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.