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Evenflo Announces Recall of Stair Gates Because of Fall Hazards; Several Injuries Reported

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced a recall of approximately 150,000 units of Evenflo Top of Stairs Plus Wood Gates. The recall involves a serious fall hazard, that could cause the slats on the gates to come off, and cause children to tumble down the stairs and hurt themselves.

Evenflo has received reports of approximately 142 incidents where slats broke or detached from the gate. This created a large gap through which children were able to access the stairs. Out of three children who managed to access the stairs, one fell down five steps, while another fell down one step. The children suffered injuries ranging from bumps and bruises on the head, to scrapes, scratches and bruises.

The recalled models are:

  • Evenflo 10502
  • Evenflo 10501

The Top of Stairs Wood Gates were manufactured between October 2007 and July 2009, and sold between October 2007 and March 2010 at major retailers around the country, including Toys "R" Us, Burlington Baby Depot, and Kmart.

The stair gates recall comes barely 3 months into 2010, and as part of a continuing series of children's product recalls that have run into the millions of units. Earlier this month, Graco announced a recall of 1.2 million highchairs because of the risk of fall hazards to children. Graco had in January announced a massive recall of $1.5 million strollers because of fingertip amputation hazards to children.

These recalls don't even count the massive recalls of 2009 that had California product liability attorneys so concerned. Last year, millions of cribs were recalled after they were linked to infant deaths from entrapment and suffocation. Most of these recalls involve drop side cribs. The crib design allows the formation of a gap between the crib wall and the mattress, which can suffocate the infant.

It has been known for a while now that the design of these cribs is flawed and requires modifications. However, the CPSC has been slow to respond to California product liability lawyers’ concern about crib safety and design.

Wall Street Banks Face Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuits

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Citigroup may have more than just its dwindling finances to worry about. The company, along with Goldman Sachs, is facing workplace discrimination lawsuits filed by two employees, who claim their careers suffered after they became pregnant.

The first complaint has been filed by Charlotte Hanna, a former employee at Goldman Sachs. According to Hannah, who was once a vice president at the company's human resources division, she was demoted after she had her first child, and moved from a private office into a cubicle. She then got pregnant a second time and was informed, while she was on maternity leave, that her position had been eliminated. It was only later that Hannah found out that another employee had taken over her position at the company.

California employment lawyers will find this lawsuit surprising, considering it involves Goldman Sachs, which seems to have had a good record in providing a conducive atmosphere for female employees. The company even has programs that facilitate new mothers to return to work, by allowing them to work three days a week. It would seem these programs are not designed to encourage female employees, as much as they are a public relations exercise.

The second gender discrimination complaint involves Citigroup. The company has been accused of general discrimination by a female employee, who complains that the company has always functioned as a boys-only club. Dorly Hazan-Amir says that when she became pregnant, this discrimination only became worse. Men at the company, she alleges, established a pool to bet on how much weight she would gain during her pregnancy. She was subjected to snide remarks about whether she would put her family first and career second, after she became a mother.

To California pregnancy discrimination attorneys, it is not so surprising that both these lawsuits involve women and Wall Street. It has been difficult for female employees to find acceptance at these notoriously male-dominated firms, and women have traditionally found that they have to work twice as hard to be considered as good as the men.

Dodger's Owners in Court - Costliest Divorce in California History?

Monday, March 29, 2010

rank and Jamie McCourt's divorce is very newsworthy from a legal perspective. Intertwining business and personal finances and charges of hiding assets make for a complicated division of property. Today, the Los Angeles Times reports about the court hearing regarding the temporary spousal support and what effect the accusations of misrepresenting the McCourt's finances has on the Dodgers baseball franchise the McCourts own. (If both Frank and Jamie own the team has been another issue.)

According to the news article, attorneys for Jamie McCourt will ask for $1 million a month in support, and $9 million for legal fees just to pay for trial prep.  This money is prior to any settlement, and the Judge has 90 days to rule. Frank McCourt's legal team contends that his net worth is not as large as Jamie's claims, and she does not deserve monthly temporary spousal support.  Allegations of “balance sheet manipulations” apparently have arisen, and the courts to take these seriously, especially hiding assets. Obviously, this is just the start.

Family business can be quite complicated assets to divide in a divorce, and although Jamie McCourt's ownership in the team may be arguable, she was no doubt an employee of the franchise, being fired from her executive position by Frank McCourt last September. The issue of  hiding assets  can really come back to hurt the person doing the hiding, as the court will generally  grant more than the original share as a result of wrongdoing. Whatever the result, the millions of dollars in legal fees will also include the fees paid to forensic accountants who will try to make sense of where the money  came from, where is now is, and where it went. 

The LA times article makes a point of Frank McCourts's money management and handling the Dodgers, mostly about his honesty about budgeting for new players, especially a new pitcher. This article comes just a few days after Dodger's manager Joe Torre stated “We don't have a no. 1” in regards to a starting pitcher.

FDA Recommendation for Blood Thinner Plavix Confuses Doctors, Increases Risk s of Medical Errors

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Food and Drug Administration this month warned that the blood thinner Plavix may not work as well in some patients as it’s intended to. That announcement has sent doctors into a tizzy, as they try to figure out what kind of dosages will work for patients.

Plavix is used to prevent the incidence of blood clots that can increase the incidence of heart attacks and strokes in patients who suffer from cardiovascular disease. Doctors also prescribe Plavix in patients who are treated with stents to open up damaged coronary arteries. Plavix is the second largest selling drug in the US, with up to 3 million prescriptions written every year in this country alone.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the problem with using Plavix is that some people may have a genetic makeup that doesn’t interact well with Plavix. It's not that cardiologists have not been aware of the risks of using Plavix, but even they have been taken by surprise at the FDA's announcement on March 12th that it would require a black box label warning on Plavix. The warning advises patients that the drug may not be very effective in patients who are unable to metabolize the medication properly. In such patients, the drug may not be activated after ingestion, causing it to be ineffective, or less than completely effective. These people who are unable to metabolize Plavix may continue to be at risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke, even after using Plavix.

That isn't good news for patients up for a coronary stent procedure. Doctors seem to be divided over how to deal with this issue. Some believe that the benefits of Plavix may be enhanced if patients are put through a genetic test. Others are more inclined to prescribe double the dose of Plavix to make sure that a person receives the full benefits of the blood thinner.

Obviously, this isn't one of those situations where doctors have a clear-cut path to take. Patients are likely to be very concerned about their options in light of this new warning by the FDA. For now, doctors are warning - and California pharmaceutical liability lawyers will agree - that no one should be going off Plavix without consulting their doctor.

Documents in Boy Scout Sexual Abuse Trial Reveal Two Decades of Cover Up

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Allegations of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts organization are not new to Nevada sexual abuse lawyers or even the Scouts themselves. These allegations are recorded in thousands of documents, dubbed the “perversion files” by the Scouts. These files have now been opened for the first time in a sexual abuse lawsuit in Portland, brought by a former Scout.

The files number about 1,000 and were obtained by the plaintiff, a 37-year-old man from Oregon, who alleges he was molested by a Scout leader in the 1980s. He has filed a $14 million sexual abuse lawsuit against the Boy Scouts organization.

It's the first time the documents have been opened to a jury. In earlier allegations of sexual abuse by scoutmasters, judges have refused access to the records, and the cases have settled out of court. The files contain records dating between 1965 and 1984. According to the organization, the files were maintained to track scout leaders with a history of abuse, especially those who might have simply moved on to another scouting organization under a different name.

The records reveal that the Boy Scouts organization, just like the Roman Catholic Church, might have had a softer approach to pedophilia and sexual abuse than the ordinary American. In one letter from the files, a council members refers to a Scout leader who had an affinity for sleeping in the nude and showing pornographic material to Scouts, as showing “bad judgment,” but basically quite harmless. Another record dating back to 1973 refers to a scout master, who admitted to sexual abuse but was allowed to return to the organization after undergoing psychiatric care. It seems the 100-year-old organization believes pedophilia is a disorder that can be cured by psychiatric treatment. The trial has also involved testimony from a Mormon bishop, who says that the Boy Scouts organization never focused on training in spotting signs of abuse and preventing it.

Organizations like the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church thrive in an atmosphere of trust and confidence. Any child sexual abuse lawyer in Nevada, or elsewhere, will tell you that abuse also thrives in an environment like this. It's the reason why such organizations must be especially diligent in spotting signs of abuse and taking steps to prevent these, as well as weeding out sex offenders from their ranks.

Northwest Airlines Pilots Distracted, Says NTSB Report

Monday, March 22, 2010

The National Transportation Safety Board has released the results of an investigation into the incident involving a Northwest Airlines flight that overflew its destination by more than 100 miles last year. The report says that the two pilot at the controls were awake at the time, but were distracted. It's one more example of the manner in which distracted driving places road, rail and air passengers at high risk of death or injury.

In October, the Northwest Airlines plane overflew its destination at a Minnesota airport by more than 100 miles. The two pilots did not resume contact with air traffic control for about one hour and 17 minutes. After the incident, there had been plenty of speculation that the pilots had fallen asleep at the controls, and this had caused them to miss the destination airport.

The flight was on its way from San Diego in California. When it reached the Denver region, air traffic controllers informed the pilots to change their radio frequency. The two pilots noted the change, but both of them neglected to contact air traffic controllers on the new frequency. The result was that the plane had no contact with air traffic control for the next one hour and 17 minutes. Finally, air traffic controllers in Winnipeg, Manitoba were able to direct to the two pilots to contact air traffic in Minneapolis.

According to the NTSB report, this likely happened because at the time the frequency was changed, one of the pilots was on a restroom break, and dinner was being served. Not surprisingly, the NTSB report had plenty of criticism for the Federal Aviation Administration because of a lack of standard procedures that could check when an aircraft had not made contact with air traffic control, as it passed from one sector to another. Because of this, the Northwest Airlines flight was able to pass between two different air traffic control sectors in the Denver region, without controllers realizing that it had not made contact. The NTSB report also mentioned that the pilots had been distracted by laptop use and idle chat.

The two pilots had their licenses revoked post the incident, but unfortunately for passengers and California plane crash lawyers, will likely be back in the skies in August. The two have pleaded no wrongdoing, and the Federal Aviation Administration has agreed to allow the two pilots to reapply for their licenses in August.

Trucking Industry Calls for Construction of More Truck Stops to Prevent Accidents, Assaults

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The lack of adequate numbers of safe rest areas for truck drivers and the high risk of accidents and assaults from unsafe truckstops is behind a proposed new law promoted by the trucking industry. It’s a legislation that truckers, their families and California truck accident attorneys would strongly support.

The American Trucking Associations is calling for lawmakers to pass Jason’s Law. The legislation is named after a truck driver in New York, who was brutally shot and killed as he rested in his commercial truck just outside a store. He had been waiting for the store to open so he could make a delivery.

Every day, thousands of truck drivers face similar situations - they have no place to pull over and rest, or wait for a facility to open for business. Many truckers choose to pull over on a highway shoulder, and greatly increase the risk of an accident involving motorists who fail to notice the parked truck. Other truck drivers continue to drive because they can't find a safe place to pull over. This can increase fatigue and tiredness, further increasing the risks of an accident.

More numbers of truck stops and safe areas for truckers to park their vehicles and rest for a few hours, can help reduce these risks. Jason's Law would provide for:

  • Construction of new truck stops
  • Construction of parking facilities close to these new truck stops
  • Use of existing facilities for parking of 18-wheelers
  • Promoting parking facilities for commercial motor vehicles on the National Highway System, either through public or private funding
  • Building turnouts along highways for commercial motor vehicles
  • Making improvements to the design of interchanges on the National Highway System, to facilitate easier access to parking and rest areas for truckers

Around the country, many states have cut down funding for rest areas, and have shut down many truck stops. This means that truckers have no other option, but to either park on a highway shoulder which is dangerous to motorists, or park in unsafe areas where they may be at risk of an assault.

California City Sued for Dangerous Road Conditions

Thursday, March 18, 2010

In June 2008, Randy Richards from Santa Clara County, California, was at the center of an accident on city property. Richards was working, as he normally did, on a roadway in the city of Mountain View, just behind his legally parked pickup truck. As Richards was loading the truck at the edge of the roadway, a driver in the northbound lane suddenly veered to the right and crashed into the parked truck, pinning Richards between the two vehicles.

Richards suffered a long list of brutal injuries that left him permanently disabled, including the complete, permanent loss of the use of his right leg, which was also severely disfigured in the injury accident. The leg is so damaged that it is possible future amputation might be necessary. His left leg also suffered disfigurement and now is only of limited use and causes him chronic pain.

Clearly, Randy Richards lost a lot that day, but who is to blame in this situation isn’t exactly clear. Was the driver of the out of control automobile strictly to blame? Did Richards put his welfare in jeopardy in the way he was working? Was Richards placed in harms way by his job? Or was it just “one of those things,” like so many everyday tragedies?

According to lawyers for Richards, it is the city of Mountain View who is at fault. Richards and his mother are seeking economic damages from the city for physical and emotional pain as well as past and future economic losses that are part of the results of the accident. It’s suggested that, despite several citizens’ complaints, the city failed to repair dangerous road conditions. They allege that had the roads met safety standards and been properly managed, the entire accident would never have taken place. The suit claims that at the location where Randy was injured, a variety of roadway dangers created substantial risk to him, citing inadequate drainage, the result of which can cause cars to slip and spin out of control, as well as the lack of a concrete island that helps prevent accidents like this one. These are just some of the precautions the city should have taken in the interest of better public safety.

California Mulling Legislation Requiring Helmets for Skiers, Snowboarders

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

If a new piece of legislation goes through in California, parents of children below 18 years of age will be required to make sure that they wear helmets while skiing or snowboarding. It's a bill that threatens to create a divide between California brain injury lawyers and health experts on the one side, and those who believe that safety issues are a matter of personal choice, on the other.

Every year, skiing and snowboarding accidents contribute to a number of brain injuries in California. This year, the focus on brain injuries has been especially harsh, although much of it has had to do with brain injuries in professional football players. UCB football player Jahvid Best sustained serious injuries this year, further highlighting the need for measures that can prevent head and brain injuries to California’s youngest and brightest. Nationwide, there have been congressional hearings into the incidence of brain injuries in football players, and the National Football League has come under fire for its tardiness in recognizing the seriousness of the issue.

Also last year, actress Natasha Richardson died of a brain injury she sustained during a skiing accident in Canada. It was a high-profile incident that brought to light the dangers of indulging in sports without proper headgear. Richardson had not been wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.

Next week, the California legislature will begin hearings on the proposed piece of legislation from San Francisco and San Mateo County Sen. Leland Yee, which proposes that parents of children below 18 be required to make the children wear helmets while skiing or snowboarding. Yet another piece of legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Dave Jones of Sacramento, would make operators of ski resorts responsible for making sure that young skiers comply with helmet rules. The hearings promised to be interesting, because not all lawmakers agree on the need for mandatory helmet laws for skiers and snowboarders.

Many brain injury lawyers in California, however, see no reason why we shouldn't extend the same protections to skiers and snowboarders that we have to bicyclists. We recognize bicycling without helmets as foolish and risky behavior, and there is no reason for any exceptions to be made for skiing and snowboarding.

US Highway Accident Fatality Rates Drop to Lowest Levels since 1950s

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Highway accident fatalities in the country have dropped to some of their lowest levels in decades, beating out earlier records set in 2008.

The Department of Transportation has just released its latest projections into traffic deaths in 2009. The agency is predicting a drop of 9% in traffic fatalities with a total number of 33,963 deaths on American roads. That's officially the lowest number of fatalities in a single year since 1954.

Besides, there's also a projected drop in the number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. In 2009, there were 1.15 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Those numbers beat the last record from 2008, which had 1.25 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

The cynics have an explanation for why traffic accident fatality numbers have dropped so much this year. They point to similar trends back in the early 80’s and 90’s when the economy was sluggish, and people weren't traveling as much. Something similar is happening here, they say. Americans just aren't willing to travel as much, leading to fewer people on the roads, and therefore, fewer accidents. However, 2009 actually saw a small increase in the number of vehicle miles traveled by Americans. Vehicle miles in 2009 stood at 6.6 billion miles, which was an increase of about .2% from the number of vehicle miles traveled in 2008 and 2000.

Nevada personal injury lawyers have other explanations for this drop in highway fatality rates. Advancements in auto technology has been the biggest factor contributing to these lowered death rates. There is no question that auto safety technologies have grown exceedingly popular, helping more numbers of people survive potentially fatal accidents.

  • Electronic Stability Control systems are now standard features on most models, and will become mandated on all vehicles on US roads very soon. These allow a motorist to retain control of the car thereby, preventing a rollover accident. Approximately 8,000 people die every year in rollover crashes. ESC systems have been instrumental in saving lives in these accidents.
  • Side airbags that protect the occupant from side-impact collisions are also becoming a staple feature on many automobiles.
  • More automobiles now come with adaptive cruise control, collision avoidance systems, pedestrian detection systems and other advanced safety technologies.
  • Law enforcement agencies in many states have done a stellar job of enforcing seat belt use. The result is that seat belt use in the country hovers at a very respectable 84%.
  • Several states have passed all-occupant seat belt laws that require backseat passengers to buckle up.
  • There has also been a heavy national thrust on preventing drunk driving accidents, and crashes caused by distracted driving.

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