Articles Posted in Product Liability

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MFile, ZeroSilence3 Snowmobile photo.jpgSnowmobile season started a little later in Maine this year because of unseasonably warm temperatures. Underneath the snow on Maine’s 14,000 miles of snowmobile trails, there was water and soft ground. The Maine Warden Service and Maine Snowmobile Association, promoting snowmobile safety, urged snowmobile riders to use the added time to prepare themselves better for the season and cautioned against riding the trails before they were groomed.

When snowmobiling on new snow, there is a danger of hitting rocks that can throw you into trees or other obstacles. In addition, the quality of the snow can dramatically affect steering. The forward momentum of the snowmobile causes a buildup that can cause the snowmobile to turn away, but if conditions are hard or bare, there is no buildup of snow, which changes the steering. If the condition of the snow is poor, you cannot safely travel at a fast speed. In some cases, snowmobiles travelling on lakes and streams break the ice, falling through. In Maine advisories are issued by the state government and private snowmobile clubs regarding the safety of frozen surfaces, and it’s important to always check those before you go out throughout the entire snowmobiling season.

Last season, there were 177 snowmobile crashes in Maine. Six of these were fatal. According to the Maine Warden Service, the most common reasons for these crashes are speed, driving beyond one’s ability, and driving outside the distance of people’s headlights at night. Alcohol can also contribute to crashes. Other factors that can affect the ability to drive a snowmobile safely are visibility, snow and ice conditions, faulty equipment, operator fatigue, and the rider’s age. If you are planning to go out snowmobiling, it is important to tell friends or family about your trip plans. Often, riders fail to leave a plan behind, which can make a rescue much harder.
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helmet-3-871460-m.jpgRecently, a mason working at a downtown Freeport shopping plaza on a landscaping crew was trying to remove the door of the loader with a coworker when granite steps that were held by the forks of the forklift crushed him. The worker was helping the operator of a loader when the forks and their load dropped on him. The reason for the incident is unclear, although authorities plan to investigate whether the drop was the result of a mechanical problem.

The lawn company that the mason had worked for was previously fined when a 19-year-old worker was riding on a tailgate of a pickup truck and died when the tailgate gave way. It had also been cited for other violations. Unfortunately, falling objects are not as uncommon as they sound, although usually they don’t involve something as heavy as granite stairs and may not result in death. The most frequently cited OSHA standards in 2013 involved fall protection. The top four causes of construction worker fatalities are falls, electrocutions, being struck by an object, or being pinned between objects.

If a loved one is killed by a falling or crushing object in Maine, his or her family’s ability to recover for wrongful death will be determined by the specific facts surrounding the death. In general, workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for employees who suffer work-related injuries in Maine. Benefits obtained through the Maine workers’ compensation system include medical service payments and lost wages. Employers that are supposed to carry workers’ compensation insurance, but don’t, can be sued in civil court for their work-related injuries.
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a-car-key-with-lock-2-879310-m.jpgMaine drivers should be aware that General Motors recalled over 2.5 million vehicles with faulty ignition switches. The ignition switch in certain GM cars could turn off during the operation of the vehicle, resulting in stalled engines and disabled brakes and airbags. Some of the affected cars are the Pontiac G5, the 2007 Chevy Cobalt and the 2007 Saturn Sky. A full list is available on a GM website.

GM explained that drivers should remove all objects from their vehicle keys, including the fob, in order to make the car safe to drive. Apparently extra weight can cause the switch to turn off on its own or move to the accessory mode. However, it may be wiser to park your car until the problem is fixed and ask GM for a loaner car.

In early April, 22 family members of those that died as a result of driving the cars that have been recalled asked Congress to urge GM to tell consumers not to drive these cars at all. Many members of Congress agreed and hope to toughen disclosure laws about defects that make cars less safe or totally unsafe. Senator Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, agreed the models should not be driven until repaired.
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flame-3-1189018-m.jpgA large percentage of Americans have red polyethylene gas cans in their garages. They are used to refuel chainsaws or lawnmowers or other equipment. Injuries resulting from exploding plastic gas cans (video) are surprisingly common. These injuries may include burnt skin, coma, and limb damage. The treatments required are extensive.

Tragically, about 40% of burn victims hurt due to gas cans are children. Fumes outside the gas can ignite as you pour or fill gas resulting in a flashback fire. Currently, gas cans have safety warnings that tell users to keep them away from flames and electric motors. But these warnings can be inadequate. Moreover, flame arrestors could make them safer.

Some manufacturers do install flame arrestors, but the law doesn’t mandate their installation yet. They are small mesh screens that can keep gas cans from exploding. They are installed in the spout of the cans. Shockingly, it only costs 5 cents to include an arrestor in the design of the can and yet some manufacturers will not pay even that much to keep their consumers safe.
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seatbelt-602535-m-2.jpgParents in Maine and other states put their infants and children in car seats as a safety precaution. These safety seats can reduce the incidence of fatality for infants (under age 1) in car accidents by 71%. It reduces toddler fatalities in accidents by 54%. Unfortunately, many people believe that their children are safe, when 7 out of 10 children are, in fact, improperly restrained in their car seats. Graco is one of the more popular brands of child safety seats, and many families in Maine rely on this brand to keep their children safe in the event of a car accident. Recently, Graco announced a recall of 3.7 million of the buckles on their car seats in a variety of models because these buckles are faulty.

Apparently the flaw in the buckles arises when food or dried liquids get embedded and stuck in certain harness buckles. This can make the buckles difficult to open or lock them into the latched position even when trying to release the latch. A problem like this could become problematic if there were an emergency. These buckles are not used on every Graco model; they were the ones manufactured between 2009 and July of 2013. Certain car seats, like the Graco SnugRide, were excluded from the recall because of a unique design.

Many different models of the toddler convertible and harnessed booster car seats were affected, including the Argos 70, Argos 70 Elite, Cozy Cline, Comfort Sport, certain My Ride models, Head Wise with Safety Surround and Nautilus models. The buckle types affected are Signature and QT buckles. These are the buckles with rounded red buttons, not the square red button buckles.
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after-the-storm-631372-m.jpgWinter storms in Maine are known to cause power outages. Utility crews may work to restore power in connection with an outage caused by one ice storm, only to have another wet snowfall cause a new power outage. Many Maine families use generators to compensate for these power outages. However, a recent study found that operating a generator for 18-plus hours may lead to high CO (carbon monoxide) exposures. It does not matter if the generator is placed in the garage. Generator use for a prolonged period leads to a higher rate of CO poisoning.

CO is an invisible killer. Portable generators produce a lot of CO. There have been 755 recorded deaths throughout the United States from CO poisoning associated with generators between the years of 1999 and 2011. Many of these fatalities occurred during power outages. Even though there are increasingly more striking warnings about the hazard of CO poisoning linked to generator use, homeowners continue to use portable generators, placing them wherever they feel is appropriate.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been working on a solution using computer simulations and now recommends the use of an engine with new technology that has a reduced CO emission rate. The reduction would delay and slow the worsening of symptoms, which would give occupants time to realize the danger and leave their houses. The CPSC noted that this was a complex task, in which all factors that could influence airflow were considered. Until use of such a new engine becomes widespread, there are numerous suggestions from the Red Cross on buying and using generators safely.
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Istock.com, Mikhail Mishchenko.jpgWhat’s the difference between a “heart attack” and sudden “cardiac arrest”? Did you know that your heart runs on electricity? And why does that fact matter anyway, to someone whose loved one died while receiving GranuFlo, or shortly thereafter?

Cardiac arrest is a stoppage of the pumping action of the heart. In a sense, everyone dies from cardiac arrest. However, not everyone has a cardiac arrest from a “heart attack” caused by the blockage of a blood vessel to the heart. Other causes of cardiac arrest may include intense physical activity, major blood loss, severe lack of oxygen and electrical changes in the heart from electrolyte imbalances.

Yes, everyone’s heart runs on electricity. The tiny electric charge that makes the heart beat–each and every beat–is from electricity from “electrolytes” the chemicals Potassium, Sodium, Magnesium and Calcium circulating in the blood in all of us. These chemicals are “The Big Four”. If they are not in the blood in the right balance, the electrical impulse that triggers each beat of the heart can go haywire and then stop. Cardiac arrest.

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%22Baby Car Seat%22 by kdshutterman, FreeDigitalPhotos.net.jpgWe are pleased to join the U.S. Department of Transportation and Safe-kids in their effort to promote Child Passenger Safety.

This Sunday marks the beginning of “Child Passenger Safety Week” (September 15th-22nd) .

Car crashes remain the primary cause of death for children between the ages of 1-13 within the United States. The most effective way to protect children within the car is to ensure that they are secured in a properly installed car seat or booster seat for age, height, and weight requirements. In other words “put them in the right seat, at the right time, and use it in the right way”.

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sandwich-1423647-m.jpgManufacturers have a responsibility to consumers not to produce defective and dangerous products in Maine. Product liability cases cover a wide array of products, everything from cars to children’s toys, from beds to food. Food product liability can be more serious than it sounds, including such events as food poisoning in school lunches, beverages that are too hot, or biting into a hamburger or salad that has glass or another potentially harmful substance inside it.

In a 2012 case, a man was eating a turkey sandwich during a break from his work as a line cook at a truck stop restaurant. Cargill manufactured the boneless turkey in the sandwich. While eating the sandwich, the man had a severe pain in his abdomen and was taken to the hospital where a doctor determined he probably had an esophageal tear.

A gastroenterologist performed an upper endoscopy and found a tiny tear in his esophagus and fragments of something bony there. A thoracic surgeon repaired the tear. The gastroenterologist testified at deposition that he thought the tear was a perforation secondary to a foreign body (as opposed to a pre-existing condition). He attributed the tearing to a foreign body or aggressive retching.
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file000921513512.jpgThe Consumer Product Safety Commission has recently addressed the subject of bedrail safety. In part, this investigation was initiated by the tireless efforts of one woman, after her mother tragically died after becoming entrapped within the bedrails of her bed in a nursing home facility. Until now, the actual number of deaths from bedrails have not elicited much response from policy makers. However, public pressure, a changing age demographic, and the number of reported injuries by the CPSC just may. Approximately 37,000 people were treated in hospitals between 2003-2011 for injuries sustained from bedrails. Additionally, between January 2003 and September 2012, 155 fatalities have been attributed to bedrails.

Upon case investigation, the CPSC identified potential bedrail hazards. Ranked as to frequency of occurrence, they are entrapment, falls, miscellaneous incidents, and structural integrity. Rail entrapment occurs in over 90 percent of these accidental deaths.

The majority of these injuries, 61 percent, actually occurred in home care settings according to the study, and over a quarter of the injuries happened in nursing home or assisted living facilities.
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