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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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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Automobile Recalls Are Likely To Remain High in 2015

Relying on an automotive industry warranty and recall study from the financial advisory firm Stout, Risius and Ross, the Detroit Bureau (2/26) reported that automotive recalls in 2015 are likely to be higher than normal, though unlikely to reach 2014 figures. The Bureau adds that the forecast is unsurprising, because the new head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mark Rosekind, “has already predicted it would happen,” as he hopes to double the size of the NHTSA investigative staff.

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Fatalities At Railroad Crossings Are On the Rise

According to Bloomberg News (2/6, Levin, 2.94M), deaths at rail crossings are beginning to rise “after years of decline, possibly due to an improving economy that has increased traffic on both roads and rails.” The article adds that over the past decade, the number of people killed at rail crossings has “dropped by more than one-third…and since the 1960s has fallen at a faster pace than highway deaths.” Unfortunately, in 2014, fatalities at “rail crossings were on a pace to reach the highest level since 2010, according to” FRA data “through November.”

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Lawsuit May Improve Protection For Senior Citizens

The Palm Springs (CA) Desert Sun (2/6, Atagi, 85K) reported that “a Rancho Mirage woman’s civil lawsuit citing fraud and elder abuse could be a ‘huge’ step toward protecting senior citizens from potential financial scams, a consumer advocacy group says.” According to a complaint filed “in Riverside County Superior Court last year, Lois Brown claims a Palm Desert insurance agent convinced her to buy annuities under the guise of a program benefiting low-income war veterans and their spouses, even though she wasn’t qualified.” The Palm Springs Desert Sun adds, “Rarely do victims of elder abuse pursue litigation against suspected scammers, said Prescott Cole, senior staff attorney for the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform in San Francisco.”

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NPR Reports On Workplace Injuries Suffered By Nurses

NPR’s “All Things Considered”(2/4, 1.58M) examined the dangers nurses face at work, noting that the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that more than 35,000 nursing employees suffer back and other injuries at work each year. According to the BLS, “nursing assistants are injured more than any other occupation, followed by warehouse workers, truckers, stock clerks and registered nurses.” The piece notes how some hospitals are trying to reduce the risk. However, “David Michaels, the assistant secretary of Labor who heads the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration,” said Congress and the courts have severely restricted OSHA’s ability “to require hospitals to protect nursing employees.”

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FDA Warns Apotex Regarding Indian Drug Manufacturing Facility

According to The Wall Street Journal (2/4, Silverman, 5.67M) the US Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to Apotex, for violations in its manufacturing of generic medications at a facility in Bangalore, India. The FDA has sent several similar letters to Apotex in the past.

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