Friday, August 30, 2013

NFL reaches settlement over head injury lawsuits.

Several media outlets report on the settlement reached between the National Football League and former players who sued the league over allegations that it hid the long-term health effects that concussions could have on players who suffered them.

        ABC World News reports that the NFL will pay $765 million in order to settle more than 4,500 lawsuits from retired players who are “dealing with injuries they believe are the result of on field concussions.” The piece says that according to the players, the “NFL deliberately covered up the risk” of concussions. The CBS Evening News adds that if the settlement “is approved by a Federal judge, it will end the suit which exposed the NFL to what could have been billions of dollars in damages.” The report says that in addition to the compensatory figure, the settlement includes “$75 million to provide baseline medical exams” and adds that “Commissioner Roger Goodell pushed for the settlement, telling league lawyers to do the right thing for the game and the men who played it.” However, ABC World News notes that according to critics, the NFL is being “let off the hook” as the settlement isn’t large enough and that by “Not having to open up its files, not having to open up its books, the NFL gets a chance to not be examined in a way that could have been very embarrassing.” Nevertheless, ABC World News says that “the money will bring immediate relief for the league’s 19,000 former players, every one of whom will be eligible for a medical exam.” Notwithstanding the monetary award, the piece points out that the settlement “does not require the NFL to make any safety changes to reduce concussions.”

        NBC Nightly News reports that despite the payout, the $765 million figure is “less than 10 percent of the league’s revenue from just last year.”

        The New York Times (8/29, Belson, Subscription Publication, 9.44M) says that as part of the agreement, the league will also set up a $10 million research fund and will pay the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees. In addition, nearly “half of the settlement amount will be paid over the next three years, if the deal is approved, with the balance paid over the next 17 years.” The article adds that the settlement “will be seen as a positive outcome for the league, which, should the lawsuit have moved forward, was facing the potential of billions of dollars in liability payments and a lengthy and almost assuredly revealing discovery phase in which league officials and doctors would likely have been deposed.” Moreover, by settling the lawsuits, the league didn’t have to admit “that it hid information on the long-term effects of head trauma from its players.” Nevertheless, the Times says that “players will have an opportunity to opt out of the deal.”

        The AP (8/29, Dale) reports that according to lead plaintiff’s lawyer Christopher Seeger, “Individual payouts would be capped at $5 million for men with Alzheimer’s disease; $4 million for those diagnosed after their deaths with a brain condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy; and $3 million for players with dementia.”

        In separate pieces, ABC World News and the CBS Evening News offer expert analysis, in which they say that the NFL has prevailed in the settlement. Nevertheless, NBC Nightly News interviews Bob Costas of NBC Sports who says that the agreement “closes a chapter, but it doesn’t close the book.” Costas says that the increasing attention to head injuries in the league has lead to a decrease in youth football participation and could “erode” the popularity of the league.
        Reuters (8/29) and the Sports Business Daily (8/29, Kaplan, 5K) also cover this story.

Monday, August 26, 2013

NHTSA Investigating 2012 Jeep Cherokee Fires


The AP (8/23) reported, “U.S. auto safety regulators are investigating complaints that the ceilings can catch fire in 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs.” Yesterday, NHTSA announced the probe, which “covers an estimated 146,000 of the popular sport utility vehicles.” The article writes that “Investigators will decide if the problem is serious enough to warrant a recall.”

        The Detroit News (8/23, Shepardson, 665K) reported, NHTSA “said it is launching a preliminary investigation into 146,000 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs after receiving three reports alleging the vehicle’s interior caught fire near the passenger-side sun visor.” The agency said on the matter, “The customers reported a burning odor and visible smoke coming from the headliner while the vehicle was being driven. This was followed by flames from the headliner itself. Customers lowered the windows in an effort to clear the smoke, but this increased the fire’s intensity. All three vehicles had to be extinguished with a fire extinguisher or by the fire department as they continued to burn after the vehicle was turned off.”

        Reuters (8/23) also covered this story.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Vermont 100 Race Report

 I have to thank the best crew at the Vermont 100 (Ann, Jen, Ryan, Hoyt & family,  Andy, our kids my mother and brother and his kids). I have no doubts I could not have completed this journey without them and I underestimated how much I really needed their support.  Someone once said ultra marathons are 90% mental and the other 10% is in your head. That is so true.

This course was hilly with a little more than 15,000 feet of climbing. It was hot and humid, the Vermont scenery was green and beautiful.

Pre-race meal was the usual chicken parm, a bottle of pedialite with a teaspoon of salt.

Awoke Saturday morning at 2:00 a.m. breakfast was, Whey protein shake, 2 boiled eggs, banana, apple sauce and sweet potatoes.

Ann drove us to the 4:00 a.m.  start.  Just before the gun, they had Fireworks, that was really cool. But, it was about then where it sunk in for the first time WTF am I thinking doing this, and for a fleeting moment I was scared, but, that passed and I was psyched and ready to go. I carried two hand helds, one with water and the other with GU Roctane drink and a few GU gels stuffed in.  We rolled through the first few miles with headlamps, mud and rocks. About 5 miles in I had to stop in the woods. (Oops, no TP or baby wipes, Hint- always carry baby wipes!)

Mile 14 saw Ann, Jen, Ryan and my mother a nice lift.
Mile 20ish First aid station, a little more than 3 hours, refill hand helds, ate some cookies, Pringles, and fruit. 

Mile 30 next aid station. Again refill hand helds, ate cookies Pringles and fruit, peanut butter and fluff sandwich. While standing at the aid table eating, I noticed my legs were shaking uncontrollably, I thought that was weird, but figured it would stop sometime.

It was somewhere in this next stretch where, I noticed my ankles and feet started to hurt, but focused on relentless forward progress and  keep moving forward.
It was also around here, that I learned, that when stopping to pee, other bodily functions may involuntarily follow.  Oops, how I wish I had some baby wipes. That strange phenomenon would occur a few more times over the next 15 miles. It was getting hot and humid, drinking lots of water. Maybe too much, but I didn't want to find out the alternative of not drinking enough.

Mile 47- Camp Ten Bear aid station, in about 10 hours. Went to mandatory weigh in, lost 4lbs, but I was good to go, All things considered feeling ok, a little vasoline on the undercarriage, potatoes in salt, Pringles, cookies, fruit and some other things on the table, I think I had an Ensure  (actually the generic version from Savemart, I had several of those throughout the day, very helpful), a fellow runner overheard me talking about stomach problems and gave me some ginger candy (hint this stuff really does help). I also stopped the GU Roctane drink, and stayed with water, coke, fruits, cookies and Pringles, later I would add Ramen noodles, chicken broth and Frappicinos and chocolate milk.

Got to halfway point in about 10:30. We were on steep hills in the woods and walking, this was a tough stretch for me, stomach feeling better, ankles felt like someone cracked them with a sledge hammer (it wasn't til the next day when I would realize the extent of the carnage). Really struggled to get to 55, then the hills got steeper, started to rain, but given the humidity of the day this felt glorious. At this point, all I could think about was getting to mile 62.5 (Margaritaville Aid station)  Finally trudged into Margaritaville feeling drained and beaten, the hills, humidity and bathroom issues having taken their toll.  My mother, brother, his kids, Owen, David and Livia were all there and this was a huge lift.   A change of clothes, shoes, Ensure, Coke, ginger snaps, ramen noodles, bag balm on the underside and I was rejuvenated and ready to roll. I noticed, that my change of shoes were tight, and my feet hurt more, I had heard your feet swell and you should have a change of shoes a half size bigger,  I realize now this is true. Oh well, time for the little piggies to suffer and move on.  I was able to pretty much run to mile 70 (Camp Ten Bear) I felt like I had gotten a second wind, I was very much looking forward to seeing Ann, Hoyt, Jen and getting Ryan as my first pacer.  My goal was to get there before sundown and I made it.

I approached mile 70 and saw Hoyt who had jogged out, I was happy, I was at least going to make it to mile 70. We saw a girl who was in a little trouble, Hoyt stopped to help her, she said she was losing her vision.  Hoyt helped her to the medical tent. I only hoped she was ok, could recover and continue.  I got weighed in, lost 8lbs close to the point were they may put a medical hold on me for losing too much weight, but I made it and I was good to go.  I had the devil's crotch to deal with, all I wanted was butt cream, Ann went waay above the call of duty, and took me behind the Porto-pottys, I saw her surgically remove a fern, some leaves, twigs, and who knows what else I stopped looking after that, and I really don't know where that stuff came from, but that's what happens when you forget the baby wipes.  Butt cream applied felt heavenly and I was sooo happy. I would have no similar issues after that. I was starting to feel recharged, drank a Frappicino, ate  Pringles, cookies, fruit, potatoes in salt, and ramen noodles.

Good to go, Ryan and I jogged out of aid station, 8:00 pm, 18 hours in. I was happy to have Ryan with me. My joy was short lived as we got to the next hill in the woods, we walked on but I was again sinking. We got out of the woods and into some open meadows, still up hill, I felt I wanted to run but it was too hilly for me and I just couldn't. The sun was setting, the nearly full moon was coming up, it was breathtakingly beautiful. We turned on our headlamps and went back into the woods.  I couldn't run the steep downhills, too tough and I was having problems adjusting to the dark. We got to some relatively flat section and started to shuffle along. It was about here Ryan politely pointed out our walking pace may be faster then run pace, but it felt good to run. We finished this 7 mile leg, Ryan had gotten me through, and Hoyt picked me up for the next 11.  We were able to run (at least I am calling it that) quite a bit of this stretch. Hoyt pushed me on through and we got to Jen at mile 88. More Frappicinos, ramen noodles, cookies, Pringles and we were good to go. Just needed to get 3 miles to next aid station, then 4... Jen had the world's brightest headlamp that lit up the woods. It was awesome. She walked behind me and I saw my shadow and I thought I looked like Frankenstein, playing around with that a while in my mind, got me through the next mile. At this point our goal was just to get to the next glow stick, then the next, we got to aid station at mile 91, ate and drank some more, and trudged on. Jen would ask me questions to distract me and keep me moving, but I couldn't talk and I am not sure if I didn't answer or just said yes or no. Jen got me to mile 95.5. I had no doubts I was going to finish, I never did, I always knew I was going to make it no matter what because I wasn't quitting, but I had been scared of the unknowns and what could happen. Ann picked me up from this point and we walked glow stick to glow stick. I think even "ran" a little. The sun was coming up and it was beautiful.  Ann got me to the finish, it was now daylight again, we saw Jen, Ryan,  Hoyt, my brother and mother, and the dude handing out the finishers medal which is also the coolest bottle opener. I really felt pretty good at that point. Finished in 25 hours 26 minutes.

Later that day, Jen, Ryan, the Kohl family came over for some awesome baked ziti Ann made. A highlight of the race weekend, discussing the finer points of the race, and the adventures of the crew, who had stayed awake over 24 hours, with only a few naps sprinkled in, and had successfully navigated the Vermont "roads" and woods, to be there for me at every possible handler station, and even more.  I am sure they all have their own stories, that I look forward to hearing more about.

Post-Race beverage of choice: Magic Hat Blind Faith IPA courtesy of Ryan Brubaker

The Good: Ann, Livia, Owen, David, my brother, his family and my mother, Jen, Ryan, Hoyt and his family, Andy, Vermont, covering 100 miles and yes it is an awesome adventure and experience.
Some things that worked well for me:
The best crew in the race!
Chocolate milk, Frappicinos, Pringles, ginger snaps and any kind of cookies, ramen noodles, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, watermelon, potatoes in salt, ginger candy and butt cream.

The bad: the hills, humidity, pain, struggling through the second half.

The ugly: stomach problems, no baby wipes, and my ankles, once I took my sneakers off after the race they looked like grapefruit.

Is it what I thought it was? Yes, and more. Although I underestimated the pain. But it's a pain we can all deal with, anyone of us can do this. I had heard you run the first 50 miles with your legs and next 50 with your head. I believe this is true, anyone of us can do this or something like it.

Would I do it again? No doubt! (just not anytime soon)

I hope some of this information is helpful for you, and of course, I would be happy to talk stories with anyone, that's where I learn the most and pick up some great advice from you guys.
Thanks, Jaime

Friday, August 2, 2013

Recalled Jeep airbag deploys, Chrysler doesn’t have parts to fix.

On its website WRGB-TV Albany, NY (8/2) reports that the airbag on Connie Lee’s 2003 Jeep Liberty blew for no apparent reason badly bruising the woman. WRGB notes that the vehicle was the subject of a recent recall and the “the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found flawed occupant restraint control modules within the vehicle can lead to the deployments.” Lee says she wasn’t aware of the recall and when Chrysler sent and investigator to inspect the Jeep she was told the company didn’t have the parts to fix the recalled Jeep. A company spokesman said that “parts for vehicles affected by this campaign have just become available in sufficient quantities and are scheduled for shipment by mid-August.”

Ford pays maximum fine over delayed Escape recall.

The AP (8/2, Lowy) reports Ford has paid the maximum fine allowed of $17.35 million to settle claims by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it was slow to recall 485,000 Ford Escape SUVs from the 2001 to 2004 model years that “were recalled to fix sticking gas pedals that could cause crashes.” NHTSA contends that Ford new about the issue in May 2011, but failed to take action until the agency began its investigation in July 2012 after an Arizona girl died in a crash involving an Escape in January 2012. Ford denied any violations in the settlement agreement.

        Bloomberg News (8/2, Keane, Durisin) reports, “It is critical to the safety of the driving public that manufacturers address automotive safety issues quickly and in a forthright manner,” Nathan Naylor, a NHTSA spokesman, said in an email. Meanwhile, Kelli Felker, a Ford spokeswoman, said in an email that “while we are confident in our current processes for quickly identifying and addressing potential vehicle issues, Ford agreed to this settlement to avoid a lengthy dispute with the government.”

        The Los Angeles Times (8/1, Undercoffler, 692K) notes that Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at auto information website called the development significant and comment that “what it says is that you don’t mess around with NHTSA.” He called it “a very expensive swat on the hand.”

        The Detroit News (8/1, Henkel, 119K) points out that “Toyota paid the same fine last year because it delayed the recall of 154,000 Lexus SUVs over gas pedal entrapment issues.”

        Also reporting are Reuters (8/1, Seetharaman) and the Wall Street Journal (8/2, Ramsey, Subscription Publication, 2.29M).