Nissan and Toyota Expand Takata-Related Recall to 6.5 Million More Vehicles

ABC World News (5/13, story 11, 0:20, Muir, 5.84M) reported that Nissan and Toyota expanded “that massive recall over defective air bags – 6.5 million vehicles, those air bags made by the embattled manufacturer Takata. This time, fears that the air bags will rupture in a crash.” The AP (5/14, Kageyama) reports Toyota said Wednesday that it would recall nearly five million “more vehicles globally for the air bag inflator problem.” About 637,000 are in the US. The recall “affects 35 models globally, including the Corolla subcompact, RAV4 sport utility vehicle and Tundra pickup, produced from March 2003 through November 2007.”
USA Today (5/14, Woodyard, Healey, 5.01M) reported the latest recalls “show the Takata bag problem continues to deepen.” NHTSA is fining Takata “$14,000 a day for failing to cooperate regarding its air bags in which the inflators can explode with too much force and spew shrapnel.” Five US deaths have been “blamed on faulty Takata bags.”
The New York Times (5/14, Tabuchi, Soble, Subscription Publication, 12.24M) reported “one source of concern has been the airbags’ propellant, ammonium nitrate, a cheap but powerful explosive that engineers say can destabilize if contaminated with moisture.” The inflator itself, “and whether it corrodes over time,” has also been a concern. The Times notes that NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said last month that Takata “was moving too slowly and his agency was reviewing options to speed up the recalls.”
The Los Angeles Times (5/14, 4.03M) reports that this is “different from an earlier problem with Takata air bag inflators that deployed with too much force, which has affected a range of automakers including Honda Motor Co., Chrysler, BMW and Ford Motor Co.”
Reuters (5/14, Kim, Saito), the Wall Street Journal (5/14, Fujikawa, Subscription Publication, 5.68M), and the Detroit Bureau (5/14) also have reports.

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GM Death Toll From Cars With Defective Ignition Switches Hits 100

The CBS Evening News (5/11, story 3, 2:20, Glor, 5.08M) reported, “Today the death toll from defective ignition switches in General Motors’ vehicles reached 100 with at least 184 others injured.” The report said GM knew about the problem for over a decade but ordered the recall only last year. Reporter Jeff Glor spoke with a family of the earliest victims and said the Averills have until July 19 to accept GMs payment offer but if they don’t accept and choose legal action, “pursuing the old GM prior to their bankruptcy could be challenging.”

The New York Times (5/11, Vlasic, Subscription Publication, 12.24M) reports the death-toll from the faulty GM cars “far exceeds the 13 victims that G.M. had said last year were the only known fatalities” connected to ignitions that could suddenly shut off engine power and disable airbags. The Times says as the “number of victims mounts, the ignition-switch crisis is cementing its status as one of the deadliest automotive safety issues” in US history. The Times adds that Kenneth Feinberg, an independent compensation expert hired by G.M., has “made settlement offers to the families of people who died in the vehicles with faulty ignitions.”

The Detroit News (5/11, Shepardson, 523K) reports of the 184 injury claims that Feinberg has approved, “12 are for serious injuries and 172 are for less severe injuries.” The News says some Wall Street analysts have “speculated GM may have to pay a fine to resolve the investigations that could top $2 billion.” In May 2014 GM paid a $35 million fine to the NHTSA to resolve the safety agency’s investigation and “agreed to up to three years of intense monitoring.”

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FDA Bans Indian Pharmaceutical Firm From Exporting To US Because Of Quality Control Issues.

The Wall Street Journal (3/26, 5.67M) reported in its “Pharmalot” blog that the FDA banned the import of medicines from India-based pharmaceutical firm Aarti Drugs after it failed an FDA inspection last August. The agency’s inspection followed a warning letter the company received the previous year over several manufacturing standard violations at two Aarti facilities during a 2012 inspection. The plant is one of several from India that have faced similar bans.

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Nissan Increases Altima Recall To 640,000

The Chicago (IL) Tribune (3/9, Undercoffler, 2.42M) reported that Nissan has increased the number of 2013 Altimas involved in last year’s October recall from 220,000 to 625,000 in the US and 15,000 in Canada due to “a flaw that can cause the hood to fly open while the car is being driven.” The Tribune reported that Nissan does not currently have a fix to the issue but will attempt to mitigate the defect with a plan to “inspect and lubricate the potentially defective secondary latches free of charge at dealerships and will be notifying owners of affected vehicles.” Nissan is not yet aware of any injuries or accidents related to the defect.

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Chrysler Recalls 703,000 Vehicles Because Of Ignition-Switch Problems

Bloomberg News (3/8, Plungis, 2.94M) reported on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s “second recall of 703,000 minivans and SUVs with a defective ignition switch that can rotate out of position,” a problem similar to “the faulty General Motors Co. part tied to dozens of deaths.” NHTSA announced that the recall affects several models from the 2008-2010 years.

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Jury Finds For Plaintiff In J&J Mesh Lawsuit

Bloomberg News (3/5, 2.94M) reported that a jury in California ordered Johnson & Johnson on Thursday “to pay $5.7 million to a woman who said one of the company’s Abbrevo vaginal-mesh implants eroded inside her, forcing her to have surgery, in the first verdict over that device.” In the first verdict “to find fault with the Abbrevo sling,” jurors determined that the product “was defectively designed and officials of J&J’s Ethicon unit failed to properly warn doctors and consumers about the device’s risks.”

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CFPB Will Issue A Report On Mandatory Arbitration

The Washington Post (3/3, Marte, 5.17M) reported that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “is expected to issue a major report next week on what consumer advocates say is one of the leading but most misunderstood ways that companies limit a customer’s rights, people familiar with the matter said.” The practice “is called ‘mandatory arbitration,’ which bars consumers from filing class action lawsuits or taking other steps to seek relief after they feel a company has wronged them.” The Post notes that such arbitration clauses “are often found in the fine print of credit cards, payday loans and auto loans.” Consumers “instead are steered into arbitration, which critics say is a secretive process that is often stacked in the company’s favor and leads to little benefit for consumers. ‘The unfairness here is incredibly widespread,’ says David Seligman, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center.” Consumer advocates say that most people”aren’t aware these agreements exist until after they feel they’ve been wronged and attempt to sue a company or seek some other form of retribution.”

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NHTSA Reports That GM And Honda Recalls Are Biggest In History

According to the USA Today (3/3, Healey, 10.32M), “two of the biggest auto recalls in history took place last year” citing the NHTSA summary of recall activity, referencing GM’s 5.8 million vehicle recall for faulty ignition switches and Honda’s 5.39 million vehicle recall for defective airbags. Fifty-seven deaths are linked to the GM defect so far, and could rise as more claims are evaluated. The Honda defect is linked to five deaths. The GM recall “provoked federal fines, lawsuits, government investigations, an embarrassingly candid internal probe at the automaker, Senate and House subcommittee hearings and an overhaul of how GM regards safety concerns.” The AP (3/3) reported that the two recalls make up “more than half of the record 64 million vehicles recalled last year.”

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NTSB Recommends That Trucking Safety Should Be A Higher Priority

According to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), highway regulators have failed to act on more than 100 recommendations to improve truck safety at a time when fatalities have risen for the last four. In a news conference on January 13, 2015, the NTSB said that priorities must change in 2015, with more anti-collision technology, better limits on driver hours and tighter regulation of trucking companies with high accident rates,

The accidents that injured comedian Tracy Morgan in June and killed four members of a college softball team in September 2014 received a tremendous amount of media attention. They cast a new light on America’s 2 million truckers, who are involved in crashes that kill almost 4,000 people a year. The NTSB said it’s time for regulators to act on its more than 100 rec¬ommendations to improve trucking safety. “There’s a whole suite of technology that’s ready for prime time now that would reduce crashes,” Donald Karol, NTSB’s director of highway safety investigations, said in an interview. The NTSB is pushing the use of sensors to warn truck drivers when they’re about to strike someone from behind or to alert when a vehicle changes lanes.

The NTSB made the plea as it unveiled its “Most Wanted List” of transportation improvements for 2015. In addition to trucking, the NTSB also said more attention should be given to rail tank-car safety, airline pilot compliance, distracted driving, and drug and alcohol impairment. Christopher Hart, NTSB’s acting chairman, said at the press conference: “The Most Wanted List is our road map for 2015. These are safety improvements for which the time is ripe for action.”

The NTSB, which investigates transportation and pipeline accidents, has no regulatory authority. It uses its annual Most Wanted list to highlight areas most in need of improvement. While transportation has become safer in recent decades, the tens of thousands of deaths each year and hundreds of thousands of injuries indicate “we have a long way to go,” Hart said.

The number of people killed in large-truck crashes increased for the fourth straight time, to 3,964 people in 2013, which includes truckers, pedestrians and the occupants of vehicles that collided with the big rigs, the U.S. Transportation Department said last month. The number represents a 17 percent increase since 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). One issue is driver fatigue, according to the NTSB. In the crash that injured Morgan and killed fellow comedian James McNair, the driver of a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. truck hadn’t slept for at least 24 hours, according to a police complaint. The truck struck a van carrying Morgan from behind on the New Jersey Turnpike.

The safety board has recommended that trucking companies implement plans to better manage fatigue on the roads and to require screening for sleep disorders that may lead to drowsiness. Congress last year weakened regulations designed to reduce trucker fatigue. Lawmakers targeted a portion of a rule closing a loophole that kept some drivers from working 82 hours over eight days, according to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. That provision won’t be enforced for at least a year as regulators conduct research to see if it had an unintended effect of forcing more trucks onto the road during rush hours.
The NTSB has also found a pattern in truck crashes of poor safety enforcement, Karol said. The safety board wants regulatory agencies to impose tighter controls on trucking companies. An average of 20 percent of truck inspections find safety violations, he said.

Source: Claims Journal

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Nursing Home Abuse

One of the most unsettling thoughts with respect to placing our loved ones in a nursing home is the concern that someone might physically abuse them. Most states have laws that are designed to protect the elderly from abuse and neglect. Despite these laws, the sad reality is that many elderly people continue to be abused. This situation came to light recently in a Montgomery, Alabama, nursing home. Authorities found that a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and former nursing home employee punched a 93-year-old nursing home patient. The report indicated that the elderly patient continued to spit her medicine out when the CNA attempted to administer the medications. The CNA was arrested and charged with abuse or neglect of a protected person.

In 2013, CBS News reported an event where two CNAs physically abused patients in Dallas, Texas. The events were caught on camera. In that report, CBS reported that an elder/nursing home advocacy group, Families for Better Care, researched reports from every state and concluded that 11 states received a failing grade for failing to protect elders from abuse and neglect. For the southeastern states, Florida and South Carolina received a score of “B.” Georgia and all other southeastern states, except Louisiana, received a score of “D.” Louisiana was one of the 11 states that received a failing score of “F.” The states with a “superior” grade of A” were Alaska, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. According to the group’s findings, one in five nursing homes abused, neglected or mistreated residents in about half of the states. The advocacy group determined that the nursing homes that staffed at higher levels received a higher ranking, while those who had fewer staff or who were understaffed received lower rankings. As late as September 2014, the group updated its findings. The updated report can be found at www.nursinghomereportcards.com.

While the examples of abuse such as those reported in Alabama and Texas are presumably an exception and not the rule in nursing homes, if you suspect your loved one is being abused, the best course of action is to report the abuse to the facility administrator, the facility ombudsman, and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH). For information related to the ADPH, you can go to www.adph. org. The ADPH also maintains a complaint line, and you may call them at 800-356-9596 or 800-873-0366. Of course, you may also need to report the event to the local law enforcement agency as well.

Hopefully, nursing homes will do a thorough job of performing background checks and detailed interviews in order to minimize the possibility of hiring a person who would abuse elderly patients. If you need more information, contact Boyd Newton, who handles Nursing Home litigation, and who can be reached at 404-593-2630 or by email at boyd@boydnewtonlaw.com.

Source: www.CBSNews.com and www.wsfa.com

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