Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

January 2012 Archives

Aveeno Baby Lotion Recalled Over Bacteria Levels

Johnson & Johnson has announced that one lot of its Aveeno Baby Calming Comfort lotion is being recalled. The baby lotion recall comes after fears that the product contained too much bacteria.

A test run by the Food and Drug Administration sparked the company's move. The test indicated a sample "exceeded specifications for common bacteria," according to Reuters.

The bacteria in question are called coagulase-negative staphylococci. It's naturally-occurring and can be found in a person's skin or scalp.

Johnson & Johnson maintains that they ran another test using an independent laboratory. Those tests showed that the bacteria levels were fine. The company decided to go ahead with the recall out of "an abundance of caution." The company maintains that potential for harm is "remote."

There are no reports that any consumers have been impacted by the bacteria.

The recall encompasses around 2,000 tubes of the lotion. It was sold in nine states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas.

The tubes under recall all have a lot number of 0161LK.

Consumers who purchased baby lotion in the nine states under the voluntary recall should take a few moments to check their products' labeling. The potential for harm may be low, but it wouldn't hurt to be cautious. After all, the Aveeno lotion is meant to be used on an infant.

Customers can call Johnson & Johnson for more information about the baby lotion recall. The company's call center line is 1-877-298-2525. The Aveeno Baby Calming Comfort recall is not the company's only recall in the past few years. Johnson & Johnson has instituted 30 recalls since 2009, reports the AP.

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Americans Spend $3,000/Year on Lunch, Lattes

That cup of coffee you're sipping right now at work could be setting you back financially. The average U.S. worker spends more than $1,000 a year on java -- on top of another $2,000 a year on lunch, a new survey finds.

In fact, the $3,000 a year that the average U.S. worker spends on lunch and lattes is twice as much as a worker typically spends on commute costs, the survey finds, according to Reuters.

But spending habits seem to differ by gender and by age. For example:

Male workers are more likely to dig into their wallets for lunch. Men spent $47 a week on midday meals, compared to $27 a week for women, according to the survey by Accounting Principles, a division of staffing-services company Adecco SA.

Younger workers spend much more on coffee and lunch than older workers. People 18 to 34 spent about $25 a week on coffee and nearly $45 a week on lunch. They may want to take a cue in thriftiness from their over-45 counterparts, who spent just $14 a week on morning joe and about $32 a week on lunch, the survey found, according to Fox Business.

Not all American workers are willing to sacrifice $3,000 a year for daily coffee and lunch indulgences, however. One-third of employed Americans are diligent enough to pack their lunches, and about one-half of U.S. workers don't buy coffee, according to the survey.

The coffee and lunch spending survey also revealed another difference between the sexes that has nothing to do with money: Men are far more likely to complain about the crummy selection in office vending machines, the study found.

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Symantec Warns Users Not to Use pcAnywhere

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Don't use Symantec's pcAnywhere. Disable it now.

That's a request from the security software firm itself. The company suspected someone had broken into its network back in 2006, but was unable to confirm it until earlier this month.

Members of hacktivist group Anonymous have recently begun talking publicly about Symantec's source code, which it claims to have stolen. The code affects the 2006 versions of its Norton security software and newer versions of pcAnywhere, which allows users to remotely access their computers.

Symantec is unsure who stole the code, according to Ars Technica. But Anonymous is believed to be in possession and is threatening to release it. The hackers are reportedly seeking retribution and are claiming Symantec tricked users into buying second-rate trial software.

Programmers are working to patch existing vulnerabilities in Symantec's pcAnywhere software, reports PC Mag. Until then, the company has asked consumers to disable the product. If it's absolutely impossible, users should ensure that the latest version, 12.5, is installed and up to date.

Rest assured that Symantec's Norton security products are not at risk, as the source code has been updated in newer versions.

There are also no confirmed attacks connected to the stolen source code, explains Ars Technica. But if released, hackers can engage in man-in-the-middle attacks. They'd gain unauthorized remote use of computers and be able to intercept pcAnywhere traffic.

The only way to prevent such an attack is to disable Symantec's pcAnywhere software. Persons with employer-provided computers should remember to check with IT.

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Approximately 248,000 lunch boxes have been recalled by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission. The Ci Sport lunch boxes come with three pieces including an insulated box, water bottle, and a freezer gel pack.

California Innovations Inc. sold the products in Costco Wholesale Clubs, Leon Korol, and Cost U Less stores between May 2007 and September 2008. The products cost around $10 at the time. It came in several colors including navy/blue, red, black, and denim blue.

The problem is with the gel packs. Damaged freezer gel packs may leak and could be poisonous if ingested. There have been two reports of dogs chewing and ingesting some of the freezer gel. One dog died. The other recovered.

The gel could pose a risk to children and adults if not handled properly, according to Consumer Reports. The gel contains diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol which is dangerous if consumed. Parents with small children should be cautious.

The recalled lunch boxes have the code "1-61731-99-57" printed on a white label inside the box's main compartment.

Consumers are advised to stop using the gel packs at once. Gel packs should be disposed of properly according to your relevant state or local statutes.

The lunch boxes under recall may be returned to Costco for a full refund. Customers may also get a $5 refund for the CI Sport lunch box's gel pack by contacting California Innovations. The company can be reached by phone at (800) 722-2545 or by email at Consumers can also check the company's website at

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Google is stalking you. And you'll have no way to stop it after March 1.

Under the newly unveiled Google privacy policy, the site has given itself permission to collect information stored across all of its platforms, including Gmail, YouTube, Google+ and Reader. That information will then be used to create a single user profile.

As of now, the policy includes no way to opt out.

Instead, all signed-in users will receive more personalized results when using Google products. The integration has already begun -- if you conduct a general search, you'll receive personal results for the web and images. Many of the results will reflect your RSS feeds and the preferences of your Google+ friends.

Google believes the integration will improve advertising and user experience, explains the Washington Post. But privacy advocates are concerned. No one signed up for Gmail expecting it to affect what shows up when they search YouTube.

The single personal profile proposed under the new Google privacy policy may also make user information more lucrative to sell.

One should thus expect some legislative scrutiny in the coming weeks. Google reached a privacy settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in April. Though Google Buzz -- the subject of the settlement -- is no longer active, the settlement terms still remain in force.

It requires Google to be up front with users about privacy changes; to implement a comprehensive privacy program; and to conduct independent privacy audits for the next 20 years.

The new Google privacy policy may very well violate these terms. If it does, an opt-out option will be coming soon.

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Can Apps Stop Your Teen from Texting While Driving?

Teenagers text everywhere they go. They text in class, at home, and sometimes even when they drive. Now there are new technologies and apps that may stop texting while driving. One product, called Cellcontrol, is relatively cheap. It is also potentially life-saving.

Cellcontrol costs about $7.95 a month for up to six phones, reports USA Today . It blocks use of cell phones while driving. Users install a small device into their car. The device will make your cell phone "lock up" when it detects movement. This means you can't text or browse the net.

You will only be permitted to make emergency calls until the car comes to a stop.

Cellcontrol is only one of many products that aim to curb distracted driving. There is software that specifically uses a car's GPS or Bluetooth to detect driving. There are also detection and jamming products that lock cell phone keys while a car is moving.

Texting while driving is against the law in many states. But even if there is no specific texting law in your jurisdiction, it could still be illegal. Texting while driving could amount to distracted driving, which is illegal in many jurisdictions.

Distracted driving is a growing issue. Fatal accidents that involve texting drivers have caused thousands of deaths. A study showed there were about 16,000 fatalities that could be attributed to texting between the years 2002 and 2007.

And this figure might be underreporting the problem. Oftentimes police officers need to rely on a driver's word when they investigate crashes.

Should parents invest in technology and apps that stop texting while driving like Cellcontrol? It's ultimately their decision to make. It could help prevent accidents if used properly.

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The Top 15 U.S. Hospital Systems

Thomson Reuters has released the names of the nation's top 15 hospital systems, according to a news brief. The results are included in the organization's fourth annual study of U.S. health care systems.

Researchers analyzed quality of care; patient perception of care; efficiency; length of stay; mortality rates; and patient safety. Only U.S. health systems with more than two non-federal hospitals were considered.

The results are broken down into three comparison groups based on the total operating expense of each system (TOE):

Large Health Systems (more than $1.5 billion in TOE)

  • Banner Health, Phoenix, AZ
  • CareGroup Healthcare System, Boston, MA
  • Jefferson Health System, Radnor, PA
  • Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, Houston, TX
  • St. Vincent Health, Indianapolis, IN

Medium Health Systems ($750 million - $1.5 million in TOE)

  • Baystate Health, Springfield, MA
  • Geisinger Health System, Danville, PA
  • HCA Central and West Texas Division, Austin, TX
  • Mission Health System, Asheville, NC
  • Prime Healthcare Services, Ontario, CA

Small Health Systems (less than $750 million in TOE)

  • Baptist Health, Montgomery, AL
  • Maury Regional Healthcare System, Columbia, TN
  • Poudre Valley Health System, Fort Collins, CO
  • Saint Joseph Regional Health System, Mishawaka, IN
  • Tanner Health System, Carrolton, GA

Overall, the nation's top hospital systems boast a lower 30-day post-discharge mortality rate; 17% fewer deaths than expected; fewer complications; shorter hospital stays; and better adherence to patient safety mechanisms.

If you live nearby, it might be time to switch hospitals.

[Disclaimer: Thomson Reuters owns FindLaw, the publisher of this blog.]

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Zappos, Amazon Sued Over Hack

A Texas woman has sued Zappos and parent company Amazon over a weekend incident that left 24 million Zappos customers exposed. Hackers accessed a Zappos server housed in Kentucky, stealing customer names, phone numbers and email addresses.

The Zappos class action alleges the website does not have adequate procedures to protect user information as required under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The company is also accused of being negligent and breaching user privacy.

It's unclear what effect the hack will have on Zappos customers, as PC World reports no credit card information was obtained. Users were only asked to change their passwords, including those used across the web.

Attorneys for the plaintiff claim the breach will still result in identify theft. The theory is that customers will receive more spam mail that includes links to spoof websites. If accessed, those websites can potentially steal critical private information.

Such large-scale security breaches tend to result in legal action, so the Zappos class action is no surprise. What is surprising is that weak security measures persist on sites that collect private information.

Last year's Sony PlayStation and Epsilon hacks exposed over 100 million people to potential fraud. And a hacker stole 130 million credit and debit card numbers in 2009. Why do such breaches continue to occur?

And why hasn't the government done anything about it? There were a few congressional hearings on the PlayStation breach, but nothing more. Do we need tougher data security laws? Or are lawsuits like the Zappos class action continue unpreventable?

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Pedestrians wearing headphones may be at risk, according to a new U.S. study. Headphones and accidents apparently go hand-in-hand.

The number of injuries sustained by pedestrians wearing headphones has tripled since 2004. The most common cause of injury was by train. The majority of the surveyed accidents took place in cities -- only 12% occurred in rural areas.

The accidents were severe -- some 70% of them were fatal.

The reason behind the increased safety risk seems to be a pedestrian's awareness. Those who don headphones might not hear horns or sirens or the sound of a moving vehicle.

This means they may end up in a dangerous situation without even realizing it.

Auditory cues may be important to help prevent accidents. So even though pedestrians may be keeping their eyes on the road, with their ears glued to their iPod music they can still end up in danger.

Pedestrian safety is important. Many parents might be concerned about their kids. After all, teens and students often choose to listen to music while walking to school.

It's something that parents may want to talk to their children about. Parents might also need to instruct kids on proper pedestrian safety. Crossing streets is dangerous. Make sure children know procedures that may minimize injuries. For example, tell kids that they need to cross at crosswalks. They also should make eye contact with drivers.

Also, they should be careful even if drivers do seem to acknowledge their presence. There's no guarantee they will stop.

That's why pedestrians wearing headphones should take a few extra precautions. Turn down the music a little -- you never know when it could save your life.

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BMW announced a worldwide Mini recall, citing a familiar fault that could potentially spark engine fires.

BMW's Mini recall affects more than 235,000 vehicles worldwide, including about 89,000 Mini Coopers in the United States, Motor Trend reports. The recalled Minis are equipped with a turbocharged 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine, according to Motor Trend.

BMW blames a computer circuit board that controls the turbocharger cooling system. If the circuit board fails, the water pump can start to smolder, according to CNN. So far, this has happened to 81 Mini vehicles worldwide.

In one case, the circuit board problem somehow sparked an engine fire in a Mini vehicle in the United Kingdom, BBC News reports. No one has been hurt, and no accidents have been reported.

The Mini recall affects the following models:

  • 2007-11 Mini Cooper S,
  • 2008-11 Clubman,
  • 2009-11 Cooper S Convertible,
  • 2011 Countryman,
  • 2009-11 Mini John Cooper Works (JCW),
  • 2009 Clubman JCW, and
  • 2010-11 Mini JCW Convertible.

BMW plans to send letters to affected customers, and will offer to replace the vehicles' water pumps for free at a Mini dealership, BBC News reports.

Similar problems with turbocharged engines were also blamed in a recall of BMW and Rolls-Royce cars last year, according to CNN. BMW recalled about 32,000 vehicles in October, and also pledged to replace the vehicles' water pumps for free.

The Mini recall is set to begin in February, Motor Trend reports. Meantime, BMW has set up a toll-free hotline, 1-866-275-6464, to answer Mini owners' questions.

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Walgreens Overcharged for Generic Meds, Lawsuit Claims

A Walgreens lawsuit claims the nation's largest drugstore chain violated federal racketeering laws by conspiring to charge customers for expensive drugs instead of generics.

The suit, filed Jan. 11 in federal court in Chicago, accuses Walgreen Co. and drug maker Par Pharmaceutical Co. of raking in millions of dollars in the alleged scheme, Bloomberg reports.

An employee union's health-benefits fund filed the Walgreens suit, claiming Walgreens filled its members' prescriptions with Par's higher-priced drugs, when the prescriptions specifically called for generic drugs.

The drugs at issue included Zantac, an antacid, and Prozac, an antidepressant, Bloomberg reports.

The union's health-benefits fund, along with insurance companies, paid "many millions of dollars" in overcharges from 2001 to 2006, the Walgreens lawsuit claims. The United Food and Commercial Workers Unions and Employers Midwest Health and Pension Fund are seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages.

The Walgreens lawsuit alleges Walgreen and Par violated federal racketeering laws. Racketeering occurs when one party works with another party to engage in an illegal scheme to make a profit.

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, or RICO Act, broadened the scope of racketeering charges to include different types of organized crime. In general, anti-racketeering laws allow for a criminal group's assets to be confiscated.

This isn't the first time Walgreens has been accused of overcharging for prescriptions. Walgreens paid $35 million in 2008 to settle claims it overcharged state Medicaid programs for generic versions of Zantac and Prozac, Bloomberg reports.

A Walgreens spokesman declined to comment, and a Par representative was not available to comment on the latest Walgreens lawsuit, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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Are You Worried About Identity Theft? Get This Credit Card

If you have a credit card, identity theft may be one of your top concerns. And rightly so: millions of Americans have their identities stolen each year. Consumers worried about fraud should be on the lookout for the new Dynamics Inc. credit card.

Unveiled at the annual CES show, the card promises greater security. Each card contains internal electronics. The magnetic strip on the card is programmed in real time.

Each card has an empty section that replaces several numbers on the strip. There are also five built-in buttons on the card. A card owner needs to punch in their "code" using the buttons. A unique credit card number is then instantly generated. The numbers will change for each purchase. And, once the transaction is completed the numbers will go blank.

Credit card thieves would have to know your unique code in order to make any purchases using your stolen card.

Reviewers and reporters at CES including Ars Technica got hands-on experience with the card. They say it looks -- and feels -- like a regular credit card. It can be bent without ruining the internal electronics.

Dynamics Inc. is currently testing out some versions of the card with customers, according to The New York Times.

It seems credit cards may soon be getting smarter. In the interim, consumers worried about credit card fraud should monitor their bank statements closely. Look out for fraudulent charges. And, make sure to check your credit report on a consistent basis. Individuals are entitled to a free annual credit report.

New technology like the Dynamics Inc. credit card might go a long way towards preventing identity theft. But until this technology becomes common, consumers will still need to remain vigilant.

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FDA Targets Orange Juice for Fungicide Testing

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The FDA is targeting orange juice for fungicide testing. Officials say that they received notice from a juice company that it detected low-levels of carbendazim in its juice.

The company also said it detected levels in a competitor's product.

Fungicide is used on produce to kill fungi and fungal spores. Carbendazim is not approved in the U.S., according to the AP. It is, however, used abroad including in Brazil. Brazil exports juice to the states.

The EU has regulated fungicide. The maximum level is 200 parts per billion. The detected amount in the U.S. juice was 35 parts per billion, well below EU standards. The U.S. currently does not have standards.

FDA official Nega Beru says that the agency does not believe that the amount of residue is harmful. It will not be asking stores to take their products off their shelves.

But, the agency will begin testing orange juice at the border. Orange juice found with the fungicide will be confiscated.

Beru says that the agency will definitely notify consumers if the fungicide levels are high enough to present a public health risk. The agency will then remove the offending products.

Carbendazim is a possible carcinogen. It could disrupt hormone systems. It could also interfere with cell division and cause mutations. The WHO says risks are only high if individuals are exposed to high levels.

The EPA approved carbendazim for oranges in Florida between 2002 and 2008. A company needs to apply to the EPA in order to have carbendazim on its citrus. No companies have done so. This means any orange juice with the fungicide is technically illegal, Reuters reports.

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Those pesky pop-ups warning your computer may have a virus are actually "scareware" aimed at making people buy anti-virus products whether they need them or not, a Symantec lawsuit claims.

A computer user in Washington state is suing Symantec Corp., the maker of Norton Utilities and PC Tools, for fraud, Reuters reports. The suit seeks class-action status.

Symantec, based in Mountain View, Calif., distributes free trial versions of its anti-virus software that supposedly scans computers for risks. But the free Symantec trials seem to always identify errors and risks, even when no risks exist, the Symantec lawsuit claims.

The suit calls Symantec's products "scareware" -- a type of malicious software that produces pop-up warnings about security risks.

"The truth, however, is that the scareware does not actually perform any meaningful evaluation of the user's computer system, or of the supposed 'errors' detected by the software," the Symantec lawsuit claims.

The suit asserts fraud, claiming Symantec misled customers into believing they had to buy its products to "fix" the nonexistent problems. It seeks damages for anyone who's purchased Norton or PC Tools software.

Fraud is a broad term that describes an intentional deception for monetary gain. In a civil fraud case, penalties are generally meant to punish the perpetrator and compensate for the victim's harm.

But if Symantec can prove it didn't intend to defraud customers -- perhaps it didn't know its software was ineffective -- the company may have a defense.

Untold numbers of computer users have been taken by the alleged scam, the Symantec lawsuit asserts. Sales of Symantec's consumer products, including Norton and PC Tools, grew to $2 billion in the company's latest report, according to Reuters.

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Ford Recalls 450,000 Minivans, SUVs for Fire, Safety Risks

Ford is recalling around 450,000 vehicles for various safety reasons. The Ford SUV and minivan recall includes several of the automaker's popular models including the 2001 and 2002 Ford Escape compact SUV and the 2004 and 2005 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans.

The Escape has a reservoir cap that may leak brake fluid. This could lead to smoke and fire. There are approximately 245,000 Escapes on the road, reports CNN.

The Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans are being recalled over a torque converter output shaft. The shaft may fail. This could cause a car to lose power and crash. There are approximately 205,000 of these minivans on the road.

Several minor accidents were reportedly due to the defects. One accident incurred "minor" injuries. U.S. auto-safety regulators investigated and a recall was initiated.

Consumers who own these vehicles should watch out for any notices from Ford. The automaker expects to start sending out recall notices about the Escape around January 23, 2012.

There is no specific date yet for the Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey recall. It's expected to start during the second calendar quarter of 2012.

The company has indicated that there may be a parts delay for the Escape, according to Consumer Reports. This could mean that even if recall notices are sent out, no fix will be available. Customers will then be advised to park their Escape vehicles outside.

Otherwise, the company will have dealers replace the brake master cylinder cap on the Escape. The automaker will replace the torque converter on the minivans for free.

For more information about the Ford minivan recall, consumers may call the company at (866) 436-7332.

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If You Break It, Must You Buy It?

You've seen the signs -- they're often found in small, high-end retail establishments. They warn parents with small children and instill fear in the clumsy. They make you want to put down the merchandise and slowly back away.

But are these policies enforceable? Is there some sort of "You Break It, You Buy It" law?

No -- and yes.

A store cannot hold you hostage until you pay for an item you break -- that's called false imprisonment. And you can't be arrested for accidentally breaking merchandise -- it's not a crime.

But, if a shopkeeper really wants to make you pay, he can take you to court. A judge may then order you to pay for the item if (a) the sign is found to be a contract, or (b) you were negligent.

Luckily, the contract argument is quite weak. The shopkeeper needs to prove that you saw the "You Break It, You Buy It" sign and that you agreed to its terms. This is nearly impossible to prove, which means very few courts -- if any -- will accept this theory. (There are other potential issues here as well, such as a lack of consideration.)

However, a court is more likely to accept a claim based on negligence. Customers have a legal duty to exercise due care. People need to act with reasonable caution and vigilance when in a retail establishment. If a running child or a swinging purse ends in broken merchandise, "You Break It, You Buy It" may legally apply.

But if you were careful, you probably won't have to pay. Especially if you fell prey to small aisles, crowded floors, or improperly shelved merchandise.

So while there is no official "You Break It, You Buy It" law, you still don't have the right to act like a bull in a china shop. If you do, you may end up buying a broken lamp.

Editor's Note, November 11, 2014: This post was updated to clarify the element of consideration in contract law.

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Legal Steps Needed to Repossess a Car

Dude, where's your car? If you're behind on your payments, you may find your car has been repossessed -- sometimes, without your knowledge or consent.

What are the legal steps necessary to repossess a car? Laws differ in each state, but here are some general principles.

Seizing the car

In general, a creditor can seize a vehicle as soon as a lessee "defaults" on a payment, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Check your loan or lease agreement, which should define what a "default" is. Even missing a single on-time payment may be enough.

A creditor can legally repossess a car at any time, without notice, no matter where the car is parked (unless it's inside a part of your house, like in a garage). But repo men can't use physical force or threats. If they do, it could be considered a "breach of the peace," and the repo men could face fines for damage.

Selling the car

In general, a creditor who repossesses a car legally can sell that car to another buyer. But some states require a creditor to tell you the date of auction or impending sale so you can try to buy back the repossessed car. Other states allow you to try to "reinstate" your loan by fulfilling back payments and entering into a new contract with your creditor.

Personal property inside the car

In general, a creditor cannot keep or sell personal property found inside a repossessed car. A lawsuit may be warranted if some of your personal items are unaccounted for.

Deficiency judgments

After a creditor sells a repossessed car, laws may still make you liable for paying the "deficiency" -- the difference between what you owe on your contract and the resale price of the car.

Creditors can take you to court to enforce a deficiency judgment, but they could be out of luck if you have a good defense -- for example, if the repo men breached the peace when repossessing your car, or if a creditor waited too long to sue you. You may want to consult an attorney to ensure the best possible outcome.

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The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued an O-Grill recall. The small portable gas grills are manufactured in China by Uni-O Industries, Corp.

The federal agency has received at least 10 reports of the grills catching fire, though no injuries or property damage occurred. The screw-on propane canisters have been found to leak gas, posing a fire and burn hazard.

Unlike newer models, the grills lack ventilation slots where a propane canister or fuel line can connect on the side.

The O-Grill recall covers Iroda models 1000 and 3000, which were sold in orange, red, green, blue, silver and black. About 4,500 units were sold between November 2008 and December 2010 by L.L. Bean, Stoneman, BBQG, Walgreens, REI, Dillards and Dick's Sporting Goods, according to a government press release.

Some of the covered grills were also sold under the Tailgating Gear brand. Consumers owning Tailgating Gear products subject to the recall will find the words "O-Grill" stamped across the grill cover.

If you own an O-Grill covered by the recall, stop using the grill immediately. Contact the company at (888) 847-8968 to make arrangements for a free replacement.

If a grill covered by the O-Grill recall has injured you or your property, consider reporting the incident to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. You may also want to talk to a personal injury lawyer about a defective product lawsuit. A design defect appears to be responsible for the recall, which means the company may be responsible for your damages.

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Excedrin Recall: Mislabeled Bufferin, Gas-X Pills

Trader Joe's issued a peanut butter recall after the product was linked to 29 cases of Salmonella-related illness in 18 states.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the grocery store's Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter is likely the source of the outbreak, reports The Associated Press.

The FDA and CDC are still investigating whether any other items sold at Trader Joe's could also be contaminated.

Individuals reportedly became sick by eating the tainted peanut butter between June 11 and Sept. 2, reports the AP. Most of the victims are children under the age of 18.

Salmonella infections are usually most dangerous for children and the elderly. The bacteria can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps, but so far no deaths have been reported. Investigators did not reveal where the illnesses occurred. However, several states warned consumers not to the eat the peanut butter, which may provide some clues. The states that issued the warnings include Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and North Carolina, reports the AP.

Last week, the FDA, CDC, and the state of California briefed Trader Joe's on the investigation showing an alleged link between the peanut butter and Salmonella. The California-based chain then agreed to remove the product from store shelves nationwide.

Customers who bought the peanut butter are urged not to eat it and to return it to Trader Joe's for a refund. The recalled peanut butter came in a 16-ounce plastic jar and has the product code 97111.

If you have been injured by the tainted product, you may want to talk to a product liability attorney to learn your rights to recover any damages. Food manufacturers are generally responsible for providing a safe product. If it is discovered that Trader Joe's was culpable for the suspected Salmonella outbreak, you could potentially sue them for your injuries.

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AirTran Fined $60K for Deceptive Airfare Ads

AirTran Airways has been fined $60,000 by the U.S. Department of Transportation over its deceptive airfare advertisements. The company allegedly violated federal rules when they advertised $59 one-way fares.

The advertisements indicated that additional fees or taxes would apply. It did not include detailed information about these extra costs.

Under current federal law, airlines need to clearly disclose these types of fees in their advertisement. They need to prominently display a link with an online advertisement that takes consumers to an informational page. The page must indicate what fees and taxes will apply.

Per-passenger government taxes and fees do not need to be advertised under federal rules, according to MSNBC.

The rules were put in place to help consumers be more aware of the full price they may end up paying for their flight.

But consumers should also be aware that advertising rules will soon be changing.

Come January 26, airlines will need to include all taxes and government fees in their advertised price. Some airlines -- including AirTran's parent company, Southwest -- are opposed to the new rules.

They believe that it forces airlines to add on fees that inflate advertised prices. A Southwest spokesman said in an email to CNN that they believe this is unfair. Other businesses that sell traditional goods do not need to advertise a final price that includes tax.

The new airfare rules also come with other changes that give consumers more transparency. Airlines will no longer be able to raise prices post-purchase. They also will need to disclose baggage fees on e-ticket confirmations.

AirTran was fined under the old rules. The new rules may result in even more airlines coming under fire for deceptive airfare ads.

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The Chevy Volt's fire risk may finally be extinguished. General Motors has announced a fix for the Chevy Volt.

The fire issue came to light after a Volt lit up while parked in a lot outside a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) facility. The car in question had gone through a crash testing procedure three weeks earlier.

The fire was due to the Chevy Volt's battery pack. The lithium-ion battery was punctured during the collision. Some of the battery's coolant then leaked onto a circuit board, igniting the blaze, reports Fox News.

The "fix" is a redesign to the structure. Modifications will be made to future Chevy Volts. The battery pack will be more protected in the event of a collision. A sensor will also be added so the coolant may be monitored. And, a tamper-resistant bracket will be added to prevent coolant from overfilling.

Current Chevy Volt owners will also receive safety modifications. General Motors is not recalling the cars, they are instituting a "voluntary customer satisfaction program." All owners will be instructed to bring their cars into their local dealership for the modifications. Around 8,000 Chevy Volts have been sold to date, according to Fox News.

So if you are a Chevy Volt owner, watch out for notices from GM. The fix hasn't been made available yet. So far no other fires have broken out, according to MSNBC.

GM's fix for the Chevy Volt has already been tested by the NHTSA. The agency crashed a model that received the adjustments. No coolant leakage was apparent, reports the Los Angeles Times. This may mean the Chevy Volt's fire risk may become a thing of the past.

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Popular chain Build-A-Bear is voluntarily recalling around 300,000 of its teddy bears. The teddy bear recall comes after fears that the stuffed toys' eyes may pop out. Younger children could choke on the small piece.

The recalled bears are the "Colorful Hearts" teddy bear. The bear is white with multi-colored hearts. Its ears and bottom paws are pink.

The bear was sold in the U.S. and in Canada. The company hasn't received word of any injuries or deaths due to the defect.

The company says that some bears were made using substandard fabric. The fabric could tear around the eye area, causing the eye to fall out. It could then create a potential choking hazard for younger children.

The company has issued several other recalls in recent years, reports NPR. They previously recalled an inner tube, a lapel pin, and a toy beach chair. All recalls were due to potential safety problems.

The company settled the toy beach chair issue last month for $600,000. The Consumer Product Safety Commission alleged that the company did not promptly report problems.

Parents should take the "Colorful Hearts" bear away from children as soon as possible. Customers who purchased the bear can return the toy to any Build-A-Bear store for a coupon good for any stuffed animal.

For more information about the Build-A-Bear teddy bear recall, visit the company's website. Consumers may also e-mail the company at Build-A-Bear is also maintaining a hotline at 1-866-236-5683, staffed from Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT, Saturdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT, and Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT.

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New rules on airline fees might make air travel more transparent for consumers. The airfare fee rules, set to start on January 26, mandate airlines include mandatory taxes and fees in their advertisements.

Currently, fees can be listed separately in the fine print of airfare ads. This can result in a total airfare that is 20% higher than the advertised price.

Several airlines, including Southwest, Spirit, and Allegiant, have filed suit in federal court. They seek to block the new rules. The airlines claim that it violates their commercial free speech rights.

And, that it singles out airlines unfairly. After all, other businesses do not have to market a final price that includes taxes. "Forcing airlines to include taxes will also make air travel 'look' more expensive when in reality it's not," said Southwest spokesman Brandy King in an email to CNN.

Note that this new rule will only apply to mandatory fees. This won't apply to baggage fees because those are optional.

The new rule on airline fees will be accompanied by a few other new rules set to go into effect at the same time. These passenger protection rules include, as reported by CNN:

  • A ban on post-purchase price increases
  • Mandatory disclosure of baggage fees when booking flights and on e-ticket confirmations
  • Uniform baggage fees and allowances during a passenger's trip
  • Prompt airline notifications for delays of more than 30 minutes, cancellations, and diversions
  • A 24-hour window for passengers to hold or cancel reservations without payment or penalty if they made the reservations a week or more in advance of the departure date

Before the new rules on airline fees take effect, consumers should take care to read the fine print before purchasing fares. It's best to be fully informed.

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Avastin Fails in Ovarian and Breast Cancer Studies

The results of two international studies looking into the effectiveness of Avastin on ovarian cancer were disappointing, according to the Los Angeles Times. The drug, which was approved in Europe just last week, only provides women with advanced ovarian cancer 1 to 4 months of "progression-free survival."

The gain was also accompanied by side effects that required additional treatment. Side effects included high blood pressure and gastrointestinal complications.

Similar results last month led the Food and Drug Administration to revoke approval of Avastin as a breast cancer treatment. The drug only delayed tumor growth in those patients by 1 to 3 months, but left many with hypertension and hemorrhaging.

The FDA determined that the Avastin's small benefits didn't justify the risks posed to breast cancer patients.

This is why manufacturer Genentech will not seek FDA approval for Avastin as an ovarian cancer drug, reports the Associated Press. The data does not currently support the cost of seeking approval.

Still, some see hope in the studies' results. Alone, Avastin does not treat ovarian cancer. But when combined with chemotherapy and other treatments, it can prolong life, explains the Los Angeles Times. Researchers just need to determine which patients will most benefit from its use.

Patients who think the added time is worth the risk should speak to their doctors about prescribing Avastin for ovarian cancer. Though the drug is not approved for this use, it can legally be given for off-label purposes. However, be advised that insurance companies are unlikely to pay.

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New Swine Flu Strains Spreads Across the U.S.

There may be a new swine flu virus circulating across the nation. The CDC has reported that since August twelve people have been sickened with the influenza A H3N2 virus. The patients were located in Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Eleven of the twelve reported cases were in children. The latest cases involved two children who were in the same day care in West Virginia. So far, all diagnosed patients have recovered.

The CDC has requested that public health laboratories across the nation to be alert. If they come across cases of swine flu, they should report them to the CDC.

Officials say that the virus is likely transmitted from workers who contract the virus from pigs . Then, the virus spreads between humans.

This swine flu strain is different than the one that caused the global pandemic in 2009. During that year, the H1N1 virus infected between 43 and 89 million Americans. A total of 8,870 to 18,300 individuals died, reports ABC News.

The World Health Organization declared the pandemic over in August 2010.

Concerned individuals might want to consider getting a vaccination. The current flu vaccine includes the H3N2 virus as well as the H1N1 virus. The CDC specifically recommends that persons aged 6 months and above get the vaccine.

The CDC also encourages individuals to take preventative actions. Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze and wash your hands often. Individuals that are prescribed flu antiviral drugs should also take them, according to CBS News. Taking these steps can prevent the spread of disease.

The CDC website has additional information about the new swine flu (H3N2) strain. Their website also contains helpful tips about flu prevention.

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