Recall Highlights the Importance of Child Safety Seats

April 16, 2014 by Gregory J. Brod

Child safety seats, now standard fare, are a fairly new innovation. Many adults, especially those who came of age in the 1970s or prior, recall having free reign to roam the back seat, a freedom today’s children couldn’t imagine. Today, we know that proper restraints can save lives and prevent serious injury. This blog entry focuses on the proper use of child safety seats to keep our youngest travelers secure. It also provides an important reminder that even “safety equipment” can be unsafe. If a defective car seat contributed to an injury or a fatality, our San Francisco child injury attorney is prepared to help.

carseat.jpg1.3 Million Child Safety Seats Recalled for Latch Problem
Evenflo Company Inc. recently issued a voluntarily recall for buckles used in more than 1.3 million child safety seats manufactured between 2011 and 2014. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the buckle may become stuck in the seat’s latch. This could be dangerous, even life-threatening, if it hampers a caregiver’s ability to get the child out of the seat in the event of an emergency. The article details the specific seats involved in the recall (not all seats made by Evenflo in the time frame are affected). Evenflo asserts that the malfunction only occurs when the buckle/latch has been exposed to contaminants such as food particles and says they have not received any reports of actual injury due to the problem. The company plans to alert all appropriate registered owners of the recall and to supply replacement parts.

Regulators had been looking into potential buckle malfunctions in Evenflo seats since January and are continuing to look at possible issues with one rear-facing model. In February, Graco announced a similar recall impacting 3.8 million child seats. Federal safety officials suggest the Graco recall should have included another 1.8 million infant seats.

Tips for Using Child Safety Seats
While they are a vital safety innovation, child seats aren’t always child’s play. Advice contained in the Car Seat Safety Tips pamphlet prepared by the non-profit Safe Kids Worldwide includes:

  • Pick the proper seat for the child’s age/size.

  • Position the seat correctly, keeping the seat rear-facing until the child is approximately 2 years old. See the specific guidelines for your seat model to determine which anchors and tethers should be used as the child grows.

  • Know the history of the seat and only use a “used” seat if you do. Current guidance calls for replacing a seat that has been in a moderate or severe crash (see blog entry linked below for more details). Car seats do expire and typically last about six years, consult the label for details.

  • Make sure the seat is properly installed. Nearly a full three-quarters of child seats are installed incorrectly or otherwise used improperly. The SafeKids pamphlet has some basic advice, but visiting an inspection event or making an appointment with a qualified technician is even better. Consult the SafeKids site or Seatcheck.org for help (inspections are often free).

  • Buckle up! The best car seat is useless if the child isn’t buckled in. Teach kids that the car doesn’t move until EVERYONE (adults too!) is buckled up.

The Danger of Defective Child Safety Seats
Frighteningly, sometimes safety equipment can actually cause or contribute to injury or death. Some potentially dangerous defect/malfunctions (including some that violate regulatory standards) are: Flammable materials, including straps; Weak frame; Latches that unclip; Straps that loosen or rip; Latches or adjustments that get stuck; Carriers that separate from the base; or Seats that fail to properly protect the child’s head. In many cases, a defective seat is not the sole source of injury and instead is a contributing factor. For example, a driver may run a red light, hit a second vehicle, and a child may be injured after the straps on a car seat inside that vehicle become loose. Even if it isn’t the sole factor in the injury/death, a product liability claim may still exist if the defective product contributed to the harm. This can be critical in a real-life scenario if the driver is unable to pay a damages award.

Keeping Children Safe and Advocating for Our Youngest Clients
Using a car seat, and using it properly, can save a child’s life. We encourage caregivers to take the time to ensure car seats are properly installed and to teach children that seatbelts and safety seats must be used for every trip, no matter how brief. In the event that a “safety” seat malfunctions and contributes to a child’s injury, you and/or your child may have a legal claim. With offices in Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, and San Jose, our Northern California child injury law firm can help you navigate the civil injury system. The money damages available in civil court are especially crucial when injuries have life-long consequences.

See Related Blog Posts:
Tools to Keep Children Safe: WHALE Program and Rules on Car Seat Replacement

Keeping Kids Safe and Advocating for the Smallest of Car Crash Victims

(Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil; photo does not reflect a recalled seat)

California Lawyer on the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

March 19, 2014 by Gregory J. Brod

It’s a frightening opponent, a colorless and odorless gas that can kill people in their sleep – carbon monoxide. Our San Francisco carbon monoxide poisoning lawyer knows that exposure to this potent gas can be the result of shoddy construction or repair work, a faulty appliance, or other forms of negligence. When careless corner-cutting causes illness or death, including when improperly performed work leads to carbon monoxide poisoning, we believe in holding people accountable and in obtaining monetary damages for the victims.

Involuntary Manslaughter Claims Filed in Connection with Deadly Carbon Monoxide Exposure
Prosecutors in Nevada County, California are pursuing charges against a contractor whose negligence is believed to have led to the deaths of two men, a development detailed in an article in The San Francisco Chronicle. Last fall, Albert Senzatimore, age 69 of San Jose, and Gary Trovinger, age 57 of Los Gatos, both died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. The two men were exposed to the gas in a home in the Tahoe Donner ski community.

This Monday, Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson announced that 41 year-old Kurt Schoemig has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the men’s deaths. Schoemig is the president of Cedar Ridge Builders, a Truckee-based contracting firm that performed work on the home, located north of Lake Tahoe. The prosecutor’s statement alleges that Schoemig’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the carbon monoxide gas to be released into the home. According to police, an employee cut open a furnace exhaust pipe and then left the project incomplete. When the heater was turned on, the pipe vented the gas into the home. Additionally, Ferguson says that Schoemig did not have the proper permits for the work.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoningpoison.png
As noted above, carbon monoxide (chemically, CO) is an odorless, colorless gas and exposure can lead to serious illness or even death. The Centers for Disease Control’s (“CDC”) Carbon Monoxide Frequently Asked Questions webpage explains that CO poisoning occurs when red blood cells pick up the gas and replace oxygen in the blood with CO, preventing the body from getting vital oxygen and causing tissue damage and, eventually, death. Symptoms include headache, nausea/vomiting, dizziness, confusion, chest pain, and weakness. Continued exposure can lead to a loss of consciousness and death. If victims are sleeping or intoxicated, death can occur without the person experiencing any symptoms. CO poisoning can be hard to diagnose since the symptoms can point to a wide range of causes.

Carbon monoxide exposure sends more than 20,000 Americans to the emergency room each year and more than 400 Americans die annually from unintentional CO poisoning. Everyone is at risk, though infants and people with certain respiratory and heart problems are particularly susceptible.

Sources of Carbon Monoxide Exposure
Carbon monoxide can be found in combustion fumes, including those produced by automobiles, other gas engines, stoves, gas ranges, heating systems, and as a result of burning charcoal or wood. The gas becomes dangerous when it builds up in an enclosed or semi-enclosed area. Tips for preventing exposure include: Have heating and other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliance serviced annually by qualified professionals; If you use your fireplace, have the chimney checked and cleaned yearly; Make sure gas appliances are properly vented; Have automobiles serviced regularly, including annual inspections of the exhaust system; and Never run a car/truck/etc. in a closed garage. Additionally, every home should have at least one carbon monoxide detector installed near the bedrooms and the batteries should be replaced regularly.

Serving the Victims of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Northern California
Our Northern California carbon monoxide poisoning helps people obtain monetary compensation after a CO-related illness or when CO poisoning causes a loved one’s death. Do not make the mistake of assuming CO poisoning was the victim’s fault. If you have fallen ill or lost a loved one to CO poisoning because a so-called “professional” cut corners or was otherwise negligent, you may have a legal claim. If a defective product released CO gas that made you ill or killed a family member, you may have a legal claim. If your landlord’s negligence and/or failure to maintain a safe living environment caused CO gas to harm you or a loved one, you may have a claim.

In other words: If you or someone you love has suffered CO poisoning in San Francisco or elsewhere in Northern California, call our office to discuss your legal rights.

See Related Blog Posts:
California Toxic Torts Law and the Many Dangers (and Uses) of Chlorine
Controversial Pesticide Pulled By Manufacturer From California Market

(Photo by resignent

Considering the Health Impact of the Next Generation of Nicotine

March 5, 2014 by Gregory J. Brod

For many years, tobacco companies resisted admitting that cigarettes were hazardous to consumers’ health. Such a position is no longer realistic. Today, there’s a new front for a similar debate: the safety of e-cigarettes. While they eliminate the actual smoke, electronic or e-cigarettes deliver nicotine and other substances using an aerosol cartridge, often adding a flavoring such as mint, fruit, or even chocolate. Our San Francisco health lawyer is incredibly worried about the dangers posed by e-cigarettes and the mistaken belief that they are a fully safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. We are committed to holding manufacturers responsible for spreading this false message and targeting it to an underage market.

San Francisco Looks to Lead the Nation and Crack Down on E-Cigarette Use e-cigarette.jpg
The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported on efforts to crack down on e-cigarettes in the city. These efforts include work by Slanton Glantz, a researcher who helped San Francisco pass pioneering legislation curbing smoking in the workplace 31 years ago, rules that led to some of the nation’s toughest anti-tobacco laws. Glantz joined city officials earlier this week when they discussed Supervisor Eric Mar’s proposal to treat e-cigarettes the same as traditional cigarettes, limiting where they can be used and sold. Supporters say the proposal would help limit children’s use of e-cigarettes and prevent secondhand exposure to the aerosol emitted by the newer devices which are not yet regulated at the federal level.

State law does prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, teens say buying them is easy and reports suggest teens are even using the devices right in the classroom when the teachers’ back is turned. The article notes that little is known about the health effects of e-cigarettes. Glantz notes that they are said to contain one-tenth the toxins of traditional cigarettes, but he adds that even one-tenth the danger is significant when talking about products as dangerous as cigarettes.

CDC Expresses Concern Over Growing E-Cigarette Use By Young People
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) conducted a study looking at the use of electronic cigarettes by middle and high school students. In a self-reporting survey of young people across the country, the number of students who said they had experimented with e-cigarettes doubled in the 2011-2012 period. While 6.8% may sound small (up from 3.3%), it translates into nearly 1.78 million young people who had tried e-cigarettes as of 2012. The CDC concluded that the use of e-cigarettes by young people poses a serious concern. Although the agency notes the overall impact on public health is unknown, the CDC expresses serious concerns about how e-cigarettes impact young people noting the risk that nicotine will harm their still-developing brains and that they may be a gateway to other nicotine products.

Holding Companies Accountable for Dangerous Products
Over time, it became abundantly clear that Big Tobacco knew about the dangers of cigarettes long before admitting the health risks publicly. Perhaps it is a bit cynical, but we wonder what the e-cigarette makers know about their own products. If it turns out they knew the devices were dangerous and continued to market them without appropriate warnings or, even more egregiously, specifically marketed them as “safe cigarettes” despite knowing otherwise, they should be held responsible. This is even more important if these companies knowingly targeted minors.

If a product left you or your child injured or ill, call our office. Our San Francisco dangerous products lawyer is dedicated to helping consumers fight back and to holding companies accountable if they opt to place profit over safety.
(Photo by flickr user Chris F at tcavapor.com)

See Related Blog Posts:
San Francisco Bay Area Product Liability Attorney Comments on Big Tobacco Legislation

Protecting Against Pre-Natal Exposure to Toxic Chemicals in California

Fire Injury Lawyer Urges Caution to Prevent Home Heating Fires this Holiday Season

December 24, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

It is one of the “warmest” symbols of the holiday season, stockings hung and a family gathered around a blazing fireplace (hot cocoa is optional). Fires can be beautiful and part of the beauty lies in their sheer power. Sadly, this same power can cause tragedy when fires burn out of control, a fact some area families know all too well this holiday. When home fires are the result of defective products, including the particularly common threat of space heater fires, our Oakland home fire injury lawyer is available to help.

Two Oakland Blazes Serve as a Reminder of the Danger of Home Fires
Two separate Oakland fires have left 15 people homeless in the days just prior to Christmas 2013, according to the Oakland Tribune’s reports. On the 1600 block of Fifth Avenue in Lake Merritt, a candle ignited an apartment fire that spread to two other residential units, leaving all three apartments uninhabitable and also causing minor damage to a liquor store in the building. A second fire struck a home in the 3000 block of Logan Street in the Fruitvale district. Officials believe a cigarette may have sparked some trash behind the house. Thankfully, residents at both locations were able to escape safely, with only one person requiring at-the-scene treatment for smoke inhalation.


heater.jpg Statistics on Home Heating Fires
While it is not being eyed as the culprit in either Oakland blaze, the National Fire Protection Association (“NFPA”) reports that home heating equipment contributed to approximately 53,600 home structure fires nationwide during 2011. Accounting for 14% of the total number of home fires that year, the blazes claimed 400 civilian lives, injured an additional 1,520 civilians, and caused $893 million in direct property damage. In the 2007 to 2011 time frame, space heaters (including portable and stationary units) were responsible for a full third (33%) of home heating fires and were cited in 4 out of 5 (81%) home fire deaths. Not surprisingly, home heating fires occurred most often in the colder months, with December, January, and February accounting for a full 50% of heating-related fires.

Staying Safe, Staying Warm
Beyond just providing statistics, the NFPA also provides safety tips for consumers aimed at preventing home heating fires. Users should always maintain a three-foot buffer zone between heating units and flammable material, a tip that is especially critical given that 53% of home fire deaths involved keeping flammable items too close to a heating device. Families should also maintain a three-foot “child-free” zone around space heaters and open fires. A spark screen should always be put in place when using a fireplace and ovens should never be used as home heating equipment.

Another key theme in the NFPA’s home heating safety tips is ensuring all heating equipment is kept in functioning order. Professionals should be used when installing any stationary heating equipment, including water heaters. Professionals should also conduct yearly inspections of all heating equipment and chimneys, with improperly cleaned equipment playing a role in 28% of home heating fires. Portable units should be switched off when leaving the room or going to sleep. In the case of fuel-burning equipment, only the exact type of fuel specified in the instructions should be used with no substitutions. Regularly testing smoke alarms is crucial to ensuring that a fire is caught early and occupants are able to safely escape before a blaze escalated.

Seeking Civil Damages When Unsafe Products Spark Home Fires
While following these tips can help prevent home fires, it is also important to hold companies responsible for the products they manufacture and sell. Likewise, professionals should be held accountable for the installation and inspection work they are hired to perform. If a defective heater led to a fire in your Northern California residence, please call our Oakland defective product lawyer. Attorney Brod can help you recover compensation and prevent future fires by calling attention to unsafe products.

Stay warm, stay safe, and remember to check on older community members when colder weather strikes to make sure they are also kept warm and are not relying on unsafe heating options.


See Related Blog Posts:
Propane Explosions: The Danger, The Causes, and Your Legal Rights

A Look at Sources of Compensation for Fire Injury Victims

(Photo by Chris Oostyen)

Study: Long-Term Use of Antacids Could Cause B-12 Deficiency-Linked Problems

December 10, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

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It’s reasonable to expect that the medications we use to treat conditions should be safe to consume, but all too often San Francisco personal injury attorney Gregory J. Brod has been made aware of people who are sickened or worse by the drugs they take. And now, even one of the most common class of medications that millions of Americans rely on for relief, antacid drugs, may be hazardous to one’s health.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a study conducted by Kaiser Permanente researchers that was released Tuesday has found that the long-term use of popular antacid drugs for indigestion relief can cause a deficiency of vitamin B-12. In its untreated form, that condition, in turn, has been blamed for an increased risk of dementia, nerve damage, anemia and other potentially serious medical issues.

The study, which was published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found participants who consumed a class of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors — commonly known to the public through brand names such as Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium — for a period longer than two years ran a 68 percent greater chance of developing a vitamin B-12 deficiency.

The use of antacid drugs for the treatment of heartburn, stomach acid reflux disease and gastric ulcers has been fairly common in the United States since the 1990s, and many Americans typically take them for no more than the maximum recommended duration of eight weeks. However, some consumers have been taking antacids for much longer periods.

The vitamin B-12-linked conditions associated with long-term use of proton pump inhibitors seem to be triggered because this class of antacids does such a good job of shutting down the stomach cells responsible for producing acid — but those same cells are needed to absorb vitamin B-12.

While the revelations from the Kaiser study are new, the connection between the use of proton pump inhibitors and medical problems is an established one, including these findings from the federal Food and Drug Administration:

  • An FDA report issued in May 2010 found a link between the high dose, long-term use of proton pump inhibitors and the risk of possible fractures of the hip, wrist and spine
  • An FDA safety communication issued in March 2011 warned of the risk of low magnesium levels associated with the long-term use of proton pump inhibitors
  • An FDA safety communication issued in February 2012 warned of associated diarrhea linked to the use of proton pump inhibitors

Continue reading "Study: Long-Term Use of Antacids Could Cause B-12 Deficiency-Linked Problems " »

Heat Is on Tesla Motors After Company Linked to Yet Another Fire-Related Accident

November 13, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

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If autumn is typically considered the height of the fire season in California, this fall has been a veritable tinderbox of pyro-related problems for Tesla Motors, especially after the electric-car maker experienced a fire at its plant in Fremont on Wednesday. The incident is an example of where Bay Area personal injury attorney Gregory J. Brod stands ready to represent anyone who has suffered a burn injury or harmed in an industrial accident or defective products case.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, on Wednesday three employees at Tesla’s plant in Fremont suffered moderate to serious burns or other possible injuries — one worker’s condition is still being evaluated — while they were working with pressurized equipment after an aluminum casting press failed, causing hot metal from the press to injure the employees.

Model S Troubles on Highways
The Wednesday blaze is the latest in a series of fire-related woes to befall the Palo Alto-based Tesla Motors. On Nov. 9, the driver of a Model S struck a tow hitch on Interstate 24 near Murfreesboro, Tenn., which damaged the automobile’s undercarriage and sparked a fire. That incident prompted a call from Clarence Ditlow, the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to launch an investigation. The NHTSA had declined to investigate an earlier fire involving a Tesla sedan that occurred Oct. 1 in Washington state.
In the Washington state incident last month, a Model S burst into flames while it was traveling on Route 167 near Seattle when, according to the driver, the vehicle hit some debris on the road. The automotive blaze prompted concern over Tesla’s battery technology and sent the company’s stock plunging after a YouTube video quickly surfaced that recorded the incident.

Between the incidents in Washington state and Tennessee, another accident involving a Tesla Model S occurred in Mexico. With three crashes in six weeks, it stands to reason that there would be sentiment for investigations and even a recall, but Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk stated on Monday that media coverage of fires involving cars manufactured by his company were overblown and that Tesla will not implement a product recall for the Model S.

The Severe Consequences of Burns to the Skin
While automobile company executives may feel that media coverage of fires that start in their products may be overblown, it’s hard to exaggerate the injuries that result from serious burns, suffered either in an industrial setting or while one is a motorist or passenger of a vehicle that catches fire. The skin acts as the body’s first line of defense against bacteria and viruses, and it is a complex structure that helps to regulate its temperature as well as the amount of fluid it contains. Within the skin one also finds a complex network of blood vessels and nerves. So when the body suffers a burn — anywhere from a first-degree burn to, most seriously, a third-degree burn — essentially a breach has occurred in the body’s defenses, opening the way for serious complications as well as scars, both physical and emotional.

Continue reading "Heat Is on Tesla Motors After Company Linked to Yet Another Fire-Related Accident" »

Unexpected Braking Leads to Second Honda Recall

November 5, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

Cars are complex machines with a multitude of parts that work together to ensure the vehicle not only functions, but does so in a safe and reliable manner. Predictability is important, especially when it comes to major elements such as the brakes. Defective brakes are a terrifying possibility, with the phrase conjuring images of a car speeding out of control as the driver frantically presses an unresponsive brake pedal. However, few consider the dangers posed by brakes engaging unexpectedly. Unexpected braking is a threat that concerns our San Francisco defective vehicle lawyer and a danger that has caused Honda to issue two distinct recalls this year.

Honda Recalls Odyssey Minivans Following Reports of Unexpected Braking
honda.jpg Honda recently announced that it is recalling 2007 and 2008 Honda Odyssey minivans. The recall, which involves 344,187 vehicles built between August 8, 2006 and September 8, 2008, is discussed in an article on Edmunds.com, one of the leading resources for information on automobiles and the automotive industry. Earlier this year, Honda informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) that it had received 109 warranty claims and more than 200 field reports related to unexpected braking as of June 30, 2013. In the NHTSA’s own investigation, the agency received 22 complaints claiming that the vehicles had braked unexpectedly. Reports included claims of braking occurring while the driver was pressing the accelerator, with drivers alleging a sudden drop in speed of up to 30 miles per hour.

According to the NHTSA’s statements, the problem stems from the Vehicle Safety Assist System (“VSA”) which may suddenly and without warning apply the vehicle’s brakes without illuminating the vehicle’s brake lights. The agency warns that the unexpected braking creates an increased risk of rear-end collisions, although no collisions stemming from the defect have been reported to date. Honda will need to install an updated yaw sensor in order to fix the VSA software problem, but a shortage of parts means the repairs cannot being until March 2014. Honda is sending owners a letter with information on steps they can take in the interim to ensure the system is properly calibrated and prevent unexpected braking.

Earlier Honda Recall Involved Similar Danger
This is actually the second time this year that Honda has recalled vehicles because of unexpected braking. On March 14, 2013, Edmunds reported on a recall involving 182,000 Honda vehicles including the 2005 Honda Pilot, 2005 Acura RL, and 2005-2006 Acura MDX. In that recall, Honda announced that a VSA malfunction could cause one of two problems, either the brakes could briefly engage without the driver input or, if the driver is pressing the brake when the malfunction occurs, braking force could be greater than would be expected for the amount of driver input. Honda noted that either problem could increase the risk of a collision. There was also a concern about loose bolts in the VSA systems of certain recalled vehicles. Although the earlier recall also involved the VSA system, it appears unrelated to the current problem with the Odyssey minivans. Notably, the March recall was also delayed for a month due to a parts shortage.

Northern California Vehicle Defect Law Firm
We rely on our vehicles to respond predictably. If you were injured in a collision caused by unexpected braking, call our San Francisco product liability lawyer. We will fight for the monetary compensation you deserve.

See Related Blog Posts:
Vehicle Recalls: Keeping Drivers Safe on the Road
San Francisco Product Liability Attorney Comments on Danger of Tread Separation as Michelin Recalls Over 840,000 Tires


(Photo by JD Hancock)

Be Aware of Halloween Dangers

October 29, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

For many, fright is part of the fun on Halloween. However, the best fear is controlled; a scare that comes while knowing one is ultimately safe and secure. Attention to Halloween safety is crucial to ensuring that the thrills and chills don’t turn into true danger. There are many elements to a safe October 31st and this post will focus on only two of the many safety issues: the threat of burn injuries and the danger to pedestrians on Halloween. Both of these topics are of great concern to our San Francisco injury attorney and we encourage victims of either threat to call our firm if someone else’s negligence contributed to your injury.

Halloween Burn Injuries
jacko.jpgBurn injuries are one of the biggest threats to a safe Halloween celebration. Despite a federal law requiring costumes meet flame-resistance standards, flammable costumes remain a real threat. ABC News references 16 costume-related burn injuries since 1980, including a twelve year old who died after a brush with a lit pumpkin caused her costume to ignite. These numbers likely fail to account for fires blamed on other causes, including fires started by decorative items. Halloween is, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, one of the top five days for fires sparked by candles in the U.S. Preventing fires and burns requires vigilance. We also believe that using product liability laws to hold companies liable for unsafe products will also help prevent future burn injuries.

Pedestrian Dangers Lurking on October 31st
Pedestrian safety is important every day, but particularly on Halloween. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration analyzed data from 1997 to 2006 and concluded October 31st was the second deadliest day for pedestrians nationwide. Another study, conducted by State Farm and researcher Bert Sperling focused on data from 1990 to 2010, concluded Halloween was actually the most deadly day for young pedestrians (under age 18). During the time frame, 115 child pedestrians died on October 31st for an average of 5.5 deaths each Halloween, more than twice the average daily rate of 2.6 child pedestrian fatalities a day. 25% of pedestrian deaths occurred between 6 and 7 P.M., the day’s riskiest hour. Most accidents (70%) occurred mid-block (i.e. outside of a crosswalk or intersection). Drivers between 15 and 25 years old were behind the wheel for more of these crashes (70%) than any other age group. As for the pedestrians, ages 12 to 15 were most at risk for a fatal crash (32% of victims), followed by 5 to 8 year olds (23%).

Keeping pedestrians safe on Halloween, like other days, requires the commitment of drivers and pedestrians alike. It is a commitment that is especially important on an evening when children are out later than normal, walking around neighborhoods (or, more likely, running !).

Wishing You a Safe Halloween
Staying safe on Halloween requires following a few basic rules: 1) Supervise children appropriately; 2) Ensure children can see and be seen; 3) Walk with care, even if you hear that house down the block is handing out full-size candy bars (we’d still want to run!). If a dangerous product, negligent driver, or otherwise careless person or company turns the Halloween scares all-too-real, we can help. Our San Francisco personal injury law firm wishes you a happy and safe Halloween. May the only danger be a bit of a bellyache from one sweet too many!

See Related Blog Posts:
Northern California Injury Law Firm’s Tips for Staying Safe on Halloween

Holiday Accidents in Oakland and Northern California


(Photo by Randy Robertson)

Yerba Buena Island Fire: Reminder of Danger of Fireworks

October 7, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

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A curious twist has surfaced from Sunday’s traffic-snarling fire on Yerba Buena Island as a San Francisco Fire Department official stated that the SFFD received telephone calls suggesting fireworks may have sparked the blaze. There were no reported casualties caused by the fire, but it may surprise people to know that fireworks are responsible for a significant number of injuries every year in the United States, a fact that raises burn injury, products liability and negligence issues thatSan Francisco attorney Gregory J. Brod has experience with.

Sunday’s fire on Yerba Buena Island erupted about 8 p.m. near the Bay Bridge’s western span and was contained in about two hours. However, eastbound commuters, many of whom were returning home from a San Francisco 49ers game, were stuck in traffic on the bridge after the fire prompted the shutting down of two eastbound lanes while firefighting crews battled the blaze. Dry, warm weather may have helped provide more ideal conditions for the fire, but reports suggest that another combustible element may have been a factor.

“We had some initial reports from telephones that there could have been some fireworks involved,” said SFFD Assistant Chief Matthew McNaughton, according to KGO-TV. SFFD firefighters are in the process of investigating the fire and what triggered it.
Regardless of the final outcome of the SFFD’s investigation, some facts are on the record about the perils of fireworks, according to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association and the National Council on Fireworks Safety, including the following:

  • Every year in the United States there are 9,300 serious injuries caused by fireworks, with an average of four deaths due to fireworks.
  • Forty percent of all fireworks-linked injuries in the United States are caused by illegal fireworks.
  • In 2011, hospital emergency rooms in the United States treated an estimated 9,600 people for fireworks-related injuries, and fireworks reportedly caused the death of eight civilians.
  • In 2011, there were an estimated 17,800 reported fires caused by fireworks in the United States, including 1,200 structure fires and 400 vehicle fires that resulted in direct property damage of $32 million. On average, 20,000 fires in the United States each year are blamed on fireworks.
  • Forty-five percent of injuries caused by fireworks are sustained by children under the age of 14.
  • On average, every year 400 Americans lose sight in one or both eyes due to fireworks.
  • In 2010, 61 percent of emergency room fireworks-related injuries were sustained by the extremities of the victims and 34 percent were injuries to the head.

Continue reading "Yerba Buena Island Fire: Reminder of Danger of Fireworks" »

Update: Battery on $70,000 Tesla Model S Electric Car Eyed in Tough-to-Battle Vehicle Fire

October 4, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

Cars are complex machines. Most of us rely on them daily and we trust that they will work as expected. Faulty cars can be extremely dangerous and can cause injury or even lead to the death of the driver, passengers, occupants of nearby vehicles, and/or other bystanders. While the phrase “defective vehicle” may conjure up images of a low-budget lemon, a recent headline is a reminder that even some of the most expensive vehicles boasting the latest technology can hide a dangerous defect. As a San Francisco product liability lawyer with added experience in automobile accidents, Attorney Brod can help when an automotive defect leads to tragic consequences.

Tesla Catches Fire in Seattle Suburb
As we discussed yesterday, tesla.jpg officials have linked a vehicle fire near Seattle to a problem in the battery pack of a Tesla electric car, as discussed in an Associated Press report carried by the San Francisco Chronicle. The incident occurred on Tuesday as the driver of the Model S Tesla was travelling south on State Route 167 through Kent, a suburb of Seattle. The driver told authorities that he thought he had struck some form of metal debris, leading him to exit the highway. He said that the vehicle became disabled and he had begun to smell something burning when the vehicle caught fire. Firefighters arrived on scene only three minutes after the first emergency call and remained there for 2 ½ hours, although it is unclear how long the active firefight lasted. Trooper Chris Webb with the Washington State Patrol indicated that the fire damage was too extensive to allow officials to see whether there had been extensive damage due to the debris the driver had hit before the fire.

The Blame Game
Tesla officials blame the blaze on the prior collision and spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean reported that the fire, which started in one of the electric vehicle’s battery pack modules, was contained to the front of the vehicle. The Model S, touted by Tesla as the safest car in America, sells for $70,000. It uses a liquid-cooled 85 kilowatt-hour battery, mounted underneath the floor of the passenger compartment, that operates on lithium-ion chemistry akin to the batteries that power laptop computers and mobile phones. On Wednesday, after videos of the blaze were posted online, shares of Tesla Motors Inc. dropped more than 6%. The market is particularly sensitive to the fire risks of the lithium-ion batteries given three previous battery fires that occurred during crash tests of the Chevrolet’s Volt and the grounding of Boeing’s new fleet of 787s for four months due to batteries overheating or catching fire.

While Tesla focused on the collision, an incident report from fire officials noted that the flames reignited after appearing to be under control. Crews switched to a dry chemical extinguisher after finding that water seemed to intensify the flames. In order to fully extinguish the flames, firefighters had to dismantle the vehicle’s front end, puncture holes in the battery pack, use a circular saw to create an access point, and apply water more directly to the battery.

Don’t Let the Defense Unilaterally Decide Your Case
In normal circumstances, the NHTSA would send a crew to Washington state to investigate the Tesla fire. However, field investigations have been suspended because of the partial government shutdown. This means it may be some time before it can be determined whether Tesla batteries pose an undue risk. Determining whether a vehicle defect is to blame can often be a difficult issue. It is crucial that those injured as a result of a possible product defect do not sign anything without first consulting a plaintiff-side product injury lawyer. Do not take the other side’s word that blame lies with an intervening cause, such as the road debris that the Tesla’s driver hit before the fire. Remember: A consultation with our San Francisco vehicle defect lawyer is always free and most cases are handled on a contingency fee basis which means there is no charge unless you recover money.

Additionally, the NHTSA website provides useful information on searching for recalls and filing reports with the agency. The search function can allow you to see whether there have been other reports with problems akin to those you experienced.

See Related Blog Posts:
Vehicle Recalls: Keeping Drivers Safe on the Road

Ford Recalls Escape SUVs: Car Recalls and Product Liability Concerns

(Photo by Steve Jurvetson; listed as Model S, but not vehicle in fire story)

Fire Involving Tesla Sedan Rekindles Concern over Safety of Electric Cars

October 3, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

Theoretically, consumers face the potential for buying a defective product every time they go shopping, with an array of consumer products from the most simple or small to the most complex or large quite possibly putting a person at risk for injury. Among consumer products that fit the latter description, automobiles are perhaps one of the most iconic examples, and San Francisco products liability attorney Gregory J. Brod has been closely following developments in the auto industry that could impact consumer safety.

The production of electric and hybrid cars has been one of the more exciting developments in the automobile industry, but the technology remains very much a work in progress, with studies on safety issues an ongoing process. An electric or hybrid car’s battery is usually the focus of any safety investigation, with any such safety probe in the past as the result of a fire that has erupted for some reason in the car’s battery. For example, last year the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid was the subject of stepped-up scrutiny after a number of fires broke out after test crashes of the vehicle. General Motors, the vehicle’s manufacturer, stated that the fires were the result of a coolant leak and short circuit that was triggered when the car’s battery pack was punctured during the test crashes.

Company Stock Takes Hit After Model S Reportedly Strikes Object, Bursts into Flames
On Wednesday, another incident involving an electric car model, this time one manufactured by Tesla Motors, was in the news due to a fire. As reported by USA Today, investors in the Palo Alto-based company took a 6.24 percent hit in the price of their shares after a video surfaced on YouTube showing a Tesla Model S catching on fire on Tuesday. The sedan was traveling on state Route 167 near Seattle when, according to the driver, it struck some debris on the highway and burst into flames. Tesla Motors issued a statement Wednesday saying that the fire was caused by “substantial damage” to the car when the driver hit a large metal object on the road and that the flames were contained to the front of the vehicle.

Other than the shareholders who were singed from the incident — and obviously rattled by concerns over the vehicle battery’s safety — no one was hurt in the fire that damaged the ill-fated Tesla Model S on Tuesday. While car fires are not particularly unusual, those involving electric or hybrid vehicles have been closely monitored by safety officials due to concerns that lithium-ion battery systems might be more susceptible to fires.

Government Urges Public Awareness on Safety Measures for Electric Vehicles
In the wake of the recent controversy surrounding the Chevrolet Volt, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a safety defect investigation and issued a statement on Jan. 20, 2012, saying that it didn’t believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles. However, the NHTSA also stated that electric vehicles have specific attributes that should be made clear to several key constituencies, including consumers, and that the agency has developed interim guidance to increase awareness and point out appropriate safety measures for those concerned.

Continue reading "Fire Involving Tesla Sedan Rekindles Concern over Safety of Electric Cars" »

Long-Term Health Dangers of Pesticides Felt from Farm to Homes

September 25, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

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Food safety is an issue of particular concern to toxic tort attorney Gregory J. Brod. The safe consumption of the food that we eat can be affected by a variety of factors along the way from farm to dinner table, including contamination from bacteria and other pathogens. However, one of the most inconspicuous yet pervasive ways that our food can become the agent for illness is through the use of pesticides in the growing process and the long-term cumulative impact those substances have on our health.

A report this week in the San Francisco Chronicle focused on the particular peril farmworkers face from long-term exposure to pesticides. A professor of maternal health and child health and epidemiology and a supporting team at UC Berkeley launched a study of how pesticides adversely affect the health of farmworkers in the wake of the federal government’s decision in the late 1990s to fund research about environmental chemicals and children’s health. The UC Berkeley research found the presence of organophosphate pesticides — commonly used in agriculture but known to harm the human nervous system — in the urine of women in the study group drawn from the Salinas Valley and in greater quantity than in women of child-bearing age elsewhere in the United States. Research has established that children who have been exposed to high levels of pesticides in the womb were more likely to register test result markers that determine the likelihood of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

With California a key agricultural state, it stands to reason that the potential exposure of farmworkers to pesticides would be an issue of concern and, indeed, an important treatise on the subject “Fields of Poison 2002” with the subtitle “California Farmworkers and Pesticides” was published a decade ago. But the problem of exposure to pesticides goes way beyond the agricultural sector straight into the lives of consumers. Even though most pesticides used on farms don’t appear in the food we eat there still are troubling facts the Pesticide Action Network of North America has found that are cause for some alarm including the following:

* Tests conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 93 percent of Americans had metabolites of chlorpyrifos, which is a nuerotoxic insecticide, in their urine. Chlorpyrifos, which has been linked to ADHD, has been banned from home use due to its risks to children.
* Tests have determined that 99 percent of Americans are positive for the presence of DDT degradants, this in spite of the fact that DDT hasn’t been used in the United States since 1972. Studies have found that women who have been exposed to DDT as girls are five times more likely to develop breast cancer.

Continue reading "Long-Term Health Dangers of Pesticides Felt from Farm to Homes" »

During Peak Harvest Season, We Are Reminded of Dangers of Food-Borne Illnesses

September 18, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

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September is a time of the year to take joy in the bounty of our nation’s agricultural sector. However enticing fresh-from-the-farm produce may seem this month, though, we need to be aware that food-borne illnesses can crop up just as easily in late summer and early fall as in any other time of the year, and our food safety law firm continues to call attention to the pitfalls of contaminated food as well as serve as a top advocate for the rights of those who have been sickened or who have died as a result of consuming tainted food.

Bacteria-Linked Disease Outbreaks a Major Problem in U.S.
Unfortunately, food-borne illnesses are fairly common in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year 48 million Americans — roughly one in six of us — will fall ill due to eating contaminated food. Furthermore, CDC data show that during the period from Jan. 1, 2009, through Dec. 31, 2010, public health departments reported 1,527 food-borne disease outbreaks, which resulted in 29,444 cases of illness, 1,184 hospitalizations and 23 deaths. Of the 790 outbreaks with a laboratory-confirmed illness, norovirus was responsible for the most reported infections, followed by salmonella, which was linked to 30 percent of outbreaks. In the most severe cases, however, listeria was the most deadly agent, as 82 percent of those sickened by the pathogen were hospitalized. Indeed, among the 23 deaths during the two-year timeframe, 22 were due to a sickness caused by a bacteria such as listeria, salmonella, E. coli, Clostridium perfringens or shigella.

Vine-stalk vegetables are a major source of food-borne illnesses and hospitalizations due to contamination from such pathogens as salmonella or listeria. Just this month, a Wyoming man refiled a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against a Sheridan, Wyo., Walmart, claiming that his wife died after she consumed a contaminated cantaloupe that was purchased at the big-box retailer, according to the Sheridan Press.

Sicknesses Traced to Cantaloupe Have Hurt Sales of Melons
Contaminated cantaloupe has been a problem that has devastated the melon-growing sector of agriculture, especially in California, where 75 percent of all the cantaloupes consumed in the United States are grown. While neither of the two biggest cantaloupe-linked bacteria outbreaks in the country — a listeria outbreak in 2011 that sickened 147 people and killed 33 in 28 states or a salmonella outbreak last year that caused 261 people to fall ill and three to die in 24 states — were traced to melons grown in California, sales of cantaloupes from all states have dropped significantly in the U.S. And according to Food Safety News, cantaloupe growers in the Golden State decided in June to adopt a mandatory food safety plan as a measure to restore confidence among consumers of their product. The new standards will include government audits of all stages of cantaloupe production and require handlers to pass the program’s audits, which will be run by inspectors from the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Continue reading "During Peak Harvest Season, We Are Reminded of Dangers of Food-Borne Illnesses" »

On Labor Day San Francisco Personal Injury Lawyer Reflects on Workers’ Compensation, Workplace Safety

September 2, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

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There are multiple reasons for workers in California to be somewhat pleased this Labor Day. For one thing, the number of Californians in nonfarm and salaried employment continues to grow while the state’s unemployment figure remains well below its double-digit recession high, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS numbers also show sustained growth in employment in key sectors of the Golden State’s economy, including construction, trade, transportation, utilities, finance, professional and business services, education, health care, and leisure and hospitality.

Workplace Deaths Down in California
While the employment landscape has improved in California, one might think that the opportunities for workplace injury or death would increase. However, according to a report in the Orange County Register, the opposite trend has occurred in the state, at least with respect to workplace fatalities. In 2012 there were 339 workers who died on the job in California, down 13 percent from the 2011 total of 390, and well below the recent high of 537 workplace deaths set in 2006. The improving numbers have been recorded in California despite the fact that one in three workers in the state continue to be employed in construction, manufacturing, and trade and transportation, three often dangerous industries.

California’s relatively strict workplace safety regulations may very well have played a role in reining in the number of deaths of workers on the job and allowing the state to record a lower than national average per-worker death rate. The Golden State’s figures stand in stark contrast to states with a relatively laissez-faire attitude toward businesses. Indeed in 2012, Texas — a state with few business regulations — once again held the dubious distinction of reporting the nation’s highest number of workplace deaths at 531, a figure that was 23 percent higher than the year before and one that gave the Lone Star State a per-worker death rate more than double that of California.

Workers Face Array of Potential Sources of Harm
In California, as in most states, workers who are injured or killed due to incidents that transpire during the course and scope of their employment are covered for their injuries by workers’ compensation. As a form of strict liability, workers’ compensation essentially is a no-fault system established by the state in which contributory negligence is not a factor — a legitimate workers’ compensation claim must be covered. And the gamut of injuries suffered on the job is a wide one, including all manner of construction accidents, accidents involving motorized equipment, slip-and-fall injuries, chemical burns, lung damage from inhalation of chemical vapors, hearing loss from loud noises or vibrations, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.

While workers’ compensation laws have largely precluded lawsuits between injured employees and their employers, a worker who has been hurt on the job may still be able to file a lawsuit against a third party who may have caused or contributed to the worker’s injury. These third-party actions usually involve firms whose services have created unsafe working conditions or those that manufactured a defective product that was instrumental in the worker’s injury.

Continue reading "On Labor Day San Francisco Personal Injury Lawyer Reflects on Workers’ Compensation, Workplace Safety" »

Recent Findings and Litigation Suggest Consumers May Be Taking a Carcinogenic Bath with Use of Shampoos

August 29, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

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It is reasonable to expect that consumers should be able to use everyday household products according to product directions without falling ill, but as a lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court on Tuesday argues, even the use of as seemingly an innocuous personal care item as shampoo can prove hazardous to one’s health. And as the scope of the lawsuit becomes clear and gels, this case has the possible makings of a major products liability and toxic tort legal action.

As a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle explained, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), which is an Oakland watchdog organization, filed the lawsuit accusing Walgreens, Lake Consumer Products, Vogue International and Ultimark Products of having products for sale that allegedly contain cocamide diethanolamine, or cocamide DEA, and for not labeling the products warning consumers that the shampoos, soaps and other care products contained high levels of a carcinogen. Cocamide DEA is a compound used to make the foam and bubbles in shampoo, but it was listed last year as a carcinogen under California’s Proposition 65 in the wake of an International Agency for Research on Cancer report fingering it as a possible carcinogen in humans. That state measure, formally known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 and which was easily approved by the voters that year, seeks to protect drinking water from toxic substances that cause cancer and birth defects. Prop. 65 also sets a general goal of reducing or eliminating exposure to such harmful chemicals in consumer products and mandates product labels warning consumers of the hazards of such chemicals.

The state had given companies a one-year grace period to comply with Prop. 65 after adding cocamide DEA to its list of possible carcinogens, but this summer the CEH purchased shampoos and other products from stores in the Bay Area and online retailers and then had them tested. The independently conducted tests demonstrated that 98 products contained unacceptably high levels of cocamide DEA. Now, the CEH has said that it plans to sue more than 100 other companies beyond the aforementioned group of four that manufacture or purvey such products, including such well-known firms as Colgate Palmolive, Kohl’s, Rite Aid, Sears, Sephora, Target, Trader Joe’s and Walmart.

With respect to products liability, a key basis for legal action is proving that a manufacturing or design defect was instrumental in causing harm to a plaintiff. In addition, the defect may be based on the fact that the product lacked sufficient instructions or warnings of potential safety hazards. Similarly, in the case of toxic torts, potential plaintiffs are exposed to harmful chemicals but may not have not been afforded the chance or opportunity to take steps to safeguard their health, usually because of the hidden nature of the problem.

Continue reading "Recent Findings and Litigation Suggest Consumers May Be Taking a Carcinogenic Bath with Use of Shampoos" »

PG&E Awaits Decision on Fines as Bay Area Continues to Deal with Safety Issues in Wake of 2010 San Bruno Explosion

August 23, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

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As we approach the third anniversary of the September 9, 2010, gas line explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people and destroyed and damaged more than 50 homes, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the utility whose gas lines exploded, has yet to complete an overhaul of its gas system in the San Francisco Bay Area. According to Bloomberg, the California Public Utilities Commission, which is the state agency responsible for regulating PG&E, also has yet to determine a punishment for the fiery catastrophe but expects to make a decision by the end of this year.

Utility's Bill for Disaster Yet to be Tallied
Should the CPUC levy a $2.25 billion fine — commission staff recommended that penalty last month — PG&E’s total bill for the disaster would come to $4 billion, including funds already spent on infrastructure repairs and safety upgrades, according to company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tony Earley. In the meantime, the utility and its shareholders are concerned that the CPUC-imposed fine could push PG&E into its second bankruptcy in 12 years.

Concern over PG&E’s financial health notwithstanding, much work remains to be done on the Bay Area’s gas line network, with many infrastructure and safety issues that were raised by the explosion still unresolved or whose fixes are a work in progress. And, according to a recent report in the San Francisco Chronicle, PG&E has not been forthcoming enough on disclosing problems concerning transmission lines in its system and has employed records with errors to document maintenance. With natural gas such a volatile element and with the high-use winter months fast approaching, a less-than-safe gas network and an error-prone utility maintaining that system is hardly a reassuring combination for residents of San Bruno and other Bay Area communities to contemplate.

Poor Record-Keeping Bedevils Gas Network Still in Need of Key Fixes
Inaccurate records were a key factor behind the September 2010 disaster in San Bruno. PG&E failed to accurately describe the failed gas line’s characteristics, which in turn led to the utility not conducting tests that would have revealed the gas line’s fatal flaws. Furthermore, PG&E’s erroneous or outdated records led the utility to run a gas line at a pressure level that was dangerously too high for another urban area on the Peninsula. Indeed, government investigators have found that PG&E has inaccurate or even nonexistent records for much of the more than 1,000 miles of gas transmission lines in its system. These fundamental lapses in record-keeping procedures have come to light in the context of revelations that PG&E workers have found significant stretches of gas pipes with faulty seams in a major connector line on the Peninsula — contrary to what records kept by the company asserted — which could result in a major explosion similar to the one that rocked San Bruno three years ago.

Continue reading "PG&E Awaits Decision on Fines as Bay Area Continues to Deal with Safety Issues in Wake of 2010 San Bruno Explosion" »

Investigation Briefing Leaves Lingering Questions, Liability Issues Concerning Deadly San Mateo Bridge Limousine Fire

August 22, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

lenghtened-wedding-car-1198500-m.jpgIt’s reasonable to expect that a well-planned, memorable event such as a wedding day should unfold in a safe and enjoyable manner. However, as we were reminded in the case of the ill-fated limousine ride over the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge on May 4, even the best laid plans can, unfortunately, end in tragedy. Our San Francisco automobile accident attorneys have been carefully combing through this incident’s unresolved issues, especially in the wake of the California Highway Patrol’s briefing Monday on the fiery and fatal disaster that captivated the nation.

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News, after a three-month investigation the CHP revealed in a press conference Monday that it was a “catastrophic failure of the rear suspension system” that triggered the deadly fire inside a limousine crossing the San Mateo Bridge. As a result of the blaze, the bride and four other women, who were on their way to a wedding party, lost their lives. It’s still unclear why all nine women aboard the limo couldn’t emerge safely from its passenger compartment doors.

According to the CHP representative at the news conference, Commander Mike Maskarich, the limousine’s rotating metal driveshaft came in contact with the limo’s frame, generating friction and enough heat to ignite the fire, which turned Neriza Fojas’ wedding celebration heading for a party at a Foster City hotel into a fiery nightmare. “This unfolded very, very rapidly and the overall nature of this tragedy was not something that was foreseeable,” Maskarich said.

While the general nature of the tragedy may have been unforeseeable and, officials have stated, no criminal charges will be filed in connection with the fatal crash, outstanding liability issues are yet to be determined. Foremost among them are those concerning common carrier law found in California Civil Code Sections 2100-2104, which governs the operation of limousines, including why the limousine was carrying more passengers than its licensed limit. As stated in Civil Code 2102, “A carrier of persons for reward must not overcrowd or overload his vehicle. The limousine company will be fined $7,500 for the excessive number of passengers.

In addition, the fact that the 1999 Lincoln Town Car stretch limo’s suspension system failed and therefore placed it into catastrophic contact with its driveshaft could raise products liability issues in this incident. While the limousine had up-to-date maintenance records and was in compliance with state rules, according to officials, there remain some key questions to be answered. Of primary concern is whether the limousine became unreasonably dangerous as the result of a defect. More specifically, the failed suspension system may have been the result of a faulty product design, which, should a court determine existed, would have made the limousine inherently dangerous. Alternatively, the limousine may have become unreasonably dangerous as a result of an error in product manufacture or assembly, which also would be grounds for products liability.

Continue reading "Investigation Briefing Leaves Lingering Questions, Liability Issues Concerning Deadly San Mateo Bridge Limousine Fire" »

Dangerous Drug Alert: Unscrupulous Diet Pill Makers Take Advantage of Those Looking to Lose Weight

August 21, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

Americans are obsessed with all things Extra Large, from pizza to popcorn and from sodas to café mochas (with extra whip cream, of course). This, in turn, leads to another American obsession: Weight Loss. While some turn to the time-tested method of diet and exercise, others look for a shortcut that makes the process easier and faster. Sadly, many of these quick fixes involve dangerous diet pills. If you took a product looking for a weight loss solution (pill or powder, “cure” or supplement, or even just a little help in the process, and it made you ill (or if a diet pill claimed a loved one’s life), our San Francisco and Sacramento diet drug danger attorney.

Overview of the Diet Pill Debate
pills2.jpg As discussed in a recent San Francisco Chronicle piece, there is an increasing tendency to treat obesity as a medical disorder that should be treated as such. The drugs are almost always intended to be used in conjunction with diet and exercise and the majority of doctors still prefer those approaches. Two new drugs are gaining attention, notably following on the heels of “a rash of prescription weight-loss lemons” that have led the Food and Drug Administration to view the treatments with a cautionary eye. Both of these new drugs, Belviq and Qsymia, were approved last year after having been initially rejected and with the requirement that longer-term trials be performed to check on stroke and heart-related risks. One doctor said he’s wait to see results over 3 to 5 years, stating: "At this point, any benefits are outweighed by unknown risks." However, others believe even a small weight loss can lead to major benefits and see the drugs as necessary treatments.

Forbes Magazine Reviews Five Potentially Dangerous Diet Drugs
Diet pills have a shady reputation, one that seems to be earned given the number of pills touted as breakthroughs that turned out to be dangerous and even deadly. Last year, Forbes magazine reported on dangerous weight-loss pills in “5 Deadliest Diet Trends: Pills That Really Can Kill.” The five so-called remedies discussed are:

1) The Japanese Weight Loss Pill (components include a possible carcinogen and the active ingredient in Meridia which was pulled from the market in 2010 due to increased risk of stroke and heart disease);
2) Clen Fat Burner (a veterinary medicine, not approved for human use, this steroid can damage heart muscles);
3) The Brazilian Diet Pill (imported supplements containing a long list of ingredients that can cause extreme personality changes and a host of odd symptoms including a hypersensitivity to touch);
4) Qnexa and Related Drugs (includes Qsymia which received conditional FDA approval since the article, many believe long-term studies on the drugs which alter mood and metabolism, also carries a risk of severe birth defects);
5) The K-E Diet (uses a nasal feeding tube to deliver only 800 calories a day, carrying risks of inflammation and infection and can cause stress on kidneys and the liver plus other risks of a starvation-level diet).

Thoughts From Our Dangerous Diet Pills Law Firm
All of these remedies target individuals classified as obese, not just those looking to shed a few pounds. Without question, obesity carries a number of severe heath risks and can lead to premature death. Weight loss can be a difficult journey and too many companies have taken advantage of people looking to shed pounds. Often, these companies place profit over safety. This cannot be allowed to continue. People who have been harmed by products marketed as weight loss remedies may have civil claims against the manufacturers and distributors of these dangerous items, including claims under product liability law. Bringing such claims allows the victim to recover needed compensation. These cases also serve the public as a whole, warning manufacturers that they cannot take advantage of consumers and cannot sell dangerous products without paying a price.

If you have been made ill by products touted as weight loss remedies, or lost a loved one because of these unscrupulous schemes, please call to arrange a free consultation with our San Francisco dangerous diet pills law firm. We are based in Northern California but represent clients throughout the state on an individual and class action basis.

See Related Blog Posts:
Product Alert: Popular Cholesterol Drug Contaminated With Glass Particles

Dangerous Drug Alert: Potentially Risky Hormone Therapy Aimed at Aging Men


(Photo by Keith Ramsey)

Bridge Safety Lawyer Comments on Bridge Collapses as Caltrans Announces Another Problem on Bay Bridge

July 22, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

Sometimes it seems like a comedy of errors. Construction projects reveal error after error, each issue posing a major safety threat and each repair carrying an even heftier price tag than the one before. Reports of roadway defects are particularly frightening when they involve bridges since even a small miscalculation can lead to a tragic bridge collapse. Given the potentially devastating toll of such events, our San Francisco bridge collapse law firm feels relief when an error is spotted upfront, but we are also left pondering how these errors can occur in the first place. Should a bridge collapse strike the Northern California region, we are prepared to fight for the victims and to help them win money damages from any and all parties responsible for the tragedy.

Caltrans Reports Finding Leaky Shocks on Bay Bridge’s Western Span
bridge.jpg In April, we reported on defective rods that shattered as crews building the Bay Bridge’s new eastern span (see report in the San Francisco Chronicle). Late last week, the San Francisco Chronicle carried another frightening report as Caltrans discovered that some of the 96 seismic shock absorbers used in the bridge’s western span are leaking lubricant. The problem arose a mere three years after the shocks were installed and carries a $13 million repair price tag.

At this time, it is not clear whether Caltrans ordered the right shocks (or, more specifically, “dampers”) prior to installing them in 2004 while performing a $670 million seismic upgrade. Caltrans officials report that by 2007 a dozen of the dampers, which were expected to last 20 years, were leaking. There are now 37 leaky shocks. With the help of experts at UC San Diego, Caltrans developed a quick fix, but it is not a long-term solution and the agency plans to begin replacing the shocks in 2015. It seems unlikely for Caltrans to be able to pass the bill on to the original manufacturer and the bill will probably fall on toll payers. Other spans may also need replacement shocks, including at least one non-toll bridge.

Taken together with the brittle rods issue on the eastern span, the Bay Bridge project is facing significant delays and unexpected costs. Still, the importance of bridge safety cannot be understated. A bridge collapse can lead to catastrophic injuries and loss of life, not to mention the costs associated with the damage, the repair bill, and the need for a temporary traffic solution.

Advocating for Northern Californians in Bridge Collapse Cases
Our San Francisco defective roads lawyer is prepared to advocate for injured victims and grieving families in the event of a bridge collapse in San Francisco or elsewhere in Northern California. Such a tragedy may involve a range of legal issues including premises liability, product liability, and dangerous condition of public property claims. Bridge defect cases also require an attorney who understands the complexity of filing suit against a municipality or other government entity, an issue we’ve talked about on this blog on multiple occasions.

Bridge defect cases also demand an attorney who knows how to locate and work with top-of-the-line subject matter experts. In many of our firm’s cases, Attorney Brod works closely with experts to determine who is at fault and what legal claims are appropriate. Expert testimony, which is itself governed by a detailed set of procedural rules, can also be critical to helping a jury understand complex issues. An expert can make or break a case. Attorney Brod understands the law governing expert testimony and knows how to work with experts to help personal injury and wrongful death clients recover the money damages they need and deserve.

If a bridge collapse or other structural issue on Northern California’s roads has caused you injury or claimed the life of a loved one, we can help. Call today to arrange a free consultation with our California road defect lawyer and begin the process of recovering monetary compensation for your injury and/or your loss.

See Related Blog Posts:
Brittle Rods Break During Construction of Bay Bridge Eastern Span

Oakland Injury Lawyer on Dangerous Roads and Hazardous Intersections


When Fireworks Turn Tragic: Defective Products Law and Other Protections for Fireworks Victims

July 10, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

In advance of the recent Independence Day holiday, we noted some of the particular dangers associated with the celebration and with summer gatherings in general, a post intended to help ensure happy holiday memories. Sadly, we’ve learned that fireworks malfunctions at two community events have left many with injuries and memories more akin to nightmares than joy. Our San Francisco injury law firm knows that no lawsuit can erase such an experience, but a successful claim can help victims of fireworks injuries recover compensation following such a terrifying ordeal.

Defective Fireworks Eyed as Two California Displays Turn Tragic, 39 Report Injuries
fireworks1.jpg According to The San Francisco Chronicle, fireworks malfunctions occurred at two different shows put on by Bay Fireworks last week. At a Simi Valley event, located northwest of Los Angeles, 39 people were injured when shrapnel was sent flying across the field where thousands had gathered to view the display. Organizers planned to include almost 2,500 shells in the show. Initial reports suggest a firework prematurely exploded in its mortar, knocking over other devices and aiming them toward the crowd. Bruce Sussin, the pyrotechnic operator, said that everything had checked out okay in a pre-show inspection. He added that as soon as they saw a catastrophic failure had occurred, they immediately turned off the computer and shut down the show. Sussin did not know how many of the shells were fired at the crowd.

A show in Laguna Hills, Orange County, also experienced a shell malfunction. City Manager Bruce Channing reported that a mortar exploded at or near ground level, causing damage to parts of the wiring in the yet-to-be-discharged fireworks. Luckily, no one was injured. The incident occurred at the start of the show and Channing revealed that Bay Fireworks told him the city had received bad shells. Dennis Brady, Bay Fireworks’ chief executive, said the company was thankful that the Laguna Hills incident did not lead to the chain reaction that occurred in Simi Valley.

Bay Fireworks is waiting on an official report, but notes that is appears both incidents were due to shell malfunctions. The company released a media statement, currently available on its Facebook page. A shell malfunction is also being blamed for an incident in Ojai where a firework exploded prematurely. That show was run by Zambelli Fireworks.

Protecting Victims of Fireworks Accidents: Product Liability and Other Personal Injury Claims
Our California fireworks injury attorney is prepared to help the victims of firework mishaps. These incidents can occur at community displays using large shells or in a private backyard where people are lighting sparklers or other small devices. Where the injury stems from a defective product or the failure to provide appropriate instructions with an item, a product liability lawsuit may be appropriate. In other cases, a premises liability claim may be appropriate based on the failure to keep invited guests safe. Traditional negligence claims can also exist, including claims against the event organizers and/or claims against the individuals who set up and operated the display.

If you have been the victim of a fireworks injury or lost a relative in a fireworks accident, you need an attorney who will examine the facts of your case and consider all possible legal claims and all potential defendants. Combining his knowledge of the law and his experience representing victims, Attorney Brod can help victims recover when fireworks take a tragic turn.

An important reminder -- Do not risk losing your rights by signing an agreement with an insurance company without consulting a skilled personal injury attorney. These documents are written in the interest of the companies and their insurers, not in the interest of the victims.

See Related Blog Posts:
Celebrating Our Nation with a Safe and Happy Fourth of July

Holiday Accidents in Oakland and Northern California


(Photo by Steve Arnold)

Pool Liability: Oakland Attorney Considers Civil Liability for Drowning and Other Injuries Following Death of Four Year Old Boy

July 1, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

Summer memories are made of barbeques, ice cream treats, and days by the swimming pool. These days can be filled with fun and magic. However, it is important to remember that swimming pools can also be the site of terrible tragedy. Our Northern California swimming pool lawyer knows that these tragedies leave unspeakable scars on the families that experience them. While money damages cannot bring back the children lost in these events, bringing a civil claim may be appropriate in some cases and can provide resources that allow the families to move forward from a terrible loss.

Boy Drowns in South San Jose Swimming Pool
This weekend, The Oakland Tribune covered the death of a young child in a California community pool. At around 5:40 P.M. on Friday, emergency officials were called to the County Fair Mobile Estates, a South San Jose mobile home park located off Senter Road at 270 Umbarger Road. Prior to their arrival, Dianne Ranteia and her 23 year-old daughter had pulled 4 year-old Michael Trinh from the water after spotting him at the bottom of the pool. Officials found Trinh unresponsive and, despite transferring him to a local hospital, later pronounced the boy dead.

It is unclear how long Trinh had been in the water before the women spotted him. Although the boy did not live at the park, a relative of his does. Other residents reported that about 45 minutes prior to the incident they had seen a young boy near the pool. The witnesses noted the child was accompanied by adults who appeared to be his parents.

pool2.jpgDrowning Statistics
Drowning is a major safety threat. According to the Center for Disease Control, the United States saw an average of 3,533 fatal unintentional and non-boating related drownings each year from 2005 to 2009. This works out to ten drowning deaths a day, making drowning the nation’s fifth leading cause of unintentional injury-related death. One in five drowning deaths involves a child age 14 or younger, meaning two children die per day due to drowning. Further, five children receive emergency room treatment for non-fatal submersion injuries for each child who dies due to drowning. For children aged one through four years, swimming pools are the most common drowning location. Swimming pools can also be the site of other serious injuries including falls, diving-related accidents, and reactions to pool chemicals.

Protecting Pool Injury Victims in Civil Court
In some cases, swimming pool injuries and/or fatalities can give rise to legal liability, allowing the victim (or a family member) to bring a civil claim for money damages. Different legal theories may apply depending on the precise facts involved. Often, premises liability theories are relevant to civil actions for pool injuries. This area of law holds property owners liable for injuries occurring due to a dangerous/hazardous condition of which they was aware. In pool cases, the owner is generally required to take reasonable safety precautions to protect anyone entering the property, including trespassers. The “attractive nuisance” doctrine is part of premises liability law and can be used to hold a property owner liable in pool cases, including where a young child enters the property to “play” when no adult was nearby.

In addition to premises liability theories, other areas of law can protect drowning and other pool injury victims. Negligence principles may be relevant, such as in a case where a commercial pool operator hires inadequately trained lifeguards or a pool maintenance company fails to address a hazardous drain. Products liability theories may also apply in some pool drowning cases, specifically in cases where a pool component or other equipment caused the incident.

Our Oakland pool injury lawyer understands the wide range of civil law concepts that can protect victims of pool drownings and other pool injuries. If you believe someone was responsible for a pool injury in San Francisco, Oakland, or another Northern California community that harmed you, your child, or another relative, please call to arrange a free consultation.

See Related Blog Posts:
Safety Reminders Following the Deaths of Three Toddlers in Sacramento Area Swimming Pools

Safety and Legal Concerns in Northern California Amusement Parks


(Photo by Steve Jurvetson)

Northern California Food Safety Lawyer Comments on Preventing Food-Borne Illness After Contra Costa Woman Contracts Hepatitis A From Frozen Berries

June 5, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

Last fall, our San Francisco food safety law firm called attention to a marked increase in the number of Americans falling ill or even dying as a result of contaminated food. Foods recalled in 2012 included mangoes, cantaloupe, meat, and nut butter. This disturbing trend endangers public health and threatens our ability to trust in the safety of our food supply. It continues to do so in 2013, as evidenced by a recent Hepatitis A outbreak, and it demands the attention of our nation’s food industry.

berries.jpg Contra Costa Woman Falls Ill, Frozen Berries Eyed as Culprit
As detailed in the San Francisco Chronicle, an outbreak of hepatitis A tied to frozen berries has reached our region. Last month, a 62 year-old East Contra Costa County resident was hospitalized due to a hepatitis infection. According to Kate Fowlie, a health services spokesperson, the woman had purchased frozen berries labeled Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend. Fowlie said the woman’s illness was likely tied to the berries. Thankfully, the woman has thankfully recovered and been released from the hospital.

Reports indicate that around 30 people in five states (including California) contracted hepatitis A from the frozen mixed berries. In response to the outbreak, Costco removed the product from its stores and has alerted consumers not to eat the product if they purchased the item since February. In Contra Costa County alone, approximately 2,100 bags of the berries were sold since February. Investigators are looking into whether the berries were sold at other stores and whether restaurants or other food providers may have used the berries in their products.

Officials warn that consumers who purchased the Townsend Farms product should avoid eating the berries. Anyone who has eaten the berries in the past 14 days should ask their doctor about a vaccine that may help prevent illness. Symptoms of hepatitis A appear two to six weeks after exposure and include yellowing skin and eyes, fever or chills, fatigue, diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting. It can be mild (especially in children) or can be serious enough to require hospitalization.

Food Safety: Statistics and Proposals
In April, Time magazine tackled the issue of foodborne illness in an article titled “Food Safety: CDC Report Shows Rates of Foodborne Illnesses Remain Largely Unchanged.” The article notes that one in six Americans falls ill from contaminated food each year, a rate that has held steady for seven years. Salmonella remains the top cause of food-related illness. Notably, incidence of the most frequently seen strain of the bacteria has decreased, but other strains are becoming more common resulting in the overall unchanged incidence of salmonella infection.

The article noted that the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) and other researchers hope that two proposals released in January will help improve food safety. Pursuant to the first proposal, all manufacturers selling food in the U.S., including products grown domestically and abroad, must develop and follow a set of formal rules focused on preventing contamination and correcting problems when they arise. The second proposal focuses on foods eaten raw, including berries and greens, strengthening standards for growing, picking, packing, and storing the foods. Proposal two also includes standards for: Sanitation during irrigation; Cleaning of produce; Worker hygiene; Avoiding contamination due to animal waste; Monitoring animals entering crop fields, and; Sanitation of processing equipment. Implementing the proposals would be costly, but the FDA suggests they would ultimately lead to major savings in medical costs and the costs associated with recalls.

Our Work as a Northern California Food Safety Law Firm
We hope that the FDA and associated groups will continue to focus on preventing food-borne illnesses. Another way to improve food safety is holding food industry players responsible when their failures result in contamination and illness. Food safety lawsuits, including product liability claims, also help compensate those impacted by food-related illness. If food-borne illness has affected you, please call our San Francisco contaminated food law firm. We can help you recover monetary damages and let the food industry know that they will be held liable if they produce or sell contaminated food products.

See Related Blog Posts:
Study Calls Attention to Rise in Foodborne Illness in 2012

San Francisco Injury Attorney on Food Safety Law


(Photo by Dan McKay)

Vehicle Recalls: Keeping Drivers Safe on the Road

April 12, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

When America met the car, it fell in love. Over the years, this love affair has turned into dependence. Americans rely on their cars more with each passing decade. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that the nation’s highways saw an estimated 2.8 trillion vehicle-miles during 2000, a nearly four-fold increase since 1960. We trust in our vehicles, assuming they are built with safety foremost in the manufacturer’s mind. Automobile recalls are evidence that sometimes this trust is misplaced. When defective cars lead to injury or death in Northern California, our San Francisco defective vehicle lawyer is ready to help. These cases lie at the intersection of product defect and automobile injury law, and they require an understanding of the recall system, all areas expertise offered at The Brod Firm.

Three Million Vehicles Recalled for Air Bag Defect
airbag.jpg Airbags began to hit the commercial vehicle market in the late 1980s and, in the ensuing decades, we’ve come to consider them a standard safety feature. This week, however, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that more than three million vehicles from Toyota, Nissan, and Honda are being recalled due to an air bag defect that could cause the passenger side inflator to burst and send plastic pieces flying in the vehicle. Recalled vehicles from the three manufacturers are believed to be in countries across the globe including North America, Europe, Japan, Latin America, and Africa. Overall, the recall includes an estimated 1.7 million Toyota vehicles, 1.1 million Honda’s, and 480,000 vehicles from Nissan. Other automobile companies may also be involved in the recall.

The recall involves air bags manufactured by Japan’s Takata Corporation. A Honda spokesperson reported that the defect was the result of two human errors. The first problem occurred when a worker neglected to activate a switch that controlled a system to weed out defective products. Additionally, parts appear to have been stored improperly, a mistake that exposed them to humidity.

An Overview of the Recall System
In the United States, the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) can issue a recall when a motor vehicle or related equipment fails to comply with federal safety standards or, in more general terms, the vehicle or equipment includes a safety-related defect. Recalls are discussed in an NHTSA-authored booklet titled “Motor Vehicle Safety Defects and Recalls.” Since the creation of the power in 1966, over 390 million vehicles, 46 million tires, 66 million equipment pieces, and 42 million child safety seats have been recalled in order to correct safety defects. In many cases, manufacturers initiate the recalls themselves. Others result from an NHTSA investigation or a court-order obtained by the NHTSA.

When the NHTSA determines a safety defect exists in a vehicle, the law gives the manufacturer the option to repair the vehicle at no cost, replace the automobile with an identical or similar vehicle, or refund the full purchase price. In equipment cases, the manufacturer can either repair or replace the item. There are some limitations on remedies based on the age of the vehicle.

Recalls and Civil Claims: Two Tools, One Goal of Safety
Recalls are an important tool used by the NHTSA to keep our highways safe. It is important to recognize that recalls do not alleviate a manufacturer of other legal responsibilities. The NHTSA’s recall booklet specifically addresses the question of whether, once a recall has been initiated, an individual can still take independent legal action for injuries. The agency replies “Yes,” affirming that recall remedies exist in addition to other legal remedies. In simpler terms, this means that a personal injury or other claim still exists even after a recall has been announced.

Attorney Greg Brod is a skilled San Francisco personal injury attorney with experience in both automobile accident and product defect cases. These areas of expertise combine in automobile defect cases. If you have suffered an injury or lost a loved one due to a defective automobile in Northern California, Attorney Brod can help you recover money damages. Call to arrange a no-cost consultation.

See Related Blog Posts:
San Francisco Product Liability Attorney Comments on Danger of Tread Separation as Michelin Recalls Over 840,000 Tires

Ford Recalls Escape SUVs: Car Recalls and Product Liability Concerns

(Photo by Jon Smith)

Brittle Rods Break During Construction of Bay Bridge Eastern Span

April 5, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

Bridges are impressive works of architecture and engineering, a fact we here in San Francisco know particularly well. Driving across a bridge is an exercise in trust. We rely on the architects who designed the bridge, the companies that supplied the parts, and the engineers who built the span. Our San Francisco dangerous roads lawyer is prepared to hold any and all of these players responsible if the span proves unsafe and a defective bridge proves unworthy of our trust.

Dyson-Supplied Rods Snap, Caltrans Cites Contaminated Steel as Culprit
bridge.jpgAccording to a report in The San Francisco Chronicle, Caltrans is planning to inspect materials used in the new Bay Bridge eastern span after rods made by the supplier failed a key test. Dyson Corporation made or supplied a range of materials used in the construction of the bridge, a $6.4 billion project scheduled to open in early September. The materials include 96 galvanized steel rods used to secure the cables that strengthen the bridge near Yerba Buena Island. Last week, Caltrans reported that more than a third of these Dyson-supplied rods snapped as workers tightened them into place. Caltrans also acknowledged this week that the agency had approved the bolts despite the fact that previous tests raised questions about whether the bolts could stretch during an earthquake.

Caltrans believes that the presence of hydrogen in the steel used in the bolts caused them to become brittle and break. The agency had not tested the bolts for the problem, assuming that any such contamination was been eliminated in either the manufacturing or galvanizing process. While Dyson did not make the steel, but was responsible for the process and running its own tests. A subcontractor was in charge of the galvanizing process.

Caltrans and Dyson Respond to Problem
Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty ordered that a forensic analysis be performed on the failed bolts. He also ordered an audit and re-inspection on all parts supplied by Dyson, including various fasteners and pins used since the bridge project began in 2002. The inspection would, according to Caltrans officials, likely involve sampling rather than testing every single part. Additionally, Dougherty directed another Caltrans official to give the contractor written notice requiring the company to demonstrate its compliance with contractual requirements and to provide details on their course of action following the bolt failure. Dyson’s CEO Brian Rawson says the company is cooperating with the agency.

An initial estimate from a Caltrans official put the cost of one potential fix at about $1 million. In a company memo, Dougherty stressed that engineers must be able to vouch for the bridge’s safety before a single car travels across the span.

Helping Californians Injured Due to Dangerous Roads
It is frightening to think what might have happened had the bolts broken during use instead of during construction. From dangerous bridges to unmaintained road surfaces and poorly planned curves, there are a wide-range of engineering and construction issues that can prove hazardous. Our San Francisco defective roads lawyer understands the complexities of suits against government entities or construction companies when a dangerous condition leads to injury or death. Call to arrange a free consultation.

See Related Blog Posts:
Chronicle Highlights Dangerous Roadway in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill Neighborhood
Oakland Injury Lawyer on Dangerous Roads and Hazardous Intersections

California Product Liability Attorney on the EPA’s Move to Ban Certain Rat Poisons

February 1, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

poison.png We have all been caught between wanting to keep your home free from pests while also wanting to ensure the methods used will not harm our family. The companies that manufacture animal poison (including rat poison) are subject to standards developed and enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These steps are key, but the unintentional poisoning of people (particularly children) and beloved pets, remains a serious problem. Our San Francisco dangerous chemicals lawyer believes that there is more work needed to ensure household poisons do not cause harm

EPA Targets D-Con Mouse and Rat Poisons for Failure to Follow Safety Standards
On Wednesday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) moved to ban a dozen mouse and rat poisons sold as D-Con products. Regulators began the banning process after finding that the manufacturer refused to adopt (and obey) the EPA’s safety standards aimed at keeping children and non-targeted animals safe from accidental poisoning. The EPA’s move now gives the product’s producer, Reckitt Benckiser Inc., thirty days to file a challenge to the proposed ban. The dispute centers on the lethal compounds used in the D-Con products. Second-generation anticoagulants used in the products interfere with blood’s ability to clot, a problem that can lead to uncontrollable bleeding and a slow, painful death.

According to the EPA, regulators have spent five years working with people from the rodenticide industry. Some companies made improvements based on the resulting standards. Reckitt Benckiser refused to adopt the standards, a move some suggest follows five years of resistance and the failure to take even the most basic steps for safety. Notably, no children have suffered from exposure to poisons due to products manufactured in compliance with the new standards.

Statistics on the Danger Posed by Rodenticides
An article in Scientific America states that the EPA has long been aware of the risk that rat poisons can fall into the hands of children. Confirming a figure referenced in the Chronicle report on D-Con, the article notes that approximately 10,000 children are accidentally exposed to rodent poisons annually. The vast majority of calls to poison control centers about rat poisons involve children under age three. Counting all ages, poison control centers received between 10,000 and 14,000 calls annually about rodent poison between 2004 and 2008. The EPA estimates those figures represent only a quarter of actual exposures. The American Association of Poison Control Centers adds that an average of 3,700 rodent poisoning case resulted in medical treatment each year. Black and Hispanic children as well as those living below the poverty line are disproportionately harmed by rat and mouse poisons. Accidental ingestion by unintended animals, such as a family dog, is also a major problem.

Applying California Law to Illnesses and Deaths Due to Rat Poisons
Rodent poisons do serve a purpose. However, companies cannot be permitted to just throw up their hands in the face of a dangerous substance. The EPA, along with local and state governments, should work with companies on guidelines that make the products as safe as is reasonably feasible. The law does allow claims in certain cases, even where the product is inherently dangerous. Our San Francisco products liability lawyer is available to talk to people injured by rat poisons or other pesticides and an initial consultation is always free of charge.

See Related Blog Posts:
Products Liability Law: From Basketball Stars to Friends and Family

Local Authorities Move to Limit Dangerous Rodent Poisons


(Photo by resignent)

Stores Recall Dangerous Baby Product Linked to Five Infant Deaths

January 9, 2013 by Gregory J. Brod

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A newborn baby is precious. Any parent will tell you that watching an infant grow with each day is nothing short of miraculous. An honest parent will also admit that caring for a newborn is hard work. There are countless products intended to help parents care for their babies. Unfortunately, our San Francisco product liability law firm knows that far too many of these products are unsafe and that dangerous baby products can lead to injury or even death.

The Nap Nanny Story
Recent headlines, including a report by ABC News, discussed an unusual twist on a product recall. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) has received seventy complaints, including five reports of infant death, related to a product advertised as a portable recliner for infants. The accidents included babies falling out of the seat and hitting their head or becoming trapped and suffocating between the seat and a crib or other item. In other cases, the infants were found dangling from the recliner’s straps. In early December, several retailers agreed to stop selling the Nap Nanny as a result of these reports. After the product’s manufacturer refused to recall the item, Amazon.com, Toys R Us/Babies R Us, Best Buy, and Diapers.com all took the unusual step of issuing their own recall. The stores suggested people stop using the Nap Nanny recliner and offered customers the opportunity to return the item (typically priced around $125). The CPSC, via spokesperson Scott Wolfson, praised the retailers for the move.

An estimated 150,000 Nap Nanny recliners have been sold since the product was introduced in 2009. Leslie Gudel, a mom and sportscaster, designed and sold the product through her company, Baby Matters. Reports indicate that Baby Matters declined to cooperate with the CPSC in issuing a mandatory recall. Instead, Gudel suggests the product is safe if used per the instructions and that the complaints involved consumers who improperly placed the seat on a table or neglected to strap the infant in correctly. The product did go through a redesign following the first reported death in 2010 when the company raised the sides of the seat, added warnings, and created an online instructional video. However, the CPSC reports that injuries and deaths continued and the agency contends the Nap Nanny contains design defects and defects in the warnings and instructions that accompany the product. Some news reports specifically noted the accidents occurred despite the use of the included harness restraint.

The store-driven recall is unusual. Also unusual is the decision of the CPSC to sue Baby Matters. The suit, filed last month, seeks to force the company to recall the Nap Nanny. Wolfson notes this is crucial since many consumers purchased the item from small stores and are not covered by the retailer recall. Gudel says the dispute has forced her to close her company, but she continues to defend the product despite the CPSC and retailer actions.

The Value of Product Liability Lawsuits: Compensation & Prevention
Babies rely on the protection of their parents and other loved ones. In turn, these adults should be able to trust that the products they purchase to help them care for their children are safe. This is especially important with newborns because they are vulnerable to suffering serious consequences from a head trauma or oxygen deprivation. No lawsuit can reverse a serious injury or bring back a lost child. However, a civil claim can provide monetary compensation that can help with expenses such as medical bills and other costs that can stem from a serious injury with life-long consequences. In the most tragic of cases, the money can also help with final expenses.

Our San Francisco product injury lawyer knows it isn’t only about winning monetary compensation. The civil justice system is also about accountability. In addition to holding a company responsible for one event, the threat of potential future claims can help prevent future injuries and deaths by making a company factor safety into their economic calculations. One would hope safety would be enough of a goal in itself, but some companies need to see it on their bottom-line accounts before they make safety a priority. If you are debating filing a claim, perhaps because you feel uncertain about putting a monetary figure on an injury or death, please remember this fact -- Product liability suits serve a public good and help prevent future product-related injuries.

See Related Blog Posts:
Toy Safety Reminder From Your San Francisco Injury Lawyer

Bumbo Recalls Baby Seats for the Second Time

(Photo by Raphael Goetter)

The Hazard of Dangerous or Defective Toys in the Season of Giving

December 17, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

Soon wrapping paper will litter the floor as children and adults alike begin to enjoy the new gifts they have received this holiday season. It is a great moment of happiness, and togetherness as individuals experience the joy of giving and receiving and it is a great memory that is best left unmarred by hazardous incidents that can easily be avoided.

Several weeks ago, our personal blog released a posting reminding consumers about potential hazards to look out for when purchasing presents. In the busyness of the holiday season, it is easy to overlook simple things such as warning labels in determining the appropriateness of gifts. However, if gifts are not age appropriate or potentially dangerous, they may result in safety risks to a most loved but vulnerable group, children. Thus, before the purchase is made, and even for purchases already made, be sure to use your judgment and check if the gift is really appropriate in order to prevent injuries. So here again are some tips to help you in this process.

• Read warning labels carefully
• Consider the age, interest and skills of gift recipients
• Avoid toys with sharp edges and points
• Check to see if toys are potential choking hazards
• Avoid gifts containing high powered magnets

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The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that an estimated 195,200 toy related injuries resulted in hospital visits in the year 2011 with 19 instances that led to death. Though The CPSC and Customs and Border Protection do a very good job of reviewing the toys that are put on shelves, unexpected issues may still arise. Examples of this are Buckyballs and Buckycubes, which are small high powered magnets. The toys, if swallowed, can cause major health issues. If multiple magnets are swallowed, attraction within an individual’s digestive system can cause holes in the stomach, intestinal blockage, blood poisoning, and unfortunately even death. Though the manufacturer and distributor of Buckyballs and Buckycubes have stated in October that they will no longer be selling these products once their stock has diminished, it is still very possible that purchases of these toys were made in recent months and some may still be on store shelves, leading unsuspecting customers to purchase them.

There are many other sources of danger other than magnets however. Sometimes, toys that seem simple and harmless can be defected in design or from the manufacturing process. In these instances, the fault lies with the production company and they should be held responsible as our society bears responsibility of protecting children. Defective products can be improperly designed or sometimes the marketing of products include inadequate warnings, instructions or even false advertisement about the safety of the product. Thus it is important to report claims about toy related injuries in order to inform not only the company of flaws in their product, but also to warn other consumers about the dangers of certain products.

Sources:
Public Health Watchdog Warns about Dangers of Magnetic Balls that Have Allegedly Caused Serious Injuries in Children
'Tis the Season for Toy Safety
Magnet Toys: What To Do if Your Child Swallows a Magnet

Continue reading "The Hazard of Dangerous or Defective Toys in the Season of Giving" »

Fire Safety Following Fatal Home Fire in Ingleside Heights

December 7, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

Our San Francisco fire injury law firm knows that home fires are a very real danger that can cause death or serious injury. A harsh reminder of this threat came to the Ingleside Heights neighborhood this week when a fire claimed the life of sixty-one year old Deane Wernet on Wednesday night. According to a report in The San Francisco Chronicle , the blaze burned much of the top floor of the residence at 65 Saint Charles Avenue. Wernet moved to San Francisco from Ohio, where she grew up as one of thirteen siblings. She worked as a waitress and also made jewelry and other pieces of art. Authorities are still investigating the fire, but they do not believe foul play was involved.
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Home Fires: Statistics & Causes
Home fires are the single most common disaster nationwide, a fact that headlines the American Red Cross’s Fire Safety Fact Sheet. During the year prior to the info sheet’s compilation, a whopping 93% of the disasters that the Red Cross responded to nationwide were fire related. Even more disturbing, fire safety appears to be on a negative trend with the number of home fires rising eight percent since the year 2000. Fires cause more American deaths annually than all types of natural disasters combined, with a home fire being reported every eighty seconds in 2006 and someone dying every 204 minutes due to a home fire. Despite these statistics, only 26% of families have planned and practiced a fire escape plan.

What causes home fires in the U.S.? Cooking fires are the top cause of both home fires and fire-related injuries, with approximately two-thirds of cooking fires beginning on a stove or range. The second most common form of home fires is heating. While cooking and heating cause more fires overall, smoking is the top cause of home fire deaths.

Preventing Fires & Protecting Fire Victims
Home fires are preventable. The Red Cross reports that 74% of home fire deaths in 2005 occurred in residences that either had no smoke alarms or had none in working order. The risk of dying in a home fire is 82% lower in homes with sprinklers and smoke alarms than homes with neither safety device. Working fire extinguishers are another crucial fire safety tool, although it is important to exit to safety and call for help when a fire is too big to contain easily.

In a number of cases, the victim of a fire-related injury or the family of someone who died in a home fire may have a claim in civil court. Some of these claims involve product liability issues, such as when a faulty heater or malfunctioning electrical appliance sparks the blaze. Other cases may rest on landlord/tenant law, such as when a rental unit does not have proper safety devices or fails to comply with safety codes. Premises liability premises can also be applicable in some fire-related suits.

As a San Francisco injury attorney, Greg Brod understands these legal principles. Our team specializes in representing those with catastrophic injuries and the families of wrongful death victims. Call for a free consultation.

See Related Blog Posts:
Fires and Insurance Coverage Disputes

Legal Perspective on Property-Related Accidents

(Photo by Robert Linder)

Unexpected Sources of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in the Winter

December 3, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

Now that the winter season is here and the holiday season is in full swing, many find themselves staying home to stay warm from the cold outside or perhaps visiting the homes of family and friends. More often than not, activities in this time of year are mainly focused indoors. With this winter trend, many homes turn to trusty appliances – from gas space heaters, fireplaces, and furnaces – to keep their homes toasty and cozy for their family, friends and themselves. However, the increased use of these appliances unfortunately brings about a potentially lethal danger in carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Facts

Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when individuals have inhaled carbon monoxide, an odorless, toxic gas, preventing oxygen from being transported to different cells in the body. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, different levels of CO levels and the duration of exposure will greatly affect the symptoms and health effects of poisoning. Low concentration exposure can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pain. At moderate levels symptoms include angina, impaired vision, and reduced brain function. At high levels, impaired vision and coordination, headaches, dizziness, and nausea. It does not take prolonged exposure to result serious chronic health effects such as concentration problems, psychosis, Parkinson’s disease, memory impairment and even personality alterations. High exposure can even lead to death within minutes.

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Often, because of the similarity to flu symptoms, individuals do not realize that they have carbon monoxide poisoning and misdiagnose themselves. Official statistics claim that carbon monoxide poisoning kills 500 people every year, injuring another 20,000 but these numbers may actually be significantly higher as an estimated 1 of 10 cases are diagnosed.

Many people correlate carbon monoxide poisoning to gas car exhausts but carbon monoxide emissions can very well stem from household heating appliances. The reasons for these emissions can be a result of product defects or faulty products, poor ventilation, and improperly installed heaters and vents. In California, the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010 requires,

Residential property be equipped with a carbon monoxide detector when the property has a fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace, or an attached garage. All single family homes (owner or tenant occupied) must be equipped with a detector on or before July 1, 2011. All other residential units must be equipped with a detector on or before January 1, 2013.
Failure of compliance on the part of landlords or property owners can be a source of negligence if renters experience carbon monoxide poisoning in their dwellings. Along with builders, appliance manufacturers, repair companies, property owners and landlords can be held financial responsible for health effects experienced if they knew or had reason to know that a leak was likely to occur or if they had caused it through negligence on their part.

If you believe that you or a loved one has been exposed to carbon monoxide, our bay area personal injury law firm can assist. Carbon monoxide poisoning due to defective products, negligence, and liability for failure to should not occur and you may be rightly due damage restitution. Contact our office at (800) 427-7020 today for a free consultation.
Sources:
Carbon Monoxide Detectors Required by Law

Product Alert: Popular Cholesterol Drug Contaminated With Glass Particles

December 3, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

We take medications to protect our health and cure diseases. In doing so, we trust in our government regulation and in the manufacturers themselves to ensure that the benefits of the drugs outweigh potential adverse effects. At The Brod Law Firm, we know that medication errors and dangerous drugs are a very real problem. These cases are complex and often require significant expert analysis to determine whether a medication was unduly dangerous and the cause of a negative outcome. However, while even the victims of dangerous drugs may be uncertain of what caused their injuries, some cases of contaminated medication can be shockingly blatant. These cases leave our San Francisco product liability law firm, and the general public as a whole, stunned at how such glaring errors can occur in what should be a carefully controlled environment.

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According to CNN, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) recently advised consumers to stop taking a popular medication because the pills may be contaminated with small specks of glass. The medication at issue is a generic form of the cholesterol drug Lipitor that is manufactured by Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals, the world’s 12th largest maker of generic drugs and India’s largest pharmaceutical company. Although Ranbaxy initiated a recall of forty-one lots of the pills nearly three weeks ago, the FDA’s announcement on Thursday November 29 is the first time the agency told consumers to stop using the medication. Additionally, the FDA announced that Ranbaxy will stop manufacturing atorvastatin while the company and the administration investigate how the glass got into the pills.

Despite the FDA pronouncement, some pharmacies have told customers that it is safe to continue taking the medication. Brian Henry, the vice president of corporate communications for Express Scripts, explained the matter is a “pharmacy-level recall,” meaning the pharmacies themselves will stop dispensing contaminated lots of the pills but users could take already purchased medication, despite confirmation from the FDA that some pills from the lots at issue may have already reached consumers. Henry added that Express Scripts will not issue refunds on the medication. CNN also spoke with several CVS-based pharmacists who advised customers it was okay to take the medication but said they would replace the pills at a patient’s request.

Lisa Gill, Consumer Reports’ editor of prescription drugs, summed up the situation well, noting that “[t]he whole thing is confusing for consumers.” The FDA noted that the glass particles involved were tiny, only the size of a grain of sand, and said the likelihood of harm to consumers appears fairly low. In Thursday’s statement, the FDA told consumers to contact their pharmacies to find out whether or not the specific pills they had purchased were part of the lots involved in the recall. However, adding to the confusion, a spokesperson from the National Community Pharmacists Association said that pharmacists are generally not able to connect a bottle of pills to the original lot number. Of additional note is the fact that this is far from the first problem tied to Ranbaxy. The FDA has accused the manufacturer of taking shortcuts in quality control and exhibiting “a pattern of systemic fraudulent conduct.” In 2008, the FDA barred the company from importing thirty medications into the U.S. because of the widespread misbehavior.

It is hard to fathom how a pharmaceutical company could permit a contaminant like glass to find its way into an end product. Such a serious and grave error is cause for concern, as is the unclear response from regulatory oversight officials. As your San Francisco injury law firm, we are ready and able to assist Northern Californians harmed by the failure of companies to take proper care to ensure medications are manufactured in a safe environment that is free from dangerous contaminants. We also urge the FDA to work to deliver clear and effective guidance to a public that relies on the agency to protect it from unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies that fail to adhere to the most basic tenets of manufacturing safety.

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(Photo by Pam Roth via Stock.Xchng)

Toy Safety Reminder From Your San Francisco Injury Lawyer

November 26, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

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For many, after the Thanksgiving feast is eaten and the dishes cleared, the shopping begins. Parents and grandparents, including many of the members of our San Francisco injury law firm, search for the perfect gift to bring a smile to a child’s face and provide hours of fun in the year to come. While fun (and good deals!) is crucial, shoppers should also keep toy safety in mind as they shop for the holiday season ahead.

Toy Injury Statistics
Safe Kids USA, a nonprofit coalition aimed at preventing unintentional childhood injuries, provides a Toy Safety Fact Sheet that examines the problem of toy-related injuries. Per their research, since the year 2000, an average of 168,000 children (age fourteen and under) annually have needed emergency room treatment due to a toy-related injury. Half of these cases involve children under age five, with emergency room treatment for those young children totaling $385 million in 2001 alone. Additionally, since 2000, an average of twenty children have died each year due to a toy-related incident. While this is a small number compared to the three billion toys and games sold annually, even one accident is too many – especially when the victim is a child in your own life.

Toy Safety Tips
The United States Public Interest Research Group provides a useful tip sheet detailing some of the most common toy-related hazards. Some important dangers to keep in mind when shopping for toys:

• Choking – Choking is the number one cause of toy-related death. For children under three, avoid any toys with parts that are too small to fit through a toilet paper tube. Look for warnings on labels since manufacturers are required to warn of small parts on any toy aimed at ages three through six. Balloons and small balls (like rubber bouncing balls) are also a major choking hazard.
• Strangulation – Cords can get trapped on furniture or other items and strangle a child. Avoid products with cords or cut/remove them. In addition to toys, clothing and other products like mobiles and blinds can pose a strangulation danger.
• Magnets – Building toys, jewelry, and other products can include small, powerful magnets. Even a single magnet is dangerous if swallowed, but the danger grows if a child swallows two or more magnets which can lead to internal damage due to the magnetic attraction.
• “Button” Batteries – Small batteries are used in watches and many electronic toys and games. If a child swallows a battery, the acid can lead to severe, permanent injury and even death.
• Lead/Toxins – U.S. manufacturers have phased out lead and other toxins from toys, but older items (such as those purchased second-hand or passed down from family members) may can include dangerous chemicals. Toys imported from countries with more lax standards may also contain toxic chemicals. In addition to lead, toxic phthalates in PVC plastics pose a particular danger and may cause developmental disorders. Home tests for lead are available.
• Noise – Noise is a less recognized danger, but an important issue to consider because young ears are more vulnerable to damage. If the toy seems too loud to an adult, it is most likely too loud for a child. PIRG recommends removing batteries or placing tape over speakers to prevent hearing damage.

Representing Injured Children in Northern California
Accidents can happen, even in the most prepared home. Childhood injuries can cause a myriad of expenses, including costs associated with the lifelong impact of an early injury. If your child is injured by a dangerous toy, you may be able to file a claim on their behalf in civil court against the manufacturer and/or seller. Please call our San Francisco product liability firm for help protecting your child’s rights.


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San Francisco Injury Lawyer on the Rising Rate of Golf Cart Injuries

November 7, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

When people think about moving vehicle accidents, their minds usually turn first to car crashes. If pushed to think beyond automobiles, people might mention motorcycle or bicycle-involved accidents. The next list of vehicles would probably come from the mass transit category, including buses, trains, and even planes. However, our San Francisco injury lawyer knows that there are many kinds of vehicle accidents that wouldn’t make even the most thought-out lists. One such often-unrecognized but still quite real danger comes from golf cart accidents. The small vehicles have grown more powerful over the years, but operators still tend to take piloting a golf cart much less seriously than an automobile – a dangerous, even fatal, combination.
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Golf Cart Accidents: Safety & Stats
In 2008, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine published what many suggest was the first nationwide study focused on golf cart accidents and injuries (note: readers can access the full-text of the study with registration on the Journal’s website, a discussion of the report that informs this article is available on Newswise). The Center for Injury Research and Policy, a part of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, conducted the study based on data from hospital emergency departments in the United States across the seventeen year period from 1990 to 2006. During the entire span, the report found an estimated 148,000 golf cart related injuries occurred nationwide. Over the seventeen year span, golf-cart related injuries soared 132%, with approximately 5,770 reported injuries in 1990 growing to an estimated 13,411 injury cases in 2006.

What led to the rise and what sort of injuries resulted from the golf cart incidents? Over the years, manufacturers have built golf carts to go faster and to have more powerful engines. At the same time, the vehicles have been used in more contexts, extended well beyond the golf course to include other sporting events, national parks, hospitals, military bases, business parks, and college campuses. There are also some communities and resort areas where golf carts are the primary mode of transport and cars are limited of even forbidden for most people. The majority of golf cart related injuries, more than seventy percent, occurred at sporting events or other recreational facilities. However, accidents that occurred on a street were more likely to result in concussions and/or hospitalization. Overall, the highest number of injuries involved people who either fell or jumped off a cart. Children under age sixteen accounted for more than thirty percent of reported injuries, with children more likely to fall and suffer a head or neck injury requiring hospitalization.

In addition to calculating statistics, the study authors offered thoughts on reducing the number of golf cart related injuries. They recommended that children under age six not travel in carts because the vehicles lack child safety features. On a similar note, they suggested that only those aged sixteen and older be allowed to operate the carts. The study authors recommended a number of behavioral safety measures such as maintaining a reasonable speed, using seat belts, and braking with care. On the equipment side, the study suggested the use of four-wheel brakes and improved passenger restraints. In terms of facility-based safety, the report suggested facilities implement training/safety programs and require all operators possess a valid driver’s license. Additionally, the authors advocated for the use of safe design principles when planning pathways where carts will be travelling.

San Francisco Accident Lawyer
Whether you are injured in a car or on a golf cart, you have rights. Golf cart accidents can stem from faulty equipment, poorly maintained pathways, or the negligence of another operator. If you are hurt in any accident that is not your fault in the San Francisco, Oakland, or Sacramento region, please call. Our Northern California injury law firm is here to help.

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Products Liability Law: From Basketball Stars to Friends and Family

November 5, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

At The Brod Law Firm, our Sacramento injury lawyer believes that every client deserves his full attention, the benefit of his legal knowledge, and the advantage of the years of experience his whole legal team has representing victims in Northern California’s civil courts. When we work on product liability suits, we focus on linking the injury to the defective product and proving the extent of damages suffered as a result. Our job, and our dedication, is the same whether the client is a household name or known only in his/her own household. Still, the attention drawn to a celebrity case can help remind everyone that the law does provide remedies for those injured by a faulty product in California.
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Garcia and Kings Settle Product Liability Claim Over Defective Exercise Ball
As reported in The Sacramento Bee, the Sacramento Kings and Francisco Garcia, who has played for the team since being chosen as a first-round draft pick in 2005, recently settled product liability claims stemming from an accident tied to an exercise ball. On October 9, 2009, Garcia was working out and lifting weights while he balanced on a seventy-five centimeter Gymnic exercise ball. The ball unexpectedly burst, dropping the athlete forcibly to the floor while he continued to hold a ninety pound weight in each hand. According to Garcia’s complaint, he incurred serious injuries including a fracture to the right forearm. As a result of his injuries, Garcia missed four months of basketball in the first year of a five-year, $29.6 million contract extension. Due to an aggravation of the forearm injury, Garcia missed an additional two games this March. According to a study commissioned by the plaintiffs, the company warranted that the exercise ball was blast-resistant and able to withstand 600 pounds, but tests showed a similar ball burst with under only 400 pounds of weight.

Both the Kings and Garcia filed suit against Ledraplastic S.p.a., an Italian company. Garcia’s complaint sought an unspecified amount of compensation including damages for physical pain, mental suffering, and loss of future earnings. The Kings claimed a breach of manufacturer’s warranty and sought more than $4 million that the team was required to pay Garcia while he was sidelined due to the injury. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, the financial terms will be kept secret but the company agreed to send a letter to all their distributors that the product should only be used with body weight and never with weights. The letter will also advise that the distributors forward the warning letter to their customers.

California Product Liability Claims
At heart, the claims in Garcia’s lawsuit fall under products liability principles. California courts use a strict liability rule in products liability cases. The plaintiff in these cases does not need to prove that the defendant acted negligently. Instead, the plaintiff only needs to prove: 1) The product was not safe; 2) The plaintiff was injured; and 3) The product caused the injury. This rule recognizes how difficult it would be to prove that the plaintiff knew or should have known the product was dangerous or was otherwise negligent in manufacturing or selling the item.

California products liability claims usually revolve around one of three general theories of the case. These theories are: 1) Design defect (where the product’s design involves inherent dangers even though a safer alternative exists); 2) Manufacturing defect (where the design was generally safe but the item failed to adhere to the plan resulting in a dangerous item); and 3) Warning/Instructional defect (where a manufacturer or seller failed to provide a warning regarding a known danger). Notably, these theories do require proving both danger and a safer alternative but they do not require proving anything about the defendant’s intention or knowledge.

Our Firm, Our Promise
Greg Brod is an experienced Sacramento products liability attorney. Along with his team, he uses this knowledge to help every client recover compensation. Every case and every client gets the very best legal service because every client is important to us, whether or not their names are on the roster at Sleep Train Arena.

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Study Calls Attention to Rise in Foodborne Illness in 2012

October 29, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

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The CNN headline caught the attention of many, including our San Francisco food safety lawyer – the number of people dying or becoming ill due to contaminated food has risen a startling 44% since last year. A report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (“PIRG”) noted that 2011 saw 718 illnesses directly linked to recalled food nationwide. In only the first nine months of 2012, the number of illnesses attributed to recalled foods was 1,035. This 44% increase includes ailments traceable to products ranging from mangoes and cantaloupe to meat and nut butter. Notably, the number sickened in the recent nut butter recall has continued to rise, with the Center for Disease Control increasing the number of confirmed salmonella cases to thirty-five (it is not immediately clear if some cases would fall into October statistics and thus outside the period in PIRG’s report).

Overall, going beyond cases linked to formally recalled products, approximately 48 million people fall ill annually after consuming tainted food. The PIRG report emphasizes that the problem of foodborne illness is getting worse. Examining national health objective targets and actual 2010 data reveals that the only target met was for the incidence of E. Coli 0157. The incidence of salmonella, the culprit in the majority of hospitalizations and deaths associated with foodborne illness, was three times the stated target.

As we’ve previously discussed, the Food Safety Modernization Act became law two years ago. The legislation sought to improve food safety through several routes, including giving the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) more power to respond quickly and hold companies accountable when an outbreak of foodborne illness occurs. However, budget concerns have prevented the law from being fully implemented and the main thrust of the law’s regulatory framework remains in governmental limbo with no established timeframe for the Act to move forward. PIRG’s report criticizes this delayed implementation and planned cuts in FDA funding. Additionally, PIRG criticizes the failure of the FDA to keep pace with increasing demands for inspection of foods imported from abroad (approximately 15% of all food consumed in the U.S. and up to two-thirds of fruits and vegetables are imported). PIRG calls for improved funding for the FDA and for the agency to create more concrete, specified inspection standards that include unannounced visits. The group also urges improved coordination between the FDA and other agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In reply, the FDA notes that the rule-making process is time-consuming and the main federal budget group adds that they have taken important steps such as tackling the problem of salmonella in eggs and expanding E. Coli testing on beef products.

Politics and funding debates aside, foodborne illness is a serious matter. Our San Francisco contaminated food lawyer is ready and able to represent people sickened by tainted food in Northern California or to bring suit on behalf of those who’ve lost a loved one due to food contamination. Whether the source of the illness is the manufacturer/supplier or a restaurant with inadequate food safety processes, we can help. Where appropriate, we are also prepared to bring a class action on behalf of a group of people impacted by the same outbreak via a products liability or other injury claim. Please call to schedule a free consultation.

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Meningitis Outbreak Linked to Contaminated Drugs

October 17, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

One of the stories dominating the headlines in recent weeks is the outbreak of fungal meningitis stemming from contaminated medications. As a San Francisco dangerous drugs law firm, we strongly believe that Americans should be able to trust the medicine they receive, whether purchased from a pharmacist, bought over the counter, or obtained directly from a provider during a medical procedure. The current outbreak is yet another reminder of the dangers involved with bad drugs.

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Overview of the Outbreak
According to a report from CNN released early on Tuesday October 16, fifteen people had died as a result of the fungal meningitis outbreak. Authorities traced the outbreak to a contaminated steroid, methylprednisolone acetate. The drug is produced by the New England Compounding Center and the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) recently estimated that medical offices gave the injectable product to approximately 14,000 people. The CDC reports that 214 cases of the disease have been linked to the contaminated medication, with cases spread across fifteen states. As a quick note, compounding pharmacies combine various ingredients to create a medication specifically made for a particular patient.

Meningitis is a condition in which the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord become inflamed. Most cases of meningitis are caused by an infection, usually due to a virus or bacteria. Less frequently, meningitis can be traced to other pathogens such as the fungus at issue in the current outbreak. Unlike many other forms, fungal meningitis is not contagious. However, experts note that fungal infections are often serious. In addition to the common meningitis symptoms such as headache, nausea, stiff neck, and fever, patients with fungal meningitis can also experience dizziness, confusion, and problems dealing with bright lights. People concerned about potential infection should know that not all patients will have all of the symptoms.

Response to Concerns About Contaminated Medication
Investigators are also looking into whether other products produced by the New England Compounding Center may have been contaminated. The Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) noted that a patient who received an injection of triamcinolone acetonide, another NECC product, may also have meningitis. Additionally, a patient who underwent open-heart surgery using a cardioplegic solution (a product that induces heart paralysis during open-heart surgery) from NECC, has contracted a different form of fungal infection. The FDA noted the investigation of that case is still ongoing and the fungus may have come from another source.

Last Friday, Congress announced an expansion of their investigation into the outbreak. A House committee recently sent a notice to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy, noting that this is not the first time that overseers have voiced concerns about the NECC (which is located in Framingham, MA). In 2006, the FDA sent a warning letter to the company that detailed significant violations witnessed by the agency’s investigators the prior year. Responding to the current problems, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick also accused the company of misleading regulators and going beyond its license by shipping large amounts of their compounded drugs across the country. The state’s pharmacy board is also mandating that all compounding pharmacies in Massachusetts sign affidavits verifying their compliance with state regulations requiring that medications are mixed for use by specific patients.

In response to the outbreak, NECC announced a recall of all its products on October 6. Additionally, the FDA has raised concerns about the sterility of all NECC injectable drugs and stated that all patients who received the medications already should be notified of the potential risk of infection.

Help for Victims of Contaminated Drugs in Northern California
We hope that no more patients fall ill due to the current outbreak and that the incident leads to greater caution in compounding pharmacies and other pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities. If you or a loved one has fallen ill due to an NECC product or other contaminated medication, please call our office. Our San Francisco product liability law firm is ready and able to assist victims of dangerous drugs.

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San Francisco Consumer Law Firm Applauds Ruling on the Use of the Term “Natural” on Food Labels

October 15, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

More and more Americans are looking to avoid too many processed chemicals and purchase more natural food products. While some people inspect every ingredient list, many rely on claims on the face of the product. Food labeling is a complex mix of marketing and truth, making it inevitable that consumers would eventually call a company to task over labeling claims.

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Overview & Initial Rulings in Case About Food Labeling
Our San Francisco class action law firm is closely following a developing case about the use of the word “natural” on food labels. A group of plaintiffs filed a class action in a California federal court against Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream. As detailed in a newsletter for the supermarket industry, the plaintiffs challenged the company’s labels and advertising that called certain products “all natural.” The class asserted that the claims were false and misleading given that the products contain between one and five synthetic and/or artificial ingredients (these will collectively be referred to as “artificial ingredients” in this article) and because one package fails to disclose that the cocoa in the product was processed using artificial agents.

The court recently released a decision on the company’s motion to dismiss. In the ruling, the court dismissed certain claims brought under a federal warranty act, finding that the presence of artificial ingredients does not constitute a defect under the specific law. The court next turned to the false advertising claims filed under California state law. As an initial matter, the parties argued about issues of preemption and Dreyer’s suggested they complied with federal labeling regulations so could not be found liable under state law. In response, the plaintiffs asserted that the state law borrows from the federal standards and that the company failed to meet either making them liable under the state provision, specifically California Business & Professions Code section 17200.

Court Allows Plaintiffs to Proceed on Claims that “Natural” Label May Be Misleading
Moving on to the substantive claims, the court agreed with the plaintiff class that a reasonable person could interpret the phrase “All Natural Flavors” to mean “all natural ingredients.” In doing so, the court declined to dismiss the claims on that basis. The court did suggest it was a bit skeptical of the plaintiffs’ interpretation, but it allowed the claim to move forward meaning it will be decided at trial.

Next, the court examined the plaintiffs’ argument that the “All Natural Ice Cream” language on certain products, particularly the Haagen-Daas brand, was also misleading. The company asked the court to dismiss these claims, noting that ice cream is neither a wholesome/healthy food nor a natural product and attempting to distinguish the mix-ins from the ice cream itself. The court rejected Dreyers’ contentions, finding the plaintiffs did not claim ice cream was a natural or healthy product but instead suggested the label implied the entire product contained natural ingredients. Additionally, the court said Dreyers could not separate the mix-ins from the base of the ice cream and refused to allow the company to rely on the ingredients list to clarify/correct a potentially misleading label on the front of the package. Commenting on the same labeling claim, the court also noted that just because manufacturers commonly use an ingredient does not mean it satisfies statutory language declaring that natural means nothing artificial has been added that would not normally be expected in the product. The court noted that a reasonable consumer may not have the same understanding as an industry manufacturer.

Understanding the Importance of the Ruling
The court’s recent ruling is not a final judgment but rather a decision to allow an early motion to dismiss claims on the special warranty act and refusing to issue a similar early dismissal of the claim that certain labels were misleading. A ruling of this sort is very important from a plaintiffs’ standpoint since it forces the defendant to move forward instead of finding that there was no valid claim. In some cases, surviving a motion to dismiss can help the plaintiffs push for a settlement. This case also suggests that the court is taking the plaintiffs’ claims seriously and is concerned that labels using the term “natural” may be deceptive. While not a final ruling, this is a win for California consumers who want honest and clear labeling.

At the Brod Law Firm, we advocate for California consumers. Our San Francisco food safety lawyer applauds the United States District Court, Northern District of California for taking steps to protect food purchasers and require honest labeling.

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San Francisco Injury Attorney on Food Safety Law

September 24, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

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Few things are as important to our daily lives as food safety. We should not have to worry about falling ill because food companies or other organizations failed to adequately protect the safety of our food supply. Our San Francisco food safety law firm is committed to helping people made seriously ill by tainted food to recover compensation from manufacturers, sellers, or anyone else in the supply chain who bore responsibility for the unsafe products.

Consumer advocates and victim’s rights lawyers have long warned that the nation’s laws failed to fully protect Americans from foodborne illnesses. While many companies and industry groups do take steps to ensure product safety, the law lagged behind. One step to improve this system came with the signing of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010 (“FSMA”) on January 2, 2011. The federal government stated that the intent of the law is to ensure food safety by taking a more proactive role, preventing contamination instead of merely responding to outbreaks of foodborne illness. Through the FSMA, the FDA gained enhanced authority and some new powers. The FDA is also required do engage in rulemaking to produce a number of guidance documents and to prepare strategies, standards, plans, and other important reports.

FDA duties and powers under the FDMA can be broken down into several categories, with a number of components to each:

Prevention - FDA must create and require mandatory preventative controls for food-related facilities; FDA must establish produce safety standards based on scientific evidence; FDA shall issue regulations aimed at preventing contamination from international sources

Inspection & Compliance – Requires the FDA to inspect food facilities more often, meeting set frequency requirements based on risk levels; Provides FDA access to certain company safety record; Directs FDA to establish program to accredit laboratories to carry out food testing.

Response to violations or contamination/illness – Grants the FDA the power to issue a mandatory recall if a company declines to issue a voluntary recall of unsafe food following an FDA request; Creates a more flexible standard to allow the FDA to detain products that may violate the law; Allows FDA to suspend a facility’s registration if the agency finds a reasonable probability the food will cause death or serious negative health consequences; Directs FDA to create an improved system to track and trace foods, both domestic and imported; Requires the FDA issue record-keeping rules for foods designated as high-risk

Further protections on imported goods – Creates additional rules aimed at ensuring the safety of imported food items.

Enhanced partnerships – Builds relationships with both domestic and foreign agencies including helping states and localities enhance their own safety systems, creating training for foreign governments and industries, and use the resources of other federal, state, and local agencies to carry out increased responsibilities.

According to a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 48 million Americans get sick from a foodborne disease. Food-related illness is never fun, but most illnesses resolve themselves. However, some foodborne illnesses are much more serious or involve a more vulnerable patient. Across the country, 128,000 people are hospitalized and approximately 3,000 die annually from foodborne disease. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious illness due to contaminated food in San Francisco or anywhere in Northern California, please call The Brod Firm. We can help you recover damages from suppliers, manufacturers, and any other party responsible for the contaminated product. Together, we can also help remind the industry that unsafe food will not be tolerated in our community.

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Dangerous Drug Alert: Potentially Risky Hormone Therapy Aimed at Aging Men

September 10, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

The recent spate of advertisements focusing on life-enhancement through medical science. While making these advancements, the companies are also working to market their new product to consumers, a process that sometimes has two steps: 1) Convincing the customer that they are facing a meaningful health issue, and 2) Convincing the customer that the product is an effective treatment for said condition. Uncertainty about both the condition and the treatment can lead to poor results when the product is ultimately used. Our San Francisco products liability team works to help the victims of dangerous drugs recover when companies market and sell unsafe medications.

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Abbott Laboratories manufacturers Androgel, a testosterone gel used by millions of men worried about low testosterone (“Low T”) levels as they age. Testosterone levels decline starting around age forty and drugmakers, along with some physicians, have touted the benefits of gel for reversing some signs of aging. However, as discussed in an Associated Press article carried by the San Francisco Chronicle, there is a disturbing lack of evidence supporting the treatment. The Low T debate is only one example of the increase in attention to problems once considered a normal part of the aging process. With the aging baby boomer population and longer life expectancy, drug companies and others have targeted age-related changes with promises of longer youth. Print and television advertisements targeted testosterone treatments rose more than 170 percent in the past three years with over $14 million spent in 2011, leading to a 90 percent rise in the number of prescriptions in the last five years.

As a whole, testosterone therapy is not entirely new. Injections have long been used to treat certain medical conditions that lead to a drop in the hormone. However, the latest push markets the hormone to a wider range of otherwise healthy men. Some researchers worry that the treatments are being marketed without sufficient scientific support, including disagreement about what constitutes a normal hormone level in older men. Further, there is little understanding as to whether replacement therapy actually helps symptoms that advertisers associate with Low T. In one study on 230 men in 2008, treatment did not statistically improve muscle strength, bone density, or overall quality of life. Another study is currently underway through the National Institute on Aging, but results aren’t expected until 2014.

Even more disconcerting is the lack of studies examining the long-term side effects of the hormone treatments, including a risk of heart problems and prostate cancer. Researchers halted one study at Boston University in 2010 after finding older men on the treatment were five times more likely to experience a serious heart event than those using a placebo. Nineteen other trials conducted in 2006 also found a significant increase in prostate cancer among those using the hormone. Another 2006 study by the Endocrine Society on testosterone treatment involved six co-authors, all of whom received consulting or research fees from drug makers for creating prescribing guidelines for doctors using the hormone. Those researchers still did urge caution, casting further doubt on the safety of the therapies.

Medicine can be life-saving. The discovery and use of penicillin truly revolutionized the world. However, sometimes drug companies put profits above health care. If you or a loved one has suffered an adverse effect from a medication, please contact our San Francisco dangerous drug law firm.

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Bumbo Recalls Baby Seats for the Second Time

August 21, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

Bumbo%20sticker.jpg Bumbo International and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a voluntary recall of Bumbo baby seats on August 15. The Bumbo baby seat is sold at major retail stores, such as Walmart, Toys R Us, and Target. The recall follows at least 50 reports of children falling out of the baby seat during use on a raised surface. The same baby seats were recalled in October 2007 after 28 reports came in to the CPSC that babies arched and wiggled their way out of the seats and fell out. Three of these incidents resulted in skull fractures. Bumbo recalled the seats and added a label on the seats warning against use on raised surfaces. Since 2007, there have been nineteen other reports of skull fractures in babies that maneuvered out of the seat and at least 34 reports of other injuries.

Bumbo is issuing a free repair kit to consumer who bought the baby seat.The repair kit includes a restraint belt with installation instructions and an additional warning sticker. The sticker admonishes consumers to use the restraint belt at all times and to supervise the baby constantly while using the seat. It warns against using the seat on raised surfaces such as beds or chairs and against using it the seat as a booster or to carry a baby. More information on ordering a free repair kit is available on Bumbo’s website.

Bumbo is vulnerable to lawsuits for product liability. According to California Civil Jury Instructions section 1204, in order to bring a products liability case against a defendant, a plaintiff must prove:

  • the defendant sells the product
  • the product was defective at the time it was sold or that any changes made to the product were reasonably foreseeable
  • the plaintiff suffered injury
  • the product caused the injury.

In California, the defendant does not need to have previous knowledge that the product was defective to be liable for it.

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San Francisco Product Liability Attorney Comments on Danger of Tread Separation as Michelin Recalls Over 840,000 Tires

July 30, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

The Brod Law Firm believes that Californians should be able to trust the safety of products sold to and used by residents of The Golden State. As a San Francisco product liability law firm, we help consumers injured by defective products recover compensation through both individual and class action lawsuits. Since we also represent many people injured in car accidents, we know that it is particularly dangerous when the defective product is a car or automotive part.

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On Thursday, Michelin announced a voluntary recall of approximately 841,000 tires sold under the BFGoodrich and Uniroyal brands. According to the AP report carried by The San Francisco Chronicle, the treads can separate resulting in rapid air loss. While no injuries or deaths have been linked to the tires, quality-control workers noticed an uptick in problems associated with the tires this year. According to Michelin, separation has occurred in fewer than 150 tires but the company felt a recall was necessary in order to protect driver safety.

The recall involves replacement tires manufactured from April 2010 until early 2012 and used on heavy duty, full-sized vans and commercial light trucks. The specific tires involved in the recall are BFGoodrich commercial tires LT 235/85 and LT245/75 and Uniroyal Laredo tires LT 235/85 and LT245/75. Michelin has set-up a toll-free number and web sites for consumers and will replace the tires at no charge.

Michelin is not the only company to have had a problem with tread separation. Authorities linked more than two hundred deaths and three thousand serious injuries to a tread separation defect that led Firestone to recall millions of tires in 2000. Firestone and Ford battled over who was legally responsible for that epidemic of accidents, but experts agreed that tire problems were to blame. As recently as this February, tire separation concerns led to Goodyear issuing a recall of approximately 40,000 Wrangler Silent Armor tires.

Tread separation occurs when the tire’s tread separates from the body of the tire, also called the casing. It is seen most often with tires for large cargo trucks because new tires are very expensive so owners/operators often opt to use retreads or recaps, placing a new tread on a reconditioned carcass. In the case of passenger car tires, separation can often be identified and remedied before the point where it leads to a blowout or other failure.

Manufacturer’s defect is one of the leading causes of tread separation. A problem in the chemical process can prevent the tread and steel belting from properly bonding to the tire casing. In only a short period of time, a defective tire will show signs of a balance problem. A bump will then appear in the tread. With further use, this bubble will expand and continue to grow until tire failure occurs.

Tread separation can also be caused by improper flat repair. This occurs when a puncture is not prepared correctly, allowing the tip of the repair plug to cause tire separation. Once separation caused by improper repair begins, it cannot be corrected and will continue until the tire fails or is replaced. Other causes of tread separation include over-inflation, hitting a large pothole at a high speed, or excessive wear.

Defective tires are dangerous and even deadly. Tire manufacturers must be held to a high standard of excellence and tread separation stemming from manufacturer defect cannot be tolerated. Our San Francisco tire defect attorney will fight for victims who have been injured or lost a loved one due to a manufacturing defect. Where appropriate, we are also prepared to bring a class action suit against tire manufacturers. Product liability claims provide vital compensation and send a strong message to the tire industry demanding that they make safety a top priority.

For more information on tread separation see Autos.com.

Ford Recalls Escape SUVs: Car Recalls and Product Liability Concerns

July 23, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

At The Brod Law Firm, we help clients with a range of issues including car accidents and injuries stemming from defective products. Sometimes, these two areas of law can intersect when a faulty car part is a factor in a collision. Our experience in both arenas allows our team to be an effective law firm for defective car injuries in Northern California.
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This weekend, The San Francisco Chronicle carried an Associated Press report about a recent car recall. The recall impacted a newly released model of Ford’s Escape SUV. Ford announced the recall, stating that there was a risk of engine fire in the affected vehicles. According to the report, the problem stemmed from a manufacturing issue at a separate company that makes fuel lines for some Ford vehicles. In Ford’s report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the company identified the fuel lines as a batch manufactured by TI Group Automotive Systems in Indiana. The lines were allegedly mechanically scored or otherwise damaged on the outside, creating the potential that the lines would split when pressed over a connector fitting. This split could cause fuel to leak and potentially ignite.

Ford’s newly announced recall involves 11,500 Escape vehicles. The issue is confined to 2013 Escapes that are equipped with 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engines. Luckily, only 4,800 of the SUVs have been purchased so the recall should be more effective than a broader recall impacting a larger number of vehicles, especially those old enough to have changed hands since initial purchase. Ford has urged that owners, including purchasers in both the U.S. and Canada, should not drive the automobiles and should contact their dealer for assistance to get the SUV picked up and also get access to a loaner vehicle. In an e-mail, the spokesperson for TI Automotive said they are working with the car company to clearly identify the root cause and find a solution.

Ford first began to look into the problem after an Escape caught fire on June 9 while a company employee was driving it from the assembly plant in Louisville, Kentucky to a holding lot for shipping. Two more fires followed, one of which occurred on June 18 when a Canadian customer was driving the car. Ford was able to trace the problem to the fuel line and the company approved the recall on July 16. The line problem recall follows a prior recall involving more than 10,000 Escapes that had problems with carpet padding that could interfere with braking.

Thankfully, the recent fires did not cause injury to either customers of employees. Often, car recalls follow a number of people reporting similar problems to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. Recalls can be initiated by the manufacturer or by the government if the company does not take that initiative. Parts of vehicles can also be subject to a recall.

In some cases, consumers may be able to file a product liability lawsuit involving a recalled vehicle or part. The intersection between product liability principles and recall is complex. Recalls can also be an issue in traditional car crash cases if the driver at fault failed to respond reasonably when they had notice of a product recall.

If you have been injured due to a defective car or car part, please call our firm. Our San Francisco defective car lawyer can help you sort through the facts, apply the law, and win the damages you deserve.

Find information about recalled products, including motor vehicles, see Recalls.Gov, a resource tied to the National Highway Safety Administration.

Lawsuit Following Salmonella Death Reminds the Food Industry that Public Health Must Be a Top Concern

June 6, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

Obtaining compensation for victims is an important goal of our Oakland injury law firm, but it is not the only one. Representing plaintiffs in civil court cases, such as a contaminated food lawsuit in California, helps us send an important message to both companies and individuals. Holding people and organizations accountable for illness and injury caused by their actions tells them that our Northern California community will not tolerate decisions that ignore public safety.

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The Oakland Tribune is reporting on a wrongful death lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court against a Castro Valley restaurant and an Iowa egg farm. The suit claims that both the farm and the steakhouse are liable for selling and distributing contaminated food and for negligence in failing to ensure the eggs were contaminant-free.

According to the complaint, Mate Marlais fell ill due to the salmonella bacteria after eating eggs “over-easy” served to him on June 7, 2010 at El Rancho Steakhouse. The 89 year-old was found in a pool of diarrhea a few days after eating the eggs. He was taken to the hospital in a state of shock and died when the family removed him from life support. Officials linked the eggs served at the restaurant to the Wright County Egg Farm in Iowa. The farm’s products were cited as the source in more than 1,300 illnesses nationwide, including 266 cases in California. Marlais is the only person whose death was confirmed to have stemmed from the products. In the wake of the salmonella outbreak, more than a half-billion eggs that originated from the Iowa farm were recalled.

Salmonella bacteria is one of the most common culprits in food poisoning. Exposure can often be traced to contaminated beef, poultry, milk or egg. Food can become contaminated when handlers neglect to wash their hands thoroughly after using the bathroom. Animals can also carry the salmonella bacteria. Proper food handling techniques can help prevent salmonella exposure.

Approximately 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported each year in the United States. The number of actual infections is likely much higher since many cases cause relatively minor illness and thus are unreported. Generally, symptoms develop within twelve to seventy-two hours of exposure. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. Usually illness last from four to seven days. Most people recover without medical treatment, although dehydration can result from the symptoms and may require hospitalization. More severe infections can and do occur, especially in children, the elderly, or people with impaired immune systems. It is estimated that about thirty people die annually from salmonella-related illnesses in the United States.

It is important to hold companies accountable when proper care is not taken to ensure our food is safe to eat. While not every illness should give rise to litigation, a lawsuit can be appropriate in some circumstances. Please call our office for a free consultation to discuss whether you may have a legal claim stemming from contaminated food.

See Related Blog Posts:
Raw Milk Recall Lifted But Caution Still Key to Prevent Food Related Illnesses
Contaminated Turkey Sold to Consumers in the San Francisco Bay Area

Exposure to Lead from Consumer Products is Not a Thing of the Past

June 1, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

Since 1986, Proposition 65 requires that businesses with more than ten employees give clear and reasonable warning before knowingly exposing Californians to toxic chemicals. In the last five years, lead has been found in numerous products by non-profit testing centers. The California Attorney General has filed multiple lawsuits against high profile companies for notice violations and for exposing consumers to levels of lead that exceed federal standards.

For example, in 2008 the Attorney General and the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) filed suit against two of the largest manufacturers of artificial turf: FieldTurf USA, Inc. and Beaulieu. The CEH found instances of artificial turf fields that were installed before 2004 that had high levels of lead. The lead is found with the plastics that help keep the turf’s color bright. lawsuit against multiple bounce house companies that failed to warn consumers of high levels of lead found in the vinyl with which the house were made. Once again the lead helped to keep the vibrant colored inflatable houses bright. The manufacturer of the vinyl had labeled it as lead free, yet when tested lead was found at high levels. Two of the biggest inflatable bounce house companies, Ninja Jump and eInflatable, agreed in a settlement to better monitor for toxics present in their product.

In 2006, the Office of the Attorney General had come to an agreement with high profile stores such as Target, Styles for Less, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and others to halt sales of jewelry with high lead content. Yet, in 2011 the Attorney General sent out 15 Violation Notice letters to various retailers, which included Target and Nordstrom. In February 2011, the CEH tested jewelry at Styles for Less whose main market is adolescents. One piece of honey with an excessive level of lead. The CEH alleges that the barrels that held the honey leached lead into it.

Lead is a naturally occurring metal that is present in small amounts in the earth’s crust. Lead is a ubiquitous metal, used in a lot of industry. However, high levels of lead exposure can lead to anemia, decreased function of the kidneys and liver, and weakness in extremities, like fingers. Lead is most toxic to children. In 2006 a young boy died after ingesting a small pendant that was made with lead. Proposition 65 has helped to inform consumers about the products they are buying and encourage manufacturers to pay close attention to the components in their products. Unfortunately, products do slip by that contain toxic chemicals, which results in hundreds of settlements each year for violating the act.

Continue reading "Exposure to Lead from Consumer Products is Not a Thing of the Past" »

Man and His Wife Awarded $11.4 Million for Injury on the Job Caused by Defective Hub

May 25, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

Back%20wheel.jpg Most people who are injured on the job look to worker’s compensation to support them while they are unable to work. In some cases there may be another option as well. Raymond Mariolle, a garbage collector for Waste Management, sued the manufacturer of the truck he used at work for product liability and won to the tune of $11.4 million.

In 2007, the front tire of the garbage truck Raymond Mariolle was using during his rounds came off due to a defective hub assembly. The hub houses the wheel bearing, which supports the weight of the vehicle. Worn down or defective bearings may allow the wheel to become loose and vibrate. The wheel on Mariolle’s garbage truck loosened and came off as a result of the defective hub assembly and Mariolle suffered a compression injury to his spine, which ultimately made him permanently disabled. According to the Contra Costa Times, the manufacturer of the hubs, Consolidated Metco, Inc. realized that some 15,000-25,000 defective hubs were being used on large service trucks as early as 2004, but they never noticed the truck owners. The hubs had the propensity to break under loads they should have been able to carry.

Because a third party contributed to his workplace injury, Mariolle sued the manufacturers involved with the production of the garbage trucks used by Waste Management. Products liability, such as in the above case, is one of the most common personal injury claims for injuries that occur on the job. The Contra Costa Times reported that the $11.4 million that the U.S. District Court jury awarded Mariolle breaks down as $2.4 million for past and future medical expenses and lost earning capacity, $7.5 million for pain and suffering, and $1.5 million for Mariolle’s wife for loss of consortium. The high award in this case is consistent with the findings of research on the topic. A study by RAND found that product liability cases are harder to win than auto accident cases, but that the awards tend to be much higher. The paper Putting a Price on Pain-and-Suffering Damages from the Northwestern University Law Review cites a study that found (logically) the more serious and permanent an injury is, the higher the award. In many personal injury cases pain and suffering can add up to around 50% of the total award for damages. In Mariolle’s case, pain and suffering constituted about 66% of the total award.

It is important to search out a lawyer who understands how juries monetize non-economic damages in injury cases in order to obtain a higher award according to the client’s circumstances.

Continue reading "Man and His Wife Awarded $11.4 Million for Injury on the Job Caused by Defective Hub" »

Controversial Pesticide Pulled By Manufacturer From California Market

March 23, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

As your San Francisco dangerous chemicals law firm, the team at The Brod Law Firm believes that it is vital for both companies and regulatory officials to prioritize consumer safety. We are prepared to help victims of chemical exposure file San Francisco products liability lawsuits and other related claims to help residents recover when dangerous chemicals cause illness or injury. We fundamentally believe, however, that preventing the community from being exposed to harmful chemicals upfront is always preferable to dealing with illness and injury in the aftermath of exposure.

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The San Francisco Chronicle reported this week on a positive move towards safety in California’s agricultural arena. Manufacturers of methyl iodide, a pesticide used in growing strawberries, have announced that the product will be pulled from the market in California and throughout the United States. Arysta LifeScience Corporation, a Japanese company, has cited economic factors in the decision to discontinue sales. The company has also voluntarily cancelled its registration permitting the sale of methyl iodide in California.

Although the company did not cite safety concerns in their statements, environmental groups have been lobbying against the product since it was first approved for use in our state. In 2007, federal authorities approved the use of methyl iodide as a temporary bridge between methyl bromide, a product known to contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer, and to-be-developed environmentally friendly options. In 2010, the pesticide was specifically approved by the state for use by California farms. Opponents to the product, including many in the public health arena, believe that the company is a possible carcinogen and that use of methyl iodide exposes residents who live or work near treated fields to fumes that might raise their cancer risk. Use of the pesticide has been limited, likely due to a high-profile campaign against the chemical

The decision to halt methyl iodide sales is not without controversy. Some groups representing farmers, including the California Farm Bureau Federation, believe that the pesticide is still needed because the envisioned greener alternative will not be available in a timely fashion. The groups say that the decision to halt sales will hamper the ability of farmers in the state to produce the high-quality, high-volume products needed to compete with foreign growers.

We understand that it is important to give area businesses the tools necessary to compete in an increasingly global market. We support efforts to help local growers and encourage campaigns to get Californians to eat locally grown produce. These efforts, however, cannot be blind to safety. Farms should be the epitome of health, not a source of exposure to dangerous chemicals.

If you have suffered harm due to dangerous chemicals in Northern California, please contact our San Francisco injury lawyer. We can help you recover compensation for your illness and send the message that unsafe products will not be tolerated.

See Related Blog Posts:
Local Authorities Move to Limit Dangerous Rodent Poisons
California Consumers Should Be Wary About Poisons and Pesticides in the Home

Local Authorities Move to Limit Dangerous Rodent Poisons

February 24, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

Our Oakland product liability lawyer believes consumers should be protected from dangerous products in Northern California. We especially applaud efforts by our communities to protect children, a group that is particularly vulnerable to dangerous household goods.
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The Oakland Tribune reported this week that Richmond is joining several area communities in attempting to protect our children and pets from dangerous rodent poisons. The Richmond City Council approved a measure, similar to those already in place in Albany and San Francisco, asking retailers to voluntarily stop sales of certain pest control products. Similar products have already been banned by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The ban covers particularly toxic formulas as well as loose pellet poisons. In 2008, EPA officials requested that manufacturers re-tool their products so that the poisonous bait is in stations that are inaccessible to children and household pets. Manufacturers were asked to comply by June 2011 but not all makers have done so and the EPA is taking steps to remove the offending products. This process, however, takes time to accomplish and moves like that in Richmond attempt to control the ongoing problem.

The Tribune cites the American Association of Poison Control Centers, noting that between 12,000 and 15,000 cases of children being exposed to rodent poison are reported annually. Unreported cases make the actual number of children impacted significantly higher. The fact that rodent poisons are often placed on the floor makes young children especially vulnerable. Pets also frequently ingest the products, with one group noting that nearly half of all animals test positive for exposure to rodent poisons.

There are safer alternatives on the market that can help control pest problems with less risk to children and domestic animals. The EPA’s website provides guidance on safer alternatives. The agency notes that households with young children and animals need to be particularly cautious when selecting a pest control products. Further, the agency mandates approval of bait station formats, limits on the amount of bait permitted in a residential product, and forbids certain active ingredients from being marketed directly to residential customers. Traps may also be an option for some homeowners and both live and lethal traps are on the market.

If, despite exercising precautions, a child is exposed to a rodent poison, immediately call Poison Control or your local hospital for directions. The number for the national poisoning hotline is 1-800-222-1222. Have the product name available when you call and, if possible, the EPA registration number. Additional questions about rodent poisons can also be directed to the National Pesticide Information Center at at 1-800-858-7378.

As an Oakland dangerous product law firm, The Brod Firm recognizes that certain products are inherently dangerous. The law does, however, provide recourse if a product poses unnecessary dangers. If your child has suffered harm due to a dangerous product in Oakland, please contact our team to discuss whether a legal remedy may be appropriate in your unique circumstances.

See Related Blog Posts:California Consumers Should Be Wary About Poisons and Pesticides in the Home
San Francisco Product Liability Attorney Comments on Harmful Canned Foods

Malfunctioning Spinbrush Brand Toothbrushes Cause Chipped Teeth and Other Serious Injuries

February 18, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

electric_toothbrush_1.jpgThe Federal Drug Administration (FDA) released a Consumer Update on February 16, 2012 warning consumers of multiple issues with the Arm and Hammer Spinbrush (called the Crest Spinbrush before 2009). All nine models of the Spinbrush are being recalled, including the Spinbrush for Kids and the replacement heads themselves.

The Spinbrush has a removable head which has been known to detach unexpectedly exposing the metal piece to which it is connected. The metal piece has jabbed brushers in the cheek, lips, and even eyes causing multiple injuries. In other cases, the toothbrush head popped off in the mouth, chipping teeth, which, if swallowed constitute a choking hazard. Although the Spinbrush for Kids does not have a removable head, problems have been reported with this model as well. Reportedly, bristles may become loose and detach posing a choking hazard to children. Other reports include cut lips and burns from overheating batteries.

Unfortunately, the Spinbrush has a dogged history. Proctor and Gamble initiated a recall for its Crest Spinbrush in November 2004, admitting that the removable head had detached in a small number of brushes. At that time, there were 7.5 million Spinbrushes were in distribution nationwide. Since then, the number has risen to over 22 million distributed internationally, as cited in the latest recall of the Spinbrush.

In May 2011, the FDA issued a warning letter to Church and Dwight Co. Inc., which manufactures the Spinbrush, admonishing the company for repeatedly failing to file Medical Device Reports within 30 days of being notified about serious mouth injuries and chipped teeth caused by the Spinbrush. Moreover, once the company submitted the late Medical Device Report, it failed to designate the injuries as serious, although chipped teeth, cuts to the mouth and eye, and reports of choking are deemed serious by the FDA’s, and most people’s, standards.

The next recall followed on January 25, 2012 for the same reasons. The FDA’s latest Consumer Update is yet another sign that the problems with the Spinbrush have not been addressed. Church and Dwight Co. Inc. has recently taken actions to remedy the problem with the Spinbrush. It added a label to the packaging warning consumers to change the replacement head every three months to avoid wear that could lead to the head malfunctioning. It also added colored bristles that fade to signal that the replacement head should be changed. Finally, it issued safety notices on television and in print.

California law places strict liability of companies doing business in the state. Manufacturers and distributors that send out defective products are generally liable for harm caused by their products. There are also more specific causes of actions, which may apply to the Spinbrush, including, but not limited to, design defect and consumer expectations and negligence to recall/retrofit.

The California Civil Jury Instructions states that a design can be proved to be defective if it did not perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would have expected it to perform. To establish this claim, a plaintiff must prove all of the following:

  1. That the defendant manufactured/distributed/sold the product;
  2. That, at the time of the use, the product was substantially the same as when it left the defendant's possession or that any changes made to the product after it left defendant's possession were reasonably foreseeable to defendant;

  3. That the product did not perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would have expected at the time of use; and

  4. That the product was used or misused in a way that was reasonably foreseeable to defendant.

The California Civil Jury Instructions states that a plaintiff may claim that the defendant was negligent because defendant failed to recall or retrofit the product. To establish this claim, plaintiff must prove all of the following:

  1. That defendant manufactured/distributed/sold the product;
  2. That defendant knew or reasonably should have known that the product was dangerous or was likely to be dangerous when used in a reasonably foreseeable manner;

  3. That defendant became aware of this defect after the product was sold;

  4. That defendant failed to recall or retrofit or warn of the danger of the product; and

  5. That a reasonable manufacturer/distributor/seller under the same or similar circumstances would have recalled or retrofitted the product.

As with most causes of action, the plaintiff must also prove for both causes of action that:

  1. That the plaintiff was harmed; and
  2. That defendant’s product and/or negligence were a substantial factor in causing plaintiff's harm.

Continue reading "Malfunctioning Spinbrush Brand Toothbrushes Cause Chipped Teeth and Other Serious Injuries" »

Product Liability Law: Protecting the Public

February 17, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

We should be able to trust the products we buy. Our San Francisco products liability attorney believes that properly filed civil suits play an important role in helping hold companies responsible for their products and their production decisions.
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Negligently designed or manufactured products are dangerous to all of our residents. Recognizing the danger of defective products and the evidentiary difficulties of these cases, courts use a strict liability theory in Northern California products liability cases. This means the plaintiff does not have to prove that the manufacturer or seller acted negligently, an evidentiary standard that would be tough to meet. Instead, a plaintiff only needs to show three things: 1) That the product was not safe; 2) That the plaintiff was injured; and 3) That the product caused of that injury. For example, a plaintiff burned by an electric device that got overly hot would only need to prove the product posed a danger and caused an injury. The plaintiff would not need to show that the manufacturer was aware of the danger or was otherwise negligent in releasing the product for sale.

Plaintiffs will still generally present a theory of the case to the court in a San Francisco product liability lawsuit. Common theories include:

• Design Defect – In defective design cases, the product has been manufactured according to design but that plan carries inherent dangers. For example, an iron that was a fire hazard because it didn’t turn off if the user left it unattended might be considered a case of defective design. The plaintiff in these cases must show that another design was possible but does not need to specifically prove that the maker was negligent in choosing the defective design plan.
• Manufacturing Defect – In manufacturing defect cases, the planned design may have been safe but a manufacturing defect meant the product did not meet the manufacturer’s own design specifications and this difference resulted in a dangerous product. The plaintiff does not need to prove the manufacturer was negligent in the error, a requirement that would be difficult to meet. Instead, the plaintiff only needs to show that the product was the result of a manufacturing error and that the defect caused an injury.
• Warning/Instructional Defect: Manufacturers are required to provide warnings about know product dangers. The warning must be clear and placed in a visible location. Failure to provide a warning can be the subject of a product liability lawsuit.

Of course, there are products that are unavoidably dangerous, such as a hot stovetop. The law does understand this and products are not considered unreasonably dangerous where the danger is inherently necessary for the product to perform as intended. The manufacturer does not usually have to provide warning about inherent and obvious dangers.

If you have been injured by a defective product, please reach out to our San Francisco personal injury attorney to discuss your unique case and your legal rights. Filing a lawsuit not only provides you with the compensation you deserve but also helps protect the public from dangerous products by holding companies responsible for releasing dangerous items.

See Related Blog Posts:
Kia Recall Could Affect Bay Area Drivers
Oakland-San Francisco Personal Injury Attorney Comments on Toxic Baby Products

Kia Recall Could Affect Bay Area Drivers

January 31, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

111147_steering_wheel.jpg On January 13, 2012, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration announced that KIA Motors America, Inc. noticed a recall on Kia Optima sedans manufactured from September 29, 2005 through January 29, 2008. In addition the company is recalling Kia Rondo vehicles manufactured from September 13, 2006 through March 21, 2008. Both models were manufactured with an air bag clock spring that may become damaged over time. Over 145,000 vehicles are potentially affected by the recall, which starts in March 2012.

An air bag clock spring is named for its coiled shape. It provides an electrical connection between the airbag and the controlling computer. The clock spring sits inside the steering column along side the horn and cruise control. Its coiled shape allows the wiring to make a connection without blocking the steering wheel’s functionality. If the clock spring becomes too worn it will develop a high resistance to electrical current, which could block the signal that activates the air bag. In this case, the driver’s side air bag may not deploy in an emergency situation. If the horn or cruise control on a car is not functioning properly, it is a sign that the clock spring may be damaged and the air bag may also be non-functional.

Kia vehicles owners experienced a flurry of recalls in 2011.The Kia Spectra was recalled in April, 2011 because corroded straps supporting the fuel tank could allow the tank fall to the level of the road. In May, the Kia Sorrento and Kia Soul were recalled for faulty interior lighting which could potentially cause a fire. The Kia Sorrento was also recalled for a second reason- it was susceptible to transmission failure due to a misaligned drive shaft.

A search of customer complaints submitted to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration reveals that in addition to the problem with the driver’s side airbag, many consumers submitted complaints about faulty passenger side airbags for multiple Kia models manufactured in 2006-2008. The chief complaint was that the passenger side airbag would not register as active although the car was carrying someone in the passenger seat.

California upholds strict liability for product defects. Therefore, even if a car company took reasonable safety measures to prevent manufacturing defects, it will still be liable for damages caused by any defective products were available to consumers. The California Civil Jury Instructions require 5 factors in order to find that a company is liable for a defective product.

The defendant must have manufactured, distributed, or sold the product. The product must have already contained the defect when it left the company’s possession. Moreover, the plaintiff must be actually harmed by using the product in a way that was foreseeable to the defendant. Finally, the product must be a substantial factor in causing the harm.

Continue reading "Kia Recall Could Affect Bay Area Drivers" »

Ensuring Toys and Other Products are Safe for Our Children

December 26, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Whatever holidays you celebrate, we hope the current season is bringing great joy, the presence of loved ones, and many delicious meals. Children seem to believe there is no greater joy than unwrapping a present with the mix of anticipation, the tearing action as the paper rips, and then the moment when the spot the much-desired prize. To a child, this is pure bliss. A few decades later, however, the true meaning of happiness emerges as the very same scene is viewed from a parent’s eyes. There is truly no greater pleasure than watching a child’s face light up with surprise and joy.

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We hope all the children in your lives were thrilled by the presents that come with Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, and other late-in-the-year celebrations. These presents should be the source of smiles and many hours of joy, ideally bringing the family together for an added bit of enjoyment. While we do not wish to set a gray cloud on such happy times, we do want to remind parents to always exercise caution. As San Francisco products liability lawyers, we know that children’s products (toys, foods, cribs, clothing, etc) are a common culprit in product-related injuries. When a client approaches us after a child has been harmed in a product-related injury in Northern California, we can help ensure the companies that made and marketed the item are held responsible for their failures.

One danger that makes the news every few months is lead in toys. Lead can be found in either plastic or paint and children are especially vulnerable because their natural tendency is to put objects, and their fingers, in their mouths. Additionally, the developing brain makes children under six particularly vulnerable to the ill effects of lead exposure. There are standards that companies must follow to limit lead, especially in items intended for kids, but it can still be lurking. Older toys and imported items, including those sold at discount “dollar stores,” are particularly dangerous. Lead poisoning often has no immediate symptoms, but over time it can impact a developing brain as well as the nervous system, red blood cells, and heart. Thankfully, heavy enforcement and education has resulted in improvements and the Center for Disease Control reports a significant drop in the percentage of tested children who had elevated lead levels between 1997 and 2008 from 7.61% to 0.83%. California has many state-specific programs aimed at reducing lead exposure. Testing of children’s lead exposure levels, is often recommended and is required at age one and two for children on public health programs.

Child-centered risks for dangerous products are not, of course, limited to lead. In another frightening case, baby formula is a suspected culprit in an infant death. Walmart has pulled Enfamil powdered baby formula after a newborn in Tennessee died after ingesting the formula. The connection has not been proven, but the product is being removed as a precaution.

We should be able to trust that the products we purchase are safe. This should be particularly true when it comes to products made specifically for children. Consumer awareness and education can be the first line of defense. However, if your child (or you) suffers injury due to an unsafe product in San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento or the surrounding regions, it is vital that you seek legal help. The law is harsh and often a strict liability rule applies meaning that companies are automatically liable if a product is proven to be inherently dangerous. While the law is often clear, representation is still important. Bringing suit not only allows you to recover the funds to cover medical bills and other losses but also serves a very important public service by sending a message that we will not tolerate dangerous products in San Francisco and the Northern California region. The lawsuit is not only for you, it is for all the innocent consumers in our region who will benefit from telling companies that unsafe products will not be tolerated. As always, a consultation with our San ancisco unsafe products attorney is free and many cases are handled on a contingency fee basis so there is no fee unless you recover for your harm.

See Related Blog Posts:
Oakland-San Francisco Personal Injury Attorney Comments on Toxic Baby Products
Oakland-San Francisco Attorney Comments on FDA Warning

Raw Milk Recall Lifted But Caution Still Key to Prevent Food Related Illnesses

December 19, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

The move towards natural foods can be a healthy shift away from processed foods and the over-reliance on fast food that can lead to expanding waistlines and increased health risks. However, sometimes foods marketed as natural carry their own hidden dangers. As San Francisco products liability lawyers, the Brod Law Firm team urges the public to use caution when purchasing food for their family. Likewise, we urge residents harmed by dangerous food products to seek legal recourse and hold companies responsible for selling unsafe food in Northern California.
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As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, California has just lifted a ban that resulted from concerns about unsafe food products. The ban was issued after five children in our state became ill after drinking raw milk produced by Organic Pastures in Fresno. All of the children were found to have the same strain of E. Coli. Three of the young people were hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a dangerous illness that can lead to kidney failure. Although investigators did not find the bacteria in samples of the milk, it was deemed the likely source since all five children had consumed the dairy’s raw milk in the period before they fell ill. The state shut down production at the dairy temporarily and recalled Organic Pastures products. At the time of the Chronicle’s report, the dairy had passed necessary inspections and was allowed to resume production of all products with the exception of raw colostrum. Investigators have continued to quarantine the final product out of concern that it may carry dangerous bacteria.

There is a lot of controversy over raw milk products. Proponents believe that raw milk contains more nutrients than the more common pasteurized variety and also that the pasteurization process kills “good” bacteria that can have health benefits including the potential prevention of asthma and other health woes. However, others warn that raw milk can contain harmful bacteria including E. coli, salmonella, and listeria. Worldwide, some countries have total bans on raw milk while others permit the drink, particularly when it is bought directly from the farm. In the United States, federal law prohibits the sale of raw milk across state lines. Other regulation varies by state with about half of states prohibiting its sale for human consumption. California does permit licensed facilities to sell unpasteurized milk. Two facilities appear to have obtained such licenses and additional sales occur directly at some farms.

We do not wish to take a stand on the raw milk debate. We do, however, urge residents to take care in making their informed choices when it comes to feeding their families. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 6 Americans will become ill from tainted foods each year. While not every food-related illness is cause for legal action, products liability laws can apply when tainted food causes serious illness. Food producers and sellers owe a duty of care to the public and consumers should hold them accountable when they fail to uphold this responsibility.

If you become seriously ill due to contaminated food, please contact the San Francisco tainted food attorney at the Brod Law Firm. You may be entitled to damages for your illness and bringing a lawsuit warns business owners that the sale of contaminated food in San Francisco and throughout Northern California will not be tolerated.

See Related Blog Posts:
Contaminated Turkey Sold to Consumers in the San Francisco Bay Area
Oakland-San Francisco Attorney Comments on FDA Warning

Legal Perspective on Property-Related Accidents

December 11, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

According a report in The Oakland Tribune, a poorly constructed chimney was the likely cause of a fire in West Oakland that left at least three residents unable to return to their homes. A home fire is tragic at any time but is especially difficult to imagine as the holidays approach. As your Oakland property damage lawyers, the Brod Law Firm believes in helping residents recover after such an untimely event.
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The fire sparked in the early morning hours of Tuesday December 6 in a West Oakland duplex. The home, a Victorian-style two-story located at 30th and Chestnut, had recently been remodeled with an apartment on each floor. In addition to displacing three residents, the fire caused at least $30,000 in damages. According to the reports, the fire was caused by faulty chimney construction. The chimney had been built without a flue and the fire started after the upper-level residents used the fireplace in their unit. The embers from the fireplace were unable to exit and sparked a fire in the attic that then spread to the roof. Luckily, no one was injured and a team of twenty firefighters were able to control and extinguish the flames.

Every accident has its own story. Part of the reason you should always seek out an Oakland accident attorney when you suffer a physical injury or economic loss due to someone else’s wrongdoing is to be sure you explore the full range of legal claims. Thankfully no injury occurred in the West Oakland fire, but the Brod Law Firm notes several different claims that might arise from a property-related accident, especially one that does result in physical injury. A lawsuit might include claims based on:

Construction Defects – California law includes specific provisions addressing standards for construction. Construction defects claims can allow a victim to recover repair costs as well as for losses directly resulting from the defect (like the costs of a temporary home in a case such as the fire should the chimney be proven defective).
Products Liability – Products liability claims arise when a defective product results in injury. Generally, a strict liability rule provides a victim can recover if they can prove a product defect was a substantial factor in the injury. Negligence claims can also arise in the products liability arena where a seller, manufacturer, installer, or other party failed to use reasonable care to prevent an injury stemming from the product.
Landlord/Tenant Claims – California law requires that landlords maintain rental properties in conditions suitable for occupancy. Landlords also have a duty to maintain the common areas in a property. Where a landlord does not fulfill these duties, they may be subject to a lawsuit for damages stemming from the failure.
Premises Liability –This body of law protects visitors to a property who are harmed by the property owner or occupier’s failure to make the area safe. If the chimney fire occurred in a business and a customer was harmed, a claim might exist under premises liability principles. These claims can also be made by renters against their landlords

These are just some of the legal principles the Oakland victim’s rights lawyer at the Brod Law Firm would explore with a potential client injured in a property accident. Legal claims can also exist for financial losses in similar cases, like those suffered by the displaced West Oakland residents. When you call our Oakland property accident law firm, you can arrange a free consultation in which our team will help you determine what legal claims might exist to help you recover damages for your losses. Together, we can work to help victims of a property accident receive the money the law allows and move forward after the incident.

See Related Blog Posts:
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Substandard Living Conditions In San Francisco Force The City To File A Lawsuit

Fracking Bill Could Lead to New Claims Against Oil and Gas Companies

August 17, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Currently in Califonia there is a debate about the environmental impact of Hydrolic Fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing, also called hydrolic fracking, is a natural gas drilling technique that involves pumping fracking fluid at high pressure into the earth to release gas deposits locked in underground rock formations, has long raised concerns about air and water pollution. Here in California, counties have limited authority over oil and gas operations. It is the state’s Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources serves as the industry’s main regulator. Yet, the division, which is part of the state Department of Conservation, does not have specific regulations for fracking, as it views it merely as one of several techniques for wrestling more oil and natural gas from the earth. It is Important that an investigation go into hydrolic fracking technology in order to find out the degree, if any, of environmental degradation and chemical pollution, and they types of injuries caused by inhalation of air or ingestion of water polluted with carcinogenic fracking fluid chemicals. The debate over this matter has residents living near wells are worried that fracking may contaminate their water.

One particular case comes to mind of well water contamination from fracking, one that occurred over 20 years ago in West Virginia and can be used to debunk the industry’s claims. According to the Environmental Working Group, the U.S. Environmental Protection agency has concluded, in a 1987, study that fracking of natural gas well in West Virginia had contaminated an underground drinking water source. It was determined that the fracking gel used to drill over 4,000 feet down had turned up a drinking water well nearby. In November of 2010, the EPA issued voluntary information request to nine leading national and regional hydraulic fracturing service providers. The data requested will play an important part in their Hydraulic Fracturing Study currently in the works. The study seeks information on the chemical composition of fluids used in the hydrolic fracturing process, data on the impacts of the chemicals on human health and the environment, standard operating procedures at hydraulic fracturing sites and the locations of site where fracturing has been conducted. Another effort currently underway to protect the environment is a regulation bill, written by Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont). The bill would require oil companies to make public the chemicals used in each well, but not the exact proportion, which each company views as a trade secret and keeps their business competitive. We will be keeping our eyes peeled for any developments regarding the EPA’s findings and how oil companies respond to the bill when it takes effect. Negligence on the part oil companes could lead to a significant number of injury claims in California.

Continue reading "Fracking Bill Could Lead to New Claims Against Oil and Gas Companies" »

Contaminated Turkey Sold to Consumers in the San Francisco Bay Area

August 5, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Around 36 million pounds of ground turkey has been recalled due to it being linked to 77 incidents of salmonella poisoning and one death in Sacramento, according to sfexaminer.com. The meat in question is packaged under the name of Honeysuckle White-brand turkey products, Kroger ground turkey and Giant Eagle ground turkey and were sold at FoodsCo, Food 4 Less and Winco Foods . Consumers can be return the packages purchased for a full refund. As of Tuesday, six cases have been reported in California—one in San Francisco, one in Los Angeles, one in Riverside, one in San Diego, and two in Sacramento. The strand of bacteria linked to this outbreak is what is known as salmonella Heidelberg and is resistant to most prescribed antibiotics, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An investigation is being handled by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and the CDC. The USDA has warned consumers to fully cook their meat.

It is important to point out that growers, retailers, importers and/or distributors of food owe a duty of care to the consumer not to sell, import or distribute food that is unsafe for human consumption. As such, there exists an implied warranty for goods sold to the consumer. In the case of imported foods, importers must comply with all regulatory requirements surrounding the goods it intends to sell. Usually an importer must hire a customs broker to inspect food, as will the government, certifying that the food is safe and fit for human consumption, which may be the ultimate deciding factor for establishing if the standard of care had been met by the importer.

Advances in food production technology, such as the radio frequency identification tracking system, have allowed the producers of our food the ability to track each piece of produce from moment of harvest to truck to distribution center to retail store, a process that has made it easier than ever to contain and track contamination outbreaks. But these systems are not always a guarantee that contaminated food won’t, or can’t, slip past them and end up on our dinner tables. Food contamination isn’t always the result of a huge farming or harvesting mishaps, though, such as feces making contact with a crop, or an animal on the way to the slaughter, it can sometimes be the result of a farm or warehouse worker not washing their hands or a grocery store worker leaving perishable food out for too long before selling it to a customer.

Continue reading "Contaminated Turkey Sold to Consumers in the San Francisco Bay Area" »

The Complicated and Dangerous Side Effects of Prescription Drugs

July 12, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

An Illinois woman has filed a lawsuit against AstraZeneca, accusing them of failing to provide adequate warnings about the risks associated with taking the drug. In the lawsuit she claims its prescription heartburn drugs—Prilosec and Nexium, also known as protein pump inhibitors—caused her to suffer multiple and painful fractures of her feet. In March of this year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that prescription versions of these drugs were associated with increased risk of fractures, and, in May 2010, the agency announced it would be adding information about the potential fracture risk to the Nexium label. All this came on the heels of a review of several epidemiological studies which reported an increased risk of the wrist, spine and hip associated with the use of protein pump inhibitors.
After reading about the new lawsuit, two jury verdicts having to do with protein pump inhibitors come to mind, both of which involved wrongful death settlements whose parties remain anonymous for the purposes of confidentiality. The first case is medical malpractice case in which the plaintiff suffered from gastric problems, was diagnosed with different gastric disorders, and was prescribed Prilosec over 38 times when he actually had gastric cancer, and, according to the lawsuit, died because he had not been timely treated or diagnosed by doctors who were negligent in failing to order and perform the proper diagnostic test. The family was awarded over a million dollars. The other case involved a man who had cardiovascular issues and high cholesterol, was prescribed Prilosec, (as side note: in this particular case the reason he was prescribed Prilosec is unknown, as the case details remain confidential, but research suggests the drug may lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting the amounts of cholesterol-producing enzymes produced in the liver), and he then died after having an adverse reaction to the drug. The family received a half a million dollars.
With more and more people being prescribed protein pump inhibitors at an alarming, and perhaps even an indiscriminate, rate, it is no wonder there are not more lawsuits pending. The newness of such drugs poses a real problem for consumers because doctors and researchers really don’t know, and won’t know for a very long time, what the long term affects of these drugs will be. It is like patients are guinea pigs in a large experiment which, for the most part, seems to be out of control. The current studies and reports produce finding that are not concrete, nor are any of them final; they’re open ended and vague, and they’ve only just begun.


Continue reading "The Complicated and Dangerous Side Effects of Prescription Drugs" »

Oakland-San Francisco Attorney Comments on FDA Warning

June 16, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

This week Kellogg Corporation was issued a warning letter by the Food and Drug Administration after the agency found some serious health violations—the pooling of water, wet insulation, and Listeria--at the Augusta, Georgia plant during their inspection back in February. The FDA said that out of all of the samples it took, 15 tested positive for the dangerous Listeria pathogen, 7 of which were taken from locations with direct food contact. The FDA’s warning letter did not state that food from Kellogg plant was contaminated, yet it did state that the positive Listeria testing pointed to unsanitary conditions and that those conditions could cause food contamination. The warning letter also states that FDA inspectors discovered over 100 flies at the plant and pointed out that Listeria was discovered along the production line that has direct contact with food. Kellogg has promised to remove pipes to control the dirpping problem and to use pressurized aerosol insecticide on the flies. The FDA will determine during its next inspection whether the remedies used by Kellogg are sufficient. The FDA said Kellogg had 15 working days following receipt of the letter to provide documentation outlining what it plans to do to correct the violations.

Sadly, this is not the first time Kellogg has faced such issues. The bakery in Augusta was found to have faulty ingredient storage practices after an inspection by the FDA in January of 2010. During the same year, Kellogg issued a massive recall of cereal due to an unusual waxy flavor and smell. Also, a recall was issued in 2009 for some Keebler cookies and Special K protein bars. It should be pointed out that eating food contaminated with bacterium listeria monocytogenes can cause a dangerous infection called listeriosis, according the Centers for Disease Control. Symptoms may include diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, such as fever, muscle aches, stiff neck, confusion and convulsions. It is estimated that 1,600 people become seriously ill with listeriosis each year and around 260 succumb to the infection.

If you or someone you love fell victim to an unsafe product, please contact our product liability attorney today. Our firm has over 10 years experience representing people who have been injured by dangerous and defective products throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. We understand the devastating effects a dangerous product can have on our clients lives and the lives of their families, and we will work on a contingency basis, meaning our clients pay no fees or costs unless a recovery is made.


San Francisco-Oakland Attorney Comments on Joining Class Actions via the Internet

June 10, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Many consumers are beginning to realize that they can tap into class action court settlements reached with manufacturers and service providers via the internet. This a good thing for consumers since judges usually require that as many people as possible are notified about a class action settlement. It is also a good thing for attorneys because now they can reach more witnesses than when their only method to do so was through mail and or print media. Because people use the internet as their primary source for finding information, the courts are beginning to realize that they could use the internet as the main way they send information to a class. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we are finding the internet can significantly improve our ability to notify class members that they may be entitled to a recovery in a settlement, and the internet is becoming the place consumers turn to for all class action settlements.

Class action lawsuits are a good way to keep businesses honest and help consumers find justice in the marketplace. No one likes being ripped off, even if the amount of money lost is a small amount. Consumers sometimes feel a small amount doesn’t justify legal action and/or is not worth fighting on their own. Consumer class action suits provide a means to deal with this type of situation, and they provide a sense of justice on behalf of the frustrated consumer. When that small amount is multiplied by all the people who have been ripped off, then there are thousands or millions of dollars that the company must pay back to all the members of the class, in addition to the company paying a penalty. Also, class actions draw public attention to instances when businesses have not treated the consumer fairly, and force those businesses to take responsibility. It is not fair when a company fails to deliver on a promise. If you have been wronged by a company, please contact our firm for a free consultation and share your case with us. We have over 10 years experience investigating wrongdoing and fighting for our clients in court.

San Francisco-Oakland Injury Attorney Comments on Sever Reactions to Over the Counter Drugs

June 7, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Last month, according to Bloomberg.com, a Philadelphia jury awarded $10 million to the family of a teenage girl who developed Stevens - Johnson syndrome after she took Children’s Motrin. According to the Mayo Clinic, Stevens Johnson Syndrome is a sever sensitivity reaction that can be caused by many drugs. Stevens-Johnson syndrome attacks the skin and mucous membranes. It can cause the top layer of the skin to separate from the lower layer of the skin in affected areas. The condition can even spread to internal organs, and it can cause scarring and even blindness. Sometimes the disorder can affect more than 30% of the body, when that happens the condition is usually referred to as toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), which typically requires treatment in hospital burn units. According to the Maya family lawsuit, Brianna was left blind in one eye and suffered burns over 84% of her body after taking Children’s Motrin in 2000 for a cold and fever. Her family argued that a warning for Steven Johnson Syndrome was not included on the medication’s labeling that year.

The jury in the case found that Johnson & Johnson’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit “was negligent for not providing a proper warning about Children’s Motrin’s risks and that failure was a factual cause of the girl’s injuries.” However, the jury did not agree with plaintiff’s claims that Motrin was defective, or that McNeil officials’ conduct warranted an award of punitive damages. Johnson & Johnson and McNeil added warning about “severe allergic reactions” which could present with “rashes and blisters” to over-the-counter ibuprofen products, but no specific mention of Stevens Johnson syndrome is made. Patent advocates say that the current drug allergy alert on labels of many over-the-counter ibuprofen medications don’t adequately warn users about the risk of Stevens Johnson Syndrome. Parents in cases involving these types of claims argue that manufacturers of over-the-counter ibuprofen products, especially those for children, should have adequate warning labels placed on their products, informing users to discontinue the drug if symptoms show.

If you have suffered injury or a loved one has died or been injured as the result of a defective drug, you may be able to recover damages. To find out if you have a claim, you should have our case evaluated by a qualified our experienced product liability attorney. Our firm can tell you if you have a case and how to go about filing a lawsuit. Pharmaceutical lawsuits are too complex for a consumer to handle alone, however, as pharmaceutical companies have enormous resources and an arsenal of high-power defense attorneys. Also, it is important to note that California has laws that set a time limit for filing different types of lawsuits, so we recommend you have your case evaluated as quickly as possible. We recommend you seek the aid of an attorney with experience in this type of litigation. Whether we settle out of court or have to go to trial, we will fight hard to get you the compensation you deserve.

Oakland-San Francisco Personal Injury Attorney Comments on Toxic Baby Products

May 20, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

This week USA Today reported that toxins and chemical flame retardant have been cited in baby toys and children’s product recalls. According to the report, a new study reveals that a staggering 80 percent of all baby products contain flame retardants that are either toxic or untested. The new study, which was recently released in Environmental Science & Technology, shows that car seats, changing pads, and portable cribs were among the items tested, and that nursing pillows were also tested and found to contain chlorinated tris, a chemical never banned but was removed from children’s pajamas in the 1970s over cancer concerns. The Environmental Protection Agency has raised a moderate level concern over the chemical because of its links to cancer and issues with developmental and reproductive problems. Also, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission spokesman said that tris may pose a significant health risk. In addition to tris, the flame retardant, TCEP, which was listed as a carcinogen by the state of California, was found in 10 of the nursing pillows.

Here at the Brod Law Firm, consumers should be able to trust the products they purchase are safe. The sad truth is, though, that consumers are frequently injured by common, everyday products. The list of products on the market that pose dangers is endless. Sadly the failure or these products cause significant injuries or death. If you or someone you love suffered an injury after using a defective product, you should keep the product and its packaging, as they are important in proving your case. In California a product liability suite can be based on strict liability. Strict Liability does not require proof of fault on behalf of the designer, manufacturer or seller. In a strict liability claim the injured party need only show that the products was defective, the defect existed prior to the manufacturer releasing the product, and the defect caused the victim’s damages. If you would like to know if you have a potential product liability case or if you have questions about product liability law, please contact our firm today.

Oakland-San Francisco Class Action Attorney Comments on Sony Class Action

May 9, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Sony has announced the credit card information of millions of users has been compromised--after its Sony Online Entertainment PC gaming service had been hacked and the PlayStation network service had been breached. And now consumers are banding together and filing class action suits against Sony. A law firm in Toronto is handling a class action lawsuit launched against Sony Entertainment and its associated companies. Natasha Maksimovic of Canada is leading the charge against a number of Sony subsidiaries all around the world, including Sony Japan, Sony USA, and Sony Canada, for the breach of privacy. She is seeking damages of over $1 billion, claiming the company must pay for credit monitoring services and fraud insurance coverage for all suffered users for the next 2 years. She also claimed that she can’t trust Sony because it failed to protect her private data. What is more, she has accused Sony of being focused more on protecting its products than its customers. The company faces another class action lawsuit over hacker intrusion of its PSN; it is one of three, the first two were both filed in California. All of them accuse the company of allowing a leak to occur, and for failing to notify consumers in a timely manner.

A consumer class action suit is a legal action brought by a class action attorney on behalf of a large number of people, referred to as a class, with similar legal claims involving being wronged by company or organization. Class action legal claims usually involve a defective consumer product, a fraudulent or misleading business practice, or a deceptive financial practice. Class action cases involving financial issues deal with improper billing practices, overcharges, and failure to honor warranties, and class action cases involving defective products focus on design defects, manufacturing defects, or marketing defects.
If you feel you have been wronged by a company or organization, please contact our class action attorney today for a free consultation.

Oakland-San Francisco Consumer Attorney Comments on Extended Warranties

May 3, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

According to consumeraffairs.com, Sears has been selling extended warranties, what they call maintenance agreements, and then not following through on the promises within those agreements. Typically employees offer consumers the agreement at the time of purchase, and the agreement generally states that the consumer is eligible for the 3 year Maintenance Agreement, which covers repairs and replacements for any damages due to wear and tear, and an annual preventive maintenance check, all of which are supposed to save the consumer the cost of repairs. Sadly, consumers are finding that when they attempt to make use of their Sears extended warranty agreements, by asking for repairs, replacements, or refunds, they often get the runaround. On many consumer complaint internet forums, you can find numerous complaints posted by consumers who have been duped by Sears.

For a long time, consumer advocates have questioned the worth of extended warranties. Most of the time major appliance shoppers take the bait, paying extra for an extended warranty or service contract, of which the terms and conditions are not made clear by the salesperson. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we have met many people who have been dissatisfied with extended warranties and MA’s due to lack of follow through on the part of the manufacturer or seller. MA’s and extended warranties are supposed to provide peace of mind along with insurance for your product, but the problem is that they cover the period of the product’s life cycle when the least failures occur. What is more, the MA usually runs out just before the product begins to fail, at which point the consumer can’t renew the MA. The best thing consumers can do, before purchasing an extended warrenty, is think about the chances their item will break during the warranty period-- and keep in mind that manufacturers and stores know most products are reliable and will outlast the extended warranty period.

If you have been the victim of consumer fraud, please contact our consumer attorney for a free consultation. Our firm is dedicated to working hard for not only large groups of consumers in class action litigation but for the individual consumer as well, no matter the size of the case. Should you need to file a lawsuit, our consumer attorney will fight hard for your rights and make sure you achieve the justice you deserve.

Oakland-San Francisco Attorney Comments on Cell Phone Radiation

April 26, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

The cell phone industry is pushing hard against a San Francisco ordinance that requires information about cell phone radiation be disclosed to consumers, according to newsinferno.com. CTIA-The Wireless Association recently filed suit against the city of San Francisco in order to prevent the cell phone radiation disclosure ordinance from being enacted. It turns out CTIA has five law firms representing their claim that the San Francisco ordinance infringes on the industry’s First Amendment rights by forcing it to acknowledge, against their will/belief, that there may be a problem with radiation exposure. They are also claiming that cell phone regulation is a federal matter, meaning no city or state can interfere by requiring disclosure of radiation absorption levels.

Studies about health effects of cell phone radiation have been inconclusive, but studies are showing that there is a need for more research, as some of the current research has raised red flags. For example, in a World Health Organization’s Interphone Study of around 13,000 people from different countries, it was revealed that the heaviest cell phone users--those who use the device at least 30 minutes a day, on the same side of their heads-- had a 40 percent higher risk for gliomas, a common type of brain tumor. In a different study done by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that 50 minutes of cell phone use was associated with increased brain glucose metabolism in the region closest to the phone antenna, and it is one of the first studies showing scientific evidence that cells phones affect brain activity.

The outcome of this case will have far reaching consequences, as it will determine how all other cities shape their ordinances, and, as a result, many cities are watching closely. If San Francisco gives in to the industry, this could set a precedent, and will send a message to the little guy, in this case individual cities: They can’t beat the big corporations and that big business will always show up on the scene with their arsenal of lawyers and intimidate anyone who disagrees with them.
If you suffered an injury due to the use of an unsafe product, please contact our firm for a free consultation. We have over 10 years experience helping consumers settle claims regarding injuries they suffered after using dangerous products.

Oakland-San Francisco Attorney Comments on Antibiotics in Our Food

April 21, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

The growing presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a major challenge today. According to one study published in the Journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with multidrug-resistant staph, which means consumers across the U.S. are at risk—and what those risks are is still unclear. Antibiotics are the most important drugs we have to treat Staph infections. But when Staph is resistant to several different antibiotics, patients have few options for treatment, leaving them sick and vulnerable to dying. According to warning issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), overuse and misuse of antibiotics, including in the general overuse at the therapeutic level, is creating a global war against infections and diseases as they render existing antibiotics useless. The fact that the drug-resistant pathogen was so prevalent, and likely came from the food animals themselves, is troubling and demands attention to how antibiotics are used in food-animal production today. However, lowering or halting the use of antibiotic use in animal production could have serious effects on the meat and poultry industry. At the same time, there is a growing movement to reduce the use of antibiotics, but there is still controversy over whether or not low-dose usage of antibiotics in food animals can be directly linked to drug-resistant illness in people.

Here at the Brod Law Firm, we believe no food production company should be allowed to add antibiotics, or any drugs or chemicals, to our food until they can prove doing so does not put consumers’ health at risk. But the sad fact is that stopping the use of it now could lead to increased animal disease and a further reduction in food safety. Our current food production system is so enmeshed in the practice of using antibiotics-- ever since ranchers and farmers discovered decades ago that it would make animals gain weight, which would lead to higher yields and ultimately raise industry profits—that that same system could crumble if things were to change. But maybe that is a good thing.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to the consumption of a tainted food product, please contact our firm for a free consultation.

San Francisco-Oakland Product Liability Attorney Comments on Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Cleaning Products

April 12, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Exposure to toxins in cleaning products is pervasive throughout homes in the United States and children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of chemicals. An infant’s exposure can be particularly high due to the fact that they crawl on the ground and put their hands in their mouths, which causes them to ingest chemicals from the floor such as hardwood or tile cleaners and carpet finishes. Frequent use of hazardous cleaning chemicals is associated with persistent wheezing among pre-school children, and increases the likelihood of asthma attacks among children. Even the cleaning products that are labeled “green” emit hazardous compounds not listed on labels.

A study at the University of Washington, has shown that there are hundreds of chemicals hiding in popular products such as, laundry detergents, deodorants, shampoos, and air fresheners. All such products emit at least one chemical classified as toxic or hazardous, according to the study, and some even emit at least one chemical considered a probable carcinogen by the U. S. Environmental Protection agency. The study established the presence of various chemicals but made no claims about possible health effects. However, the researchers have found from surveying the public that 20 percent of the population have had adverse health effects from air fresheners, and about 10 percent complained of adverse effects from laundry products vented to the outdoors, especially among asthmatics.

The Household Product Labeling Act, which is currently under review by the U.S. Senate, would require manufacturers to list ingredients in air fresheners, soaps, laundry suppliers and other consumer products. Consumers can avoid such chemicals by cleaning natural ingredients, such as with vinegar , lemon and baking soda. For more information on volatile organic compounds, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website at and the National Library of Medicine. If you or loved on suffered an injury due to the use of a hazardous product and would like to know if you have a claim, please contact our office. We have over 10 years experience handling product liabity claims and know how to help victims win the compensation they deserve.

Bay Area Personal Injury Attorney Comments on Product Recall and Liability

April 7, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Williams-Sonoma is recalling hot chocolate pots, which were sold nationwide, online at www.williams-sonoma.com, and through Williams –Sonoma catalogs from October 2010 through January 2011, for about $30-$40. The recalled product was manufactured in China and imported by ICI USA, LLC of Seattle, Washington. There have been 28 reported incidents of handles breaking off the posts, in addition to eight reported incidents of injuries involving minor cuts or burns. Around 28,000 hot chocolate pots were recalled in the United States and 700 have been recalled in Canada. Specifically, the product involved is the Whirly Whip hot chocolate pots, item number 2981454 or 4986535. They were also sold as part of gift set, item number 3021714. The item number is located on the box in which the product is sold, just below the bar code. The pot is white porcelain, has a red handle and red knob, and comes with a frother attached under the knob’s lid. Consumers are advised to stop using the recalled hot chocolate pots, immediately, and they are advised to return the product to any Williams-Sonoma store for a full refund.

Every year thousands of people are injured from using defective products. Often, defective products are the cause of serious or deadly injuries. Many products are recalled because they pose dangerous burn related risks for consumers. When a person is burned by a dangerous product, he or she may be able to pursue a product liability action against the seller or manufacturer of the product. If a person did not buy the dangerous product and was injured by it, such as an innocent bystander or a person who borrowed the dangerous product from a friend and used it, they may also be able to file a claim. A product liability claim can be filed against the manufacturer of the product, as well as the supplier, distributor or retailer of the product. Manufacturers and sellers of dangerous goods can be sued for negligence, and sometimes proof of negligence is not necessary under the rule of strict liability. If you have questions regarding a potential claim and whether or not you may be able to recover damages, please contact our firm.

San Francisco-Oakland Food Safety Attorney Comments on Latest Food Recall

March 28, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that two different companies issued food product recalls after epidemiologic investigations linked Salmonella Panama infections to specific cantaloupe shipments from Del Monte Fresh Produce and E coli O157;H7 infections to Lebanon bologna manufactured by Palmyra Bologna Company. They received reports that 12 patients in four states—Oregon (5 cases), Washington (4 cases), California (2 cases), and Maryland (1 case)--fell ill as a result of Salmonella Panama. According to investigations, all but one of the ill patients ate cantaloupe in the week prior to falling ill and all 10 ate cantaloupe purchased at seven separate Costco locations. The other 14 infections connected to the E. coli outbreak involved patients from five states—Maryland (3 cases), New Jersey (2 cases), North Carolina (1 case), Ohio (2 cases), and Pennsylvania (6 cases)—as of March 22, 20011. The bologna recall was categorized as a Class I, which means it represents a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of the defective product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.

Both Salmonella and E coli cause abdominal cramps and diarrhea—in some cases the symptoms may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. The elderly, infirm, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to develope a severe illness from these infections. Anyone who thinks they may have become ill from eating possibly contaminated food should consult their health care provider. If you or a loved one became ill due to eating tainted food, contact our food safety attorney today. We have over 10 experience helping victims of defective or contaminated products win the compensation they deserve.

San Francisco-Oakland Product Liability Attorney Comments on Not So Healthy Orgaincs

March 18, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Two recent organic food recalls prove that organic does not mean pathogen free. According to the USDA, First Class Foods, of Hawthorne, California issued a recall of 34,373 pounds of organic beef over potential contamination with E. coli bacteria on December 30th of last year. That beef was distributed in California, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Washington State, and Wisconsin, and was sold under the Organic Harvest and Nature’s Harvest label. At that time, according to the FDA, Tiny Greens Organic Farm also recalled alfalfa and spicy sprouts over concerns of potential contamination with the Salmonella pathogen. Those sprouts were distributed in Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri. July of last year, a recall was initiated by Specialty Farms regarding a possible Listeria contamination of their sprouts. Organicgirls also issued a recall over concerns of Salmonella contamination last year.

Organics is big business, generating billions in sales every year. However, the agency that oversees the certifying process is underfunded and understaffed, and agents have an incentive to approve companies that are paying them. Before, organic labeling didn’t mean much when it came to processed food in packages (many packaged foods have a few orgainic are not 100% organic), but now fresh organic food is just as suspect. The truth is that we take a risk every time we eat something, organic or not, as pathogens can enter the food chain at time. Consumers should remember that pesticide free does not mean pathogen free. At the same time, we should be able to expect stricter adherence to cleanliness and quality when we pay the higher price for organics. Yet, as the recalls prove, it is folly to expect--and believe-- the people and companies that sell such products are of the same philosophy. Also, funnily enough, we tend believe, on some unconscious level, that the higher price of organics should keep us safe and healthy. But the truth is it does not ensure safety. So, the real issues and concerns are over who inspects, processes, and handles our food, and those standards are coming under pressure from the public as big companies cash in on the growing demand for organic foods. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we encourage consumers to update their understanding the hierarchy of organic labeling and become proactive about their purchases by asking where their products come from and how fresh they are, etc.etc. If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to ingesting a contaminated product, contact our office for a free consultation.

San Francisco Bay Area Product Liability Attorney Comments on Big Tobacco Legislation

March 7, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

According to newsinferno.com, Lorillard and R.J. Reynolds have sued the FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services over the composition of the FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee. The two big cigarette makers allege that conflicts of interest and bias existed on an FDA advisory panel that wants to recommend menthol, or mint flavored, cigarettes be banned. Specifically, they claim the panel have a financial interest in seeing tobacco products fail. Even though the FDA panel recommendations are not legally binding, the FDA does generally follow the advice of its panels, and the panel will likely make its recommendations by March 23rd. The legislation has called on the FDA to seek advice from a panel of outside experts before determining whether menthol cigarettes should also be taken off the US market.


In 2009, legislation passed enabling the FDA to make decisions concerning tobacco products, including cigarettes. The agency banned flavored cigarettes, such as fruit and chocolate, which were specifically marketed towards children. Matthew Myers president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says that what the tobacco companies fear is that the committee, after examining all the evidence, will recommend effective actions that reduce or eliminate the lucrative market for menthol cigarettes. This is yet another example of how big tobacco places profits ahead of lives and health. Health advocates denounce the lawsuit as a frivolous attempt to keep the FDA panel’s recommendation from coming to light. Just as an aside, it is interesting that RJ Reynolds openly admits in a public health statement on their website that cigarettes are harmful: Cigarette smoking significantly increases the risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and other serious diseases and adverse health conditions. Needless to say, we wonder how these people sleep at night. If you or a loved suffered injuries due to the use of a dangerous product, contact our firm to find out if you a product liability lawsuit.

Oakland-San Francisco Attorney Comments on Another Toyota Recall

February 25, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Toyota is recalling another 2.17 million vehicles to fix problems that could cause their accelerator pedals to become stuck, yet another setback in its efforts to gain ground from the bad press that surrounded them last year. Toyota initiated two new recalls covering about 769,000 sport utility vehicles and 20,000 Lexus sedans, and added almost 1.4 million more vehicles to its November 2009 recall related to what Toyota called “floor mat entrapment.” Since 2009, Toyota has recalled more than 14 million vehicles globally, a majority of which are connected to the floor-mat issue or a defect in the design of the accelerator pedal. The affected models are the 2004-6 Toyota highlander ;the 2004-7 Lexus RX; the 2006-7 Lexus GS; the 2003-9 Toyota 4Runner; the 2008-11 Lexus LX 570; and the 2006-10 Toyota Rav4.

According to The New York Times, Federal regulators said the announcement concluded their investigation into whether Toyota had recalled enough vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reviewed more than 400,000 pages of Toyota documents to determine whether the scope of it recalls for pedal entrapment was sufficient. After the review, Toyota was asked to recall the addition vehicles. The news came a few weeks after the agency concluded that it could not find flaws in the electronics system to explain reports of sudden acceleration, as some critics and lawyers suing the company have asserted. The safety agency forced Toyota to pay $48.8 million in three separate fines for waiting too long to announce the sudden-acceleration recalls and an unrelated 2005 recall. Each of the fines was the maximum allowed by law. Owners of recalled vehicles will receive notice both informing them of the problems and inviting them to have a dealer perform an inspection. Detailed information and answers to questions are available to consumers at www.toyota.com/recall or www.lexus.com/recall .
If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to the use of a defective product, or if you have questions regarding a potential claim, please contact our firm.


Oakland-San Francisco Product Liability Attorney Comments on Risks from Energy Drinks

February 22, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

According to the associated press, a recent report written by a group of doctors warns that popular energy drinks are being overused and have not been adequately studied. The report has established that the beverages are considered dangerous to children and teenagers because the caffeine and other energy ingredients can lead to adverse affects the body, such as heart palpitations, seizures, strokes or even death. The drinks can also lead to shaky feelings and cause diarrhea and nausea. This information has lead doctors to conclude that safe limits need to be established for children, adolescents, and young adults and that the drinks should be regulated in the same way that tobacco, prescription drugs, and alcohol are regulated. The report coincides with a current crackdown on energy drinks, as the FDA has issued warning letters to manufacturers and the drinks have been banned in several states due to alcohol overdoses.

Energy drinks were introduced over 20 years ago and have been the fasted growing drink on the market. This year’s sales are expected to top $9 billion. About one third of teens and young adults regularly consume energy drinks. Anyone with diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure might want to stop and think before drinking an energy drink. Because the ingredients have not been studied enough and are not regulated, it is unclear which groups of people will experience negative side effects from a particular ingredient in these beverages. When companies market energy drinks to children and young adults but fail to properly address the dangers, they risk placing themselves at the center of a product liability lawsuit. To learn about what you can if you have experienced harm or illness from dangerous or defective products, contact our firm for a free consultation. We are able to explain your legal rights and options and evaluate whether or not you may be able to bring an action for a product liability and recover damages.

Oakland-San Francisco Class Action Attorney Comments on Product Liability and False Advertising

February 8, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

A recent class action against Dial argues that there are no reliable studies showing that Tricloasn--the active ingredient in Dial Complete--provides any of the results allegedlly promised by Dial or that it provides a benefit over washing with regular soap and water. Sadly, it is often the case that a company will use misleading and even illegal marketing claims, such as “kills bacteria,” “fights germs,” protection against mold,” “odor-fighting” or “keeps food fresher, longer” and potentially endanger the health of unsuspecting shoppers in order to make a profit. An extensive report put out by the Environmental Working Grouphas revealed how harmful Triclosan is to humans. In addition, the report found that the addition of Triclosan to home-use products, which is usually added in indiscriminate amounts, is unnecessary, does not appear to provide any additional protection form infection, and may breed Triclosan-resistant super germs. It turns out, people are exposed to the chemical more than they know, as it is in antibacterial soaps, dishwashing detergents, and body care products including toothpaste and deodorant. The American Medical Association recommends against using Triclosan in the home because it may encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics. An advisory committee to the Federal Food and Drug Administration has found that household use of antibacterial products provides no benefits over plain soap and water

Triclosan has been linked to liver and inhalation toxicity. Low levels of Triclosan may disrupt thyroid function. Wastewater treatment does not remove all of the chemical. Triclosan ends up in lakes, rivers and water sources. Studies have linked Triclosan to cancer and developmental defects. Triclosan tends to bioaccumulate, meaning it becomes more concentrated in the fatty tissues of humans and other animals. As a result, this chemical has been detected in human breast milk, and in blood samples as well. Higher levels of Triclosan in blood and breast milk are linked to use of body care products containing Triclosan. A recent lab study found the chemical to exert both estrogenic and androgenic effects on human breast cancer cells. The daily household use of Triclosan may alter a developing body’s natural microbial community following chronic exposure to the chemical and cause immune system abnormalities.

If you have been harmed by a product due to false claims made by the company that manufactured and sold it, please contact our firm today. We have over 10 years experience fighting for victims of unsafe products and will win you the compensation you deserve.

Oakland-San Francisco Defective Products Attorney Comments on Plavix Side effects.

February 3, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

Plavix, a popular drug used to prevent blood clots in people at risk for a heart attack, has been linked to some serious side effects, including bleeding. According to its label, Plavix can lead to gastrointestinal and cerebral hemorrhaging, bleeding of the eye (conjunctival, ocular, retinal) bleeding, musculosketal bleeding, fatal intracranial bleeding, respiratory tract bleeding, and skin bleeding. It turns out that bleeding, including life-threatening and fatal bleeding, is the most commonly reported side effect. For some time now, Plavix, prescribed along with asprin, was thought to cause less bleeding than the alternative blood thinner drug Warfarin. However, a recent study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found the risk of hemorrhaging among Plavix-asprin users significantly higher than thought, although still less than Wararfin risks. Yet the number bleeding related emergency room visits were similar for users of both drugs.

What does all this mean? Well, it means that patients and doctors should be aware of the risks involved with the use of Plavix, that doctors should inform their patients that Plavix could cause them to bleed more easily, that it could take longer than usually to stop bleeding, and that patients should report any unanticipated, prolonged or excessive bleeding. Bleeding and other adverse side effects from taking Plavix can have potentially life-threatening consequences. If you have taken or are currently taking Plavix, you may wish to consult with your physician to discuss possible alternatives, especially if you have had a recent surgery or trauma.

If you or a loved on suffered injuries due to the use Plavix or any other medication, please contact our firm. If you have questions regarding your options or have questions regarding defective products/product liability law, we are available to talk with you about your legal rights. We have over 10 years experience helping victims of defective products receive the compensation they deserve.

Oakland-San Francisco Personal Injury Attorney Comments on Stroller Recall

January 25, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Jogging Strollers, which were imported by phil&teds USA Inc, have been recalled for repair due to risk of amputation and laceration hazards. The CPSC reported that when someone is opening or closing the stroller they can get a finger caught in the hinge. So far phil&teds has received three reports of injuries to adult users, one of which was a finger amputation. The other two included finger lacerations. Consumers are advised to stop using the recalled jogging strollers immediately and be aware that it is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product. The recall includes the sport v2 and v1 models, both of which have three wheels The company has received a total of three reports of adults that have been injured as they unfolded or folded these strollers. The recalled strollers were manufactured in China and sold in specialty juvenile stores nationwide from May 2008 through July 2010 for between $350 and $450.

Around 22,000 of these strollers, sold between May 2008 and July 2010 at specialty stores, are involved in the recall. The serial numbers on the v2 model range from 0308/001 to 0510/0840, and on the v1 model they range from 0308/001 to 0510/0906. The serial number has the first four digits as the month and year of manufacture, while the last four digits refer to the individual stroller number and can be found on the folding hinge. Consumers who have a recalled jogging stroller can contact phil&teds USA to get a free hinge-cover kit and repair instructions. They can also visit www.philandteds.com or call the company toll-free at (877) 432-1642 for more information.

Here at the Brod Law Firm, we believe that any company, not just phil&teds, that sells things that people pay good money for and expect a certain level of safety from, should be able to meet those expectations, and, if they can’t, then they should take every step necessary to provide full compensation to the consumer. If you have any questions regarding product liability law or suffered an injury due to the use of an unsafe product, please contact our firm for a free consultation.

San Francisco-Oakland Product Liability Attorney Comments on Toyota Class Action Settlement

January 21, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

According to ConsumerAffairs.com, hundreds of Toyota Prius owners have been complaining about a headlamp related problem since 2006. The complaints are similar: the headlamps flicker and then go out. Some Prius owners had their headlights go out while they were driving at night, and one person in particular was going around a blind curve at night when the lights went out. When owners take their Prius to the dealership to have the problem fixed, the price to cost the problem can range between $300-$2000, depending on if it is mechanical or electrical, or, if it is electrical, how extensive the electrical issue. For those who had their headlamps fixed or replaced, many of the headlamps would fail to function normally—either they pointed to high or low, would not adjust properly, or would go out again in as little as 6 months. Needless to say this is a costly burden to loyal Toyota customers.

The good news is Toyota Motor Corp. is going to alleviate this costly burden. They have agreed to settle the class action lawsuit regarding the faulty headlamps in its 2006 to 2009 Prius hybrids, which resulted in at least 2,500 complaints from motorists. The complaint stated that Toyota concealed the problems from owners even though the automaker had long been aware of the problem, a problem the suit called a “dangerous but undisclosed safety defect.” Under the terms of the settlement, eligible Prius owners will be reimbursed for their costs to fix failing headlamp systems. They will also get their warranties for headlight problems extended to five years or 50,000 miles, instead of the standard three years or 36,000 miles. Toyota can now rest assured that they have put the 2006-2009 behind them, which means no more court appearances, no recalls, and they can begin to rebuild their reputation of being a car company that deliverers quality and reliability—as they have faced several lawsuits over the past few years regarding sudden acceleration, all of which have damaged their image.

If you feel you have a product liability claim or have a question about product liability law as it pertains to a particular incident that happened to you, please contact our firm. We have over 10 years experience fighting and winning product liability suits and would be happy to consult with you regarding a potentential claim.


The Hidden Dangers of Hip Replacements--San Francisco Injury Attorney Comments

January 11, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

According to newsinferno.com, Depuy Orthopaedics ASR hip implant were recalled last year and continue to claim victims, and the recall was not limited to the U.S. Globally, there have been thousands of hip replacements that utilized the Depuy implants. The Depuy hip replacement is a metal-on-metal hip implant that is made of chromium and cobalt, and the implant contains a cup that is implanted into the hip, and ball and joint that connect to the leg. The recall was issued after research showed that 1 out of every 8 patients who had received the implant had to have an addition surgery to fix failing implants only after 5 years, instead of the expected 15 years. Additional research also suggested that the implants have a high failure rate, especially in patients of small stature. Also, it is speculated that the complications with the implant have to do with the breakdown of the metal components, which release metal shavings that end up in the bloodstream. The result is cobalt poisoning, a dangerous condition that increases the risk of health problems, of which include dementia or heart failure.

Now, many patients around the globe are seeking legal action against the manufacturer, which happens to be a division of Johnson and Johnson. Many who received the implants may need additional surgery, but everyone who received the implant has a potential claim against the manufacturer, as well as the distributor. Already, patients in the U.S. have filed lawsuits and claims against Depuy, and more are likely to be filed. Also, just recently, all federal lawsuits against DePuy were consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Ohio. Depuy is recommending that implant patients have their blood tested to check for high levels of chromium and cobalt. If you or someone you love suffered an injury due to the use of a defective product or if you have questions regarding a potential claim, please contact our firm. We have over 10 years experience fighting for the victims of defective products.

San Francisco-Oakland Product Liability Lawyer Comments on Contaminated Products

January 3, 2011 by Gregory J. Brod

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced First Class Foods, Inc., of Hawthorne, California, is recalling approximately 34,373 pounds of organic ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and, in some severe cases, kidney failure. The USDA has classified the recall as a Class I, meaning it is a health hazard and the use of the product will probably cause serious, if not, adverse health consequences or death. The problem was discovered through company microbiological sampling. FSIS and the company have received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of these products. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact a physician. FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. The following products are subject to recall:
• 16-oz. packages of “NATURE’S HARVEST ORGANIC GROUND BEEF BRICK” sold singly with one of the following “USE or FREEZE by” dates: “12/30/10″ or “01/08/11.”
• 16-oz. packages of “ORGANIC HARVEST ORGANIC GROUND BEEF BRICK” sold singly and in three-packs with one of the following “USE or FREEZE by” dates: “12/28/10″ or “01/06/11.”
• 16-oz. packages of NATURE’S HARVEST GROUND PATTY” containing four (4) 4-oz. patties with the following “USE or FREEZE by” date: “12/30/10″ or “01/08/11″

Each package label bears the establishment number EST. 18895, as well as the identifying Pack Date of 10341 and 10350 Julian dates. The contaminated products were produced on December 7 and 16, 2010, and were shipped to retail establishments in California, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Washington State. As they are made available, the retail distribution lists will be posted on FSIS’ website at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/FSIS_Recalls/Open_Federal_Cases/index.asp. Also, consumers can contact the firm, toll-free, at 1-888-843-8016 or can check the website at www.firstclassfoods.com.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to the use a defective or contaminated product, please contact our firm for a free consultation. If you have questions regarding product liability law or if you want to know if you have grounds to file a claim, please call us. We have over 10 years experience handling product liability claims and will help you win the compensation you deserve.

San Francisco Product Liability Attorney Comments on Harmful Canned Foods

December 17, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

Here’s a headline that caught our attention: “Botulism Risk May Hide in Homemade Holiday Gift Baskets.” Botulism and Holiday gift baskets? Hmm… we could not immediately see the connection between the two. The article explained that with the economic downturn, people are finding creative ways to save money on gifts, and one way people are saving money is by purchasing cans and jars and making canned food items to give as gifts. The problem with this gift idea is that some people don’t know what they are doing and end up giving canned goods that actually end up harming the people who eat the contents. According to the article, three people required hospitalization after eating green beans that were inappropriately canned at home in 2009. A common source of food-borne botulism is in home canned foods that are low in acid, such as green beans, corn and beets.
The May Clinic states that botulism is a rare but serious condition caused by toxins from bacteria called Clostridium botulism and that food-borne botulism is harmful bacteria that thrive and produce the toxin. Also according to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of food-borne botulism typically begin between 12 and 36 hours after the toxin gets into your body and include difficulty swallowing or speaking; facial weakness on both sides of the face; blurred vision; drooping eyelids; trouble breathing; nausea; vomiting and abdominal cramps; paralysis. Anyone experiencing the above symptoms should seek medical care. Early treatment increases chances of survival and will help to alert public health authorities, who can help prevent people from eating contaminated food.
So be careful this holiday season and be cautious if you receive a gift basket with home canned foods. The holidays should be a time of joy, a time to celebrate good health, friendship and family. If you or a loved one fell ill due to improper food handling or packaging, either homemade or commercial, contact our firm. We have over 10 years experience fighting and winning product liability lawsuits. Please call our office if you have any questions regarding product liability law or if need help determining if you have a claim.


San Francisco-Oakland Injury Attorney Comments on Food Safety

December 9, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

In July the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2749, and one week ago the senate passed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510) by a vote of 73-25. Yet, the day after S. 510 passed in the Senate, the House of Representatives determined that, due to S. 510’s revenue provisions. Accordingly, the only way to fix this problem is through House action, and so the House is expected to introduce and act on a new bill, which then must be passed by the Senate. But the 111th Congress only has little time remaining, so it must act quickly.

Food safety affects all of us. The FDA is responsible for 80% of our food supply, yet they currently do not have the authorities or the resources they need to regularly inspect all the food production facilities under its jurisdiction. Government inspectors inspect facilities once every 8-10 years. The new legislation would increase the FDA’s inspection frequency on once every 5-7 years. Additionally, the new measure would require manufacturers and farmers to come up with strategies to prevent contamination and then continually test to make sure they are working. The bill would also give the FDA the authority needed to force companies to recall contaminated items, test widely for dangerous pathogens, and provide the resources and authority to prevent food safety problems.

These provisions really need to be passed if we plan to properly deal and keep up with both the global and domestic food demand and challenges expected to develop within the next few decades, as we have not seen any significant food safety legislation in 70 years. Each year thousands of people become ill and businesses spend billions of dollars as a result of lost sales, recalls, and legal expenses caused by tainted food. If you or a loved one became sick due to food contamination, please contact our firm for a free consultation.

Oakland-San Francisco Elder Abuse Attorney Comments on the Reporting and Prevention of Elder Abuse

December 3, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

The laws regarding the handling of nursing home complaints may vary slightly by state, but most states have a policy requiring that investigation of nursing home complaints begin one to two weeks after they are filed. Individuals who file legitimate nursing home complaints have the right to be free from retaliation, to remain anonymous, to receive a response, and to accompany the investigator to the site if desired. According National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA), a recent national study of Adult Protective Services (APS), there were 253,421 reports of abuse of adults age 60 or older. Considering the large amount of underreporting, the Senate Special Committee on Aging estimated has that as many as five million older Americans may be victims of abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation every year.

There is good news in California, however, regarding the development of ways to prevent elder
abuse
and protect seniors. Specifically speaking, during 2010 new efforts were made at zeroing in and cracking down on the different types of abuse against elders. One such effort was the creation of a new software system to increase safety for domestic violence victims. The system, called the California Courts Protective Order Registry , will be used by the trial courts in all 58 counties and will help judges issue protective orders, including protective orders for elders. Another effort is being made by the California Department of Managed Care, which involves an investigation into insurance agents who defraud seniors by disenrolling them in Medicare-- without their knowledge-- and enrolling them in Medicare Advantage, a program where the federal government pays the premiums to the private insurer.

If your loved has been of elder abuse, please contact our office today. Or if you have questions regarding elder abuse law, please feel free to call us. Here at the Brod Law Firm we have over 10 years experience and a track record of successes in recovering compensation for personal injury victims.

San Francisco Auto Accident Attorney Comments on Toyota Class Action

November 22, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

According to the LA Times, a federal judge has ruled that he will permit Toyota owners of Toyota Motor Corporation vehicles to proceed with a class action lawsuit that alleges the issue with unintended acceleration resulted in a drop in car value. The attorneys for Toyota requested that the U.S. District judge, Judge James Selna, dismiss the case, arguing that attorneys for the plaintiff group were not able to isolate a defect in the vehicles, which means, essentially, that there is no case. In his tentative ruling, however, Judge Selna did not agree and allowed the case to go forward. Toyota has issued the following statement in response to the ruling: “Importantly, today’s hearing did not address the merits of Plaintiffs’ allegations and did not consider any evidence…At this early stage, this analysis by the Court requires a basic assumption that the plaintiffs’ allegations are true, even though they are unproven. The burden is now squarely on plaintiffs’ counsel to prove their allegations an Toyota is confident that no such proof exists.”

Even though Toyota is claiming they are innocent, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it is likely that Toyota vehicles have been involved in about 90 deaths linked to unintended acceleration crashes since 2000. Since last November, Toyota has recalled many millions of vehicles worldwide over floor-mat interference and sticking pedal problems that may lead to incidents of unintended acceleration. Some vehicles are subject to both recalls. Also, they are being sued by Allstate Insurance Co. over the millions of dollars paid in claims that have to do with accidents involving unintended acceleration. What is more, Toyota has just settled a lawsuit with the relatives of California Highway Patrol trooper Mark Saylor and his three family members, all of whom were killed in an accident involving unintended acceleration.

If you need help filing a claim involving defective Toyota vehicles or want to know if you have grounds to file a claim, please contact our office today. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we have over 10 years experience helping victims of car accidents receive the compensation they deserve.

Oakland-San Francisco Attorney Comments on FDA Litigation

November 1, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

Soon the FDA may seek criminal charges against drug company executives whose firms have illegally promoted drugs for unapproved uses. Prescribing a drug for an unapproved use—an act known as off-label use—is legal, but promoting it—an act known as off-label marketing—is not. Normally the FDA seeks monetary penalties against drug makers that engage in such marketing. Unfortunately these kinds of fines have shown to be ineffective in discouraging drug makers from engaging in off-label marketing. Earlier this month, according to newsinferno.com, Eric Blumberg, FDA litigation chief, told an industry audience that his agency was looking for cases to use what is known as the Park Doctrine as a tool to "change the corporate culture" of firms that have thus far shrugged off other penalties. In other words a corporate officer can now be liable for illegal corporate actions of which he should have now about or was responsible for preventing.

The Park Doctrine was established based on a case involving John Park, president of Acme Markets Inc. in 1970, a time when the company was cited for rodent infestations at a warehouse here. The FDA charged Park personally with violating sanitation laws after other rodent infestations were discovered despite a number of agency warnings. Park argued that as company president he was too far removed from warehouse supervision to be held responsible. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately agreed with the FDA that Park, as president, was responsible for ensuring rodent-free warehouses. Park got a slap on the wrist--all he had to pay a $250 fine. Prosecutors now hope to enforce stiffer penalties under the doctrine, including up to a year in prison and $100,000 fines.

Legal experts believe, the Park Doctrine can be a very powerful tool, while, at the same time, it presents prosecutors with a number of hurdles. They believe the real challenge is finding a person who was in a position to know about and prevent the conduct that occurred. In addition the other challenge would be assuring that an off-label case would hold up in court, especially if it involved executives many levels higher than the departments that committed the illegal acts, as there are certain cases where the management is so far removed from the activity and will have had no direct knowledge of an issue. So it goes without saying, to hold an executive criminally liable is a significant policy step that needs to be handled with unwavering confidence and diligence. Here at the Brod Law Firm we believe bringing criminal charges against executives is a bold and significant deterrent, despite the complexity and inherent challenges of these kinds of cases.


San Francisco - Oakland Product Liability Attorney Comments on Avandia Lawsuit

October 15, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

According to the St. Claire Record former Judge from St. Clair County, Judge Michael O’Malley, is part of a legal team leading two separate product liability suits filed the same day in Madison and St. Clair counties over the diabetes drug Avandia. O’Malley retired as judge on July 30th to join a St. Louis personal injury firm. When he was judge, he presided over at least one class action against drug companies. In 2005, he certified a case against Bay and GlaxoSmithKline, over the cholesterol fighting drug Baycol. The Illinois Supreme Court overturned O’Malley’s ruling in 2009. In the Avandia suits filed October 1st, O’Mailley is taking on GlaxoSmithKline as an adversary.

According to the suit residents Ida Akins and Allen McAllister say GlaxoSmithKline was wrong in selling a diabetes drug without first warning of potential serious side effects from which they suffered. Walgreens is a co-defendant in both suits. Akins and McAllister claim they used Avandia to treat their type 2 diabetes mellitus, but suffered severe injuries, one of which was a heart attack, from their ingestion of the drug. The defendants are being accuses of negligence, negligent pharmaco-vigilance, a breach of express warranty, a breach of implied warranty, fraud, and a failure to warn. They say both GSK and Walgreens are liable for their injuries because they created and heavily marketed Avandia as safe, despite knowing the drug posed a substantial health risk to patients with type-2 diabetes.

Avandia's potential risks and side effects have led critics to suggest that Avandia should be removed from the shelves. Yet, the FDA has not bothered to properly warn the public of its potentially fatal effects. Instead they merely issued a black box warning. In 2007, a study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic and published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that Avandia increases the risk of a heart attack by 43 percent and concluded that Avandia increased the risks of cardiovascular death by 64 percent. Now accusations have been made that the drug's manufacturers, GlaxoSmithKline, withheld data that showed problems with Avandia and neglected to properly warn the public and users of the drug of its potentially fatal side effects.

Those who criticize the FDA contend that the same department that is responsible for investigating a new drug's risks is the same department that decides drug approval, leading critics to believe that this fact poses a sincere conflict of interest—and that any information about risks that are discovered should be forwarded directly to the FDA commissioner, instead of being passed through various levels of bureaucracy within the FDA. Because heart attacks are the leading cause of deaths in diabetics, the risks of heart attack associated with the use of the drug should have been released to the public sooner. Had the FDA acted done that, perhaps many injuries and deaths could have been prevented. If you or someone you love thinks that they may have been hurt from using Avandia, contact the Brod Law Firm to learn more about your options.

San Francisco-Oakland Injury Attorney Comments on Baby Formula Recall

September 23, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

According to newsinferno.com, Abbott, the manufacturer for Similac Brand Powder Infant Formulas, has issued a recall for certain formulas. During an internal quality review, the presence of a small common beetle was detected in one production area in one manufacturing facility. According to the FDA, the formulas that contain the beetles poses no immediate health risk, but there is a possibility that infants who consume formula containing beetles or their larvae could experience symptoms of gastro intestinal discomfort and refuse to eat due to the irritation. The recall includes certain Similac product lines offered in plastic containers, 8-ounce, 12.4-ounce, and 12.9-ounce cans. Consumers can visit www.similac.com/recall or call (800) 986-8850 to find out if they have purchased a product involved in the recall. The good news is that all Abbott liquid infant formulas and all powder specialty formulas, such as Similac Expert Care Alimentum, Elecare, Similac Expert Care Seosure, Similac Human Milk Fortifies, and metabolic formulas for inherited disorders, are not affected by the recall,

Abbott has consulted with the FDA regarding the recall and is implementing a plan to address the matter at the affected manufacturing facility. No other facilities are involved in the recall. Recalled products can be returned at no cost to the consumer. The website and the consumer hotline have specific details on how to complete the return process. According yahoonews.com, Abbott expects to recall $100 million in connection with the recall. Over the past few decades, infant formula has become a popular method for feeding infants, but there is debate over how healthier it is over human milk. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we believe all families with infants should be aware of ten facts related to infant formula, as stated in yahoonews.com:
1. The linings of formula cans contain bisphenol-A
2. Feeding an infant formula can increase the child’s risk of developing food allergies and inflammatory bowel disease.
3. It is impossible to produce sterile powdered infant formula.
4. Baby formula may be contaminated with the harmful bacteria enterobacter sakazakii and salmonella enteric.
5. Formula feeding increases a child’s risk of childhood obesity and of developing diabetes.
6. Soy based formulas contain plant estrogens which can cause a variety of reproductive issues.
7. The FDA does not test infant formulas prior to their marketing and sale.
8. Infant formulas often contain perchlorate, the base chemical in solid rocket fuels.
9. FDA testing has revealed that some baby formulas also contain the chemicals melamine and cyanuric acid.
10. Many brands of formula contain ingredients which are generally acknowledged to contain or produce monosodium glutamate, or MSG.
If you purchased formula--or any another product--that caused injuries to you or a loved one, please call our product liability attorney.

San Francisco Personal Injury Attorney Comments on Latest Toyota Recall

September 2, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

According to newsinferno.com, Toyota is recalling some 1.13 million Corolla and Matrix cars for a flaw that U.S. regulators say may cause stalling at any speed without warning. This is a setback for the company as they try to regain their reputation for quality and reliability. Toyota is recalling the vehicles for the model years 2005-2008 in the U.S. and Canada following three reported accidents linked to the defect. The action raises new questions about Toyota’s electronics and adds to their recall list from the past year, which included more than 8 million vehicles worldwide for flaws related to unintended acceleration. Toyota tested 32 of the engine components and found four had cracking after thermal-shocking tests. Consequently, Toyota has concluded that this problem would likely continue to occur, and has decided to conduct a voluntary safety recall of all vehicles within the affected range. The recall also covers General Motors’s Pontiac Vibe hatchbacks, which were manufactured in a GM- Toyota venture in California. Toyota will repair the cars at no cost to owners and will reimburse those who had repairs done at their own cost.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has called for an investigation of possible electronics-related defects in Toyota vehicles. Earlier this year Toyota agreed to pay a record $16.375 million fine levied by the NHTSA for concealing information related to a January recall of 2.3 million vehicles for sticky accelerator pedals. This is in addition to the over 200 lawsuits Toyota faces in the US alone over accidents, decreased resale values, and stock drops. Consumer advocates and plaintiff’s attorneys have alleged that Toyota’s electronic control systems have played a major role in the defects that have lead to accidents and injuries. It looks like Toyota is losing their once-deserved rock solid reputation. If you are concerned about your car you visit Toyota.com/recall and review the list of current recalls. Also, if you or a loved one has been injured due to negligence of a car manufacturer, please call the Brod Law Firm.

San Francisco Product Liability Attorney Comments on Nationwide Egg Recall

August 20, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

The recent recall of eggs is largest in years. Last week Wright Country Egg of Iowa recalled 228 million eggs after a traceback investigation by the CDC linked a salmonella outbreak to the firm’s eggs. As of yesterday, the recall has expanded to 300 million. The Food and Drug Administration has activated an emergency operations command center in response to the outbreak. FDA investigators are still trying to determine the source of the contamination. They are performing environmental assessments of farming conditions and practices such as pest and rodent controls, biosecurity plans, environmental monitoring, sanitary controls, and feed sources. The FDA is also initiating effectiveness checks of the recall, conducting checks at retail stores, wholesalers, and distributors to make sure the recalled shell eggs are being removed from the market. Since July 17, the CDC has received around 2,000 reports of illness due to Salmonella. Recalled eggs affected by the recall are packaged under the brand names: Albertsons, Farm Fresh, Glenview, Mountain Dairy, Ralphs, Boomsma, Lund, Lucerne, Kemps, Pacific Coast, Ralph’s, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Shoreland, and Dutch Farms.

The symptoms associated with Salmonella are fever, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, a Salmonella infection can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis, and arthritis. Salmonella can cause serious or fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems. The FDA is reminding people to discard the recalled eggs or return them for a refund, not to eat raw eggs, avoid restaurant dishes made with raw or undercooked, unpasteurized eggs. Here at the Brod Law Firm we want to remind consumers to always investigate the sources of the food products they are buying. We have heard numerous stories of consumers placing blind faith in the products they purchase—and then falling victim to injury due to use of those products. That said, the manufacturer is ultimately responsible for false advertising and defective or contaminated products sold to the unsuspecting consumer. If you or a loved one has been injured from a defective product, please contact our office.

San Francisco Product Liability Attorney Comments on Tainted Food Products.

August 17, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed the recent outbreak of typhoid fever in the United States is linked to recalled packages of frozen mamey, a sweet, reddish tropical fruit grown mainly in Central and South America, pulp product, also known as zapote or sapote, used to make smoothies or milkshakes. Five people have been hospitalized due to the outbreak. The CDC reported five of those hospitalized drank milkshakes or smoothies made with frozen mamey—four of which were sold by Goya Foods Inc. On Aug. 12, Goya Foods issued a recall of 14-ounce plastic packages of Goya brand mamey pulp distributed to retailers in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Washington, UPC number 041331090803. The recall was initiated because one package of mamey pulp collected in Las Vegas and tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was found to contain Salmonella.

According to the CDC Typhoid is a serious disease caused by the Salmonella germ. Most people associate Salmonella with diarrhea; however, the typhoid germ is a different type of Salmonella germ. Instead of causing primarily diarrhea, this one causes primarily a fever. The most distinctive sign of the infection is a sustained, high fever - as high as 103-104 degrees. Also, a person with typhoid can develop a rash with flat, rose colored, speckled blotches on the skin. Not everyone has a typical course, though. In some cases, people who do have a typical, sustained fever, the fever can, after several days, go away on its own, then return later and stay for days. The CDC's website states that typhoid fever's danger doesn't end when symptoms disappear. It can become a cyclical fever. In fact, the person suffering from the infection can become a chronic carrier too, even without symptoms. If you ingest tainted food, hand washing won't protect you, but hand washing is still crucial in preventing the spread of the infection, as an infected person can shed the S. Typhi bacteria.

Here at the Brod Law firm, we believe the best way of preventing injury form illness is to stay informed. If you, or a loved one has become sick due to tainted food products, please call our office.

San Francisco Product Liability Attorney Comments on Drug Safety Bill

August 6, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

The recent controversy over the safety of drugs and the rise in drug recalls prompted Colorado’s Senator Michael Bennet to introduce the Drug Safety and Accountability Act of 2010. The bill would give the FDA additional recall power and other investigative and enforcement options in the following ways: grant the FDA the authority to assess civil penalties for violations of the food Drug and Cosmetic Act and to subpoena documents and witnesses, facilitate the exchange of information between the FDA and other regulatory agencies, and protect the industry whistleblowers that wish to bring information to the FDA. The bill would also impose higher manufacturing standards by requiring companies to institute quality management plans to ensure the quality of safety of their drugs and drug components, including strong supplier oversight; and ensuring companies are able to document which entities are involved in the manufacturing supply chain for their drugs. Under the bill over the counter drugs (OTC’s) would be more closely scrutinized. Up until now the FDA has focused on prescription drugs and not OTC’s.
Medicine cabinets are full of pharmaceuticals and over the counter drugs, as most people have come to expect that the drugs they take will improve their health. They do not expect drugs to cause harm or death. Unfortunately the FDA’s approval of drugs has been called into question by a series of unfortunate events and created a crisis of confidence. During the past few years the FDA’s lack of oversight all the products that are marked under their regulation has placed American lives in jeopardy. This new bill would definitely help rebuild the FDA’s reputation. The bill would also force drug makers to bear a bigger regulatory burden. As such, pharmaceutical companies would have to documents their supply chains from start to finish—a prospect that probably isn’t happy about, since they believe their current efforts to protect consumer safety are sufficient. Here at the Brod Law Firm we are sure there will be plenty of debate over this bill and wonder if it will go anywhere. If you or a loved one has been injured from over the counter or prescription drugs, please contact us.

San Francisco Product Liability Attorney Comments on Hazerdous Supplements

August 3, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

According to Consumer Reports, supplement manufacturers sell their products without first having to demonstrate that they are safe and effective. Consumer Reports has been working with experts from the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, an independent research group, and have identified a dozen supplement ingredients that it thinks consumers should avoid because they’ve been linked by clinical research or case reports to serious adverse events. Other factors were also evaluated, including evidence of effectiveness for their purported uses, and the extent to which the ingredients are readily available, either alone or in combination products.

What does all of this mean? It means, despite Americans spending billions of dollars annually on supplements, ingredients in supplements can be hazardous, even when they tout being natural. Consumer Reports also noted that the FDA has repeatedly found synthetic prescription drugs in supplements claiming to contain natural ingredients. Some supplements even claim they can cure cancer or replace prescription medication, even though it is against the law for companies to claim that any supplement can prevent, treat, or cure any disease except some nutrient-deficient conditions. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we believe the FDA needs to use the same strict standards to regulate supplements as it uses for drugs. Lack of oversight leaves unsuspecting consumers vulnerable.
Consumer Reports recommends consumers follow steps listed below before buying or taking supplements.
1. Beware of certain categories. Supplements for weight loss, sexual enhancement and bodybuilding have been problematic, according to the FDA, because some contain steroids and prescription drugs.
2. Look for the “USP Verified” mark. It indicates that the supplement manufacturer has voluntarily asked U.S. Pharmacopia, a trusted nonprofit, standards-setting authority, to verify the quality, purity, and potency of its raw ingredients or finished products. USP maintains a list of verified products at http://www.uspverfied.org.
3. Don’t assume more is better. It is possible to overdose even on beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Report problems. Let your doctor know if you experience any symptoms after you start taking a supplement. And if you end up with a serious side effect, ask your doctor or pharmacist to report it to the FDA, or do it yourself at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch or by calling 800-332-1088.
5. Research the right places. Be skeptical about claims made for supplements n ads, on TV and by sals staff. If a claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Instead try these sources:

The National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements.
The FDA, for alerts, advisories, and other actions.
Consumer Reports Health's dietary supplements and natural health products information.

San Francisco Injury Attorney Comments on Vaccine Injury

August 2, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

The FDA has updated the warnings and precautions sections of the prescribing information for Afluria to inform healthcare professionals that the Afluria vaccine has been associated with an increased incidence of fever and febrile seizure among young children (according to confirmed reports in Australia), mainly among those younger than 5 years. Also according to the FDA, various investigations into the cause of the febrile seizures seen with Afluria vaccine are still ongoing. The FDA is collaborating with Australia’s regulatory authority, other international regulatory counterparts, and CSL to obtain additional information, stay apprised and take part in the investigations. The FDA and the CDC are working together and are closely monitoring the continued safety of influenza vaccines. Both Healthcare professionals and patients are being encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use the influenza vaccines to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting system, the national vaccine safety surveillance program co-sponsored by the CDC and FDA.

In 1986 Congress created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) to award compensation to individuals who suffer vaccine injury. Even though vaccines undergo rigorous reviews to ensure safety, numerous lawsuits have been filed alleging injuries from vaccines. These types of lawsuits typically allege either that the drug manufacturer failed to properly warn of side effects, that the drugs were inherently unsafe, or that the manufacturer or the FDA was negligent in testing the vaccine safety. There is still much debate about whether flu vaccines helps or not, or even if it is safe. Any person not sure about whether or not they should take the flu vaccine should talk with a health care professional about their concerns and the risks involved, and if they decide to be vaccinated, they should take the flu vaccine from a licensed healthcare professional.
If you believe you have been injured by a vaccine or a prescription drug, you may be able to file a claim seeking compensation for related medical expenses, pain and suffering and future lost earnings. Contact the Brod Law firm for more information about legal claims that may be available to you.

San Francisco Pharma Attorney Comments on Latest FDA Drug Warning

July 30, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

This week, the FDA has issued a warning to physicians and patients that the intravenous antibiotic Cubicin can cause life-threatening eosinophilic pneumonia, which is caused the accumulation of a type of white blood cells, called eosinophils, in the lungs. Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath and difficult breathing. According to their data, The FDA has identified seven confirmed cases of eosinophilic pneumonia between 2004 and 2010 and an additional 36 possible cases. Of the seven confirmed cases, all were older than 60, and all were prescribed Cubicin for non-FDA approved conditions. Cubicin was approved in September 2003 for treatment of sercous skin infections and in 2006 for the treatment of bloodstream infections. In 2007 its label was modified to indicate an increased risk for pulmonary eosinophilia, the increased concentration of eosinophis in the blood. The FDA has requested that Cubist, the manufacturer of the product, revise its label to reflect the newly recognized danger.
News like this suggests approval by the FDA hardly has anything to do with the safety or efficacy of a drug. What is more, by the time a drug is recalled, many people have already been injured or killed. As drug companies continue to market new drugs and downplay serious health effects in their relentless pursuit of profit, the public will always be at risk. Each year United States and multi-national pharmaceutical companies bring new and different products to market--some of which have adequately been tested and some that have not. Many of these drugs are causing human pain and suffering, rather than relieving it. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we have experience representing victims of injury and wrongful death due to prescription, and non-prescription drugs, which have caused harm. Whether you or a loved one have sustained injury or death as the result of preventable side effects from a prescription drug or over-the-counter remedy, we are available to investigate your claim and represent you if your loss is the result of drug manufacturer wrongdoing.

Product Liability Attorney Comments on BPA Found on Cash Register Receipts

July 29, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

Your trip to the grocery could end up costing you more than the total printed on your receipt. The Environmental Working Group has just released lab tests showing the synthetic estrogen BPA is found in high levels on cash register receipts. Bisphenol A (BPA) has been linked to cancer, abnormal reproductive system development, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and asthma. Health professionals and scientists have been trying to get BPAs banned from food packaging to prevent BPAs from leaching into infant formulas, canned foods, and beverages. It turns out that major retailers are using BPA contaminated paper in their receipts including: McDonald’s, CVS, KFC, Whole Foods, Walmart, Safeway, and the US Postal Service. However, many receipts contain little or no BPAs such as those at Target, Starbucks, and Bank of America ATMs. What is scary is about this new discovery is that the paper used in the receipts that contain BPA look no different than papers that do not.

Research has demonstrated that this BPA leaches out of polycarbonate plastics, out of the resins used to line most food cans and out of dental sealants. When we hear about polycarbonate bottles and BPA, the amount of BPA leaching out is so minimal that it can only be measured in nanograms. Now, when we hear about average cash register receipt containing BPA, the amount of BPA leaching out is so great that it is measured in milligrams! And the BPA that is leaching out from receipts is free BPA, free meaning the individual molecules are loose and ready for uptake. However there is no research yet that shows exactly how much BPA can rub off onto fingers from receipt papers, if it penetrates through the skin — and if it does, how much gets into the circulation and if it can reach organs throughout the body. Here at the Brod Law firm we believe that the government should mandate labeling of any and all products that contain BPA, including receipts—since they are the biggest threat—at the point of purchase. That way, at least consumers would know the risks involved regarding their purchases and, most importantly, if they should wash their hands after picking up a BPA-laced receipt.

California Judge Approves Class Action Against Apple & AT&T

July 16, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

This week, according to the Huffington Post, Judge James Ware of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has approved a class action, monopoly abuse lawsuit against Apple and AT&T. The class action brings together several individual claims filed by iPhone buyers dating back to late 2007. An amended complaint was filed in June 2008, the basis of which deals with Apple’s practice of “locking” iPhones so that they can only be used on AT&T’s network. The lawsuit also accused Apple of secretly making AT&T its exclusive iPhone partner in the U.S. for five years. Consumers who bought the iPhone were duped into a five year relationship with AT&T, after they had signed a two year contract with AT&T, and were essentially locked into staying with AT&T if they wanted to keep their phone. In addition, the lawsuit claims that the actions hurt competition and drove up prices for consumers . The lawsuit also seeks an injunction to prevent Apple from selling locked iPhones in the U.S. and from determining what iPhone programs people can install.

At the moment iPhone 4 consumers have three options to deal with the reception problem: 1)hold their phones in an akward manner; 2)return their phones and pay a 10% restocking fee; or 3) or purchase an Apple “bumper” case for their phones, which costs $29.99 on top of the premium their already paid premium. Without the class action iPhone consumers have no other leverage or relief. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we were wondering when something like this would happen two the largest companies in the U.S. For some time the public has not been properly informmed or even been made aware of corporate practices, and a class action case such is this is needed to force corporations to undertake informational campaigns, which would give consumers an opportunity to make educated decisions when purchasing products.

Most consumers do not fully understand how powerful these corporations are and how they may harm competition in the market. What is more, competition in the technology market is very different from competition in traditional markets. Specifically speaking, the technology market has powerful “network effects(FYI: the term ‘network’ refers to a common user base, not the physical wires or wireless systems that connect pieces of electronics).” What all this means is that the “first movers ( the term ‘first mover’ refers to the first significant company to move into a market)” in the technology market have an advantage over the “late movers” and rivals who have incompatible products--by setting up a dominant, proprietary standard—and, thus, make it difficult, if not impossible, to compete. If you feel that you been treated unfairly due to an iPhone 4 issue or have questions regarding any other defective product or class action issue, please contact our firm.

From Denture Cream that Cripples to Dilapidated Housing

April 12, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

All kinds of legal issues are in the headlines and available to read about on internet these days. Facebook has been facing legal problems regarding their privacy settings…Yelp has had to face a class action over their advertising and sales tactics…Google faces a class action by artists, authors, and photographers, and illustrators seeking to be paid for what they create…Toyota faces class action suits regarding the recent recall and the billions lost in the value of owners’ vehicles…TLC Lasik Surgery Centers faces a class action suit accusing them of operating on patients with certain pre-existing conditions, which made them unsuitable for surgery…Denture Creams, such as Fixodent and Poligrip, have faced class action suits due to serious life threatening side effects…and, here in San Francisco, a shady landlord is being sued by City Attorney Dennis Herrera for violating building and health codes.

Here at the Brod Law Firm, we are committed to helping the victims. Our Firm’s philosophy is based on one basic principal: anyone who comes to us with a personal injury issue should be treated equally and with dignity and fairness. We find it remarkable, the lawsuits that are in the daily news, from class action cases to small personal injury cases. The potential for personal injury suits exists, always. No one can foresee if or when they will fall victim to an injury. If you think you have personal injury case, don’t hesitate to call us at (415)-397-1130 for a free consultation.

San Francisco Consumers Could Soon Have a Better Chance at Staying Healthy

January 27, 2010 by Gregory J. Brod

It is no secret that obesity is an epidemic in this country and that not knowing the nutritional content of the foods we eat can lead to weight gain. Remember Jones v. Dineequity, the class action lawsuit brought against Applebee’s Restaurants for advertising inaccurate nutritional content of its Weight Watchers menu items? Well, it is becoming more and more obvious that people make better, healthier decisions when equipped with the right tools, such as accurate nutritional information. A new study from Seattle Children's Research Institute shows that parents pick healthier foods for their children if they understand more about the meals they are buying. In the study, parents were given a hypothetical fast food menu on which nutritional contents were displayed next to menu items. The study found that parents chose items that had fewer calories than what they would normally select and suggests that labeled menus can result in reducing the calories eaten at restaurants. New York has already adopted restaurant menu labeling regulations, and legislation that would require federal labeling standards, known as the Lean Act (H.R. 1398), is currently making its way through the legislative process.

The LEAN Act would provide consumers dining out at chain restaurants with comprehensive nutritional labeling informationin menu items—such as fat, carbohydrate and sugar content, not just calorie content-- and allow them to make decisions suited for their specific health needs. The Lean Act is based on the federal Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA), which provides consumers with comprehensive nutrition information in packed food items. Under the LEAN Act, restaurants would also be required to post statements on their menu boards indicating that the daily caloric intake is 2000 calories. Just as the NLEA has had a powerful effect on choices Americans make at the grocery store, the LEAN Act can provide millions consumers with the opportunity to create profound changes, in terms of health conscious choices, when dining out. Here at the Brod Law Firm we believe passing of the LEAN Act is an important step government can take to protect consumers from inadvertently hurting themselves when eating at restaurants. And considering the current debate over health care reform, the passing of this bill would be a means of preventive care for millions of Americans who want to take a proactive approach to their health.

Don't Eat Those Dangerous Cookies, People of San Francisco!

June 29, 2009 by Gregory J. Brod

Who doesn’t love raw cookie dough? Have you heard of the recent recall by Nestle of its raw cookie dough? The cookie dough has been voluntarily recalled by Nestle due to its link to a recent E.Coli outbreak. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we think this current recall should spur into action the much needed overhaul the food-safety system. This recall brings into the spotlight one of the FDA’s major handicaps: it does not have the authority to order a recall on its own and relies on the cooperation of food providers to voluntarily recall products.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Nestle refused to give Food and Drug Administration inspectors documents on pest-control and consumer complaints during earlier inspections in recent years. Companies are not required by law to open up their books, but many food companies do, an FDA official told the Wall Street Journal. The agency can only demand access to records if it shows a reasonable belief that the foods are a serious health threat. So far, the E. coli outbreak has affected 69 people, 34 of which have required hospitalization. The bacteria is usually found in cattle feces and can cause severe illness, kidney failure or death. Federal officials are inspecting the Danville facility for clues as to how the bacteria could have gotten in the dough. The CDC is collaborating with public health officials in many states, the FDA, and the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service to investigate the outbreak.

Nestlé's cookie dough is packaged with labels warning consumers not to eat it raw, but that warning should not mean Nestle can’t be sued. Everyone knows that Americans love raw cookie dough. It has even been introduced in certain flavors of ice cream. Victims can’t be blamed for not reading the warning label – it seems accepted by most people that eating raw cookie dough has become, in a way, like a national pastime. Nevertheless, the FDA advises not to eat any varieties of pre-packed Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough due to the risk of contamination. If consumers have any prepackaged, refrigerated cookie in their home they should throw them away. Cooking the dough is not recommended because consumers might get the bacteria on their hands and on other cooking surfaces.

U. S. efforts to prevent food-contamination illnesses have been criticized for poor communication and coordination between state, local and federal authorities. Currently, Legislation is working its way through Congress that would stiffen requirements for food companies, calling for them to keep more records and give the FDA access during inspections. The Obama administration is now sending a clear signal to that the days of neglect are over. It is a new era and the end of the Bush administration’s practice of weakening regulation in favor of industry profits. In March of this year, Obama said America’s food safety laws have not been updated since they were written during the Teddy Roosevelt’s administration. He named Margaret Hamburg the new FDA Commissioner and announced he is forming a new “Food Safety Working Group”. The group’s mission will determine how our food safety laws need to be overhauled.

Another Off-Label Controversy--Watch Out, California Consumers!

June 17, 2009 by Gregory J. Brod

According to a recent article put out by Bloomberg, Eli Lilly & Co. urged doctors to prescribe Zyprexa for elderly patients with dementia, an unapproved use for the antipsychotic, even though the drugmaker had evidence the medicine didn’t work for such patients. Lilly pleaded guilty in January to a federal misdemeanor charge of illegally marketing Zyprexa for off-label use to elderly consumers. Zyprexa was introduced in 1996 and was developed to help control hallucinations and delusions associated with Schizophrenia and sever mania. Shamelessly, after Lilly had sent the U.S. Food and Drug Administration study results that showed it didn’t alleviate dementia symptoms in older patients, it started marketing the drug to dementia patients. One sales representative admitted that she persuaded a doctor to write Zyprexa prescriptions for use in elderly patients for help with insomnia or irritability. A different sales person asked a doctor to give Zyprexa to elderly who are not thinking clearly and are suspicious and hostile.
In 2002 Zyprexa sales grew after Lilly expanded their label off-label marketing campaign—widening their prescriber base to include primary care physicians—encouraging its use for Post Traumatic Stress, mood disorders and insomnia. Lilly officials have not only marketed Zyprexa for off label use but they are accused of hiding the drug’s health risk and failure to properly warn patients they could develop diabetes by taking the medicine. Even more disturbing is the fact that Lilly acknowledged death among patients taking Zyprexa was significantly greater than placebo-treated patients. By lying about Zyprexa’s benefits and downplaying its risks—in their effort to pump up sales--Lilly has damaged the lives of countless consumers. Consumer safety is seriously violated when they place their trust in their doctors who are prescribing drugs, drugs that come from a company, such as Lilly-- who’s website states on their Ethics and Compliance page-- that they “conduct business consistent with all applicable laws, are honest in their dealing with customers, and maintain an environment built on respect and concern for all the people they touched and are touched by their company.” Thankfully, consumers can rely on the law for protection after being harmed and lied to by big pharma. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of consumers who have been injured from drugs prescribed for unapproved uses.

From China to San Francisco--Beware of Dangerous Products

April 17, 2009 by Gregory J. Brod

Skimming over the news today I noticed another article regarding recalled products. This time, according the Associated Press, the recalled products are fitness balls, made in China and manufactured by New York based EB Brands. The fitness balls have been recalled because the balls can unexpectedly burst during use if they are over inflated. The company received reports of people sustaining fractures and multiple bruises when they fell after balls had burst. In the same article, another recall alert was posted for Shape-O Toy Maracas imported by Tupperware. This toy was also made in China. The toys are considered hazardous because they can brake and expose small parts, which children can choke on. The handles are also a suffocation hazard for children.
This issue of hazardous products manufactured in China is becoming more and more prevalent. Whose fault is it that these products are injuring consumers? Is it China for not ensuring products manufactured in their country are safe, or our fault, for not monitoring or inspecting imports? Product safety lies with both exporters in China and importers in the United States. When companies here choose to do business with the world’s leading manufacturing power, they need to ensure quality and safe standards are met within the entire supply chain. Companies are often not dealing with only one supplier, but often are dealing with the supplier’s suppliers. The sourcing becomes invisible when companies choose China to manufacture their goods, potentially placing the innocent U.S. consumer at risk. In the wake of massive product recalls, we need to wake up to the fact there seems to be a serious lack of integrity at all business levels on all sides. Just as we need a huge overhaul in our nation’s food safety regulatory agencies, we also need an improvement in how we choose to produce and manufacture products. More stringent laws and regulations must be applied to companies that choose to commit fraud against consumer safety. In the meantime, injured people are left to seek recourse in our civil system.

San Francisco Injury Attorney Comments on Combustable Babies

April 8, 2009 by Gregory J. Brod

According to an article by the Associated Press released earlier this week, a government study has found traces of a chemical used in rocket fuel in samples of powdered baby formula, and those traces could exceed what’s considered a safe dose for adults if mixed with water also contaminated with the ingredient. Apparently the study, released last month by scientists at the U. S. centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looked for the chemical, perchlorate, in different brands of powdered baby formula. Also according to the article, the study was brought to the publics’ attention when a Washington based advocacy organization, The Environmental Working Group, issued a press release Thursday. The article goes on to point out that the study was not a study of health effects, so it is unknown how dangerous the product is or the risks involved.

Apparentely, the chemical has turned up in several cities drinking water supplies and that it can occur naturally and most perchlorate contamination has been tied to defense and aerospace sites. The EPA, however, does consider perchlorat exposure a serious issue and expects to announce a decision soon about future steps in dealing with the chemical. The article also noted that certain health authorities emphasize the formula is safe, one of whom is Curtis Stevens of the international Formula Counsel, which represent formula manufacturers. Surely consumers are and will be confused by the conflicting and unverifiable information regarding the risks of consumption of this chemical.

Here are some facts. According to the FDA’s interim health advisory, human exposure to high doses of perchlorate may disrupt how the thyroid gland functions. In adults, the thyroid plays an important role in metabolism by making and storing hormones that help regulate the heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and the rate at which food is converted into energy. In fetuses and infants, thyroid hormones are critical for normal growth and development of the central nervous system. Perchlorate can interfere with the human body’s ability to absorb and iodine into the thyroid gland which is a critical element in the production for thryroid hormone. So how are we the consumers supposed to react to the varying reports about the risks associated with this chemical?

Now there are a few ways to you could react to this situation: one way is from a purely over-exaggerated, inaccurate, sensational point of view, whereby you worry that that adults and babies will become deathly ill or suddenly combust from exposure to the chemical; another would be from a stance of blind faith, whereby you blindly believe that there probably is not much of a risk since some “health officials” say there are none; or you could view this news from a rational, proactive stance. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we hold the third point of view and think appropriate proactive measures should vary according to individual circumstances, and we realize that the severity of the danger depends on the size of a person and how much they have consumed. But with more and more products showing up on the FDA’s and EPA’s radar, it is hard not feel extremely alarmed. It is no wonder that consumer confidence is at an all-time low. It is clear that now, more than ever, we need food safety reform. We recommend consumers educate themselves and make their own judgments about the products they use and that they visit the FDA’s website as well as pro- consumer websites to find the latest recommendations and warnings regarding those products.

Wanted: Food Safety Reform in California and Beyond

April 3, 2009 by Gregory J. Brod

First it was spinach, then it was tomatoes, then peppers, then peanuts, and now it’s pistachios that have been contaminated with salmonella. The Food and Drug administration is investigating Setton International Foods Inc. of Commack, N.Y., along with its sister company, Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc. in the San Joaquin Valley plant as sources of the scare. According to the Los Angeles Times, nearly two dozen dead cockroaches, rodent droppings and one live cockroach on an ingredient rolling rack were found inside the Commack plant during a state department health inspection. The San Joaquin Valley plant then recalled 2million pounds of nuts over fears of possible salmonella contamination.

Sadly, food producers are not legally bound to meet the FDA’s recommendations for a well run plant. Most consumers don’t know that not mandatory for plants to release testing and reporting results . Consequently, consumers in California have every right to feel a little scared when it comes to food safety. The solution to this growing problem is for both public and consumer advocates to place pressure on food processors and food manufacturers and for government to beef up their food safety guidelines. Another solution would be for the FDA to emphasize to all food processors and manufacturers the fact that efforts, efforts that initially seem costly, such as purchasing or investing in equipment that helps their plants churn out safe products, can save them millions in the long run or prevent bankruptcy.

Requiring everyone along the production process to perform rigorous testing will also help make sure ingredients are safe, which ensures consumers are safe. And since during the production process food products can start in one state and end up in several different companies in different states for repackaging or for use as ingredients, and finding the source of an outbreak can be nearly impossible, it is important that all states set in place stringent food quality safety standards. A bit of good news regarding reform comes from California, where a bill by two Los Angeles Democrats, Assemblyman Mike Feuer and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, would require food processors in the state to have plans in place to require periodic testing and to prevent contamination and to respond quickly if it occurred. It may seem glib to say, but, here at the Brod Law Firm, we believe now is the time for food safety reform not just in California but in the entire country-- as it looks like we are all inextricably linked when it comes to our safety and the foods we eat.

Dangerous Products - Manufacturers fight with all of their corporate power

March 19, 2009 by Gregory J. Brod

In October 2003, a Jeep was rear-ended by a tractor trailer in Virginia, causing the Jeep to roll over several times. A passenger in the Jeep suffered brain damage as a result of the crash, and a Virginia jury awarded her $10.2 million dollars. The trucking firm that was a defendant in the case argued that the woman’s brain injuries were due to a previous incident, not the crash involving the Jeep. Although the jury awarded $10.2 million dollars, the matter was appealed, and the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the jury verdict.

It is 2009, nearly six years after this tragic event, and the injured woman is only now receiving closure to her ordeal, at least as far as it relates to the judicial process. Corporate defendants often do not take any responsibility, whatsoever, for the injuries they cause. Despite a jury of her peers finding that she was entitled to an award of damages, the corporate defendants in the Virginia case fought for years, undoubtedly spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. The “tort-reform” lobby, which is primarily funded by the insurance industry, puts massive efforts and spares no expense into labeling many lawsuits as “frivolous”. However, the public rarely hears about cases involving a “frivolous defenses”. There are many instances in which a corporate defendant or insurance company vigorously defends a claim (which results in a lawsuit), even though there is no good faith basis to do so, or even if it makes no sense from a financial basis. In many cases, the corporate defendant or insurance company will spend far more in defending a claim than the total amount sought by an injured person. The reason is to “send a message” to injured people that should they pursue their rights, it will be costly, time consuming, difficult, and will be fought tooth and nail. It is therefore very important to ensure that when an injured person in selecting a lawyer to help them, that the lawyer be prepared to vigorously fight for their rights.

Get Ready to Sue, Californians!

March 6, 2009 by Gregory J. Brod

The other day I wrote about drugmakers putting profits before safety when they engage in off-label marketing and how drugmakers and their labeling strategies are coming under the scrutiny of the law. Interestingly, yesterday, the Supreme Court said state juries can award damages for harm done from unsafe drugs, even if their labels satisfied the FDA. This ruling is important because drugmakers can no longer protect themselves from lawsuits merely because their labels are in compliance with the FDA’s requirements. The underlying case, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals v. Levin, started in 2000 when Diana Levine went to a clinic to seek relief for a migraine and was injected with Wyeth’s drug Phenegran to help her with symptoms of nausea. Days later gangrene set in and her harm had to be amputated. She was awarded 6.7million in damages.

The fallout from this case? It is unknown how this decision will affect pharmaceutical companies, but it is likely that they will start strengthening and lengthening the language on labels. It was only until recently, under the Bush administration, that federal agencies were given the final word on drug product safety, and the FDA would claim that state law interfered with their business. This court ruling has turned the FDA’s fears upside down, along with our former administration’s effort to protect drugmakers from lawsuits. And now that these types personal injury claims are no longer pre-empted, more plaintiffs will feel less pressure to settle and be given the opportunity to be heard by a jury and receive compensation. Here at the Brod Law Firm we are prepared to take on product liability suits against drugmakers, now more than ever, due to the outcome of this case.

Californians Beware! How Safe are Prescription Drugs in California or Anywhere in the Nation?

March 3, 2009 by Gregory J. Brod

Yesterday, Bloomberg.com reported that the drug maker AstraZeneca pushed salespeople to tell U.S. doctors its antipsychotic drug Seroquel didn’t cause diabetes more than two years after warning physicians in Japan of possible links to the disease. This report brings into the foreground the dangerous practice by drug makers of making false and misleading statements to sell drugs. This phenomenon was recently noted in article in LawyersandSettlements.com, where the makers of Seroquel were cited for downplaying the side effects associated with the drug and for the practice of prescribing the medication for conditions it was not designed to treat, also known as off-label marketing. The article states that “Seroquel is an anti-psychotic drug that was approved by the FDA for the treatment of Schizophrenia and manic episodes associated with Bipolar I disorder …and is being prescribed for everything from anxiety, to children with attention deficit disorder. “ Sadly, as noted in the article, “it is this off-label marketing that creates a boost in sales for drug makers.” The article also adds, because “drug companies are prohibited from directly advertising a product for use beyond that which it has been approved by the FDA”…they take advantage of a loophole that exists in the system, the” loophole that gives doctors and qualified health care professionals the capacity to make subjective decisions based on perceived or assumed benefit.” Consequently, drug makers focus their marketing on the medical community. Medication that is prescribed off-label to healthy people represents the largest market for drug makers.
Cases such as these, where drug companies put profits before people, are becoming more and more common. FDAnews.com reported in September of last year that Cephalon agreed to pay $444 million in damages and penalties to settle allegations of improper off-label drug marketing. A public interest group called The New Jersey Public Interest Research Group has been researching these practices and put out a report titled “Turning Medicine into Snake Oil” in 2006. The report highlights the issue of off-label marketing and the FDA’s inability to police drug marketers. They state: “When drug marketers promote off-label by broadening the drug’s indication—meaning they urge doctors to ignore the safety-based limitations the FDA imposed on a drug’s use- they are promoting the drug for uses it is effective for, but which the FDA decided are not justified, given the drug’s risks. Patients given these prescriptions are by definition exposed to unnecessary, excessive risks.” In turn, patients who are exposed to excessive risks can or will be injured, even killed. Patients place trust in their doctors, and are violated when unnecessarily prescribed drugs with dangerous side effects. Here at the Brod Law Firm we are prepared to help anyone who has been injured or has lost a loved one due to a dangerous prescription drug.

Peanut Butter Recall – Potential Injuries

January 30, 2009 by Gregory J. Brod

On January 13, 2009, the Peanut Butter Corporation of America announced a nationwide peanut butter recall after discovering one of the many, many products made with its peanut butter, contained salmonella, and six cases of salmonella have already been reported in Illinois. Though none of the affected peanut butter has apparently been sold directly to consumers, there are so many products that contain some amount of peanut butter in kitchens across the country, the scope of this recall is expected to be significant. Unlike recent food recalls for tainted lettuce and other vegetables, the food products containing peanut butter sit on shelves in stores and pantries for months or even years. Currently, the recall affects products produced after July 1, 2008. The FDA’s website contains current information about the peanut butter recall and the affected products.

Salmonella is a group of bacteria that can cause intestinal infections, and there are many types of Salmonella bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), most persons infected with this foodborne illness develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some cases, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. To learn more about Salmonella, visit the CDC’s website.

The FDA continues to update the recall, and the American Peanut Council also lists brands which are not affected by the peanut butter recall.

In California, the law provides for strict liability in products liability cases, where a manufacturing defect, design defect, or insufficient instructions or warnings of potential safety hazards is a substantial factor in causing harm or personal injury. Depending on the nature and extent of injuries caused by tainted peanut butter, there may be a substantial number of personal injury claims all across the country.

California Consumers Protected Under New Law

January 23, 2009 by Gregory J. Brod

Here at the Brod Law Firm, we were glad to read about how California assembly member Jared Huffman’s bill: AB 1860, a bill intended to protect consumers, became law on January 1st of this month. Huffman introduced the bill because of his concerns over the fact that recalls by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) are on a voluntary basis and do not require retailers to remove dangerous product s from store shelves. Huffman stated, “The federal government’s limited powers of enforcement and voluntary recalls are not enough to protect consumers, especially our children, from the dangers of lead poisoning and other hazards. In the absence of federal laws requiring that hazardous products be removed from store shelves and further circulation, I have introduced AB 1860 to better protect consumers and companies from products that are known to be unsafe. “ This new law also addresses the fact that many recalled products stay in circulation long after the recalls have been announced and that in California there is no system in place to ensure that recalled products are taken off the market. Most importantly, this new law will officially attempt to fix this problem by requiring the immediate removal of recalled products from the market, prohibiting the sale of recalled products and requiring retailers to post recall notices in a conspicuous fashion. Retailers will also be required to notify consumers who have purchased recalled products, if their contact information is available, and manufacturers must also provide a way for the products to be returned to them. Additionally, the law imposes stiff fines against those who sell recalled products to prevent the items from surfacing on the internet or at second-hand stores.
To underscore how much this new law is needed, Huffman referenced a study published in August 2007 in the journal Injury Prevention. In the study 301 thrift stores were examined, and researchers found that 69% were selling at least one hazardous product. The study also found previously recalled products have been associated with child injuries. This new law will now hold manufacturers and retailers accountable for removing dangerous products from the marketplace, which will protect consumers from harming themselves. The CPSC recommends that all resellers check their website at www.cpsc.gov to obtain information on recalled products before taking inventory or selling a product. After defending so many cases related to defective products injuring innocent consumers, we are relieved to hear that an assembly member has made efforts to reduce the future risk of consumer injuries, especially injuries to children.