Injured - The FindLaw Accident, Injury and Tort Law Blog

April 2009 Archives

FDA Orders Stronger Warnings on Botox Health Risks

The makers of licensed botulinum toxin products like Botox and Myobloc will need to change their products' labeling to include boxed warnings on serious health problems that can result if the toxin spreads beyond the injection site, under a mandate issued today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  

The FDA order came after reports of adverse health problems and at least one death linked to the use of Botox to treat cerebral palsy and spasticity, which are uses that haven't been approved by the FDA.

Botox is typically injected into the skin or into muscle tissue, and has been approved by the FDA for cosmetic and other uses, including removal of frown lines, treatment of crossed eyes and eyelid twitches, and the prevention of severe underarm sweating. And no definitive health problems have been linked to the toxin spreading via these approved uses, Reuters reports.

Fatal California Bus Crash Prompts Calls for Tighter Safety Regs

An accident investigation is ongoing after a chartered tour bus crashed in Monterey County, California on Tuesday, killing five people and injuring dozens of others.

The crash, which occurred on a Highway 101 overpass near the town of Soledad "has reinvigorated charges of lax federal oversight and a failure to implement safety measures on buses", the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Orion Pacific's Safety Record. The bus that crashed on Tuesday was one of 12 motorcoaches operated by Orion Pacific, which is owned by Weeks Enterprises, Inc., based in Orange, California.

Andrew Speaker Sues CDC Over Handling of '07 TB Scare

An Atlanta attorney whose tuberculosis sickness prompted a very public health scare in 2007 has sued federal health officials for invasion of privacy, claiming that the release of personal information damaged his reputation, his livelihood, and his marriage.  

In May 2007, Andrew Speaker took a well-publicized trip to Greece for his wedding, despite having been diagnosed with a particularly drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held a press conference on May 29, 2007 "stating a patient with a rare form of tuberculosis, extensively drug-resistant TB which often proves fatal, had taken an international flight," according to CNN.

New Federal Program to Boost Child Car Seat Safety

Parents and caregivers will have an easier time choosing a child seat that will be a good fit for their vehicles, and car seats will undergo more rigorous crash testing under a new program being developed by federal safety officials -- a key part of a comprehensive mandate to improve child passenger safety in vehicles and strengthen federal standards for child car seats.

Based on the findings of a task force of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) experts, the agency "will institute a new program beginning with the 2011 model year to make it easier for parents to choose child safety seats. Car manufacturers will recommend specific seats in various price ranges that fit for individual vehicles," according to an announcement from the National HIghway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA

Stronger Warnings Ordered for Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

The manufacturers of popular over-the-counter pain relievers like Bayer Aspirin, Advil, Aleve, and Motrin will need to revise their drugs' labeling, to include warnings on health risks like internal bleeding and liver damage that have been linked to use of the medications.

The labeling change, which was announced Tuesday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), applies to all over-the-counter acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which includes aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and ketoprofen. Manufacturers of these non-prescription painkillers and fever reducers will need to comply with the label warning changes by April 2010.

NASCAR Fans Injured at Talladega: Spectator Safety and the Law

Seven NASCAR fans were injured on Sunday while watching a race at Alabama's Talladega Superspeedway, when a last-lap crash sent Carl Edwards' car airborne and into a "catch fence" in front of the stands. Although the car landed back on the track, some debris from the crash made it through the fence and into the crowd, causing injuries to seven spectators.

The incident at Talladega raises questions about spectator safety at sporting events, and legal liability for fan injuries.  

Balancing Sport vs. Safety. Spectator safety at sporting events comes down to a balance between risks that are inherent in the sport and reasonable steps the event holder, stadium owner, and/or team can take to protect spectators from harm. There is no way to make a sporting event completely safe for fans.

FDA: Don't Eat Your Alfalfa Sprouts

Another week, another food safety warning over salmonella contamination. Federal health officials are telling consumers to avoid eating raw alfalfa sprouts, because of an ongoing investigation of possible contamination of alfalfa sprout seeds that has been linked to at least 31 reported illnesses in six U.S. states, beginning in mid-March.

According to an FDA Press Release, 31 cases of Salmonella Saintpaul illness have been reported in Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia: "Most of those who became ill reported eating raw alfalfa sprouts. Some reported eating raw sprouts at restaurants; others reported purchasing the raw sprouts at the retail level."

New Online Crib Safety Information Center from CPSC

With more than 5 million cribs, bassinets, and play yards recalled since January 2007, parents and child care providers have a new online resource for crib safety tips and up-to-date crib recall information: the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's new Crib Information Center. This new online portal features news on safety standards for cribs and other sleeping environments for infants, crib safety publications from CPSC, detailed information on recent recalls, and a sign-up page for users to receive free crib safety alerts and recalls via email.   

Last week, the CPSC held a Staff Roundtable on Cribs and Other Sleeping Environments for Infants, which featured presentations and discussions on current and future safety standards for infant sleep environment products like cribs and bassinets, from CPSC staff and private advocates for crib safety. Presentations and discussions from last week's roundtable are available online at  

FAA Releases Bird Strike Data: Where Does Your Local Airport Rank?

The incidence of birds flying into aircraft and causing damage is on the rise, and the highest rate of reported bird strike problems can be found at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Sacramento International Airport in California, according to bird strike figures released today by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The new On-Line National Wildlife Strike Database, which lets users look up summaries and details of strike reports by date, airport, state, operator, aircraft, and/or species of animal, is being made available to the public for the first time, and is maintained by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

'Prison Break' Actor Settles Lawsuit Over Fatal DUI Crash

"Prison Break" actor Lane Garrison, who is nearing the end of a 40-month prison sentence for vehicular manslaughter, has reached an out-of-court settlement with the parents of a passenger who was killed in the single-vehicle DUI accident, and another passenger who survived with serious injuries.

Garrison was intoxicated when he lost control of his SUV and crashed it into a tree in Los Angeles in 2006, killing one of his passengers, 17-year-old high school student Vahagn Setian, and injuring another, Michelle Ohana, who was 15 years old at the time of the accident.

Polo Horse Deaths Raise Issue of Lawsuits Over Harm to Animals

A Florida pharmacy has admitted that incorrectly-prepared medication was given to 21 horses that died before an international polo match last weekend. The story raises some interesting legal questions that arise when animals suffer harm and become the subject of injury lawsuits.

CNN is reporting that Franck's Pharmacy in Ocala, Florida is acknowledging that the strength of certain medication ingredients is to blame for the deaths of the horses, which "collapsed one after another in front of spectators at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida, while being prepared for a tournament Sunday."

No legal action has been announced over the Florida polo horse deaths, but what happens when animals and pets are the subject of a lawsuit for injuries or death?

Missouri Lawsuit: Tannery Sludge Caused Brain Tumors

A lawsuit filed this week accuses a Missouri tannery of producing a chemical sludge that contaminated local farmlands, and allegedly caused tumors in a number of residents of Cameron, Missouri.

The Missouri Lawsuit. The lawsuit claims that sludge produced by Prime Tanning Corp. -- and later used as agricultural fertilizer on farms across four neighboring counties -- contains unusually high levels of hexavalent chromium, a carcinogenic chemical compound, according to the Kansas City Star. The suit, which was filed in Clinton County, Missouri, alleges that exposure to the chemical has caused brain tumors in an unknown number of people living in Cameron, Missouri, the Star reports.

Court Upholds $17M Car Crash Award, Largest in Canadian History

An appeals court in Canada has upheld a jury award of $17 million for injuries suffered in a car accident, which is being billed as the largest personal injury award in Canadian history. 

After a 2007 civil trial, a jury awarded $17 million to Robert Marcoccia, who was 20 years old at the time his Honda Civic ran a red light and was struck by a leased delivery truck making a left turn in front of him, the Toronto Star reports. The Ontario Court of Appeals upheld the award this week, although an appeal by Ford Motor Credit LLC (which owned the truck) to the Supreme Court of Canada is expected to be filed soon.

A Continental Airlines passenger suffered a broken neck and broken back on Saturday when a flight experienced serious turbulence over Texas. The 47 year-old female passenger was injured in the plane's lavatory at a time when flight attendants had instructed passengers to return to their seats and fasten their seatbelts, according to news reports.

ABC News is reporting that the unidentified woman "was one of two passengers and one crew member on Continental flight 511 from Houston to McAllen who were injured early Saturday morning in mid-flight." The woman is currently experiencing paralysis from her chest to her toes and is undergoing a second surgery, and her chances of making any degree of recovery are unknown.

NTSB: Speed and Driver Fatigue Caused Utah Bus Crash

Federal investigators are holding a public meeting today on the cause of a 2008 Utah bus crash that killed nine people, and the agency's findings will only increase the recent scrutiny of bus travel safety and a push for stricter bus safety standards.

Today's National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) public session is focused on a January 2008 accident that occurred near Mexican Hat, Utah, when a bus carrying 53 people ran off the road and rolled over, killing nine people and injuring 43 others.

The Associated Press reports that the NTSB has concluded today that the bus was traveling at 88 to 92 miles per hour at the time of the accident, and that driver fatigue was likely the "root cause" of the crash. According to the AP, "[the bus driver] reported having head congestion for three days prior to the accident, which was probably the result of altitude sickness or a cold and which likely interfered with his sleep, investigators said."

When Does Gossip Cross the Legal Line?

From blogs to Facebook posts, Twitter to text messages, a lot of information is flying around these days, from more sources than ever before -- not all of them reputable. And many stories spread incredibly quickly (they don't call it "viral" technology for nothing). So it's important to understand when gossip and rants can cross the legal line and become "defamation", the legal word for a statement that causes damage to someone's reputation.

Defamation comes in two forms: libel (written) and slander (verbal). In this age of the handheld everything, "written" isn't limited to paper and pen, but can refer to an email, text message, blog post, and even a Tweet (as Courtney Love learned recently).

Katrina Lawsuit Begins: Is the Government Liable for Flood Damage?

A handful of New Orleans-area homeowners are having their day in federal court today, in a closely-watched lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers that could open the door to recovery for thousands of additional damage claims against the federal government, for destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

What the Katrina Plaintiffs Say. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit being heard this week, in federal court in New Orleans, are six New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish residents. They aren't blaming the government for the hurricane, but are arguing that the government improperly designed and constructed a channel called the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, which they claim made Katrina's flood damage much worse in areas adjacent to the channel after the storm hit.

Top 5 Dog Bite Prevention Tips for Owners, Parents, and Kids

Each year over 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs, with about one in five bites requiring medical attention, according to estmates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And a recent study from the University at Buffalo finds that dog bite incidents increase as the weather gets warmer, so now is a great time for everyone — dog owners, parents, and kids — to learn more about staying safe and preventing dog bites.

It's official: greenhouses gases not only contribute to global warming but also cause air pollution that presents a danger to human health, the EPA announced today. The move could open the door for greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide to be considered "pollutants", and for their emission to be regulated under the federal Clean Air Act. 

Today's Findings. The Proposed Endangerment Finding released by the EPA today declares that "In both magnitude and probability, climate change is an enormous problem. The greenhouse gases that are responsible for it endanger public health and welfare within the meaning of the Clean Air Act."

The EPA's conclusions come after "rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific analysis of six gases -- carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride -- that have been the subject of intensive analysis by scientists around the world," according to an EPA News Release

3 Million Fitness Balls Recalled Over Burst Risk

The manufacturer of a number of popular brands of fitness balls is recalling about 3 million of its products and instructing consumers on safe inflation, after the company received numerous reports of the exercise balls bursting and causing injuries.

Today's recall applies to rubber fitness balls sold under the "Bally Total Fitness", "Everlast", "Valeo" and "Body Fit Fitness Balls" brands, and manufactured by New York-based EB Brands. The specific exercise balls being recalled came in 55, 65, and 75-cm diameter sizes and were sold nationwide from May 2000 to February 2009 (for between $15 and $30) according to an announcement from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The gloves are coming off in the legal battle between director Woody Allen and clothing company American Apparel. But what's all the fighting about?  

Round One: The fillmmaker sued the Los Angeles-based clothing distributor last year, accusing the company of using his image without permission and damaging his reputation. Allen charges that American Apparel used a movie still image of him in a scene from "Annie Hall" on American Apparel billboards that appeared briefly in Los Angeles and New York City.

Round Two: American Apparel's lawyers responded to Allen's lawsuit with a barrage of discovery motions, and the director took offense to the breadth of the requests, which included what his attorneys deemed "excessive subpoenas and requests for documents," according to the New York Times.  

A study released today found lower IQs in children born to mothers who had used the antiepileptic drug valproate (sold as Depakote) while pregnant, compared with results from other antiepileptic medications.

The study Cognitive Function at 3 Years of Age After Fetal Exposure to Antiepileptic Drugs is published in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers tracked hundreds of pregnant women with epilepsy who were taking a number of different antiepileptic drugs, and looked at the cognitive function of 309 children of these mothers when the kids reached the age of 3.

Jury Awards $3.2M to Woman Injured at Ikea Store

A jury has ordered Ikea to pay $3.2 million in damages to a Virginia woman who was injured when a stack of countertops fell on her at the furniture giant's Potomac Mills store, the Washington Post is reporting.

Xiaolei Zeng, a 36-year-old woman from Arlington, VA suffered a crushed pelvis when an eight-foot-high stack of countertops fell on top of her in an "As Is" section of the store. According to the Post, before her injuries Zeng was an avid international traveller, hiker, and bicyclist, but "now can walk only about three blocks before the pain becomes too much."

Company to Pay $1.1M Over Reporting of Magnetic Toy Risk

Toy manufacturer Mega Brands America has agreed to pay a $1.1 million fine to settle charges that the company failed to follow federal guidelines for reporting the known safety risks posed by its "Magnetix" magnetic building sets.

A U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Press Release details the chronology of the missteps by Mega Brands America Inc. (formerly known as Rose Art Industries Inc.). In December 2005, a 22-month-old Washington child died after ingesting magnets from a Magnetix play set, and Mega Brands America filed only an "initial report" with CPSC, providing no specific (and required) product and incident information.

Report: Very Small Cars Not Big on Safety

In these shaky economic times, many Americans are adopting a "less is more" mindset, and in the vehicle market that means mammoth SUVs are out and smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles are in. But a new crash test study shows that owners of these smaller cars may be sacrificing safety for affordability.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted crash tests of three popular "microcar" or "minicar" models: the Honda Fit, Smart Fortwo, and Toyota Yaris. These sub-compacts were evaluated for their performance in front-to-front crashes with larger mid-size vehicles from the same manufacturers. All three minicar models received poor marks in the IIHS crash tests.

GM Recalling 1.5M Vehicles Over Fire Risk

General Motors has announced that it will recall almost 1.5 million mid- and full-size Buick, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Pontiac vehicles, because an engine oil leak problem could pose a fire risk.  

The GM recall applies to the following vehicles, all of which have 3.8 liter V-6 engines: Buick Regal (1997-2003 models); Chevrolet Lumina (1998-2003 models), Monte Carlo (1998-2003 models) and Impala (1998-2003 models); Oldsmobile Intrigue (1998-99 models); and Pontiac Grand Prix (1997-2003 models).

According to a GM filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some of these vehicles have a defect which could allow drops of engine oil to fall on the exhaust manifold during hard braking, and if the manifold is hot enough a small flame could ignite and cause a fire in the vehicle's engine compartment.

TB Scare Prompts Chicago Hospitals to Test Patients, Workers

Three hospitals in the Chicago area are testing employees and patients in an effort to determine the extent of a tuberculosis health scare after a first-year pediatric resident was diagnosed with TB last week. 

According to the Chicago Tribune, a 26-year-old female pediatric resident from Northwestern University who was diagnosed with TB "most recently had worked at Children's Memorial Hospital, from Nov. 20 to April 3, where she was in contact with at least 150 children and more than 300 workers." So far no patients or hospital employees have tested positive for TB.

Contaminated Drywall Found in Rebuilt Katrina Homes

Reports of home damage linked to contaminated China-manufactured drywall have been grabbing headlines in recent weeks, and it looks like the problem could impact thousands of houses that were rebuilt in the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

An Associated Press story relates the plight of Thomas Stone and his family, who rebuilt their two-story Chalmette (La.) home after Katrina, only to discover that the cheaper China-manufactured drywall they installed throughout the house was contaminated with a chemical that ate through wiring, corroded jewelry and other valuables, and emitted a foul sulfur "rotten egg" smell in the home.

CDC Report Shows Food Safety Concerns Continue

A food safety report released Thursday by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that rates of common foodborne illness cases haven't changed much over the last three years. The numbers show that while cases of foodborne illness have declined significantly since monitoring began in 1996, most of the drop-off occurred before 2004, according to a CDC Press Release announcing the data.

The CDC's report comes at a time when lawmakers and health officials are focused on food safety, with recent high profile salmonella contaminations causing the recall of hundreds of products containing peanut butter and pistachio nuts.

The hit-and-run car crash that killed California Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and three others this morning highlights the importance of following certain steps after a car accident.

In today's early morning accident in Fullerton, California, the driver of a minivan is alleged to have run a red light and struck a Mitsubishi sports car carrying Adenhart and three others, according to the Los Angeles Times. The minivan driver then apparently fled on foot and was taken into custody on suspicion of hit-and-run about a mile from the accident scene, the Times reports

A car accident can be chaotic even when no serious injuries are involved. Traffic may be whizzing by around you, and everyone's nerves are on edge, so it can be difficult to keep a clear head. But not only are you legally required to remain at the scene after a car accident, there are other (not necessarily legal mandatory) steps you can take to ensure the safety of everyone involved, and protect your own legal rights.

Follow this quick checklist of steps to take after a car accident:    

New Brain Testing for Troops Returning from Combat

Some U.S. troops returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan are being evaluated for potential effects of traumatic brain injury, testing that provides a post-combat bookend for a Department of Defense policy requiring that soldiers undergo similar brain function testing shortly before their deployment. 

The DoD's pre-deployment brain testing of soldiers, a system that has been in place since 2008, includes "basic math, matching numbers and symbols and identifying patterns to measure response time and accuracy," and more than 150,000 service members across all branches of the armed forces have undergone those tests, according to the Associated Press.

Now the 101st Airborne Division is testing its division members as they return to Fort Campbell, Kentucky after service in the Middle East.

Genentech Pulls Psoriasis Drug Raptiva From Market

Drugmaker Genentech is pulling the prescription psoriasis medication Raptiva (efalizumab) from the U.S. market, in what is being called a "voluntary, phased withdrawal of the product" by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Today's action is being taken because of a risk that Raptiva patients may develop a serious, often fatal neurological disease called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), which is caused by a virus that affects the central nervous system.

According to the FDA, health care professionals are being asked not to start any new Raptiva treatments for patients, and for psoriasis patients already using Raptiva, alternative treatments should be explored and prescribed as soon as possible.

FDA to Take New Look at Older Medical Devices

The manufacturers of 25 medical devices that have been on the market since before 1976 -- including certain pacemakers, defibrillators, spinal screws, and prosthetic hip joints -- will need to demonstrate that their products are still safe and effective, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today.

The medical devices covered under today's FDA announcement hit the market prior to passage of the Medical Device Amendments to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1976, which gave the FDA the authority to review and regulate new medical devices.

States Debate Medical Malpractice Damage Cap Laws

Lawmakers in Colorado and Nevada are debating the merits of state laws that place a limit on the amount of money damages that can be awarded to plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases.

Earlier this week, Nevada lawmakers heard arguments from both sides of the medical malpractice reform debate on a proposed state law that would remove a $350,000 cap on "pain and suffering" damages in med mal cases, KTNV Las Vegas reports.

In Colorado, lawmakers are considering re-filing a failed 2008 bill that would actually increase the amount of money that injured Colorado patients can receive in a medical malpractice lawsuit -- specifically, raising the current $300,000 cap on "pain and suffering" in medical malpractice cases, the Denver Post reports.

GM and Segway Partner on Two-Wheel Vehicle

Segway Inc. and General Motors Corp. have unveiled a new Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility (or "PUMA") program and plans to develop a new two-wheeled (and mostly electric) vehicle being billed as a safer, cleaner alternative to traditional automobiles.

But with groundbreaking vehicle innovation typically comes concerns about safety -- for drivers/riders, pedestrians, and people in other vehicles -- and legal wrangling over restrictions on the new vehicles' use on city streets. 

The number of deaths from vehicle accidents nationwide reached a record low in 2008, according to figures released today. Experts are pointing to last year's peak of $4 per gallon gas prices and increasing seat belt use to explain the numbers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) estimated figures for 2008 show that 37,313 vehicle drivers and passengers were killed in vehicle accidents in 2008, the lowest number of fatalities since 1961, and also the lowest fatality rate ever recorded (1.28 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled). Check out the NHTSA Report: Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities in 2008.

Perchlorate, a dangerous chemical used in the production of rocket fuel, has been found at trace levels in infant formula, according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The study tested the makeup of 15 different brands of infant formula (brand names weren't disclosed), and found trace levels of perchlorate in each brand, with formula based from cow's milk registering the highest levels of the chemical.  The report was published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology

According to the New York Times, perchlorate has also been find in the drinking water in 35 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

So, what is perchlorate, and how dangerous is it?

Report Faults OSHA, Highlights Employee Injuries and Workers' Comp

A Labor Department report released this week accuses a federal OSHA program of failing to improve employee safety in particularly dangerous industries, and neglecting to properly monitor workplaces with histories of safety problems, including fatalities.

The report from the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General spotlights employees' rights to a workplace that is reasonably free of safety and health hazards, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) responsibility to ensure the safety and health of America's workers, by setting and enforcing workplace safety standards. Learn more about Workplace Health and Safety.

Evenflo Co. and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission today announced the recall of over 700,000 high chairs due to defects that pose fall and choking risks for infants and toddlers. The Evenflo recall is the second large-scale high chair recall announced in the last two weeks.

Today's recall includes about 643,000 Evenflo "Envision" high chairs, and another 90,000 of the company's "Majestic" model high chairs. The first danger posed by the high chairs comes from screws and fasteners that can come loose and fall out, causing the high chair's seat back to collapse or detach.

New SUV Roof Strength Ratings; Where Does Your Vehicle Rank?

Rollover accidents have always been a safety concern for owners of sport-utility vehicles (SUVs), and a new SUV roof strength rating system was unveiled last week by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 12 small SUVs were evaluated in the first round of testing. So, which vehicles came through with flying colors?

FDA Cracks Down on Unapproved Narcotic Painkillers

The FDA is cracking down on the marketing of unapproved drugs that may be unsafe or ineffective for patients. On Tuesday, the agency ordered nine drug companies to stop selling 14 potent narcotic painkillers that have not received a green light from the FDA.