections from manufacturers. Consumers can post reports and search product recalls but are unable to search other posts until April. Manufacturers have ten days to respond to reports prior to posting. Critics continue to note the inaccuracy of the report screening process. And National Association of Manufacturers executive Rosario Palmieri criticized, "The commission's definition of who could file reports was too broad, allowing trial lawyers and consumer advocates among others." CPSC Spokesman Scott Wolfson said the commission intended to encourage posting from various people and assured reports were evaluated to ensure they addressed a product's safety, "not its performance."

Kia Recalls Optima Sedans- Shift Cable May Cause Parked Vehicles to Roll

Kia Recalls Optima Sedans.

Reuters (3/12) said Kia Motor Corp. filed a notice recently with the NHTSA that said it was recalling 70,115 Optima sedans because the shift cable may have been installed incorrectly and cause parked vehicles to roll away. Kia said there has been no reported injuries related to the defect.

VW Recalls 2010 Routan Vans for ignition switch problems that may shut off engine.

VW Recalls  2010 Routan Vans
The Wall Street Journal (3/12, Welsh, 2.09M) said Volkswagen is recalling 12,612 Routans built from October 2009 through June 2010 to fix a potential ignition-switch problem. In a document filed with the NHTSA, the company said the chance of a crash was increased because an ignition switch mechanism may suddenly move to the accessory position and shut the engine off

Thursday, February 24, 2011

More Toyota Recalls for Gas Pedal Problems

Toyota Motor Corp. recalled 2.17 million vehicles in the United States on Thursday to address accelerator pedals that could become entrapped in floor mats or jammed in driver's side carpeting, prompting federal regulators to close its investigation into the embattled automaker.

The Transportation Department said it had reviewed more than 400,000 pages of Toyota documents to determine whether the scope of the company's recalls for pedal entrapment was sufficient.
"As a result of the agency's review, (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) asked Toyota to recall these additional vehicles, and now that the company has done so, our investigation is closed," said NHTSA administrator David Strickland.
Toyota has now recalled more than 14 million vehicles globally to fix gas pedals and other safety problems since 2009. U.S. regulators said earlier this month that electronic flaws were not to blame for reports of sudden, unintended acceleration. The company paid the U.S. government a record $48.8 million in fines for its handling of three recalls.
The world's No. 1 auto company said more than half of the vehicles under recall were being added to a massive 2009 recall that fixed gas pedals getting trapped in the floor mat.
The Japanese automaker said it would add three models to the 2009 pedal entrapment recall: about 600,000 4Runner SUVs from the 2003-2009 model years; 761,000 RAV4 compact SUVs from the 2006-2010 model years; and 17,000 Lexus LX 570s from the 2008-2011 model years.
The recall also includes 372,000 RX 330, RX 350 and RX 400H vehicles from the 2004 through early 2007 model years and 397,000 2004-2006 Toyota Highlander SUVs and hybrid versions to replace floor carpet covering and retention clips on the driver's side that could interfere with the accelerator pedal arm.
Toyota also recalled 20,000 2006 through early 2007 GS 300 and GS 350 all-wheel drive vehicles to change the shape of a plastic pad embedded in the driver's side floor carpet that could cause pedal interference.

Honda Recalls: Fit, Freed and City for Defectivs Springs, May Cause Car to Stall

TOKYO — Honda is recalling nearly 700,000 Fit, Freed and City compact cars around the world for a defective spring part that may cause the engine to stall.

No accidents have been reported related to the problem, but at least 72 complaints were filed in Japan, and 29 abroad, Honda Motor Co. spokesman Tomohiro Okada said Thursday.
Recalled are 167,000 vehicles in Japan, 156,000 in China, and 233,000 in the rest of Asia, Tokyo-based Honda said. About 122,000 cars are being recalled in North America.
The spring was placed improperly in a small box inside the engine, so that, in some cases, the problem could cause the engine to stall, Okada said

Many errors taking place because physicians not listening to patients.

Many errors taking place because physicians not listening to patients.

Modern Healthcare (2/24, Carlson) reports, "The latest report from the Dartmouth Atlas Project -- Improving Patient Decision-Making in Health Care, which was conducted in conjunction with the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making -- concludes that if physicians educated and listened to their patients more thoroughly, unwanted variation would decline." Investigators took an "in-depth look at medical conditions involving decisions for elective care in cases where the statistics don't recommend a single course of action." They found that much of the difference is attributable to "physicians' preferences, not differences in patient populations. But in cases of elective procedures, giving a patient a treatment he doesn't want is as much an error as wrong-site surgery," the co-author of the study said.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ford Recalls F-150 Pickups for Airbags that Could Deploy Without Warning

Ford Recalls Nearly 150,000 F-150 Pickups

Recall is prompted by concerns the truck's airbags could deploy without warning.
A wiring short could trigger the airbags in some 2005 and 2006 model Ford F-150 pickups.
Ford is recalling 144,000 F-150 pickups from the 2005 and 2006 model years because of concerns that the airbags may deploy without warning, the automaker said on Tuesday.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advised Ford to recall the F-150 after investigating 238 reports of accidental airbag deployment. Seventy-seven injuries have been reported, including chipped teeth, minor burns and cuts to the arms, hands and face.
Road vibrations and regular driving can cause the airbag wires to rub against the metal edge of the horn plate. The rubbing may eventually cut through the insulation on the wire, which then may short and cause the airbag to deploy.
Ford is recalling 135,000 trucks in the United States and 9,000 in Canada. However, the risk of accidental airbag deployment is relatively low, Ford said.
Ford changed the wiring for the 2007 model year to avoid the issue

Supreme Court finds No Preemption in Lap Belt Only Case: Protects Family

Williamson v. Mazda

The Supreme Court in a unanimous judgment will let Mazda be sued in California courts in a case involving a woman who died while wearing a seat belt across her lap in her family's minivan.
The high court in a unanimous judgment agreed to let the lawsuit go forward, despite complaints from the car company that federal regulators gave it an option on whether to install lap belts or lap-and-shoulder belts in the middle seats in the back of the van.
Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the majority judgment, said the only way that Mazda would be immune is if the "significant objective" of the federal regulation was to give auto manufacturers a choice of which seat belts to install.
The Transportation Department "gave no indication that its safety goals required the mixture of seatbelt types that resulted from manufacturers' ability to choose different options," said Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a concurring judgment.
Added Breyer: The more important reason why DOT did not require lap-and-shoulder belts for rear inner seats was that it thought that this requirement would not be cost-effective. The agency explained that it would be significantly more expensive for manufacturers to install lap-and shoulder belts in rear middle and aisle seats than in seats next to the car doors. But that fact - the fact that DOT made a negative judgment about cost effectiveness - cannot by itself show that DOT sought to forbid common law tort suits in which a judge or jury might reach a different conclusion."
Justice Bryer sited Geier often, pulling it back into the preemption argument.
"In Geier, then, the regulation's history, the agency explanation, and its consistently held interpretive views indicated that the regulation sought to maintain manufacturer choice in order to further significant regulatory objectives. Here, these same considerations indicate the contrary. We consequently conclude that, even though the state tort suit may restrict the manufacturer's choice, it does not "stan[d] as an obstacle to the accomplishment . . . of the full purposes and objectives" of federal law."

The case is Williamson v. Mazda, 08-1314. Click here for the Opinion: 08-1314_Opinion_(02-23-11).pdf

Fosamax and Femur Fractures- Fosamax Leading to Femur Fractures in Women

Bisphosphonates may increase risk for atypical leg fractures.

Bloomberg News (2/23, Randall) reports bisphosphonates "designed to prevent bone breaks in older women may actually increase the risk of a rare form of leg fractures," suggests a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

According to the Los Angeles Times (2/23, Roan) "Booster Shots" blog, researchers examined "205,466 women age 68 and older with osteoporosis who took a bisphosphonate for several years and identified 716 women who had an atypical fracture." When compared with a control group of "3,580 women who had not taken bisphosphonates, the long-term use of the drug was linked to 2.7 times higher odds of hospitalization for an atypical fracture." Overall, in women with "five or more years of bisphosphonate use, an atypical fracture occurred in 0.13% of them in the subsequent year."

WebMD (2/22, Boyles) added that last fall, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it would "require label changes on bisphosphonates to warn of a 'possible risk of atypical thigh bone fracture' in long-term users." Although it is "not clear whether bisphosphonates are the cause, atypical femur fractures...have been predominantly reported in patients taking bisphosphonates," agency officials noted in a news release issued at the time

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hidden Dangers of Seat Heaters to Disabled Drivers and Passengers

It’s Time to Make Seat Heaters Safer

Today, Safety Research & Strategies called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the industry to correct a longstanding safety problem: seat heaters that injure disabled drivers and passengers. With no government or industry-wide standards, manufacturers have installed a variety of seat heater systems – some that reach temperatures significantly above human tolerances or have no automatic shut-off mechanism – or both. While most drivers know when to turn a hot seat off, occupants with lower body sensory deficits don’t feel the burn. The medical literature has been documenting serious and permanent burn injuries from car seat heaters to occupants with paralysis or diabetes since 2003. Disabled motorists have been complaining about the problem to NHTSA since, at least, 2002. The industry’s response has been to bury a warning in the owner’s manual. NHTSA’s approach to seat heater defects has been: no flames, no problem. These are preventable injuries – and it’s time government and industry began preventing them.

The medical community has joined us in this campaign. We encourage readers to do the same by sending NHTSA, The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association letters supporting changes in standards and practices

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chevrolet Cobalts recalled for Steering Problems

notice is sent to you in accordance with the requirements of the National Traffic and Motor

Vehicle Safety Act.

General Motors has decided that a defect that relates to motor vehicle safety exists in certain

2005-2010 model year Chevrolet Cobalt vehicles; 2005 model year Pontiac Pursuit; 2005-2006

model year Pontiac G4; 2006 model year Pontiac G5 Pursuit; and 2007-2010 model year

Pontiac G5 vehicles equipped with electric power steering. As a result, GM is conducting a

safety recall. We apologize for this inconvenience. However, we are concerned about your

safety and continued satisfaction with our products.


• Your vehicle is involved in safety recall 10023.

• Schedule an appointment with your GM dealer.

• This service will be performed for you at no charge.

Why is your

vehicle being


Your vehicle may have a condition in which a sudden loss of power

steering assist could occur at any time while driving the vehicle. If

the power steering assist is lost, a chime will sound and a "Power

Steering" message will be displayed in the Driver Information Center

to inform you of the condition. Steering control will be maintained,

as the vehicle defaults to a manual steering mode. If power steering

assist is lost, it may require greater driver effort at low vehicle

speeds, for example, below 15 mph (25 km/h). Unless the driver

compensates for this additional effort, it may increase the risk of a


Typically, the next time the vehicle is started, the power steering

assist will return and the "Power Steering" message will no longer

be displayed.

What will we


Your GM dealer will replace the electric power steering motor. This

service will be performed for you at no charge. Because of service

scheduling requirements, it is likely that your dealer will need your

vehicle longer than the actual service correction time of

approximately 40 minutes.

If your vehicle is within the New Vehicle Limited Warranty, your

dealer may provide you with shuttle service or some other form of

courtesy transportation while your vehicle is at the dealership for this

repair. Please refer to your Owner Manual and your dealer for

details on courtesy transportation.

What should

you do?

You should contact your GM dealer to arrange a service

appointment as soon as possible.

Page 9 March 2010 Bulletin No.: 10023

Did you already

pay for this


The enclosed form explains what reimbursement is available and

how to request reimbursement if you have paid for repairs for the

recall condition. If you had this condition corrected, you may have

received the new motor. Please contact your dealer to determine if

the motor in your vehicle requires replacement.

Do you have


If you have questions or concerns that your dealer is unable to

resolve, please contact the appropriate Customer Assistance Center

at the number listed below.

Division Number

Text Telephones


Chevrolet 1-800-630-2438 1-800-833-2438

Pontiac 1-800-620-7668 1-800-833-7668

Guam 1-671-648-8450

Puerto Rico – English 1-800-496-9992

Puerto Rico – Español 1-800-496-9993

Virgin Islands 1-800-496-9994

If after contacting your dealer and the Customer Assistance Center, you are still not satisfied

we have done our best to remedy this condition without charge and within a reasonable time,

you may wish to write the Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200

New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington DC 20590, or call the toll-free Vehicle Safety Hotline at

1.888.327.4236 (TTY 1.800.424.9153), or go to

Federal regulation requires that any vehicle lessor receiving this recall notice must forward a

copy of this notice to the lessee within ten days.

Scott Lawson


Customer and Relationship Services