Dangerous Products: October 2009 Archives

October 12, 2009

Target Settles Automatic Door Injury Lawsuit for $7 Million

Target Corp., the owners of Target locations nationwide, recently settled an automatic door personal injury lawsuit filed against them by an 80-year-old customer.  According to reports, the customer claimed that Target had failed to inspect and maintain a set of automatic doors that malfunctioned and injured her.  The customer was injured after the automatic door struck her and knocked her to the ground causing her to hit her head.  She was then struck in the head again by the door when it continued to open and close while she was on the ground.  The customer also claimed that Target did not follow the safety guidelines set out by the automatic doors' manufacturer, Besam USA, who was also named in the lawsuit.  The injured party also claimed that the doors did not have a proper fail-safe system which would alarm to obstructions.

The elderly customer suffered brain injuries that prevented her from taking care of her eldest daughter with special needs.  The injured customer also claimed that she had to enter a nursing home to obtain the proper daily care after her injuries.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the second leading cause of nonfatal injuries in the United States among people 65 years of age or older in 2007 was being unintentionally struck by or crushed by a human, animal, or inanimate object other than a vehicle or machinery.

Of course, the technology behind these doors that open and close based on sensors or the push of a button is quite helpful in everyday life.  Automatic doors provide access to people carrying objects into and out of buildings, large crowds, physically challenged individuals, and have numerous other useful applications.  However, when these doors are not maintained properly or designed defectively, they can be extremely dangerous and cause serious injuries such as broken bones, traumatic brain injury, and severed fingers or limbs.  Automatic door injuries are often caused by defective or poorly maintained systems closing with excessive force or closing unexpectedly.

Traumatic brain injuries are more prevalent than one might imagine.  According to the CDC, approximately 1.4 million people in United States suffer traumatic brain injuries each year.   Of those, approximately 50,000 die from their injuries, 235,000 are hospitalized, and 1.1 million are treated and released from the emergency department.  Injuries to the brain can be difficult to self-diagnose as the signs and symptoms may be subtle and not appear until days or weeks after the injury.  People that have suffered a traumatic brain injury may appear fine, but changes in their behavior or health may signify injury.

Some signs of traumatic brain injury include:

  • headache or neck pain that does not subside
  • difficulty remembering, concentrating or making decision
  • slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading
  • see more signs and symptoms at CDC.gov

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October 9, 2009

Top Ten Most Dangerous Children's Products

Your child may be at risk of serious injury or death if you are using any of the products listed below.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) recently released the following list of the ten most hazardous recalled children's products that might still be available in resale stores or on the Internet:

  • Evenflo Envision High Chairs -- Fasteners and metal screws on both sides of the high chairs can loosen and fall out, allowing the seat back to detach or recline unexpectedly. As a result, children can fall backwards or out of the seat or choke on the detached hardware.
  • Hill Sportswear Hooded Sweatshirt -- There was one reported death of a three-year-old boy who was strangled when the drawstring of the sweatshirt he was wearing became stuck on a playground swing.
  • Simplicity Bassinets, including those with Graco or Winnie the Pooh motif -- There are at least three deaths involving Simplicity bassinets. The metal bars in the Simplicity 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 convertible bassinets are covered by an adjustable fabric flap which is attached by Velcro and folded down when the bassinet is repositioned. If the Velcro is not properly fastened when the flap is readjusted, an infant may slip through the opening between the metal bars and suffocate.
  • Simplicity Drop Side Cribs -- There have been 10 known deaths associated with this product. The drop side can detach, creating a space between the side and the mattress. Infants and toddlers can be entrapped in this space and suffocate.

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October 5, 2009

Florida Woman First Fosamax Multidistrict Litigation Plaintiff

Ironically, 71-year-old Shirley Boles took Fosamax (the brand name for alendronate) to increase her bone density, but instead the Walton Beach, Florida woman found her jawbone deteriorating, her teeth loosening, and her gums turning black. This condition resulting in jawbone death is known as osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ).

Boles took Fosamax from 1997 to 2006 and asserts that Merck, the manufacturer, failed to warn doctors about the relationship between the drug and ONJ. There are now approximately 900 plaintiffs participating in the class action against Merck. This first lawsuit is being heard this month in the US District Court in Manhattan.

A study performed at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry and reported in the Journal of the American Dental Association (Jan. 1, 2009) found that 1 in 23 of the 208 patients studied taking alendronate had active ONJ. Researchers noted that even short-term use of alendronate was correlated with ONJ in some patients after certain dental procedures.

According to an article in USA Today (March 13, 2005) the chairman of the division of oral and maxillofacial surgery at the University of Miami, Robert Marx, stated that he knew of 40-50 cases of ONJ nationwide in patients who had taken Fosamax.

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