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Aug
26
2014
Ace Bayou and the CPSC have recalled 2.2 million bean bag chairs after the suffocation deaths of two children.

Ace Bayou and the CPSC have recalled 2.2 million bean bag chairs after the suffocation deaths of two children.

Bean bag chairs are fun favorites among families with children. They’re comfortable, casual and kid-sized. But some have proven dangerous, safety officials and product liability attorneys say.

After recent reports of two child deaths, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and New Orleans-based Ace Bayou Corp. have issued a recall of nearly 2.2 million bean bag chairs. Company and federal safety officials warn that the zippers on the round and L-shaped bean bag chairs can easily be opened, allowing small children to crawl inside the bags and become trapped. Unable to escape, victims risk choking or suffocation on the chair’s foam beads.

That heartbreaking scenario is exactly what took the lives of a 13-year-old McKinney, TX boy and a 3-year-old Lexington, KY girl. Both were found dead inside Ace Bayou-made bean bags after inhaling and suffocating on the foam beads that fill and shape the bags.

Round-shaped recalled bean bag chairs were sold in three sizes – 30, 32 and 40 inches in diameter. L-shaped units affected measured 18 inches wide by 30 inches deep by 30 inches high. Both were sold in vinyl or fabric materials in a variety of colors including purple, violet, blue, red, pink, yellow, Kelly green, black, port, navy, lime, royal blue, turquoise, tangerine and multi-color. Customers nationwide bought recalled chairs at major retailers like Walmart and via online retailers such as Wayfair.com, Amazon.com and Meijer.com. All were manufactured before July 2013 and sold for between $30 and $100.

Owners of the recalled bean bag chairs can order a free repair kit by contacting Ace Bayou at 855-751-8151 or Acebayou.com. In the meantime, personal injury and product liability attorneys with Harrell and Harrell urge you to keep bean bags away from children until the faulty zippers can be replaced.

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Aug
19
2014
Looking for a new friend? Harrell and Harrell is partnering with WJXT to help boost adoptions of shelter pets in the Jacksonville area.

Looking for a new friend? Harrell and Harrell is partnering with WJXT to help boost adoptions of shelter pets in the Jacksonville area.

Jacksonville-based personal injury law firm Harrell and Harrell is a proud new sponsor of two WJXT TV news show segments designed to boost adoption of shelter pets. WJXT’s Critter Corner, a segment of The Morning Show, features dogs and cats available for adoption at the Jacksonville Humane Society. Similarly, 4′s Pet Project, part of The Morning Show‘s Saturday edition, features adoptable pets awaiting new homes at Jacksonville’s Animal Care & Protective Services.

Shelter statistics show that upward of 2.7 million healthy, adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the United States simply because shelters are unable to house all of the pets surrendered by their owners, picked up as strays or confiscated from suspected neglect and abuse situations. Meanwhile, purchasing of pets at pet stores may actually support puppy mills, where breeding dogs often live in harsh, unsanitary conditions with little or no shade, exercise, veterinarian care or human interaction.

With each adopted from a shelter, two lives are saved – the adopted pet and the one who will now have a spot at the shelter vacated by your new furry friend. Plus, you’ll reap benefits, too. Studies show that pet ownership offers multiple health boons including:

  1. An immunity boost: Studies show that exposure to pets at an early age can help boost a child’s immune system, reducing the risk of developing allergies, asthma and eczema.
  2. Stress relief: In a survey by market research firm Mindlab International, 55 percent of respondents reported feeling more relaxed after spending time with their pets. Plus, 44 percent said they worried less about common issues like finances and job security than did non-pet owners.
  3. Heart health: A study of some 4,500 adults found that cat ownership correlated to a 40 percent lower risk of suffering a fatal heart attack. Simply petting a cat can help lower blood pressure in minutes.
  4. Weight loss: Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that people who walk dogs exercise more consistently and enjoy better fitness results than people who walk with a human companion.
  5. Healing boost: Medical doctors increasingly are recommending that patients who live alone adopt or foster pets. They cite research and anecdotal experience suggesting that pets often help motivate patients to more closely follow physicians’ instructions and to give better effort when dealing with serious medical conditions such as cancer.

Ready to meet your new four-legged family member? Harrell and Harrell urges you to head to the Jacksonville Humane Society or Jacksonville’s Animal Care & Protective Services, where dozens of healthy, hopeful dogs and cats await safe and loving new homes.

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Aug
11
2014
Lobbyists for rubber manufacturers say age shouldn't be a factor in tire inspections. Federal safety officials and product liability attorneys disagree.

Lobbyists for rubber manufacturers say age shouldn’t be a factor in tire inspections. Federal safety officials and product liability attorneys disagree.

Lobbyists for the Rubber Manufacturers of America and officials with the National Transportation Safety Board are locked in an increasingly heated dispute over the safety of aging tires used on vehicles nationwide. And you can bet that personal injury and product liability attorneys are watching and advocating for the safety of America’s automobile owners and their families.

Central to the current debate is pending legislation in Massachusetts that the Rubber Manufacturers of America (RMA) has thus far spent upward of $36,000 to defeat. Proposed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives, An Act to Increase Road Safety (H3016) would require inclusion of tire age as part of regular vehicle inspections, and issuance of a rejection certificate for any vehicle equipped with a light-truck or passenger tire, including a full-service spare, more than six years old.

RMA officials oppose any legislation that includes an age limit on tires, arguing that age alone is not a determining factor in a tire’s safety.

“It’s more important how a tire is used, whether it’s maintained and how it’s stored,” RMA Executive Director Dan Zielinski told reporters.

NTSB officials disagree, as does Sean Kane, founder and president of Safety Research & Strategies and a frequent legal consultant against tire manufacturers.

“Over time, they become less elastic,” Kane recently told ABC News. “And once [a tire is] put into service it represents a significant hazard.”

Meanwhile, NTSB has launched an investigation into the relationship between a tire’s age and tread separation, following a February crash involving a ten-year-old Michelin Cross Terrain tire in Louisiana that killed four people. In that incident, the driver of a 2004 Kia Sorrento lost control of the SUV after the left rear tire’s tread sidewall separated. The SUV crossed a median and collided with a school bus carrying a high school baseball team. Four of the SUV occupants were killed, including the driver, and a fifth was seriously injured. Of the 36 students and chaperones on the school bus, 31 were injured as well.

Tire age also is a factor in a second NTSB investigation involving a Lake City, Florida crash involving a 2002 Ford church van that rolled over, killing two adults and injuring all other occupants, including seven children and a third adult. In this incident, too, the driver lost control after the tread separated from the left rear tire.

Though the agency’s investigation into the link between tire age and tread separation is ongoing, the outcome likely will prove what safety officials and product liability attorneys already suspect – that tire age is a significant safety risk.

“Aging does potentially play a role in the degradation of the internal structure of the tire,” said Don Karol, the NTSB’s lead investigator.

To find out how old your vehicle’s tires are, look for a four-digit numerical code stamped on the sideway of each tire. The first two-digits denote the week that the tire was manufactured, and the last two denote the year. For instance, a code that reads 1512 means that the tire was made in the 15th week (early to mid-April) of 2012. If your tire has only a three-digit code that means that it was made prior to 2000 and most assuredly needs replacing.

Product liability and personal injury attorneys with Harrell and Harrell urge you to check your tires’ age and inspect their tread regularly. If you or your loved one are injured in an automobile accident that you believe was caused by an aged, pre-owned or faulty tire, call us at 800-251-1111.

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Aug
06
2014
Your antique Lane or Virginia Made chest may be part of a nationwide recall over a dangerous automatic locking mechanism.

Your antique Lane or Virginia Made chest may be part of a nationwide recall over a dangerous automatic locking mechanism.

That antique cedar chest that’s been in your family for generations may be dangerous, say officials with Tupelo, MS-based Lane Furniture and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. They’ve recently announced a renewed recall on cedar chests made under the Lane and Virginia Made bands manufactured between 1912 and 1987, and product liability attorneys warn parents to take heed.

Lane Furniture issued an initial recall of 12 million cedar chests back in 1996, prompted by reports of six children getting trapped and suffocating in the chests. The most recent recall comes on the heels of another suffocation death and two near fatalities to children who became trapped when the chest lid closed and automatically latched shut.

Locks installed on chests made before 1988 featured a push-button mechanism used to lift the chest lid. The mechanism then instantly clicked back into place to lock the chest when the lid was lowered, with no way to unlock and open the chest from the inside. Plus, these cedar-lined chests were built with a tight seal to help keep out moths and protect cloth items stored inside.

Unfortunately, it’s believed that the chests’ size and shape make them desirable hiding spots for children playing games like hide-and-seek. Plus, many parents consider the chests ideal as toy boxes and storage spaces for clothes, blankets and other children’s items. Thus, children often have access to the chests, but parents may be unaware of the automatic locks and subsequent entrapment and suffocation danger.

Lane Furniture officials estimate that some 6 million chests sold nationwide feature these old style automatic locks, which were replaced with new safety locks on all chests made after 1987. The new locks feature a latching mechanism that remains disengaged unless a button is pressed or a key is used from outside the chest. Until then, the lid will remain open about a half-inch, ensuring that accidental entrapment won’t happen to another child.

If you own or use a chest affected in the recall and no entrapment, suffocation or other injuries have occurred as a result, Lane Furniture will send you a new safety lock free of charge, along with easy replacement directions. Call the company toll-free at 800-327-6944 or order a replacement lock online. However, if your child has suffered an injury, an experienced product liability attorney may be able to help secure you fair compensation for injuries and losses. Contact Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell, serving clients throughout Northeast and Central Florida as well as South Georgia, at 800-251-1111.

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Jul
23
2014
A popular HIV drug may double the risk of a patient's suicide, a new study shows.

A popular HIV drug may double the risk of a patient’s suicide, a new study shows.

HIV positive patients prescribed a commonly used medication may be at twice the risk for committing suicide, a new study shows. The news is particularly troubling here in Florida, where two cities – Miami and Jacksonville – have two of the highest HIV and AIDS rates in the country, according to figures released in May by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Census Bureau.

Known generically as efavirenz, the anti-HIV medication marketed as Sustiva has been shown to double the risk that patients using it will develop suicidal thoughts or even take their own lives. Researchers followed some 5,300 HIV patients – 3,200 of whom were undergoing treatment that included efavirenz, and 2,100 who took antiretroviral combinations that didn’t include the drug. Each patient’s progress was tracked for about two years and when all information was thoroughly reviewed, evidence pointed to a twice-as-high suicide risk among patients taking efavirenz than among the on-efavirenz group.

The newest research is the first to identify a definitive link between the medication and suicidal thoughts, attempts and completions, and backs up results of a prior study indicating that might heighten a patient’s suicide risk because of a negative impact on the central nervous system. What’s more, researchers say the risk persists as long as patients remain on the drug.

“Efavirenz is a very important and effective antiretroviral medication that is the foundation for much of HIV therapy worldwide,” said study co-author Dr. Joseph Eron of the University of North Carolina Center for AIDS Research at Chapel Hill. He noted that in locations and situation where alternative therapies are unavailable, the benefits of efavirenz-based therapy likely will outweigh the risks of no treatment. However, “Clinicians should be aware of this ongoing risk, and talk to their patients to assess suicidality,” he added.

The powerful anti-HIV drug is widely considered the backbone of the one-pill-a-day treatment that’s highly preferred, particularly among newly diagnosed patients. Yet, “Since it was first approved it’s been known that it provokes all sorts of psychiatric manifestations, particularly nightmares,” Dr. Jeffrey Laurence, senior scientific consultant for programs at the New York AIDS research advocacy organization amfAR, recently told journalists.

Fortunately, anecdotal evidence shows that patients’ depression can be effectively managed throughout efavirenz-based treatment. Plus, effective alternatives to the medication do exist. But the key is a highly involved medical provider who will take a patient’s mental and emotional state as seriously as his or her physical condition.

If you are an HIV or AIDS patient prescribed Sustiva and are experiencing suicidal thoughts, or if you’ve lost a love one who was taking the medication to a suicide, contact an experienced medical malpractice or dangerous drug attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can be reached at 800-251-1111.

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Jul
15
2014
The 2014 Ford Escape is among the vehicles affected in six separate recalls.

The 2014 Ford Escape is among the vehicles affected in six separate recalls.

Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Co. this week issued six separate recalls of various vehicles and vehicle chassis, citing a range of safety defects. Together, the recalls affect more than 100,600 cars, SUVs and motorhomes with problems ranging from rollover risks to fire hazards. Product liability and auto accident attorneys with Harrell and Harrell want to make sure you’re aware of the potential danger in case you own one of the affected vehicles.

  1. 92,022 2013-2014 Ford Taurus, Lincoln MKS and Police Interceptor sedans, 2013-2014 Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT crossovers, 2012-2014 Edge crossovers and 2014 Lincoln MKX crossovers: According to Ford officials, the right-hand halfshaft on many of these models is improperly seated and may ultimately, rendering the vehicles inoperable. There’s also a heightened rollover risk when these cars and crossovers are parked without the parking brake on.
  2. 5,264 2011-2014 F59 commercial stripped chassis: Ford warns that corrosion in the electrical junction block could cause affected vehicles to short circuit. This increases the risk of a fire or the loss of electrical power.
  3. 2,124 2014 Ford Escape SUVs: In models outfitted with panoramic glass roofs, the roofs may have an improperly cured bond. This means the roofs could leak at best, or even completely separate from the vehicle.
  4. 635 2014 F53 motor home stripped chassis and F59 commercial stripped chassis: Ford warns that incorrectly manufactured brake calipers may cause a leak and or a brake failure.
  5. 368 2014 Transit Connect vehicles: Brake reservoir caps in units shipped to Puerto Rico have European labels that fall short of American labeling requirements.
  6. 197 2014 Ford Fiesta subcompacts: Officials say many of the fuel tanks on these vehicles may be missing an adhesive layer. This can cause them to leak fuel, which can lead to a fire hazard.

Ford officials say issues that prompted the recalls were identified via warranty claims and internal testing. The company has committed to contacting all registered owners of vehicles affected in the six recalls over the next few months, so keep a lookout for notification in your mailbox.

If you drive one of these vehicles and have not been hurt, wait for notification or contact your local Ford dealership about a free-of-charge repair. However, if you or your dependents have been injured in a car fire, accident or other incident that you believe may have been caused by a recall-related issue, get medical attention immediately. Keep the vehicle as-is and contact a product liability attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell, serving clients throughout Southeast Georgia, Northeast Florida and Central Florida, can be reached at 800-251-1111.

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Jul
08
2014
America's military veterans need and deserve top-notch medical care. But a new report shows many are waiting far too long for healthcare appointments.

America’s military veterans need and deserve top-notch medical care. But a new report shows many are waiting far too long for healthcare appointments.

A new report shows that tens of thousands more veterans than previously thought are being forced to wait a full month or more for medical appointments with Veterans Administration hospitals and medical centers. That’s according to a recently updated audit of more than 730 VA medical facilities nationwide. The report shows that a full ten percent of veterans seeking medical care at VA hospitals and clinics regularly have to wait at least 30 days for an appointment. That figure is more than double the four percent of veterans that the government previously said was forced to endure long waits for needed medical care.

The new findings are not just a disgrace, but a potential danger to our nation’s military veterans’ health, say veterans disability benefits attorneys.

Findings of the new report show that new patients at the Atlanta VA hospital waited an average 44 days for an appointment in April, while existing patients waited even longer – an average 66 days – for pending appointments. In Kansas, many veterans say they can’t get medical appointments at US VA facilities at all, and are seeing their previously scheduled checkups canceled as the dates approach. Nationwide, more than 56,000 veterans were waiting more than 90 days for an initial appointment at a VA medical facility.

“In many communities across the country, veterans wait too long for the high quality care they’ve earned and deserve,” acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said Thursday.

We here at Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell agree. If you are a veteran whose health has suffered because you’ve been unable to secure a timely appointment at a VA medical facility or because your claim for the VA benefits you’re due was denied, we can help. Contact a veterans disability benefits attorney at 800-251-1111. Our team of veterans-turned-attorneys, led by 10-year South Carolina Army National Guard military policeman and Operation Enduring Freedom veteran Jason Odom, can help assure you get the car end benefits you’ve so valiantly earned.

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Jul
03
2014
Several models of adult bed handles have been recalled after three reported deaths.

Several models of adult bed handles have been recalled after three reported deaths.

If the care of an elder or other adult you love requires them to sleep in beds outfitted with handles, take note. Blue Springs, Missouri-based Bed Handles, Inc. and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently issued a voluntary recall of about 113,000 adult portable bed handles sold without recommended safety straps. Company officials warn that when attached to an adult’s bed without the use of safety retention straps, the recalled handle can shift out of place. This can create a sizeable gap between the bed handle and the side of the mattress, posing a risk of entrapment, strangulation and even death.

In fact, the company has received reports of multiple deaths caused by the faulty handles, designed to assist adults with getting in and out of bed by giving them a bar to grip. Three women died after becoming trapped between their mattresses and bad handles. Victims include and elderly woman who died in an Edina, Minn. assisted living facility; a 41-year-old disabled woman who died in a Renton, Wash. adult family home; and an 81-year-old woman who died in a Vancouver, Wash. managed care facility.

The recalled portable bed handles were sold between 1994 and 2007 at home health care stores, drug stores and medical equipment stores, as well as in home and healthcare catalogs for about $100. Affected models are:

  • Original Bedside Assistant® (BA10W)
  • Travel Handles™ (BA11W) sold as a set of two bed handles
  • Adjustable Bedside Assistant® (AJ1)

The Original Bedside Assistant and the Travel Handles have a white handle with white poles that go under the mattress. The Adjustable Bedside Assistant is gold in color and has a black cushioned foam handle. Look for the name Bed Handles Inc. and the model number printed on a white label.

If you or an adult you love own a recalled bed handle, stop using it and choose a different product, or request a set of safety retention straps. If no injuries have occurred as a result of the faulty handles, you can request a set of safety straps online or by calling Bed Handles Inc. at 800-725-6903.

However, if an injury has occurred, understand that you may be due compensation for your losses. Get medical attention immediately, keep the recalled product intact and contact an experienced product liability and personal injury attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can be reached at 800-251-1111.

 

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Jun
23
2014
A popular diabetes drug, Actos, may significantly boost your risk of bladder cancer, multiple studies show.

A popular diabetes drug, Actos, may significantly boost your risk of bladder cancer, multiple studies show.

Patients being treated for one serious health issue now face another, say officials with the United States Food and Drug Administration. Research shows that people who take the diabetes drug Actos for one year are 40 percent more likely to develop bladder cancer than are those treated with different medications. Now, in one of the largest civil trial verdicts in history, a federal jury has ordered Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly & Co. with a combined $10.475 verdict.

Actos (also called Pioglitazone) has been on the market for well more than a decade, and remains on the market despite proven concerns. Besides the FDA study that showed a 40 percent boost in bladder cancer risk here in the United States, studies in several other countries have conducted studies of their own that produced similar results. A February 2014 study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology reported a “clinically significant” increased occurrence of bladder cancer in patients who took Actos for an extended amount of time, and studies conducted in France and Canada both found a 22-percent increased risk. Researchers involved in the Canadian study alone came to their conclusion after examining medical records of more than2.6 million patients. As a result of these studies, both France and Germany have banned sales of Actos.

Statistics from the National Cancer Institute show that bladder cancer kills more than 15,000 Americans each year, and that the condition is far more prevalent in men than in women. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, painful or frequent urination, blood in the urine, urine leakage, fatigue and significant weight loss.

If you or someone you love has developed bladder cancer or another health issue after being prescribed Actos, you may be eligible for compensation for your losses. But know that these types of cases can be difficult to prove and that pharmaceutical companies, physicians and hospitals have major financial and legal resources at their disposal. Your best bet is to hire an experienced dangerous drugs attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can be reached at 800-251-1111.

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Jun
17
2014
More than 1 million White-Rodgers AC thermostats have been recalled over a fire hazard.

More than 1 million White-Rodgers AC thermostats have been recalled over a fire hazard.

Summertime is in full swing, which means many Northeast Florida residents have their air conditioners operating in overdrive. If your AC unit is run via a thermostat manufactured by White-Rodgers, listen up. The St. Louis, MO-based company, along with the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission, has recalled more than one million White-Rodgers brand digital Home Heating and Cooling Thermostats sold throughout the US and Canada, citing a fire hazard.

At the time of this writing, the manufacturer has received seven reports of fires involving the thermostats, including two that caused property damage. Turns out the alkaline batteries used in multiple White-Rodgers thermostats can leak onto the circuit board, which can easily cause a blaze. Fortunately, these reports included no injuries. But clearly, any issue that involves a fire hazard holds the potential for serious injury or death.

Recalled units number approximately 740,000 sold throughout the US, and another 403,000 sold in Canada at prices ranging from $30 to $70. They were sold at hardware stores and heating and air conditioning companies from January 2006 to December 2013. They are white in color, feature blue lighted screens and have one of the following names printed on the front:

  • COMFORTSENTRY
  • DICO
  • Emerson
  • Frigidaire
  • Maytag
  • Nutone
  • Partners Choice
  • Rheem
  • Ruud
  • Unico
  • Water Furnace
  • Westinghouse
  • White-Rodgers
  • Zonefirst

If you own one of the thermostats included in the recall, and it has not caused an injury or property damage, you can request a repair or replacement free of charge by calling White-Rodgers toll-free at (888) 624-1901.

However, if you or your family have suffered an injury, or if your home or other structure has been damaged in an incident that you believe may have been caused by a faulty White-Rodgers thermostat, know that you may be due compensation for your losses. In the case of an injury, get medical treatment immediately. If you’ve experienced property damage, get a professional damage assessment. In either case, do not dispose of the thermostat, as it will be needed as evidence in a product liability or personal injury- case. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can help assure you get the compensation you deserve. Call us at 800-251-1111.

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