Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Volkswagen recalls 38,000 cars due to fire risk

New York — The Volkswagen Group of America is recalling about 38,000 cars because a fuel leak in the engine may cause a fire.
The automaker said no injuries or accidents have been reported.
The recall covers 2014 to 2015 model years of the Volkswagen Beetle, Jetta, Passat and 2015 models of the Golf and GTI.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said drivers might smell gas inside their vehicles. Volkswagen is telling owners who smell gas or see the electronic power control warning light go on to immediately bring the vehicle to a Volkswagen dealer to have the fuel system inspected.
Volkswagen said that it would notify owners of the recalled cars. There is no cost to owners for the repairs.
Click here to watch video.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Chrysler recalls 67,000 older model pickups

NEW YORK -- Fiat Chrysler is recalling about 67,000 model year 2006 and 2007 pickups, including more than 4,000 in Canada, because of a problem that could allow the trucks to be started without the clutch being depressed.

Chrysler said one death is associated with the problem.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had opened an investigation into the trucks in May after receiving a report of a child starting a 2006 Dodge Ram 3500 pickup without using the clutch. The truck moved forward, striking and killing another child, the safety agency said.

The company said Monday that a wire in the clutch ignition interlock switch could break in trucks with manual transmissions. That could keep the truck from starting or, if drivers don't follow recommended starting procedures, the truck could move when the ignition key is turned.

Vehicles with manual transmissions are required to have interlock mechanisms that stop the motor from being started unless the clutch is depressed.

The company is recalling Dodge Dakota, Dodge Ram 1500, 2500, 3500 and Mitsubishi Raider pickups that were made between July 2005 and June 2006.

A total of 54,558 of them are in the United States, 4,356 in Canada, more than 7,600 in Mexico and 257 outside the NAFTA region.

To read complete article, click here. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

NHTSA closes three defect investigations of Chrysler vehicles.

The Detroit News (12/28, Shepardson, 504K) reports that the NHTSA is shutting down three defect investigations into Chrysler vehicles after Fiat Chrysler agreed to issue recalls covering more than 960,000 cars and trucks. The biggest of the recalls involves “643,618 2006-2007 Jeep Commanders and 2005-2007 Jeep Grand Cherokees recalled to address the problem of ignition turning off while driving.” NHTSA, says the News, is also closing a probe into “256,000 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup trucks because they may have an axle pinion nut that can loosen, due to an undersized spline on the pinion gear.” NHTSA hasn’t posted the Chrysler recall notice yet on its website but “described it in other documents,” according to the story. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

BMW complies with NHSTA demand to recall Takata air bags nationwide.

ABC World News (12/22, story 5, 0:35, Muir, 5.84M) reports on the “massive” air bag recall Monday night where BMW agreed to NHSTA demands to replace Takata’s driver’s side air bags. ABC says BMW is the “last major car maker to comply,” recalling 140,000 vehicles made between 2004 and 2006. BMW claims no problems with its vehicles have been reported, although at least five deaths are blamed on Takata air bags. While Takata has argues there is “no scientific reason to expand the recall nationally,” ABC estimates 15 million airbags have been recalled in the US.
        The New York Times (12/23, Tabuchi, Subscription Publication, 9.9M) explains how the NHTSA demanded last month that Takata and its automakers recall Takata air bags, responding to pressure from lawmakers who questioned the previously geographically-limited recall. Initially, information showed that the airbags were at risk in humid areas, as Takata asserted moisture destabilized the chemical propellant that inflated its airbags. Resultantly, BMW previously limited its recall to about 11,700 cars in Florida, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. NHSTA Deputy Administrator David J. Friedman is cited to say that the automakers that had made regional recalls for driver-side airbags now had extended their recalls nationwide, and he is reviewing BMW’s recall filings to ensure the action covered all affected models and years.
        The AP (12/22) describes how the Takata air bags “explode with too much force and spew shrapnel at drivers and passengers,” and specifies that Takata counters the allegations by saying they “tested more than 1,000 air bag inflators from other regions without a single failure.” According to this article, BMW has recalled 574,000 cars in the US earlier this year. AP reports it is unknown whether Takata or the automakers will pay to replace the air bags. Altogether AP indicates 10 automakers have Takata air bags, and that there are about 30 million vehicles with the air bags in the US.
        Cars (12/22, Mays, 730K) details the models of cars known to carry the Takata driver’s side air bag, and reports that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has also recently recalled their models with Takata air bags. According to the article, FCA calls the latest move a “field action,” not a recall, “because only defects compel recalls, and there is no established defect.”

        Reuters (12/22, 4:56 p.m. ET, Woodall), the Automotive News (12/22, 3:32 p.m. ET, Lutz, 181K), and Bloomberg News (12/22, 4:16 p.m. ET, Drajem, 1.94M) provide similar coverage. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Chrysler expands Takata air bag recall.

CBS News (12/21, 3.8M) reported online with continuing coverage of Chrysler’s decision to expand its “recall of driver’s side air bag inflators” made by Takata Corp., acceding “to government demands” about the need for nationwide recalls of affected vehicles. Chrysler is recalling “nearly 2.9 million older cars and trucks in the U.S.” now, which was “demanded” by NHTSA, the article said. 

Record for vehicles recalled in a single year smashed in 2014.

Bloomberg News (12/21, Green, Plungis, 1.94M) reported that, thanks to massive safety recalls this year by General Motors and Takata Corp., vehicle recalls in 2014 “surpassed the 60 million mark for the first time in a single year,” with the number of vehicles recalled in the US so far this year hitting 60.5 million vehicles, “almost double the previous annual record of 30.8 million recalled vehicles set in 2004.” According to senior analyst Michelle Krebs, today “automakers do not want to be accused of dragging their feet, so they’re very quick to issue a recall.” In light of all this, US consumers have not reduced their car-buying habits. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Ford expands recall of vehicles with Takata airbags.

Several major national news outlets report that at the request of the NHTSA, Ford Motor is expanding the recall of vehicles with Takata airbags. The move adds 447,000 more Ford vehicles to the list of those recalled. Reports note that Ford was among five automakers asked by the NHTSA to expand a recall of vehicles with driver-side Takata airbags.
        For its part, the New York Times (12/19, B3, Kessler, Subscription Publication, 9.9M) reports Ford said that the expanded recall brings the total number of Ford vehicles recalled to “538,977 worldwide, 462,911 of which are in” the US. The article says that the scope of the airbag defect “has led to a standoff between” Takata and the NHTSA. According to the report, the NHTSA has demanded that the airbag manufacturer “issue a nationwide recall of all driver’s-side airbags,” but Takata responded, saying that the agency lacks the “authority to compel such an action.”

        The AP (12/19, Krisher) says that Ford’s expanded recall “puts pressure on BMW and Chrysler, the only two automakers,” which have not agreed to national recalls. Mazda and Honda have already expanded their recalls nationwide. The report notes that the NHTSA has threatened Takata and the remaining automakers with legal action if they don’t comply with the agency’s demand. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Mazda announces new limited airbag recall.

In continuing coverage of the Takata airbag recall, the Detroit (MI) News (12/4, 504K) reports that Mazda announced on Thursday that it would be recalling 40,000 more vehicles in the US, though the recall is limited to high-humidity states. The News reports that the models the automaker is recalling “include the 2003-2007 Mazda6, 2004-2008 RX-8, 2006-2007 Mazdaspeed6, 2004-2005 MPV, and 2004 B-Series Trucks” in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The News notes that, despite NHTSA urging companies to expand their recalls nationwide, only Honda has told the safety agency that it will do so.
        Bloomberg News (12/5, Clothier, Welch, 1.94M) reports that Bob Carter, senior vice president of Toyota’s US operations, said on Wednesday that the automakers affected by the Takata airbag recall are planning on “hiring our own independent testing firm” to investigate the defective airbags.
        A second Bloomberg News (12/3, Green, Fisk, Plungis, 1.94M) article reports that US Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), a co-author of the TREAD Act, reminded automakers of their responsibility under the act to “provide as much helpful information as they can so we can help save lives,” noting, “reporting the bare minimum doesn’t cut it.” The article also says that David Friedman, NHTSA’s acting chief, told reporters in a phone interview “that the industry must stop ‘fighting with us’ and ‘put safety first.’”
        Group warns car buyers of the most recalled vehicles. The Arizona Republic (12/4, Merrill, 1.21M) reports on a list made by that found the 15 most recalled cars in the US, as well as the average amount of time an owner could expect to spend getting their vehicle repaired. The group found that the top three cars were the Chevrolet Cruze with 4.8 recalls taking an average of 14.4 hours to repair, the Toyota RAV4 with 4.7 recalls taking an average of 14 hours to repair, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee with 4.4 recalls taking an average of 13.2 hours to repair. The Republic notes that the Ford Focus and Honda Civic fared the best with both averaging fewer than 1 recall that took only 2.6 hours to repair on average

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December 11 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm - $35 
Thistle Finch Distillery
417 W. Grant St., Lancaster, PA 17603

Come join The Common Wheel for a night of food, drink, dancing, and the most fun that you’ll have all holiday season! Take your chances on one of our many exciting raffle items while enjoying the sweet sounds of Jordan Rast and later the sweet beats of DJ Mast. With beer, wine, and cocktails by Thistle Finch Distillery and ríjuice, it is sure to be an event to remember. Enjoy food from local chefs and conversation with your favorite folk, all the while supporting your favorite community bike shop.
Tickets are on sale at our shop or click here to buy tickets

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

        Takata to expand recall. Reuters (12/2) reports that the Nikkei business daily reported that Takata is preparing to announce an expansion of its recall of its defective airbag inflators beyond high-humidity locations, though Reuters notes that a Takata spokeswoman denied that the company had made a decision on the expansion. Reuters reports that NHTSA had demanded that the company take action by Tuesday or risk being fined. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Honda admits failing to report deaths, injuries.

The AP (11/25, Krisher) reports from Detroit that Honda “is admitting that it failed to report more than 1,700 injury and death claims about its vehicles to U.S. safety regulators, a violation of federal law.” Honda, “in statements issued Monday, also said it became aware of the omissions in 2011, yet it took about three years to take action.” The Japanese car maker “said it filed documents detailing the lapses on Monday with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which had demanded an explanation on Nov. 3.” The agency “said at the time that Honda may have failed to report incidents related to air bags made by Takata Corp. as well as other defective parts.” Honda “should get the maximum fine for ‘massively’ violating the law, said Clarence Ditlow, head of the Center for Auto Safety, a nonprofit watchdog group,” and he added that because Honda “hid more claims than it reported,” NHTSA “should refer the case to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation.”
        Bloomberg News (11/25, Plungis, Green, 1.94M) reports that eight of the 1,729 unreported claims involved the Takata airbag ruptures, though the automaker said NHTSA was aware of the incidents. Honda “blamed the underreporting on ‘inadvertent data entry or computer programming errors’ that spanned 11 years.” The Center for Auto Safety “accused Honda last month of not reporting at least two injury-and-death incidents related to air bags” and “called for the U.S. Justice Department to conduct a criminal investigation.” Bloomberg notes that this violation “would be one of the biggest in history and could lead to a fine of $35 million.”
        The New York Times (11/25, Tabuchi, Subscription Publication, 9.9M) reports that the audit, “commissioned by Honda and conducted by an outside law firm, was done several years after an employee noted the problem and regulators later raised the issue.” The admissions “have the potential to bring millions in federal penalties and were made during a separate investigation by regulators of faulty airbags made by the Takata Corporation that Honda has linked to five deaths and dozens of injuries.” The House Energy and Commerce Committee is planning a hearing on December 3 “to investigate the faulty airbags, a person briefed on the committee’s activities said.”

        Similar coverage included the Detroit (MI) News (11/24, Shepardson, 504K), USA Today (11/24, Woodyard, 9.86M), the AP (11/25, Krisher), Reuters (11/25), the Washington (DC) Post (11/24, Halsey, 4.9M), and NBC News (11/25, 3.76M). 

Monday, November 24, 2014

        Chrysler heeds demand to speed up Jeep-recall work. The New York Times (11/23, A22, Jensen, Subscription Publication, 9.9M) reports Chrysler Group on Friday told NHTSA in writing that it agreed with the agency’s assertion – made a day earlier in a letter from Deputy Administrator David Friedman – that some 1.6 million Jeep vehicles recalled due to a deadly fire hazard in rear-impact crashes weren’t being fixed fast enough, and the automaker promised to improve. NHTSA has said the 1993-1998 models of the Grand Cherokee and the 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty SUV are dangerous because “the placement of the gas tank behind the rear axle makes them vulnerable to fast-moving fires in rear-impact accidents,” the Times explains, adding that a minimum of 56 deaths are believed to be tied to the problem. About 139,000 of the 1.6 million vehicles have been fixed, Scott Kunselman, a Chrysler senior vice president, told NHTSA in Friday’s letter.

        KEPR-TV Pasco, WA (11/21, Vedder, 824) reported on the “quandary” facing local Grand Cherokee owner Drew Dillon, who two weeks ago received a “really alarming” recall notice from Chrysler. He called the company, twice, “only to learn that the necessary part for a fix is not available,” KEPR said. He also “worries if he should even be driving, especially after what he says an operator with [NHTSA] told him.” Dillon recalled, “She informed me that as a driver and owner of this vehicle it should be parked.” 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

        Defective Takata airbag grows into global problem for manufacturer. The New York Times (11/19, Gough, Soble, Tabuchi, Subscription Publication, 9.9M) reports that “What began as a largely American problem for Takata is taking on ever-wider proportions, confronting drivers and regulators in multiple countries with differing legal systems and attitudes toward automobile safety.” Last week, the first fatality of a non-US driver was linked to the Japanese airbag manufacturer’s defects thus confirming that faulty inflaters, made at North American plants, ended up in overseas vehicles. “The problem is that nobody knows how far it’s going to go — how many millions more vehicles,” said Koji Endo, an expert on the Japanese automobile industry at Advanced Research Japan. Adding to the company’s troubles, Federal regulators in the US on Tuesday urged automakers to recall cars nationwide that contain driver’s-side airbags made by Takata. Takata executives are scheduled to testify on Thursday at a Senate hearing on auto safety. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Airbag settlements keep details from other victims of accidents

DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- Confidential settlements over defective Takata Corp. airbags are sealing off relevant information that other victims could use to pursue injury claims.

The accords make financial sense for the settling parties, but Takata and other defendants, including Honda Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, get an extra advantage in keeping damaging information out the hands of outsiders interested in suing them.

The quick, secret deals -- a cornerstone of product liability litigation across industries -- help explain why, years after the first recalls, so much remains unknown about defects linked to four deaths in the U.S. The few cases filed have generally been resolved before victims’ lawyers acquired evidence.

Five of a dozen lawsuits reviewed by Bloomberg News were settled before information could be revealed in courts. One of the cases is being reviewed for a possible settlement, while one is in mediation and another was dropped. None has gone to trial.

The lack of information deepens the confusion surrounding an escalating crisis. Recalls of more than 11 million U.S. vehicles -- 17 million globally according to Reuters' estimates -- by several automakers have left drivers unsure about whether they’re at risk. Safety advocates blame the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for not doing enough in its probe of Takata while a federal grand jury has sent the company a subpoena to turn over documents and explain the defects with its safety devices.

To read the entire article, click here.

Girls on the Run 2014 5K Run

Last Saturday at Millersville University was the Girls on the Run 2014 Fall 5K Run. Atlee Hall was one of the sponsors of the race. We also had a booth with information and treats for the girls before and after the race. We thank all of our volunteers - Maria, Crystal, Marlee, Neve and the Jackson family - Jaime, Olivia, David and Owen.

Girls on the Run® was established in 1996 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Girls on the Run® curricula, the heart of the program, provides pre-adolescent girls with the necessary tools to embrace their individual strengths and successfully navigate life experiences. The earliest version of the 24 lesson curriculum was piloted in 1996 with the help of thirteen brave girls. Twenty-six girls came the next season, then seventy-five. In 2000, Girls on the Run International, a 501c3 organization was born.

To read the complete article, click here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Takata subpoenaed by Federal grand jury.

In continuing coverage of the exploding Takata airbags, the company has received a subpoena to produce documents before a Federal grand jury in New York. The US Senate has scheduled a hearing on the issue to be attended by officials from Takata, Honda, and NHTSA. Also, a pregnant woman killed in Malaysia during July when she was hit by shrapnel following a car crash has been connected to the defect.
        The CBS Evening News (11/13, story 5, 0:25, Pelley, 5.08M) reports that Takata “confirmed today that it is the subject of a criminal investigation in the United States over defective air bags that it made for Honda cars.”
        Reuters (11/14, Shiraki, Saito) reports that Takata revealed that it was being investigated during a meeting with financial analysts. Reuters reports that Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada said in a statement posted on the company’s websites, “Our whole company will strengthen our quality management structure and work to prevent an incident from occurring again.”
        Bloomberg News (11/14, Horie, 1.94M) reports that Hitoshi Sano, Takata’s investor relations head, said in a phone interview that he did not know when the company received the subpoena.
        The Detroit (MI) News (11/13, 504K) reports that the Senate Commerce Committee plans to hold a hearing on the matter on November 20 and will be chaired by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). Aside from criticizing the companies, Nelson also said NHTSA “has not been right upfront, forward-leading and aggressive to protect the public.” The News also quotes Takada Shigehisa’s statement, in which he said “We will continue to fully cooperate in the inquiry or request of the relevant authorities.”
        Similar coverage was provided by the AP (11/13), the Detroit Free Press (11/14, 974K), Bloomberg News (11/12, 1.94M), the New York (NY) Times (11/14, Tabuchi, Subscription Publication, 9.9M), USA Today (11/13, 9.86M), Business Insider (11/14, 2.38M), and Law 360 (11/14, 18K). 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Atlee Hall Thanks Our Veterans

On November 11, 2014, Atlee Hall participated in the Injury Board’s First Annual Day of Action, to benefit the Lebanon Veteran’s Administration Medical Center and to honor our local veterans who were injured while serving our country.

The entire firm participated in honoring more than 120 veterans by sponsoring and volunteering at two Bingo parties held at the Center. Refreshments were purchased and served, and dozens of donations of “comfort items”, including socks, t-shirts, puzzles, blankets, and models were collected, packaged, and brought to the Center for the veterans to enjoy.

To read the entire article and see some additional pictures, click here.  

Takata makes changes to airbag chemicals.

In continuing coverage of the exploding Takata airbags, Reuters (11/13, Shiraki, Lienert, Klayman) reports that the company has said that it has altered the chemicals used in its airbags, though it still refuses to admit that there was a problem with the original chemicals. The officials who spoke to Reuters says that there have yet to be any reported issues with the new chemicals.
        The Wall Street Journal (11/13, Kubota, Subscription Publication, 5.62M) also reports on the formula change.
        Bloomberg News (11/13, Trudell, 1.94M) reports that Takata released a statement regarding the New York Times story in which former Takata employees allege that the company conducted secret tests on the airbags. Takata said, “The Times article confuses multiple events occurring at different times and for different purposes and thereby tells a story that is simply untrue.”
        The New York (NY) Times (11/13, Tabuchi, Subscription Publication, 9.9M) reports that the former Takata employee told the Times that Takata had confused the events, saying “We tested inflaters in 2004 from junk cars, scrapyards, for rapidly disassembling inflaters, not a cushion-tearing problem.” The employee continued, “There were two bags where the inflater showed signs of fracture.”
        Reuters (11/13) reports that Honda has issued a recall over the airbags for 170,000 more vehicles, but none of the new recalls involve cars sold in the US.

        Several outlets reported on previous news that Chrysler would begin replacing the recalled Takata airbags in December, including Edmunds (11/13, 314K), High Gear Media (11/12), and Leftlane News (11/13, 8K). 

Toyota to recall nearly 362,000 vehicles, including Camry.

The Wall Street Journal (11/12, Kubota, Subscription Publication, 5.62M) reports that Toyota Motor Corp. announced on Wednesday that it is preparing to recall around 361,800 vehicles world-wide including the Camry sedan, mostly in Japan and Europe. Toyota is recalling about 170,000 Camrys, including 120,000 in Europe and around 60 in the US, made between March 2011 and August 2014 due to defects involving faulty ball joints that may have been damaged during shipment and may cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles, according to the article. Toyota has not received any reports of crashes or injuries related to the glitches, spokeswoman Kayo Doi said in an email. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Emails show GM ordered switches nearly two months before recall.

The AP (11/10) reports from Detroit that emails “showing that General Motors ordered a half-million replacement ignition switches nearly two months before telling the government of a safety recall will be heavily scrutinized by federal prosecutors, who are investigating GM’s conduct, according to legal experts.” The email chain, “released Monday by an attorney suing GM, again raises questions about how forthcoming GM has been with safety regulators and lawmakers, as well as a GM-funded investigation into the defective switches by former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas.” The email chain “from December through February shows that a contract employee for GM inquired about the parts on Dec. 18, 2013, and ordered them from Delphi the following day, in preparation to replace parts on 500,000 to over 700,000 vehicles,” but GM “did not report a safety defect to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration until 51 days later, on Feb. 7, 2014.”
        The Detroit Free Press (11/10, Gardner, 974K) reports that GM CEO Mary Barra “said she learned in late December when she headed the company’s global product development group that GM employees were reviewing safety issues related to the Chevrolet Cobalt,” but “she didn’t learn that there would be a recall until near the end of January.”

Honoring Our Vetrans

On November 11, 2014, Atlee Hall participated in a Day of Action, to benefit the Lebanon Veteran’s Administration Medical Center and to honor our local veterans who were injured while serving our country.
The entire firm participated in honoring more than 120 veterans by sponsoring and volunteering at two Bingo parties held at the Center. Refreshments were purchased and served, and dozens of donations of “comfort items”, including socks, t-shirts, puzzles, blankets, and models were collected, packaged, and brought to the Center for the veterans to enjoy.
While the donations and sponsorship were much appreciated, it became obvious fairly early that what meant most to the Vets was the simple presence of the volunteers and the fact that employees of a law firm, with whom no one had any prior association, gave their time to make Veteran’s Day special. Let us be clear—these are all brave, heroic individuals injured while serving our country—ranging in time from World War II to the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Most, if not all, were injured during the prime of their lives. Why would a group who has sacrificed so much to protect our liberty and freedom find it so difficult to conceive that others would want to honor and support them in return? To the Lebanon Veterans, an unpretentious smile, a pat on the back, help marking a number on a Bingo card, and a compassionate gesture meant their sacrifices were appreciated and thus, meant the world to them.
Yet, after speaking with some of the firm’s participants a day later, it is apparent that WE benefitted more from the experience than we could ever give. Our employees consistently remarked that they would participate again; in a heartbeat. Everyone knows why. St. Francis of Assisi once wrote “For it is in giving that we receive”. There is not a more appropriate adage.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Takata believed to have conducted secret tests on airbags.

In continuing coverage of the exploding Takata airbags, the New York (NY) Times (11/7, Tabuchi, Subscription Publication, 9.9M) reports in a front page story that two former Takata employees are saying that the company “secretly conducted tests on 50 airbags” in 2004. The Times reports that the employees claim that two of the 50 airbags tested had their steel inflaters crack during testing, “a condition that can lead to rupture.” However, the employees say that Takata did not inform safety regulators and instead “Takata executives discounted the results, and ordered the lab technicians to delete the testing data from their computers and dispose of the airbag inflaters in the trash.” The Times reports that Honda has previously said “said it was assured by Takata in 2004 that the episode in Alabama, which involved a 2002 Honda Accord, was an anomaly.” Honda spokesman Chris Martin said in a statement, “This is a serious allegation about actions taken by Takata. It is our intention to determine whether anyone at Honda has any evidence that these claims are credible.” ,
        Other outlets reported on the Times’ coverage, including USA Today (11/6, 9.86M), Reuters (11/7), and The Oregonian (11/7, 690K).
        Honda expands airbag campaign to recall. Bloomberg News (11/7, Trudell, 1.94M) reports that Honda upgraded its campaign to replace Takata airbags in the US from a safety campaign to a formal recall. Bloomberg reports that NHTSA told car owners of affected vehicles that they should take their vehicles to have the airbags replaced.
        The AP (11/6) reports that the upgrade “comes just a few days after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration demanded information in an investigation from Honda about its air bag recalls.”
        Similar coverage was provided by the Wall Street Journal (11/7, Rogers, Kubota, Subscription Publication, 5.62M), Bloomberg BusinessWeek (11/6, 2.52M), and Reuters (11/7).

Friday, October 31, 2014

NHTSA orders Takata to turn over documents on airbags

 In continuing coverage of the recall of 14 million vehicles equipped with airbags made by Takata, the New York (NY) Times (10/31, Kessler, Subscription Publication, 9.9M) reports that NHTSA has “demanded that Takata turn over records regarding the production, testing and subsequent concerns raised internally and by automakers over the airbags, as well as communications between the company and automakers about defect concerns.” NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said “We are compelling Takata to produce documents and answer questions under oath relevant to our ongoing investigation into defective airbags they have produced.” The Times reports that an investigation conducted by NHTSA five years ago determined that there was “insufficient information” that Honda and Takata had delayed action on the airbags. The Times notes that the House Energy and Commerce Committee has asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate NHTSA’s handling of the matter.
        USA Today (10/30, Woodyard, 9.86M) reports that NHTSA has received criticism for its handling of the issue, with Clarence Ditlow, executive director for the Center for Auto Safety, saying “What they’re doing with this special order is something they should have done back in July.”
        The Detroit (MI) News (10/30, Shepardson, 504K) reports that Friedman also told 10 automakers that have used Takata as a supplier to expedite their recalls, saying, “While decisive measures are being taken to address the safety threat, more can and should be done as soon as possible to prevent any further tragedies from occurring as a result of these defective air bags.”

        Similar coverage was provided by the Wall Street Journal (10/31, White, Subscription Publication, 5.62M), Reuters (10/31, Klayman, Lienert), the AP (10/30), the Washington (DC) Post (10/30, Basulto, 4.9M), Bloomberg (10/31, 2.95M), Bloomberg News (10/31, Green, Plungis, 1.94M), Bloomberg BusinessWeek (10/30, 2.52M), Automotive News (10/30, 181K), NBC News (10/31, 3.76M), Cars (10/31, 730K), the Detroit (MI) Bureau (10/31), and Salon (10/30, 1.13M). 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Settlement for Client who Suffered Paralysis after Defective Seat Collapsed

Atlee Hall recently settled a case involving an unsafe driver’s seat in a passenger sedan, which collapsed in a rear-impact crash, causing our client to suffer spinal cord paralysis.

Our client, who was on his way to work, was properly wearing his seatbelt and was stopped at a red light when his car was struck from behind by a pick-up truck traveling approximately 25 mph. At impact, the driver’s seat collapsed rearward forcing our client to slide up the seatback striking his upper body on the rear seat. This caused a burst fracture to his lumbar spinal cord, resulting in paralysis.

In a rear impact collision such as this case, the seatback is the primary safety feature to restrain the occupant and keep him or her in the safe confines of the seat. Much like a seatbelt system prevents an occupant from moving forward in a frontal collision, the seat should perform the same function in a rear-impact collision and prevent the occupant from striking the interior of the vehicle or being ejected. Seats and their components suffer a variety of failure modes in rear-impact collisions, including breakage of seat adjusters, breaking of the seatback and supports, or separation of the seat anchorage from the vehicle. In this case, after conducting close analysis and material testing of the vehicle’s driver’s seat, we were able to determine that the recliner teeth in the seating system were sheared and broke away under minimal forces in the impact. This, in turn, caused the seatback to collapse rearward, which resulted in the driver slamming into the rear seat injuring his spinal cord.

Click here to read the rest of this success story at Atlee

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pa. firm recalls 31K pounds of frozen chicken

by Alex Wigglesworth

A Pennsylvania-based frozen food company has recalled nearly 31,700 pounds of gluten-free breaded chicken products that may be contaminated with Staphylococcal enterotoxin.

Murry’s Inc., of Lebanon, issued the recall for 12-ounce boxes of Bell & Evans gluten-free breaded chicken breast nuggets and 10.5-ounce boxes of Bell & Evans gluten-free breaded chicken breasts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced Saturday.

The products, which were shipped to retail locations nationwide, have an expiration date of Aug. 9, 2015, and bear the establishment number “P-516” inside the USDA mark of inspection, a USDA spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman said neither the USDA nor Murry’s have received any report of adverse reactions from customers who consumed the products.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture detected the toxin in the chicken during a USDA-funded retail surveillance and sampling program at a federal Emergency Response Network lab, the spokeswoman said.

Click here to read the rest of the article at Atlee

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chrysler recalls 184,000 SUVs for potential airbag, seat belt defect

DETROIT (Reuters) -- Chrysler Group is recalling an estimated 184,215 SUVs globally because a possible short circuit in a part could disable airbags and seat belt pretensioners. The same part was responsible for a September recall involving more than 850,000 Ford vehicles.
Chrysler said an electrical short circuit may occur in the occupant restraint control module in certain 2014 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs.
The automaker said it is unaware of any injuries or accidents related to the issue.
The recall covers 126,772 vehicles in the U.S., 8,106 in Canada, 3,722 in Mexico and 45,615 are outside North America.
Chrysler says is unaware of any injuries or accidents related to the issue. 
Chrysler said it will advise affected customers when they can schedule service, which involves replacing the occupant restraint control module made by Robert Bosch.
The control module was the subject of a Ford Motor Co. recall of 850,050 vehicles, which covered the 2013-14 Ford C-Max, Fusion, Escape and Lincoln MKZ. Ford said the restraint control module in the vehicles could short circuit, causing the airbag warning indicator to illuminate.

WHO warns Ebola cases in West Africa could surge in coming weeks.

The Ebola outbreak continued to garner a great deal of television coverage Tuesday evening, receiving nearly 14 minutes of coverage from the networks, two of which led with the story. CNN, which again extended its evening newscast two hours, also spent significant time covering the story. Fox’s coverage was, by comparison, light. Both on TV and print, the coverage focused primarily on comments from CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden criticizing his agency’s response to the disease inside the US. However, the announcement from the WHO that Ebola cases in West Africa could surge in the coming weeks was also noted in several reports.
        In the lead story for the CBS Evening News (10/14, lead story, 2:25, Pelley, 5.08M), Dr. Jon Lapook reported that the WHO said Tuesday “that by December 1, [West Africa] could see 5,000 to 10,000 new cases every week. Officials say the only way to curb the outbreak is to ramp up the response so that within 60 days, 70 percent of cases are isolated and under treatment and 70 percent of burials are safe.” Bruce Aylward, WHO Assistant Director General: “If we don’t do it in 60 days and take 90 days, number one, a lot more people will die that shouldn’t, and number two, we will need that much more capacity on the ground eventually, to be able to manage the case load.” David Muir reported on ABC World News (10/14, story 3, 2:30, Muir, 5.84M) that the WHO said the virus “is deadlier than ever.”
        The Wall Street Journal (10/15, Morse, Subscription Publication, 5.62M) reports that according to the WHO, Ebola is killing 70 percent of those who contract it.
        The Washington Post (10/15, Achenbach, 4.9M) reports that while Aylward said there are “some signs of progress in West Africa, with new cases dropping in several areas that had been hit hard by the virus earlier this year,” the disease “is spreading across a broader geographical region, including along the border with Ivory Coast, and it continues to be rampant in national capitals.” The Post notes that according to the WHO, there are “8,914 suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola and 4,447 deaths,” which would “seem to imply that half the people stricken with Ebola will survive the disease,” but Aylward “said that underestimates the true death rate.”
        CDC announces new steps to combat Ebola in US. Brian Williams reported in the lead story for NBC Nightly News (10/14, lead story, 3:10, Williams, 7.86M) that CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said Monday that his agency “could have done a better job than how they have handled cases of Ebola. In fact, he admitted the government has made mistakes in its effort to control the virus. Mistakes that may have led to a nurse getting sick.” On ABC World News (10/14, story 3, 2:30, Muir, 5.84M), Tom Llamas described it as “an extraordinary admission from the CDC.”
        Wolf Blitzer reported on CNN’s Situation Room (10/14, 554K) that Federal health officials are taking “aggressive new steps” to combat Ebola. The CDC “is going to have a team on the ground within hours when an Ebola case is diagnosed in the United States.” Victor Blackwell noted that CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said his agency “did not respond aggressively enough once Thomas Eric Duncan tested positive. They are beefing up that response now.”
        Scott Pelley reported in the lead story for the CBS Evening News (10/14, lead story, 2:25, Pelley, 5.08M) that Frieden said the CDC “will send a rapid response team to any hospital that diagnoses a patient with Ebola.” Pelley added that “we just learned from the White House that they’ll be asking Congress for more money for all of this.”
        Frieden says CDC is changing protocols at Texas hospital. Anderson Cooper reported on CNN’s Situation Room (10/14, 554K) that the CDC is “changing protocols” in the Texas hospital where patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who died from Ebola, was treated and nurse Nina Pham was diagnosed. New measures will include, “more oversight of the nurses and the doctors. They are going to have somebody watching to make sure people getting in and out of the protective gear, that that is all none done properly. But it certainly seems to indicate that there were problems before.”
        CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said on CNN’s Situation Room (10/14, 554K) that the CDC has “surged staff, more than 20 staff into Texas working with the hospital directly, and we’ve done three things to make sure that care is safe in the hospital. The first is have a site manager there to make sure that they are overseeing everything that is done. The second is more training, training, retraining. We’ve brought a couple nurses from Emory who have worked with Ebola patients there. And third is limit the number of staff so that you are absolutely providing all the care that is needed but not with any more people that need to go into that space.”
        Another 76 healthcare workers involved in Duncan’s treatment are being monitored. The Los Angeles Times (10/15, Muskal, 4M) reports that health officials said Tuesday that another 76 healthcare workers involved in Duncan’s treatment “are being watched for symptoms of Ebola as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pledged to improve its response to hospitals in the event of more Ebola cases.” Frieden said these people are in addition “to the 48 people who have been monitored since Duncan was first diagnosed with Ebola symptoms after arriving in Dallas last month.” None of the original group “has developed Ebola symptoms and they now are two-thirds of the way through the period of greatest risk of becoming infected.”
        The Wall Street Journal (10/15, Bauerlein, Bustillo, Subscription Publication, 5.62M) notes that Frieden was optimistic that their chances of contracting Ebola are decreasing.
        Pham received transfusion with plasma donated by Brantly. Reuters (10/15) reports that Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said in a statement that nurse Nina Pham, who contracted Ebola while treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan, is “in good condition.” A Roman Catholic priest from Pham’s congregation said she had received a transfusion with blood containing antibodies to fight the virus. The relief group Samaritan’s Purse said the plasma was donated by Dr. Kent Brantly, who survived an Ebola infection.
        Tom Costello reported on NBC Nightly News (10/14, story 2, 2:05, Williams, 7.86M) that Brantly “has donated roughly a gallon of his own blood to save others. ... The blood of Ebola survivors like Dr. Brantly is loaded with antibodies that just fought off the disease. In a blood transfusion, the donor’s plasma is separated from red blood cells and given to the Ebola patient in the hope that those antibodies will then kick start the patient’s immune system.”
        Human trials of Canadian Ebola vaccine began Monday. USA Today (10/15, Szabo, 5.6M) reports that while the world has been fighting Ebola since 1976, only the current outbreak in West Africa “has succeeded in moving experimental drugs and vaccines into larger clinical trials.” USA today notes while the “first human trials of a Canadian Ebola vaccine began Monday,” experts argue that “other approaches could be put to much greater use.” Beyond vaccines, other potential therapies include, blood transfusions, antiviral drugs, man-made antibodies, and preventing Ebola reproduction.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Distracted driving may not be entirely your fault

A new study from AAA is raising concerns about the modern technology in our cars.

The research examined the level of distraction drivers face using hands-free or voice command features.

If you've ever been frustrated when the voice-activated system in your car can't understand you, that's not your biggest problem, reports CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

The study documents how distracted drivers can get using voice commands, especially when the system gets the commands wrong.

Researchers questioned if the very latest hands-free, voice-only command systems caused drivers to get distracted.

And the answer is, yes.

One driver in a simulator became so distracted while voice-messaging a Facebook update, she rear-ended the car in front of her.

But the biggest problem is not the driver. The study concludes that errors made by the voice systems cause the greatest distractions.

To read more of the article, click here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Guardrail design called defective, dangerous; manufacturer denies claims.

WFXT-TV Boston (10/4, Beaudet, Rothstein, 176K) notes a 2011 accident in which Massachusetts driver Dianna Allen’s leg was severed after her Cadillac slammed into an ET-Plus “guard rail end terminal ... meant to protect vehicles and their occupants.” But instead of moving with the oncoming car and absorbing the energy from its impact, as designed, the guard rail turned into “a giant spear.” Dallas-based Trinity Industries, which makes the ET-Plus, said it “has a high degree of confidence” in the device’s “performance and integrity” and notes the FHWA continues to allow its use. Steven Lawrence, Allen’s lawyer, has clients across the US who say they were injured in crashes involving an ET-Plus. He claims a 2005 design change has left the device prone to malfunction. Trinity is also facing retrial of a whistleblower lawsuit claiming the company knew the ET-Plus was defective but continued selling it. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Takeda Accused of Putting Actos Profit Ahead of Safety

By Jef Feeley

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. (4502) was accused by a lawyer for a woman who blames Actos for her cancer of sacrificing safety for profit by failing to warn patients and doctors about the diabetes medicine’s risks.

Executives at Osaka, Japan-based Takeda knew by 2004 that studies found links between Actos and cancer, and didn’t issue a warning until seven years later to protect billions of dollars in sales of the drug, Michael Miller told a state-court jury in Philadelphia yesterday.

“Takeda chose to protect profits rather than patients,” Miller said in closing arguments in the trial of Frances Wisniewski’s lawsuit against the drugmaker. The company’s main goal was “to protect the product,” Miller added.

Visit us at Atlee to read the rest of the article.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Atlee Hall’s First Backpack Donation Event a Success!

On August 8, 2014, the law firm of Atlee Hall, LLP teamed up with Dougherty Office Supply and the law firm of Gibbel, Kraybill & Hess to take part in something truly inspiring: the 2014 Backpack Program. The program is designed to help children who cannot otherwise afford it start school with a brand new backpack filled with essential school supplies. The event was held at Atlee Hall’s new office building located at 415 North Duke Street in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Employees and their children gathered in the conference room to pack each backpack with everything a child could possibly need on his or her first day of school including notebooks, pencils, erasers, crayons, markers, paper, glue sticks, tissues, pencil boxes, scissors, and rulers. Once the backpacks were filled, they were sent to the School District of Lancaster so that they could be distributed to local homeless children in need for the upcoming school year. Approximately 100 packed backpacks were donated in total.

Overall, the backpack donation event was a huge success and will almost certainly become a yearly tradition. The hope is to increase awareness and support of this great cause, thereby increasing the amount of backpacks donated each year. For more information about the Backpack Program, please visit Atlee Hall’s website

As a way to continue supporting these children in need, Atlee Hall is planning another event to take place this fall. The plan is to collect children’s scarves, hats, and gloves to be donated to homeless children in the area. Stay tuned for more details on this event and ways to become involved.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Help for Search for Correct Child Seat Size

        NHTSA launches car seat search tool. The Chicago Tribune (9/20, 2.26M) reports on National Seat Check Saturday, today, which “aims to curb” the “preventable deaths” that come from improper installation of child safety seats. NHTSA figures show that “over 33 percent of children killed in 2012 were not properly buckled in,” but correctly buckling in a child in the appropriate car seat “can reduce the risk of serious and fatal injuries by over 70 percent for infants and 45 percent for grade school children.”
        Cars (9/20, 380K) reports, NHTSA “just launched its Car Seat Fin,” which is a search tool “that makes selecting the correct car-seat style a lot easier.”

Chrysler Recalls Vehicles for Faulty Fuel Pump Circuit

Chrysler recalls Dodge, Jeep vehicles. The CBS Evening News (9/20, story 6, 0:25, Axelrod, 5.08M) broadcast that Chrysler issued a recall for “189,000 Dodge Durangos and Jeep Grand Cherokees, model years 2011” due to a faulty “fuel pump circuit that’s part of the main power module.”

        The AP (9/21, Krisher) reports, the fuel pump problem “can cause the SUVs to stall.” The Center for Auto Safety believes, furthermore, that Chrysler’s recall “is inadequate because more than 5 million other Chrysler vechiles have the same fuel pump power control module as the Grand Cherokee and the Durango.” The Center even “filed a petition” with NHTSA last month asking the agency “to investigate power system failures in Chrysler vehicles that could cause them to stall while being driven.” 

GM Recalls Cadillacs for Parking Brake Problems

GM recalls more than 200,000 more vehicles.

The CBS Evening News (9/20, story 7, 0:15, Axelrod, 5.08M) broadcast that GM is “recalling more than 200,000 cars because of problems with the parking brakes.” This “recall affects the 2013-2014 Cadillac XTS and 2014-15 Chevrolet Impala,” the broadcast added.
        The New York Times (9/21, Kessler, Subscription Publication, 9.9M) reports, NHTSA documents read that the GM vehicles’ problem relates to a build-up of “excessive brake heat that may result in a fire,” a reference to the brakes’ making “significant heat, smoke and sparks.” NHTSA further wrote that some drivers may experience problems in these vehicles that present as “poor vehicle acceleration, undesired deceleration, excessive brake heat and premature wear to some brake components.”
        Bloomberg News (9/20, Singh, 1.94M) reports GM’s “callback” is “expected to begin this month,” with the automaker providing free brake software upgrades.

        CNN’s Money (9/20) reported online that GM is not publicly “aware of any crashes, injuries or fatalities,” but this recall is “the latest in a brutal year for the automaker, which has issued more than 65 separate recalls affecting nearly 30 million vehicles.” 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

NHTSA hit for failing to hone in on GM ignition failures.

Bloomberg News (9/17, Plungis, 1.94M) reports that according to a report from a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration “didn’t recognize a pattern of air bag failures in General Motors Co. (GM) cars that would later be linked to flawed ignition switch design.” The report found that the NHTSA “failed to act on multiple police reports dating back to 2007 that inquired about a link between faulty ignition switches, which led cars to stall, and air bags that didn’t deploy.”
        On its front page, the New York Times (9/17, A1, Stout, Kessler, Subscription Publication, 9.9M) reports that at a Senate hearing on the subject on Tuesday, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) said that the NHTSA is “more interested in singing ‘Kumbaya’ with the manufacturers than being a cop on the beat.” In response, NHTSA head David Friedman “sought to turn blame for mounting safety problems back at G.M., which he said had illegally withheld critical information from the agency.”
        In an editorial, USA Today (9/17, 5.6M) says that the NHTSA “had chance after chance to spot the defect and push General Motors to recall its deadly cars.” Instead, the agency “wagged its tail and meekly rolled over — and not for the first time.” It has “repeatedly failed to spot defects, pursue investigations forcefully or use its powers to get defective cars off the road.”
        In an op-ed for USA Today (9/17, Friedman, 5.6M), NHTSA head David Friedman writes that his group “aggressively investigates and pursues recalls to protect the American public.” Regarding the GM issue, he writes that the NHTSA “looked into this problem twice in the years leading up to the recall. At that time, the data did not support a recall. In fact, the number of related complaints were going down, not up, when we reviewed the case.” He goes on to blame GM for hiding the problem, and says that his group has now reformed its procedures to deal with such situations more effectively in the future. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Takata Air Bag Recall Could Dwarf GM and Toyota Recalls

When over 10 million Toyota vehicles were recalled between 2009 and 2011 for problems related to “unintended acceleration” it created quite the media storm. The nature of the recalls, along with a tragic 911 recording of pedal entrapment (followed by high-profile government hearings) had a negative short-term impact on Toyota’s reputation. Then, beginning in February of 2014, a series of recalls related to GM ignition switches in several million vehicles created a similar media frenzy, though the damage to GM’s reputation appears somewhat muted by comparison.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chrysler facing problems with electrical systems in “millions” of vehicles.

The CBS Evening News (8/27, story 9, 2:20, Dubois, 5.08M) reported that Chrysler is “confronting safety concerns about an electrical component causing lots of problems for owners” called a “totally integrated power module.” It is “found in millions of Chrysler’s vehicles.” CBS’ Jeff Pegues says that problems with the component, “can lead to air bag non-deployment, vehicle shutdowns, unintended accelerations and fires,” according to the Center for Automotive Safety. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

NHTSA unveils VIN-lookup tool for searching recalls.

In ongoing coverage of NHTSA’s new online search tool for drivers to look up automotive recalls by VIN, the Peninsula (WA) Daily News (8/24, 41K) reports that NHTSA’s “program comes as manufacturers are recalling millions more vehicles than at any other time in U.S. history, about 46 million vehicles so far this year,” or about “1 of every 5 cars in the U.S.” Plus, consumers can check their recalls on NHTSA’s smartphone app Safercar. As acting NHTSA Administrator David Friedman said, recalled vehicles “can sometimes be sold or rented to someone who is completely unaware of that recall...In many cases that can put an owner’s life at risk, and risk the safety of others on America’s roads.”

        WITI-TV Milwaukee (8/23, 98K) reported from its website with similar coverage, noting NHTSA’s phrase “recall fatigue.” 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

VW Recalls Tiguan For Fuel System Problem, Routan For Ignition Problem

The Volkswagen of America Inc. unit of Volkswagen AG (OTCMKTS:VLKAY) is recalling 189,490 2009-14 Tiguan sport-utility vehicles because of a problem with the fuel system and 18,526 2009 Routans because of a problem with the ignition switch, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Tiguan recall centers on a stalling issue, the result of bubbles forming in the fuel systems of vehicles when winter fuel blends are used during periods of warmer temperatures. This decreases fuel-pump performance and pressure and thus increases the incidence of stalling. Solving the problem involves the installation of revised electronic control module software, Reuters reported. VW said 151,389 Tiguans were sold in the U.S. and 38,101 in Canada.

Click here to read the entire article.