Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

April 2015 Archives

Ford Issues 5 Recalls in Less Than a Week

When it rains it pours. Ford recently issued four recalls at once for several issues affecting more than 591,000 vehicles.

Here is what you need to know about these four recalls.

Recall No. 1: Park Lamps

Ford is recalling over 22K 2015 Lincoln MKZ for head lamps that are brighter than regulations allow. The headlights may make driving conditions unsafe for oncoming drivers. Ford dealers will adjust body control module software to lower the intensity of the headlights.

Recall No. 2: Underbody Heat Shields

This recall is for about 100 2015 Ford F-150. Underbody heat shields may be improperly installed and can cause car fires. Affected cars will be inspected for missing components and repaired as needed.

Recall No. 3: Faulty Fuel Pumps

Over 50,000 2014 Ford Focus, Edge, Escape, Fiesta and Transit Connect vehicles are being recalled for problems with nickel plated fuel pumps. Problems with the nickle plating may cause the pump to seize and cause cars to stall or not start. This defect may have caused one accident.

To fix this defect, dealers will replace the fuel delivery module.

Recall No. 4: Steering Gear Motor Attachment Issues

This recall affects over 500K 2013-2015 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ mid-size sedans and 2015 Ford Edge crossovers. Bolts on steering gear motor attachments can corrode and break, especially in cold weather areas. The defect may cause drivers to lose power steering. The car will default to manual steering modes which may make it harder to steer at lower speeds.

Ford will replace bolts and damaged gears on all affected vehicles.

Recall No. 5:

These recalls come close after another Ford Recall last week for almost 400,000 2012-2014 Ford Fiesta and 2013-2014 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles for possible broken door latches. The broken latches may cause doors to spring open while driving. There have been three reported incidents of doors swinging open and causing damage or injury.

Ford will replace all four door latches on affected vehicles and has promised to do all repairs at no cost to the customer.

If you've been injured or suffered damage to your car due to any of these defective parts, an experienced products liability attorney may be able to help you assess your options.

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I Got Listeria. How and Who Do I Sue?

If you haven't heard of all the recent recalls of listeria infected products, such as spinach, frozen foods, hummus, and ice cream, you've been living under a rock, and need to take a second look in your refrigerator.

However, if you've been unlucky enough to be infected with listeria, you're probably wondering, how and who do I sue?

Suing For Listeria

Listeria can cause severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, muscle ache, convulsions, miscarriages, or even death. Because of your injury, there are several legal theories that you may allow you to sue for damages.

Strict Liability

Strict liability allows a person injured by a defective product to win damages without having to show that the manufacturer or seller did anything wrong. To be able to make a strict liability claim, you must show that the product had an unreasonably dangerous defect that caused injury when used in the manner it was intended to be used, and the product had not been substantially changed.

Violation of Implied Warranty

An implied warranty promises that a product is safe to use for its intended purpose. Food products that are not safe to eat would definitely violate an implied warranty.

Negligence

You can sue for negligence if you can show that the manufacturer or seller breached a duty of care to produce a safe product and caused you injury as a result.

Who to Sue?

The hard part of determining who to sue is figuring out where you got the listeria from. Usually, a recall would point you in the right direction, or you could have your stool tested to see if it matches a strain of listeria found in a specific food item.

Once you've determined which product caused your listeria infection, it's pretty standard practice to sue the store where you bought it, the manufacturer that made the food, and the producer who supplied the infected ingredient.

For example, a California couple affected by the caramel apple listeria outbreak sued Wal-Mart who sold the caramel apples, Happy Apple Co. who made the caramel apples, and Bidart Bros. who supplied the apples to Happy Apple Co.

Listeria lawsuits, while possible, can be complicated and hard to prove. If you've been infected by listeria, consult with an experienced products liability attorney to consider your options before you sue.

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Blue Bell Creameries has recalled all of its ice cream products in response to ever-increasing listeria contamination concerns. This total recall comes after months of incremental warnings that products could contain Listeria monocytogenes.

To date, listeria bacteria in Blue Bell ice cream has caused 3 deaths and 5 illnesses.

A Widening Net

Blue Bell's first recall was on March 13, when the manufacturer removed ice cream products that it had delivered to hospitals and retailers and shut down the production line where the affected products were believed to have been made. Ten days later, Blue Bell issued a second recall for chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla ice cream cups.

Blue Bell expanded the recall on April 7 to include any ice cream products manufactured at its plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and shut down the Broken Arrow plant. The latest recall asks for the return of all Blue Bell products currently on the market.

The FDA is warning consumers not to eat any of the recalled products, and dispose of or return any of the affected ice cream products.

A Nasty Bacterium

Listeria has been the cause of several recent recalls, from nuts at Trader Joe's to caramel apples and hummus. The sneaky bacteria can keep growing even in refrigerated foods, and remain in food products for up to 70 days.

Most people who come in contact with listeria might only suffer short-term symptoms such as a fever, headache, nausea, abdominal pain and possibly diarrhea. However, listeria can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths, and death in extreme cases.

A 2011 listeria outbreak traced to a Colorado cantaloupe producer killed 30 people and sickened 146 in over 28 states. And in 2012 14 people were sickened by suspected listeria outbreak in ricotta cheese that forced Whole Foods to recall almost 5,000 pounds of cheese.

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Beware! Blue Bell Creamery and Sabra are recalling their ice cream and hummus products due to a listeria outbreak. Eight people have been hospitalized, and three people have died from listeria infection due to infected Blue Bell Creamery products.

Here is what you need to know:

Listeria

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium that lives in the digestive tracts of animals. The bacteria are then ingested by humans when fruit and vegetable crops are contaminated by animal waste. Listeria can survive on food even after it has been washed, cooked, or frozen.

According to the CDC, listeria infects nearly 1,600 people and kill over 200 people each year. Listeria can cause fever, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, and painful stomach aches. Young children and elderly adults are usually more susceptible to listeria. Pregnant women can even suffer miscarriages. However, most healthy adults can consume the bacteria without getting any symptoms.

Once diagnosed, a listeria infection can be treated with fluids and antibiotics.

Blue Bell Recall

To date, Blue Bell has already issue three voluntary recalls of its ice cream products in the last few months due to listeria contamination.

The listeria contamination was found after routine sampling of Blue Bell's products. The FDA and CDC began investigating further when a cluster of five patients in one Kansas hospital were infected with a rare strain of listeria also found in Blue Bell's products.

In its first recall on March 13, 2015, Blue Bell removed ice cream products that it had delivered to hospitals and retailers. The company also shut down the production line where the affected products were made.

On March 23, 2015, Blue Bell issued a second recall for three ounce ice cream cups including:

  • Chocolate (SKU #453)
  • Strawberry (SKU #452)
  • Vanilla (SKU #451)

On April 7, 2015, Blue Bell expanded the recall to include any ice cream products manufactured at its plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Blue Bell has already shut down its Broken Arrow plant.

You can find a complete list of all recalled products on the FDA's website.

Sabra Recall

Sabra Hummus is voluntarily recalling 30,000 cases of its Classic Hummus also due to possible listeria contamination.

This recall is limited to Sabra's:

  • Classic Hummus 10 oz (SKU # 300067)
  • Classic Hummus 30 oz (SKU #300074)/li>
  • Classic Hummus Without Garnish 32 oz. (SKU #301216)
  • Classic Hummus 17 oz Six Pack (SKU #301290)
  • Classic Hummus Dual pack Garlic 23.5 oz (SKU # 301283)

There have been no reported illnesses linked with Sabra products.

If you have any recalled Blue Bell Creamery or Sabra Hummus products, do not eat them. Throw the products away, or return them to the store for a full refund. If you have any recalled products, the FDA recommends thoroughly washing your refrigerator, cutting boards, utensils, and countertops with a solution of bleach and hot water.

If you believe you may have been sickened by a listeria contaminated product, an experienced consumer protection attorney may be able to help.

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Have your kids been pestering you more than usual for a new set of Legos or for some McDonald's chicken nuggets? The YouTube Kids app you downloaded onto your phone or tablet may be the culprit.

A collection of children's advocacy organizations recently complained to the Federal Trade Commission that Google's new app deceptively exposes children to too much advertising.

YouTube Kids

YouTube Kids is an app that provides educational videos and child-oriented shows. YouTube, which partnered with Jim Henderson TV, DreamWorks, TV, National Geographic, and Reading Rainbow, claims that the child-friendly content aims to promote literacy.

Advocacy groups argue that the programming is interspersed with a barrage of commercials for companies like McDonald's, Mattel, and Hasbro, more apt to promote commercialism.

Federal Communications Commission Rules

The advocacy groups assert that YouTube Kids should be subject to Federal Communications Commission rules meant to protect children who cannot easily distinguish between advertising and entertainment.

Networks are not allowed to show ads for products or characters that were featured in a show during or immediately before or after that show. For example, an episode "Lego Adventures" cannot be interspersed with ads for Lego toys.

Networks are also required to clearly separate the show from the commercials. This is why you often hear, "Now a word from our sponsors."

The advocacy groups accuse YouTube Kids of mixing the ads in with content so pervasively that it can be hard to distinguish the two, and contend the practices that have been long banned on traditionally broadcasted programs should also be banned on digital programming.

Advertising's Influence on Children

Undeniably, children are very easily influenced by advertising. While the kids don't spend any money themselves, they are still a very profitable market for corporations, especially in the retail and food industry. In 2006, companies spent $17 billion on advertising to children and reaped almost $500 billion in revenue.

If the FTC determines that the complaint raises valid issues, it will investigate the YouTube Kids app for violations. Google may soon have to rework its programming to comply with FCC rules or scrap the app altogether.

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Stokke Recalls $1,300 Stroller

Norwegian company, Stokke AS, is voluntarily recalling 400 Trailz Strollers due to a possible fall hazard.

Here's what you need to know:

Faulty Handle

Stokke is recalling the Trailz strollers because the handle can break while in use, possibly causing an infant to fall out of the stroller. There has been one report of a broken handle in the United States, and eight reports of handle issues from other countries. However, no injuries have been reported.

Recalled strollers were manufactured in Norway and sold in November and December, 2014. The strollers come in black, black melange, beige melange, deep blue, red and purple, with a silver aluminum adjustable chassis. With a price tag of $1,300, you would expect the stroller to be made of gold. The Stokke logo is printed on the front of the seat, and the "Trailz" model name is on the front of the wheelbase assembly.

The strollers were sold in stores and online at AlbeeBaby.com, buybuyBABY.com, Diapers.com, Nordstrom.com, and Stokke.com.

If you purchased one of the described strollers, you should stop using the stroller immediately. Stokke promises to repair the defect.

Hazards of Stroller Defects

In this case, a defective handle may seem rather harmless. However, a defect in your child's stroller or car seat could pose severe danger to your child's safety.

For example, last year Graco recalled millions of strollers in the United States and Canada due to amputation risk. The strollers had exposed hinges that a child's fingers could get stuck in. In the United States, there were reports of six finger amputations, four partial fingertip amputations, and one finger laceration.

Arguably, products made for children should be held to higher standard. If a broken handle or an exposed hinge makes a product unreasonably dangerous, you may have a product liability claim.

If you believe a defect in your child's stroller may have injured your child, an experienced consumer protection attorney may be able to help.

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