Email Records Show GM Ordered a Half Million Replacement Switches, Knowingly Delayed Recall
Dec 10, 2014
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.
Federal Safety Officials Push for Nationwide Recall, Under-Oath Reports in Takata Airbag Recall
Dec 05, 2014
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.
Ferrari Fined $3.5 Million for Failing to Submit Early Warning Reports
Nov 19, 2014
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.
Evidence Suggests Airbag Manufacturer Destroyed Evidence of Deadly Default
Nov 07, 2014
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
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- 2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
- 2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
- 2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
- 2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible
- 2003 – 2008 Dodge Ram 1500
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Burn Hazard Prompts Recall of Women’s Silk Scarves by Zazou
Oct 05, 2014
With the fall season under way and temperatures set to drop soon, women are pulling out the scarves. Silk is a top choice because it allows the skin to breath while holding in body heat, keeping you fashionably warm. But if you’ve purchased a silk scarf from Berkley, California-based Zazou Scarves recently, take note.
The company has issued a voluntary recall of nearly 3,800 silk scarves, warning consumer that they fail to meet the federal flammability standard for wearing apparel. That means they’re a fire hazard. And that’s particularly troubling with the holidays just around the corner, as candles are so frequently used in Halloween, Hanukkah and Christmas decorating. Fortunately, no related injuries have been reported, but company officials and product liability attorneys warn that the risk exists.
The recalled scarves are made of 100-percent silk, measure 72 inches long by 20 inches wide and come in 20 colors including black, burgundy, celery, chili red, coral, espresso, fuchsia, grey, indigo, iris blue, mist blue, olive, peacock, periwinkle, pink, purple, ruby, sea foam and white. They were sold on the Zazou Scarves website and at specialty boutiques nationwide for about $30 from August 2012 to August 2014. Look for the Zazou Luxe logo printed on a tag sewn into the side seam of the scarf.
If you own one of the recalled scarves and have not been injured, contact Zazou Scarves at 800-472-2783 or email the company at firstname.lastname@example.org. A representative will send you a prepaid postage label for returning the scarf. If you do suffer a burn injury while using one of the recalled scarves, keep the scarf intact, get medical attention immediately and contact a personal injury or product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.
Some Tattoo Inks Can Cause Infections, FDA Warns
Sep 25, 2014
Tattoos are a favorite form of self-expression, with some 45 million Americans sporting ink, including 30 percent of college graduates. But before you decide to get tatted up, as they say, it’s important to know the risks, personal injury attorneys say.
Officials with the US Food and Drug Administration recently issued a warning to tattoo parlors, their customers and those buying at-home tattoo kits that some tattoo ink may be unsafe. Earlier this year, California’s White and Blue Lion, Inc. issued a massive recall of its tattoo inks, needles and kits after testing confirmed pathogenic bacterial contamination in unopened bottles of ink. Company and FDA officials warn that use of recalled tattoo kits may cause bacterial infection and can lead to sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition. Sepsis carries bacteria through the blood stream and is marked by a range of symptoms including fever, shaking, chills and sweats. It’s particularly dangerous for anyone with a pre-existing heart or circulatory condition. At least one case of sepsis has been linked to the recalled products.
The risk isn’t limited to DIY tattoo artists. Because regulation of professional tattoo artists and parlors varies from state to state, some states can be less vigilant about protecting consumers than others. As a result, tattoo clients can be at risk for developing hepatitis, HIV, staph infections and MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), an infection is caused by a strain of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections, due to dirty needles and unsanitary environments. It wasn’t until 2012 that Florida implemented legislation requiring licensure of tattoo artists and establishing standards of hygiene, training and supervision similar to those required at body-piercing studios and nail salons.
Those temporary tattoos popular with teens, kids and even adults not quite ready to undergo permanent ink, also pose risks. That’s because they often contain ink marketed as “black henna” and typically made with black hair dye containing para-phenylenediamine. Because of the name, consumers often assume that black henna is simply a variation of the natural red henna. Truth is, there’s no such thing as natural black henna and chemicals used in making it can cause painful and potentially dangerous skin infections. Symptoms can include blistering, open sores, loss of pigmentation, permanent scarring and lifelong health issues including persistent sensitivity to sunlight and certain chemicals, as well as allergic reactions. Because of the risks, the FDA has approved henna for use in hair dye only, not in products intended for direct application to the skin.
Before getting a tattoo, be sure to confirm licensure of the artist and check out any complaints that may have been filed with the Florida Department of Health concerning the parlor you’re considering. If you have suffered skin irritations or other health issues that you believe may be associated with your tattoo, get medical attention, then contact a personal injury attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can help you secure fair compensation for your related injuries and costs. Reach us at 800-251-1111.
Number of FDA Drug Recalls on the Rise – and No One Knows Why
Sep 10, 2014
The number of FDA drug recalls has risen each year, multiplying seven times over from 166 in 2004 to 1,225 last year. With nearly 840 already announced this year, 2014 is on track for an all-time record number of medications removed from the market. In fact, FDA data shows that the last 24 months have seen almost as many recalls (2,061) as the previous nine years combined (2,217). While the sheer numbers are troubling enough, what’s more concerning is that the nation’s health officials are unsure what’s pushing the continual surge.
Pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers often have to recall drugs, devices and food products for an array of reasons, which can range from simple and relatively innocuous labeling mistakes to serious, potentially life-threatening issues. Common recall prompts include including improper labeling, packaging defects, contamination, improper testing or a product’s inherent safety and the potential that its use could cause harm to a patient or user.
Drug recalls are issued in three separate classes:
- Class 1: A product undoubtedly will cause serious ill effect, including possible death, in a user.
- Class II: A product has been known to cause an adverse, but reversible health effect.
- Class III: A product is unlikely to cause adverse health consequences, but is being recalled simply for safety’s sake.
Class II recalls make up about 70 percent of the total drug recalls, followed by Class 1 at 21 percent and Class III at 9 percent.
Experts believe that one factor in the latest surge may be the fungal meningitis outbreak of 2012, which killed more than 60 people. In response, the FDA quickly initiated a crackdown on compounding pharmacies, noting that a large percentage of Class II recalls were related to issue with these pharmacies, including their provision of products that had possible, but unconfirmed microbial contamination.
Another factor may be continual efforts to improve current good manufacturing practices (cGMP). A single manufacturing plant found to be deficient in any one cGMP can lead to dozens, or even hundreds of recalls of its multiple products.
Whatever the reason, a rise in the number of FDA drug recalls is certainly a matter of concern. If you or your loved one has suffered adverse health consequences after using a recalled drug or device, you may be due fair compensation. Talk with a doctor immediately to assure your health issue is treated, then call 800-251-1111 and speak with a product liability or dangerous drugs and medical products attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.
Children’s Deaths Prompt Recall of 2.2 Million Bean Bag Chairs
Aug 26, 2014
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.
Lane Furniture Recalls Locks on Cedar Chests Made up to a Century Ago
Aug 06, 2014
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.
White-Rodgers Recalls Air Conditioner Thermostats Over Fire Hazard
Jun 17, 2014
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:
- Partners Choice
- Water Furnace
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.