It’s been a tough few weeks for Ford Motor Co. Safety issues have forced multiple recalls covering a grand total of more than 943,000 vehicles.
The first affects some 390,000 Ford Fiesta and Fusion and Lincoln MKZ models sold throughout North America. These vehicles may have a door latch malfunction that can cause the door to become unlatched or even swing open while a vehicle is in motion. Thus far, Ford has received reports of two incidents involving latch malfunctions, one that involved a door bouncing back and striking the driver, and another in which a door swung open and struck another vehicle. While no major injuries have been reported in connection with the malfunction, it’s critical that car owners are aware of the risk of serious harm.
Just days after the announcement of the door latch issue, Ford recalled another 487,301 Fusions and Lincoln MKZs from model years 2013-2015 and 2015 Edge vehicles. Bolts on the steering gear motors installed in these vehicles can rust out, crack and disable the power assist. Vehicles most at risk are those driven primarily in the northern “salt bet” states, where large quantities of salt are applied to roads during the winter season to control show and ice and lower the risk of automobile accidents. However, here in Northeast Florida, vehicles frequently driven or parked long-term on near the beaches also are at risk because of the salty sea water and air.
Another recall affects 2014 Focus, Edge, Escape, Transit Connect models and 2014-2015 Fiesta models. Fuel pumps with nickel plating can loosen and plug the impeller (the rotor that spins and drives the fuel into the line), potentially blocking the flow of gasoline. These cars may not start or, far worse, may stall while driving, increasing the risk of a collision. The issue is known to have caused at least one crash and may also affect several Nissan, BMW and Volkswagen/Audi models, as well.
Though smaller in reach, the fourth recall is a critical one, too. It covers 73 2015 F-150 trucks manufactured over a two-day span at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan plant. Workers neglected to install heat shields or fasteners, which poses a fire risk when trucks are idling over grass or other easily ignitable surfaces.
Finally, owners of 2015 MKZ sedans are urged to request a software update that will lower the brightness of headlamps. The lamps are too bright under federal regulations in 21,435 cars.
If you believe your vehicle may be affected by the recall and no injuries have occurred as a result of the defects, take your vehicle to your nearest Ford dealer for free-of-charge fixes. However, if you or your family have suffered an injury that you believe may have been caused by one of these issues, get medical treatment and contact an experienced product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.
On the heels of a 30,000-case recall of multiple Sabra hummus products over a possible Listeria contamination, another highly popular snack product line is off the shelves entirely. Brenham, TX-based Blue Bell Creameries this week voluntarily recalled all products made at all of its facilities including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks
The move comes after an enhanced sampling program initiated by Blue Bell revealed that its Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream half gallons produced on March 17 and March 27, made at different plants and sold in different places, contained the bacteria. Thus far, three people in Kansas have died in the past year and 10 people in four states (Kansas, Arizona, Oklahoma and Texas) have fallen ill after eating Blue Bell products.
The Listeria bacteria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Plus, a Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the issue may go back as far as 2010.
The agency connected patients from 2010-2015 to the current outbreak through comparisons to a database of bacteria DNA.
Though the origin of the strain remains unknown, “the fact that it was the same strain over the last five years suggests it could have lurked somewhere in the factory the whole time,” said Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDC Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases.
If you have any Blue Bell products in your home and have not been sickened, return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. However, if you or your dependents have suffered symptoms of a Listeria infection that you believe may have been caused by a recalled snack, contact a product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.
It’s a delicious and healthy snack. If your hummus of choice is the Sabra brand, take note. White Plains, NY-based Sabra Dipping co. this week issued a recall of 30,000 cases of hummus, warning consumers of a possible Listeria contamination.
The contamination potential was discovered when a routine, random sample collected at a Michigan store on March 30 tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. Named for Joseph Lister, the English pioneer of sterile surgery, Lysteria is a form of bacteria that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of a Listeria-caused illness can include high fever, severe headache, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Pregnant women and their babies are at particular risk, as Listeria can cause miscarriages and stillbirths.
Affected units include:
- Sabra Classic Hummus, 10-oz packages with use-by dates of May 11 and May 15
- Sabra Classic Hummus, 30-oz packages with a use-by date of May 11
- Sabra Classic Hummus without Garnish, 32-oz packages with a use-by date of May 11
- Sabra Classic Hummus, 17-oz Six Pack with a use-by date of May 11
- Hummus Dual Pack Classic/Garlic, 23.5-oz with a use-by date of May 11
Thus far, no illnesses have been reported in connection with the recalled hummus products, but officials with the company and the US Food and Drug Administration are urging those who have recently purchased Sabra products to heed warnings.
If you recently bought a recalled package and have not yet eaten from it, return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. However, if you have eaten from a package that you believe may be contaminated, see your doctor for treatment of any symptoms, keep the product and package intact and call 800-251-1111 to speak with product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.
Back in October, Trader Joe’s opened a Jacksonville Beach location to much fanfare. It’s the popular grocery chain’s first venture into our area. But if you recently shopped there, take note. The supermarket chain has issued a recall of its raw walnuts after FDA-confirmed reports of Salmonella contamination in certain packages.
Meanwhile, Iowa-based Frontier Co-op also announced this week that it is voluntarily recalling dozens of products manufactured with organic garlic powder sold under its Frontier and Simply Organic brands, plus another product sold under the Whole Foods Market brand, also due to potential Salmonella contamination. Affected products include the garlic powder itself, plus seasonings, broths, sauces and dips that contain it.
Salmonella is an intestinal bacterium that can lead to serious infections and illnesses, particularly in at-risk groups such as like young children, elderly people and those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps that typically show up 12 to 72 hours after exposure. Most victims recover in four to seven days without treatment. However, those experiencing severe symptoms may need to be hospitalized and treated with antibiotics. If a Salmonella infection spreads from the intestines into the blood stream, it can prove fatal. In rare cases, infection also can lead to more severe health conditions including infected aneurysms, endocarditis (an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart) and arthritis.
To determine whether you’ve purchased any of the recalled products, check label and lot information found on the Frontier Co-op website and the FDA website. All can be returned to the store for full refunds. However, if you or your family suffered an illness after eating or handling one of the recalled products, keep the product and packaging intact and get medical treatment immediately. Then, call 800-251-1111 to speak with a product liability or personal injury attorney who can help you secure fair compensation for losses including medical treatment and lost wages resulting from your illness.
Mebane, North Carolina-based Kidde has issued a voluntary recall of 4.8 million fire extinguishers, warning that they could fail just when needed most. The massive recall affects 31 different models of disposable fire extinguishers (designed not to be refilled) with plastic valves.
It’s that Zytel (a DuPont trademark) plastic valve that company officials and safety experts with the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission say can fail when repeatedly pressed and released. The move comes after receiving 11 reports of the Mexican-made fire extinguishers failing to properly work.
“Kidde has made this issue a high priority, with a number of teams assigned to investigate, resolve and communicate the issue,” Kidde officials said in a released statement. “In a small number of instances, Kidde found that a supplier built a component that is out of specification. Follow-up field testing found a low risk of the potential extinguishers not working as designed. However, there is no way to identify which units may fail to discharge as designed. Out of an abundance of caution, we have stopped shipment of affected extinguishers, are working cooperatively with the CPSC to recall any units on store shelves, and are working to replace affected units in homes.”
Most of the affected units were sold between August 2013 and November 2014 for $18 to $65 at major chain stores like Home Depot and Walmart throughout the US and Mexico. However, one model, the XL 5MR, sold for $200. They are red, white or silver in color and are either ABC or BC rated.
To determine whether you have one of the defective fire extinguishers, first check the nameplate affixed to the front of the fire extinguisher for one of the following model numbers:
- 1A 10BC
- 1A 10BCW
- FH/ RESSP
- KFH Twin
- M110 Twin
- M5 Twin
- Mariner 10
- Mariner 110
- Mariner 5
- Mariner 5 G
- XL 5MR
Then, check the date of manufacture, marked with a 10-digit date code on the side of the cylinder, near the bottom. Affected units were made between July 23, 2013 and October 15, 2014. To understand the date code, know that digits five through nine represent the day and year of manufacture in DDDYY format. For instance, a unit made on July 23 (the 204th day of the year) in 2013 will have the date code XXXX 20413 X. Date codes for recalled units manufactured in 2013 are XXXX 20413 X through XXXX 36513 X and 2014 are XXXX 00114 X through XXXX 28814 X. A full list of recalled models can be found on the CPSC website.
If you have suffered personal or property damage that you believe was caused by the failure of a recalled Kidde fire extinguisher, keep the unit intact and call 800-251-1111 to speak with a personal injury or product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell. If no injuries or damage have occurred, call 855-283-7991 or visit the Kidde website to request a replacement.
The heartbreaking death of a child has prompted Fiat Chrysler (formerly the Chrysler Group) to recall approximately 67,000 pickup trucks with manual transmissions, citing a problem with the clutch.
In May, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation into a fatal incident in which a child inadvertently started a 2006 Dodge Ram 3500 pickup truck without using the clutch. The truck moved forward, striking and killing another child.
NHTSA investigators found that a spring wire in the clutch ignition interlock switch can break in trucks with manual transmissions. This can result in a vehicle not starting or cause it to move unintentionally once the ignition key is turned. Models affected in the recall all are manual transmission pickup trucks from the 2006 and 2007 model years and were manufactured between July 1, 2005 and July 31, 2006. They include:
- Dodge Ram 1500 trucks
- Dodge Ram 2500 trucks
- Dodge Ram 3500 trucks
- Dodge Dakota trucks
- Mitsubishi Raider trucks
Fiat Chrysler will begin notifying registered owners of vehicles affected in the recall in February. Until then, the company stresses that drivers should follow recommended procedures for starting their vehicles.
“These procedures include activating the vehicle’s parking brake, placing its shift lever in the neutral position and pressing the clutch pedal before turning the ignition key,” the company advised in a media release.
If you own or drive one of the recalled trucks and have suffered an injury or loss that you believe was caused by the defective clutch wire, get medical treatment and call a product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111. If you’ve suffered no injuries and will continue to drive your truck, take extra caution and be sure to stop by your nearest Fiat Chrysler dealership for a free-of-charge repair.
Officials with the National legal and Policy Center, a nonprofit organization that promotes ethics in public life through research, investigation, education and legal action, this week called upon the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform to investigate evidence suggesting that General Motors purposefully delayed the recall of defective ignition switches. The move comes with reports of the 38th death confirmed to be linked with the faulty switches and news of emails that show the company ordered 500,000 replacement switches a full two months before it notified safety regulators of the defect.
News of the defect first hit in February 2014, with notification to the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) that the company was recalling 780,000 vehicles. GM warned that the ignition switches were known to shift out of place, causing a vehicle’s engine to stall and shutting down multiple functions including power steering, power brakes and airbag deployment mechanisms. Weeks later, GM expanded the recall and admitted that it had known about the problem – which could have been fixed with a 57-cent part – for more than a decade.
In the months since, a rash of lawsuits have been filed against GM over deaths and injuries believed to have been caused by the defective switches, and new GM CEO Mary Barra testified before the US House Energy Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, saying “When we have answers, we will be fully transparent with you, with our regulators and with our customers.”
Now, emails released in a Texas court case allegedly prove that GM placed an “urgent” order for a half-million replacement ignition switches to be delivered “ASAP” on or around December 18, 2013. Yet, the defect wasn’t reported to the NHTSA until February 13, 2014 – nearly two months later. While GM contends that ordering parts before issuing a recall is standard procedure, attorneys argue that the delay needlessly put millions of customers at risk. In the Texas case alone, it’s alleged that a timely warning might have prevented at least one death and 85 injuries.
To date, GM has recalled some 29 million cars in North America this year, most of which involve the faulty ignition switches. While GM has thus far approved 38 death claims for compensation, a Reuters investigation claims the true death toll surpasses 150.
If you or a loved one have suffered an injury that you believe was caused by a malfunctioning ignition switch in a vehicle affected by the recall, get medical attention and contact a product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.
As the controversy over defective airbags made by Japanese auto parts maker Takata intensifies, federal regulators with the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Transportation Safety are calling for an expanded recall of the airbags and issuing orders for detailed reports and documentation. These orders have gone out to not only Takata, but to the 10 automobile manufacturers known to have installed the deadly airbags in millions of vehicles on America’s roadways.
The original recall affected some 7.8 million American-owned vehicles registered in a handful of the nation’s states and territories with high-humidity climates, noting results of an investigation showing that the airbags were prone to rupturing in humid conditions. Upon rupturing, the airbags send sharp-edged shrapnel throughout a vehicle’s cabin, inflicting stab-like wounds in drivers. But when an incident involving an airbag rupture was reported outside the affected region, NHTSA officials immediately acted by:
- Calling upon Takata and the 10 automakers using its airbags and airbag inflator to expand the recall of driver’s side airbags nationwide or become subject to the agency’s full statutory powers. The 10 automakers are BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota.
- Issuing a Genera Order compelling Takata and these 10 automakers to submit, under oath, detailed reports and documents relating to completed, ongoing or planned testing of the Takata airbag inflators outside the current regional recall areas.
- Issuing a Special Order to Takata demanding the company provide, again under oath, documents and detailed information about the propellant used in its airbag inflators, as Takata recently disclosed that it changed the chemical mix of the propellant.
- Issuing a Recall Acknowledgement Letter summarizing the details from Takata’s latest report regarding defective passenger side airbag inflators and pointing out information gaps that need clarification to ensure full disclosure as required by law.
“We now know that millions of vehicles must be recalled to address defective Takata air bags and our aggressive investigation is far from over,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman in a prepared statement. “We’re pushing Takata and all affected manufacturers to issue the recall and to ensure the recalls capture the full scope of the problems.”
If you or your loved ones have suffered an injury that you believe may be related to the defective airbags, contact Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell, serving clients throughout Northeast and Central Florida, as well as South Georgia. Call 800-251-1111 to speak with an experienced product liability or auto accident attorney today.
Automobile manufacturers have one primary job – to sell you their cars, trucks, SUVs and other vehicles. But they also have a legal and ethical responsibility to assure that their products and parts are safe. Unfortunately, that responsibility sometimes is taken lightly – with potentially deadly results.
Among the requirements of automobile manufacturers is the submission of early warning reports, (EWRs) identifying potential or actual safety issues. Federal law requires large manufacturers and their affiliates to submit comprehensive EWRs quarterly, allowing for timely notice to the US Department of Transportation and its National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Smaller-volume automakers aren’t required to submit quarterly EWRs, but are mandated to report fatal incidents involving their vehicles.
That’s where Maranello, Italy-based Ferrari recently made an inexcusable mistake. Though considered a small-volume manufacturer, it’s owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and markets its wares in the United States, which makes it beholden to the federal laws requiring quarterly EWRs and fatality reports. Company officials recently admitted violating the law by failing to submit EWRs to the NHTSA over a three year period, and failing to report three fatal incidents. Now, Ferrari has been hit with a $3.5 million fine and new mandates to improve its EWR reporting processes, train personnel on the EWR requirements, and retroactively submit all required reports.
“The information included in early warning reports is an essential tool in tracking down dangerous defects in vehicles,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman, adding that EWRs “are like NHTSA’s radar, helping us to find unsafe vehicles and make sure they are fixed. Companies that violate the law and fail to comply will be subject to comparable swift NHTSA enforcement action.”
Ferrari isn’t the only auto manufacturer to shirk responsibility for reporting potentially dangerous issues. Two US Senators last week called upon the Department of Justice to conduct a criminal investigation into evidence that Japanese air bag manufacturer Takata destroyed evidence of a default that thus far has contributed to the deaths of at least three American drivers and prompted a 7.8 million-unit recall. Plus, newly revealed emails suggest that carmaker General Motors ordered more than a half-million replacement ignition switches nearly two months before it notified safety regulators of a defect in the switches linked to 32 known deaths – and issue that company officials admit they’ve known about for a decade.
If you or your loved ones are injured or lost in an incident involving a known or suspected defect in the manufacture of a vehicle, whether it belongs to you or another involved party, get medical treatment immediately. Then, contact a product liability or auto accident attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.
No doubt you’ve heard news of the massive recall of faulty vehicle air bags made by the Japanese manufacturer, Takata, and installed in upward of 14 million Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan and General Motors models worldwide – upward of 8 million of them here in the United States. Now, there’s evidence that Takata officials allegedly knew about the issue as early as 2004 and deliberately hid the truth.
On Thursday, the New York Times published an investigative report alleging that Takata officials learned of the problem that causes airbags to rupture in even minor collisions during testing a decade ago. But rather that notify federal safety regulators about the default, which can cause debris to fly from the bag, causing stab-like wounds in victims’ face, neck and chest areas, company officials instead ordered its engineers to destroy all related data and physical evidence. It would be another four years before Takata publicly acknowledged the problem and another six before the first major recall. Meanwhile, the default thus far has contributed to three deaths, including that of an Orlando woman, and at least 139 injuries.
Investigators report that extended exposure to consistently high humidity and temperatures appears to make the air bags more prone to problems. That’s why the NHTSA is targeting registered vehicle owners in hot, humid states including Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Hawaii.
The problem is so pervasive that Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) this week called on the US Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation.
“Reports that Takata concealed and destroyed test results revealing fatal air bag defects, along with other evidence that the company was aware of these deadly problems, clearly require a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice,” Markey and Blumenthal wrote. “If the reports are true, the company must be held accountable for the horrific deaths and injuries that its wrongdoing caused. These allegations are credible and shocking – plainly warranting a prompt and aggressive criminal probe.”
If a cover up is proven, older related personal injury cases that have passed statutes of limitations or statutes of repose may again be viable, even if the vehicle and air bag involved are long gone.
If your vehicle’s make, model and year are listed below, check the manufacturer’s website for a VIN search feature that will confirm whether your vehicle is included in the recall. If so, and if you’ve suffered no injuries as a result of the defective air bag, take your car to your local dealership for a free repair. However, if you or members of your family have sustained airbag-related injuries, get medical treatment immediately and keep the airbag intact, as it may be used as evidence in a personal injury case. Contact Harrell and Harrell, serving Northeast and Central Florida as well as South Georgia, at 800-251-1111.
- 2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
- 2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
- 2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
- 2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
- 2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
- 2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible
- 2003 – 2008 Dodge Ram 1500
- 2005 – 2008 Dodge Ram 2500
- 2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 3500
- 2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 4500
- 2008 – Dodge Ram 5500
- 2005 – 2008 Dodge Durango
- 2005 – 2008 Dodge Dakota
- 2005 – 2008 Chrysler 300
- 2007 – 2008 Chrysler Aspen
- 2004 – Ranger
- 2005 – 2006 GT
- 2005 – 2007 Mustang
- 2003 – 2005 Pontiac Vibe
- 2005 – Saab 9-2X
- 2001 – 2007 Honda Accord)
- 2001 – 2002 Honda Accord
- 2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
- 2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
- 2003 – 2011 Honda Element
- 2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
- 2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
- 2006 – Honda Ridgeline
- 2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
- 2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL
- 2005 – Acura RL
- 2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
- 2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
- 2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
- 2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
- 2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
- 2003 – Infiniti FX
- 2003 – 2007 Mazda6
- 2006 – 2007 MazdaSpeed6
- 2004 – 2008 Mazda RX-8
- 2004 – 2005 MPV
- 2004 – B-Series Truck
- 2004 – 2005 Lancer
- 2006 – 2007 Raider
- 2003 – 2005 Baja
- 2003 – 2005 Legacy
- 2003 – 2005 Outback
- 2004 – 2005 Impreza
- 2002 – 2005 Lexus SC
- 2002 – 2005 Toyota Corolla
- 2003 – 2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix
- 2002 – 2005 Toyota Sequoia
- 2003 – 2005 Toyota Tundra