Buying Goods: Common Law

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There are hearts breaking wide open all over the world. It was recently discovered that the nearly 60-year-old Sophie the Giraffe children's chew/teething toy could potentially be dangerous due to mold. While the moldy chew toy problem is not unique to Sophie the Giraffe, owners of the $25 piece of rubber are up in arms after the recent discovery. The toy has been heralded by celebrities, including Madonna, and was even featured in the Tom Selleck, 80s classic, "Three Men and a Baby."

Basically, toys like Sophie the Giraffe, which have air trapped inside with virtually no air circulation inside, can easily develop mold if water finds it way inside the toy. Frequently, and extremely commonly, anytime you give anything to a baby, they're going to put it into their mouths. If it falls on the floor, parents frequently will wash a toy that gets frequently chewed on. However, all that exposure to water increases the risk of water getting inside and mold forming.

Parents, beware! Those brightly colored, bite-sized laundry pods not only shouldn’t be eaten by your kids, but if your kids play with them, you need to watch out for eye injuries. While most people don’t expect laundry detergent to cause eye burns, those packets of detergent frequently contain stronger chemicals than one might expect. In fact, the detergents are designed to be diluted by water in order to not cause damage to clothing. The detergents frequently react differently when put in contact with skin or eye tissue.

If the packet bursts, the chemical detergent can cause burns on a person’s eyes, even if the liquid does not spill in a person’s face. Frequently, when children break one of these packets, or pods, the detergent is transferred to their eyes from their hands or fingers as a result of rubbing their face or eyes. What is most shocking is that apparently over a quarter of all eye injuries for children aged 3 to 4 are from these pods. 

In our modern times of glasses made by Google, Bluetooth technology, and smart telephones, parents are increasingly wiring their children, and even their babies, up with wearable tech. While most parents and professionals would agree that being able to monitor where your child is via GPS is helpful, there is growing disagreement about wearables for babies. The market for such devices has exploded over the past few years. Now there are socks that measure a baby's pulse, pacifiers with thermometers, onsies that provide breathing a movement data, and a whole host of other types of baby-wearables that push your baby's data onto your smart phone's app.

Generally, there has been no big news story about a baby being injured due to wearable technology. In fact, one such device maker claims that in the 300,000 units his company has sold, he has not heard of a single infant death. Nevertheless, there are currently no wearable tech items for babies that are approved by the FDA. Additionally, numerous studies have been published which discourage the use of wearables for infants.

Drinkers of craft beer, take note: Sierra Nevada has issued a recall for the Midwest, East Coast, and the South on many of their popular 12-oz bottled beers. Fortunately, the recall is focused on a rather short production window, and the bottles and packaging are made in such a way that spotting a recalled Sierra Nevada is rather simple. So far, there have been no reported injuries.

Basically, there is a defect in the way one of their bottling plants was bottling their beverages. The defect could cause a little bit of the top to break off into the beer, exposing drinkers to potentially drinking broken glass, as well as flat beer.

When it comes to child safety, parents tend to pull out all the stops ... or maybe parents are the ones actually putting in all the stops. Regardless, a recent study about baby teething toys, or chew toys, which are not regulated in the same category as baby bottles, has shown that "BPA-free" may not actually really mean BPA-free. The study showed that not only did toys labeled as "non-toxic" contain toxic chemicals, but a majority of toys labeled as "BPA-free" actually contained BPA.

The study was designed to look at whether baby teething toys contained EDCs (endocrine disruptor chemicals), BPA, and other toxic chemicals. EDCs are harmful chemicals that can affect a person's development in many ways. Because all the harmful links between BPA, EDCs, and other toxins remain unknown, some researchers suggest avoiding as many as possible.

A recently filed lawsuit in the Northern District of California Federal Court alleges that Coca-Cola engaged in unfair and deceptive marketing practices in an effort to mislead consumers. While there is no claim of tampering with the results of the Coke Versus Pepsi challenge results, the lawsuit does claim that the beverage-maker intentionally downplayed the harmful health effects of sugar in their advertising. Additionally, the suit alleges that Coca-Cola has deliberated focused marketing on children despite having pledged not to do so.

This case is part of the larger war on sugar. Makers of sugar-sweetened beverages, and food products that needlessly contain high-fructose corn syrup, have found themselves coming under increased scrutiny over the past decade as a result of the relatively new found public awareness of the dangers of sugar. The organization that filed suit specifically stated when asked about Pepsi, that they were not sued because Pepsi doesn't misrepresent the effects of sugar to consumers.

Counterfeit toys are a problem year-round, but during the holiday season the problem is especially pronounced. When people are trying to find those highly sought after toys, counterfeiters are hard at work trying to make cheap replicas that will fool a purchaser, and disappoint (and potentially harm) a recipient. Despite the best efforts of customs and other federal investigators, counterfeit toys do get through and get sold to unsuspecting consumers.

Some fake toys can look identical to the originals, but may contain differences that are imperceptible to the naked eye, such as using lead based paint. One of the biggest concerns when it comes to fake toys are the materials that get used. Toy safety is a highly regulated industry that requires manufacturers to comply with extensive safety regulations. Counterfeiters ignore these regulations which, in turn, put children's lives in peril.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, for the grandson of a Bellingham, Washington couple, he won’t be getting a 12V Ride-On Tonka Dump Truck this Christmas. While bringing home the large popular toy in the back of a pick-up truck, it spontaneously caught fire on the way back from Toys R Us, twice!

Delmond Harden purchased the dump truck from Toy R Us and was bringing it home in the back of his pick-up truck when he noticed the toy was on fire in the back. He pulled over, put out the fire, and immediately started to head back to the store to return the toy truck. However, en route back to the store, the truck caught fire again. This time however, the flames would not be contained as easily as before. The toy truck caused Harden’s real pick-up truck to catch fire, sending flames nearly 20 feet high in the sky, requiring the fire department, and a road closure. Toys R Us has pulled the toy truck from their stores while they wait for investigators to figure out the cause of the fire.

While there are countless individuals who swear by homeopathic medicines, and there are even doctors who will endorse them, the FTC has recently called into question the legitimacy of the entire homeopathic medicine industry. This week, the FTC released an enforcement policy statement clarifying their position that homeopathic drugs will face the same standards as other any other product that makes a claim about its safety or efficacy.

This means that for a homeopathic drug, medicine, remedy, or any other product, that claims to have an affect, and/or be safe, a company is required to substantiate those claims with credible and reliable scientific evidence. If a homeopathic drug maker does not have the required substantiating proof for their claims, the FTC provided two specific disclaimers that both should be included on the label:

The internet has the potential to bring people together for all sorts of purposes. Craigslist.org, for example, helps people connect, find jobs, and even buy and sell stuff. Unfortunately, Craigslist is also a haven for scammers and criminals.

Apart from the concern of buying stolen goods, users must be wary of the spammers that have also started to exploit Craigslist in order to perpetrate a host of different types of scams. One of the first things that scammers try to do is route out the most gullible. One way they accomplish this is by creating a massive amount of fake, low quality ads. Frequently the ads are created by bots, or programs that live on the internet and perform tasks that their makers assign. If a person responds to an ad that is clearly bot generated, there is a good chance a scammer will reach out and attempt some sort of swindle.