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Articles Posted in Defective Products

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Pool season has begun in San Antonio. The pool season should be a time of care-free fun for children on summer break. However, there will be numerous pool tragedies involving drowning in Texas during this summer. The causes of the drowning will vary from, no fencing, no supervision, slippery surfaces, and incorrect pool design.

Negligent pool design resulted in the death of a six year old in Connecticut. The company’s president that installed the pool was prosecuted in the death. The pool design did not incorporate a safety device to prevent entrapment. Entrapment is when the powerful suction from the pool drain lines trap a swimmer underwater. Federal law requires that all commercial pools have a safety device to prevent entrapment. The federal statute does not apply to residential pools. There have been numerous deaths caused by entrapment in both spas and pools. The suction can be so great that numerous adults working together cannot free someone caught against a pool drain.

In serious injury and death cases occurring in or around a pool or spa it is necessary to thoroughly investigate the cause and not necessarily attribute the injury to swimmer or diver error. Many diving accidents are often attributed to swimmer error while in reality it is a poor pool design or poor diving board placement that caused the accident. If a child drowns in a pool that is gated it is often thought the owner did all that they could to prevent the tragedy; however; was the gate maintained, was the lock maintained, also was the automatic closure device working properly.

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A recall of more than 2 million baby cribs was initiated over fears of personal injury to infants. The majority of the cribs involved in the recall were “drop side” cribs – cribs that have a side rail that slides downward to allow a parent easier access to pick up or lay down a child. However, the sliding side rails can dislodge or detach, creating gaps large enough to allow a child to become entrapped and suffocate. There have been no deaths reported as of yet, however, at least one child was found unconscious and required hospitalization.

Defective products that have been linked to injuries and deaths need to be properly investigated and thoroughly examined in order to preserve a claim against a negligent manufacturer. For details on this current crib recall, visit the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to determine whether you may have one of these recalled items.

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The Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has come under increasing criticism for its handling of drug and medical device approvals as well as its inability to make sure that products already being sold are safe. We have also been critical of the agency’s ability to protect the public.

In a May 19th article in the New England Journal of Medicine (“NEJM”) the authors recognize the many shortcomings of the agency. However, the article points out that many new initiatives are making the FDA more transparent. This transparency, in theory, should make the FDA more responsive to dangerous drugs and other defective products. In an initial step, this past January the FDA released a web-site providing answers to fundamental questions about the FDA.

Without an honest, transparent assessment and evaluation of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and consumer products, the safety of the public is at risk. If the FDA does not effectively contribute to this process, more individuals will be injured, maimed, or killed as a result of products that otherwise should never have been approved for sale to the public.

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San Antonio medical malpractice injury lawyers are taking more inquiries from individuals injured in surgical procedures performed with surgical robots. The surgical robots can make surgery less invasive. Surgeons can operate through small holes in the patient instead of through a large incision. The robot with up to four remote-controlled arms and a sophisticated camera allows the physician to perform a variety of surgical procedures without cutting open a patient’s abdomen.

However, the surgical robots have long learning curves and some surgeons have said that it takes at least 200 surgeries to become proficient and to reduce the risks of surgical complications. Others have suggested that it takes 250-700 cases to master the robot.

One area of concern for potential patients and an area to be investigated by Texas injury lawyers is whether the physician had sufficient training in the use of the surgical robot. Some physicians have been given as little as two days training which included operating on pig and human cadavers. Obviously, as a patient you should inquire as to your physician’s experience with the surgical robot. There are many advantages to using a surgical robot if it is controlled and operated by an experienced surgeon. However, because of the long learning curve, an invasive procedure with a surgical robot should only be done by a surgeon properly experienced in the procedure.

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Potential serious injuries and death may result from riding a defective All-Terrain Vehicle. San Antonio, Texas purchasers and those across the State of Texas and the United States should be made aware that if they purchased a Polaris ATV that was manufactured between January 2009 and August 2009, the vehicle may have a defective front suspension joint stem that can cause the rider to lose control of steering during operation. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the recall involves approximately 8,500 Polaris Sportsman 2009 and 2010 models. The specific model numbers are listed at the CPSC recall website.

Many people are injured every year riding ATVs. Some of these injuries are the result of careless driving. However, when the product is defective and steering control is lost, causing injury, paralysis or death, a thorough investigation into the cause of the accident should be conducted. What may have been thought to be momentary carelessness on the part of the driver may very well have actually been caused by a defect in the design or manufacturing process. Texas product liability laws provide for compensation to victims that have been injured as a result of a poor product design, a defective component, or inadequate warnings and instructions on the use of a product.

If you purchased a Polaris Sportsman ATV, stop using it immediately and visit the CPSC website or call your local Polaris dealer to determine whether your vehicle needs to be repaired.

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Severe personal injury, including amputation of fingers, is the reason behind a recall of Graco strollers. About 1.5 million strollers, many of which have been sold in San Antonio and throughout Texas, are being recalled due to faulty latches that fail to lock the stroller in place when opened. This can result in the stroller collapsing, causing broken bones and severe lacerations requiring stitches. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) Graco has received over 500 complaints of injury from users of the Duo Tandem Stroller and the Metrolite Stroller. At least one injury resulted in the child requiring 46 stitches to close the wound. The strollers were manufactured between 1994 and 2002, and were sold nationwide at various discount stores, department stores and children’s stores for prices ranging between $80-$200. By checking the recall notice at the CPSC website, purchasers of Graco products can review the involved model numbers/serial numbers.

Defective products, especially products designed for children, can cause serious, long-term injuries and victims should contact experienced lawyers to investigate. In addition to government recalls, there are databases that should be maintained by manufacturers, and all necessary information should be sought in order to best protect future product users, as well as compensate those that have already been harmed.

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San Antonio homeowners may have placed their young children at risk of serious injury or death if they have purchased Roman shades or roller blinds at IKEA or Bed Bath & Beyond. The above blinds have been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) because they pose a serious strangulation risk to small children. Repair kits are available to make the blinds safe.

If you have installed blinds purchased at the above retailers then go to the retailer to inquire about the recall or call a San Antonio personal injury lawyer for assistance in determining whether the blinds you have had installed are included in the recall.

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“Off-label” uses for drugs and medical devices have been in the news lately. What is “off-label” use? Essentially, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug or medical device, the specific conditions for which the drug or device is approved are listed. Some drugs and devices, however, can provide positive benefits to patients if used for conditions or symptoms that have not yet been investigated and approved by the FDA. Only licensed medical doctors are allowed to use and prescribe drugs and medical devices in ways and for conditions not approved by the FDA, if based on sound medical judgment, the “off-label” use of the drug or device can help a patient. Even so, a physician can be held liable if the “off-label” use is unreasonable and not based on good medical judgment. However, drug companies and medical device manufacturers (and particularly the sales reps that promote the use of the drugs and devices to physicians) are not allowed to advertise their products for uses not approved by the FDA.

Lawsuits against drug manufacturers alleging that the company promoted the off-label use of its drugs or medical devices often include the allegation that the doctors also received secret inducements to prescribe the drug in a manner not intended by the FDA. Clearly, if a physician is accepting payments or incentives to use a drug or device in an unapproved manner, the basis for such a decision is subject to scrutiny.

In an unusual case the Department of Justice is investigating Medtronic Inc. for the off-label use of its Infuse Bone Graft. The Infuse Bone Graft was approved by the FDA for use in the lumbar (low back) spine area. Infuse Bone Graft, if used properly in the lumbar region, would cause bone growth that fills in the gap between the vertebrae and replaces damaged discs. The FDA, however, only approved the use of this bone grafting material in a small area of the lower lumbar spine.

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Product Liability lawsuits often assist federal regulators in identifying dangerous products and making them safer for consumers to use or own. Federal Regulators are often caught off guard when emerging hazards develop. One of the goals of a product liability suit is to improve the safety of a product for the public at large. Most products can maintain their functionality while being made safer for very little additional cost.

When a new product is designed for sale it often enters the market place without regulatory guidelines and without any history or competent studies to judge its safety. It can often take years before there are a sufficient number of injuries or deaths to alert the attention of a federal agency to investigate a potentially dangerous product. It is often the case that personal injury lawyers have been at the forefront of informing the public and federal regulators about the hazards of many products.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) did not start to investigate three-wheeled all terrain vehicles (ATV) until lawsuits were filed complaining of the multitudes of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries caused by faulty engineering and design principles that were ignored or overlooked by the ATV manufacturers. Even so, after being informed of the dangers of these products via lawsuits filed in various states, it still took three years for the CPSC to ban the sale of the three-wheel ATV, which was a product that had been proven to be clearly dangerous. Two years after the ban of the three-wheel ATV, a trade group published voluntary safety standards for a four-wheel ATV; however, cheaper versions of the ATV were being imported from China, without adhering even to the voluntary standards proposed in the United States, and often lacked the most basic safety features. Approximately 8 years later the CPSC finally enacted formal safety standards on the four-wheel ATV.

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It was recently reported in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that President Bush is attempting to use his last months in office to enact rules that will prevent consumers injured by dangerous products from seeking compensation. Issuing rules, rather than having Congress review and pass laws, the administration is attempting to protect corporations and is using federal agencies to affect these changes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) among others, have sought to add rules that will preempt consumers from seeking compensation if a corporation follows federal guidelines when developing and marketing a product. While this sounds all well and good – the idea of having federal guidelines in place that must be followed and the prevention of requiring a company to try and follow up to 50 different states laws and regulations – the reality is quite different.

Federal agencies such as the FDA are under funded and understaffed. These agencies do not have the ability to evaluate the pitfalls and dangers in every product put before them, or every product placed in the market place. The result is that products that have not been properly tested, or that are inherently dangerous, can end up on store shelves. Each state has laws in place to protect it citizens and consumers. Supporters claim that preemption protects corporations from having to follow 50 different guidelines. However, the majority of states have similar laws that simply require a product manufacturer to exercise reasonable care in their efforts and these laws protect consumers when a company places a product that is inherently dangerous in the stream of commerce. Similarly, most states have laws that require a company to market, or advertise its products by providing reasonable warnings that need to be followed to use a product safely.

By utilizing rule making authority, the administration and the federal agencies are avoiding the oversight and review of congress, and further, are implementing rules that cannot be simply undone. Although avoiding the review process to enact these rules, a lengthy federal review is necessary to retract these rules, making the process seem backward. Some examples of recent rules that have been enacted include: October 8, a Department of Transportation issued rule that limits the number of seatbelts auto manufacturers can be required to install in vehicles