General Motors Knew of Ignition Switch Defect

Some things never change.  Even with increased U.S. automobile regulations and a “more litigious culture,” U.S. consumers continue to drive in death traps.  In the 1970s, it was revealed that Ford knew that its Pinto exploded upon rear-ending, but continued to produce them, and avoid implementing the $11 safety solution.  Similarly, this year, it was revealed that General Motors had knowledge of the deadly potential of its vehicles, but continued to produce them for over the past decade.

This year, GM has recalled 8.4 million vehicles, mostly due to a faulty ignition switch in the following vehicles:  1997-2005 Chevrolet Malibu, 1998-2002 Oldsmobile Intrique, 1999-2005 Pontiac Grand Am and 2003-14 Cadillac CTS.  

2005 Pontiac Gran Am, recalled

Knowledge of the defective ignition switch goes back to 2001.  The first reported death caused by a defective ignition switch was in 2005.  At least 13 deaths have been reported, to-date, with the potential for hundreds of more, where causation was possibly unknown.

Following the Ford crisis of the 1970s and the exploding Firestone SUV tire in 2000, Congress passed a law in 2000 requiring automakers to report to National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) any claims they received blaming defects for injuries or deaths, so the government would not have to rely only on consumer reports.    This law was called Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (“TREAD”) and is part of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, codified at 49 U.S.C. §§ 30101-30170.  NHTSA also has the ability to dig deeper into any of those claims by then doing a death inquiry — asking the automaker for documentation of each car accident and an assessment of the circumstances leading to each crash.

However, in this case, GM withheld this information from regulators at the NHTSA and in product liability litigation discovery responses.

A law is only as strong and effective as its application and enforcement.

With savvy corporate legal defense and hiding of information from regulators, and corporations’ sole objective being to increase profits, when can consumers fully trust a brand for its safety?  The issue really underscores the importance of the saying, buyer beware.  

If you have been injured by a recalled vehicle, you may have a product liability claim.  Some states have a two-year statute of limitations from the date of injury to bring a lawsuit, others have up to three years.   Feel free to contact product liability lawyer, Alexandra Filutowski, for a consultation.

Copyright 2014 The Filutowski Law Firm, PLLC. Disclaimer: This page is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on any specific facts or circumstances. An attorney-client relationship is not created or continued.

“Liking” Binds You To Arbitration, Says General Mills

Feeling lucky with your Lucky Charms, or tricked by those Trix?   Cereal company, General Mills (GM), is Kixing your right to sue the brand.

If you use a coupon, like the brand, or in some other way, get a benefit from the brand, GM says you cannot sue it.  Any dispute you have must be resolved over email negotiation and binding arbitration.

GM’s new legal terms and conditions

Today, GM states at the top of its website the following:

We’ve updated our Privacy Policy. Please note we also have new Legal Terms which require all disputes related to the purchase or use of any General Mills product or service to be resolved through binding arbitration. For more information on these changes, please click here.

When you click “click here,” the additional Legal Terms, include:

• New provisions relating to any disputes. These new provisions contain an agreement to resolve any and all disputes you may have with General Mills or any of its affiliated companies or brands contain through informal negotiations and, if these negotiations fail, through binding arbitration.  This includes disputes related to the purchase or use of any General Mills product or service.  All arbitrations will be conducted on an individual basis; you may not arbitrate as a member of a class. Claims may not be brought in court (with the limited exception of small claims court in certain circumstances), nor may you participate in any class action litigation. (See Section 3, “Binding Arbitration.”)

[Read more…]

Graco Stroller Recall Leads to New Product Safety Standard

Litigation and product recalls can improve product safety standards for the protection of future consumers.

In 2010, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled 2 million Graco strollers after several reports of infant deaths caused by entrapment and asphyxiation.

Yesterday, ABC National News broadcast a report done by Consumer Reports   Consumer Reports did a story on the recalled Graco stroller and the loss of 7-month old Bobby.  This firm represents the estate of Bobby in Knipper v. Graco Childrens’ Products in New York.  This year, the CPSC adopted a mandatory safety standard for strollers.

 

Unfortunately, infant injuries and deaths caused by strollers are more common than one may guess.  In 2011, approximately 12,900 children under the age of five were treated in emergency rooms for injuries, mostly falls or strangulation.  On average, one child dies each year from stroller-related injuries according to data from 2007-2009.

[Read more…]

Electronic Cigarettes Explode With Risks

electronic cigarette does not have a flame or smoke

electronic cigarette does not have a flame or smoke

To many, electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigarettes and e-cigs) seem too good be true.  They look like a cigarette — give a buzz like a cigarette — don’t have tobacco or smoke — but may explode into a fireball like a Fourth of July fireworks mishap.

Electronic cigarette personal injury attorney Alexandra Filutowski understands the grave risks involved with the unregulated, massively popular e-cigarettes and represents individuals injured by the vaporized cigarettes.  This article explores the e-cigarette industry, consumer risks and potential legal liability.

How It Works

E-cigs do not have tobacco, smoke or require a flame.  They may look like cigarettes, pipes or cigars and are rechargeable units that contain a cartridge with nicotine.  The nicotine is vaporized within the cartridge and the user inhales the vapor. [Read more…]

“From One Second To The Next,” A Documentary Illustrates The Devastation From Texting While Driving

For all those who drive and try to text at the same time, pay attention to driving, and not the fleeting text that can wait.  A strong message delivered by the powerful documentary directed by Hollywood director Werner Herzog.   The documentary visits families of victims of the distracted drivers and the distracted drivers, themselves, relive the day that 1 second damaged everyone’s lives.

“That text was not more important than those two men’s lives” cries one of the distracted drivers 7 years after the tragic choice he made to text while driving, causing him to clip a car with two men riding in it into a ditch, to their deaths.

An estimated 100,000 car collisions are caused by texting each year.  Is your text really that important?  More so than your own safety, or the lives of others in your community who obey the laws as they operate their vehicles near you?  Pay attention.

The documentary was funded by mobile companies, including AT&T.

What AT&T proposed immediately clicked and connected inside of me,” Herzog told the AP. “There’s a completely new culture out there. I’m not a participant of texting and driving—or texting at all—but I see there’s something going on in civilization which is coming with great vehemence at us.”

[Read more…]

Your Driving Is Being Recorded By A Black Box

Car-Black-Box

Black Box

Your newer vehicle likely has a black box, similar to those retrieved from airplane crashes.   Black boxes are technically called “event data recorders” (EDRs).  Accident reconstructionists retrieve the EDR from the vehicle and review its contents using a software.    We first blogged about black boxes in vehicles in 2010.

The issue of black boxes is revisited by The New York Times today in light of a black box recording catching a Timothy P. Murray in a lie about a 2011 collision.  Contrary to his story,  he was speeding (at 100 mph) and not wearing a seatbelt.   He was given a $555 ticket; he later said he had fallen asleep.

While there are some privacy concerns regarding the recordings, the EDRs cannot determine who was driving, whether they were drunk or using a cell phone or who they were with.  Regardless, the EDR data is compelling evidence in a personal injury case.

The EDR records details about a vehicle, including: engine speed, steering angle, throttle position, braking status, force of impact, seatbelt status, and air bag deployment.

With black boxes’ compellingly accurate evidence, the United States government is trying to mandate that all vehicles contain black boxes. Currently, nearly 96% of vehicles sold in the United States contain a black box.  In late 2012, the Senate passed a bill mandating that, by 2015, all cars sold within the U.S. contain an EDR.  Bill 1813 failed to pass through the House.

The EDRs became a vital piece of information for us to understand exactly what was happening in certain crashes and scenarios,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator Ronald Medford told Wired. “So the Congress, in our discussion with them, were very strongly encouraging us to require it. And we’re sort of surprised that we’re not requiring for everyone. The current regulation says that if you have an EDR in your car you must at a minimum collect a certain amount of information,” Medford added. “[The new law] would take out the option and say that all car manufacturers must have an EDR and must collect this information. I think 80 percent of the car industry already does it.”

[Read more…]

10 Cars With Most Safety Complaints in 2012

downloadIf you are considering purchasing a 2012 model of a car, first consider the U.S.’s most reported unsafe cars of 2012.
In 2012, nearly 30,000 drivers filed complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  
Consumers can file complaints at NHTSA’s website, www.safercar.gov.  The federal regulatory agency then investigates car manufacturers and makes the information available to the public.  The public can search past recalls and other consumer complaints.
Complaints in 2012 ranged from steering problems to concerns with malfunctioning air bags and seat belts. 
The top 10 car manufacturers with the most complaints, listed in order of largest number of complaints are listed below.  Specifics about the complaints are detailed after the list.  If you think you were sold a lemon (defective) car or have sustained a personal injury as a result of a defectively designed or manufactured vehicle, contact attorney Alexandra Filutowski.
Top 10 Problematic Cars of 2012
1.  Mini 
2.  Jeep
3.  Smart
4.  Chrysler
5.  Dodge
6.  Nissan
7.  BMW
8. VW
9.  Ford
10. Hyundai

Folding Bicycle May Fold On You – Product Recall

Bicycling has become a popular alternative means of transportation.  With increased popularity, consumers are looking to more portable bike options – such as the folding bicycle.  Unfortunately, one such manufacturer has recalled its product due to a defective design or manufacturing of its hinge.

Stile Products has recalled its Tern folding bicycles due to a fall hazard.

The recalled models are:

Eclipse S11i

Verge S11i, X10, X20 and X30h

There are at least two reported incidents where the hinge on these models cracked, causing the bicyclist to fall and sustain injury.

If you have been harmed by the product, the Consumer Product Safety Commission collects product safety information here: SaferProducts.gov

If you think you may have a personal injury claim, you may contact product liability attorney, Alexandra Filutowski.

Copyright 2013 The Filutowski Law Firm, PLLC. Disclaimer: This page is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on any specific facts or circumstances. An attorney-client relationship is not created or continued.

Swaying Summer Hammock Risky – Product Recall

Outdoor Solutions Summer Hammock and Sunshade was recently recalled due to reports of injuries.  The hammocks’ seams tore and the consumers fell from the hammock, causing bruising and pain.

The Hammock is a stand-alone, light-brown canvas hammock that sits inside a steel and plastic frame. It has a detachable sunshade affixed to the hammock.   The recalled model number is 147184.

H-E-B is handling the recall and offering a refund.

If you think you may have a personal injury claim, feel free to contact product liability attorney, Alexandra Filutowski.

Copyright 2013 The Filutowski Law Firm, PLLC. Disclaimer: This page is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on any specific facts or circumstances. An attorney-client relationship is not created or continued.

 

Toy Helicopter Recalled by Toys R Us

Toys R Us recalled the Fast Lane FA-005 Radio Control 3-Channel Helicopter with Gyro Stabilizer.

There were reported incidents of the helicopter catching fire and causing burns.

The rechargeable battery inside the helicopters can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards to consumers or nearby items.

The model number of the recalled toy is 5F5F2F5.  The number can be found on the bottom of the toy or on the front of its packaging.

Toys R Us is offering a refund.

If you have been harmed by the product, the Consumer Product Safety Commission collects product safety information here: SaferProducts.gov

If you think you may have a personal injury claim, you may contact product liability attorney, Alexandra Filutowski.

Copyright 2013 The Filutowski Law Firm, PLLC. Disclaimer: This page is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on any specific facts or circumstances. An attorney-client relationship is not created or continued.