Runaway trailer kills 7

Wednesday evening, four children and three adults were killed when a runaway trailer filled with crushed cars careened violently into a minivan, ripping it apart. The father of two of the children was transported to a local hospital, in good condition.

The rig was headed south about 25 miles outside of Syracuse, New York when the trailer became disconnected and crossed the center line, striking the northbound minivan. The force of the impact tore the minivan apart, and both vehicles came to rest on the shoulder of the roadway. USA Today reports that “[T]he van’s driver saw the trailer coming and drove off the road trying to avoid it.” Neither of the truck’s two occupants was injured.

According to The Washington Post, “In New York, trucks are required to be inspected at least once a year and are subjected to random roadside checks by the Department of Transportation or state troopers. Drivers are also required to do a ‘walk-around’ inspection of their trucks every time they make a trip, checking — among other things — tire pressure and condition, brakes and the coupling between truck and trailer.”

Ohio tractor-trailer inspections

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) and the Ohio State Highway Patrol work to ensure that commercial motor vehicles (CMV) are traveling safely throughout Ohio. PUCO inspectors regularly conduct safety inspections on CMVs. Each safety inspection follows a thorough process to make sure that the driver and CMV meet the necessary state and federal regulations. Vehicles and drivers that fail to meet these regulations may be placed out-of-service and cannot continue operating until they comply with the regulations.

If no critical violations are discovered during the inspection, the inspector issues a decal from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) for the vehicle or vehicles. These decals exclude the vehicles from future inspections for up to three months and are recognized in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

National Statistics

According to a report from the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2010 large trucks were involved in:

  • 3,484 fatal crashes
  • 58,000 injury crashes
  • 214,000 property damage crashes

Operating commercial vehicles safely takes training, practice, skill, patience and attention. These big rigs are a necessary part of our nation’s transportation system, which most often runs safely. But as the catastrophe in New York reveals, even the slightest slip-up behind the wheel of a big rig can quickly balloon to monstrous proportions and seriously injure anyone who’s in the wrong place at the wrong time.

If you have been injured in a truck accident, the Ohio commercial vehicle and semi-truck accident lawyers at Elk & Elk can evaluate your situation and study whether you have a claim.

It’s as easy as picking up the phone and calling 1-800-ELK-OHIO or taking a few minutes to complete our free, no-obligation online contact form.

IMPORTANT RECALL: Pottery Barn Kids crib bumper poses infant hazard

Pottery Barn Recall

The Pottery Barn Kids “Sweet Lambie” crib bumper is being recalled because of a potential hazard to infants.  Consumers should immediately check the tag on the bumper for the month and year. The manufacturer reports, “The decorative stitching on the bumper can come loose, posing an entanglement hazard to young children. If your bumper contains a date code between 04/2009 and 07/2012, please stop using it immediately.” Model numbers included in the recall are: 708859, 708917, and 7988348.

The bumpers were sold at Pottery Barn Kids stores nationwide, by catalog, and online from April 2009 through July 2012. If you have a recalled bumper, contact Pottery Barn Kids toll-free at (855) 323-5138 for instructions. The company is offering a free replacement bumper or a gift card in the amount of a full refund.

Keeping your baby safe

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that between 1992 and 2010 there were nearly 700 deaths involving infants 12 months and younger related to pillows and cushions placed in or near a baby’s sleep environment. Nearly half of the infant crib deaths and two-thirds of bassinet deaths reported to CPSC each year are suffocations caused by pillows, thick quilts and/or overcrowding in the baby’s sleeping space.

American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following tips to keep your sleeping baby safe. This information should also be shared with anyone who cares for babies, including grandparents, family, friends, babysitters, and child care centers.

  • Place your baby to sleep on his back for every sleep. Babies up to 1 year of age should always be placed on their backs to sleep during naps and at night. However, if your baby has rolled from his back to his side or stomach on his own, he can be left in that position if he is already able to roll from tummy to back and back to tummy. If your baby falls asleep in a car safety seat, stroller, swing, infant carrier, or infant sling he should be moved to a firm sleep surface as soon as possible.
  • Place your baby to sleep on a firm sleep surface. The crib, bassinet, portable crib, or play yard should meet current safety standards. Check to make sure the product has not been recalled. Do not use a crib that is broken or missing parts, or has drop-side rails. Cover the mattress that comes with the product with a fitted sheet. Do not put blankets or pillows between the mattress and the fitted sheet. Never put your baby to sleep on a chair, sofa, water bed, cushion, or sheepskin. For more information about crib safety standards, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site at www.cpsc.gov.
  • Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the crib. Pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, bumper pads, and stuffed toys can cause your baby to suffocate. Note: Research has not shown us when it’s 100% safe to have these objects in the crib; however, most experts agree that after 12 months of age these objects pose little risk to healthy babies.

Click HERE for more information from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how you can create a safe sleep environment for your baby.

At Elk & Elk, we employ some of the top product defect litigation lawyers in the country. If you or someone you know or love has been injured by the negligent acts of a defective product’s manufacturer, give Elk & Elk the opportunity to show you what a difference a team with the experience, resources and determination of our firm can make. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Memorial Day Weekend sees 14 traffic fatalities in Ohio

iStock_000002080631_ExtraSmallThe Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) reports 14 people lost their lives in traffic incidents over the weekend – up one from 2012.* OVI-related traffic fatalities decreased to three for the weekend, down from seven in 2012. But OVI arrests increased nearly 5 percent.

OSHP announced they made more arrests for impaired driving, drugs and felonies this Memorial Day weekend compared to the 2012 holiday weekend. By comparison, drug arrests increased by 62.2 percent, felony arrests were up more than 20 percent and crashes were 6.1 percent higher.

The Patrol’s Columbus District, which encompasses Central Ohio counties, experienced the highest amount of OVI and drug arrests, with 148 and 98 arrests respectively. The counties with the highest rate of total incidents included Franklin with 3,258 and Cuyahoga which had 2,107.

The full Memorial Day Holiday Recap is available on the OSHP website.

National numbers were not readily available at the time of this posting. However, the National Safety Council (NSC) issued a statement last week estimating that “407 traffic fatalities and another 43,500 medically consulted injuries may occur over the traditional summer kick-off weekend from motor vehicle collisions.”

The NSC reports that the average number of traffic fatalities over Memorial Day weekend is 13.1% higher than the average number of traffic deaths in the preceding and following weekends.

In any motor vehicle crash, the period immediately after the crash is critical. Prompt investigations can capture accurate explanations of what happened and prevent evidence from being lost or destroyed. If you have been seriously injured or lost someone you love in a motor vehicle accident, you can rely on Elk & Elk Co., Ltd., for help in your recovery. Contact our experienced lawyers to gather facts and evidence from the scene of the crash as soon as possible to help create a comprehensive picture of the incident.

For information about how our Ohio lawyers can help you obtain compensation for your damages after an accident, call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or contact us online.

 

*The four-day reporting period began May 24 at midnight and ran through May 27 at 11:59 p.m.

Gynecologists Question Robotic Hysterectomies

©2013 Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
da Vinci Surgical Robot System
©2013 Intuitive Surgical, Inc.

One in nine women will undergo a hysterectomy during her lifetime, making it one of the most common surgical procedures for women. With more and more women opting for robotic hysterectomies, the president of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG), James T. Breeden, issued a strongly worded statement.

“Many women today are hearing about the claimed advantages of robotic surgery for hysterectomy, thanks to widespread marketing and advertising. Robotic surgery is not the only or the best minimally invasive approach for hysterectomy. Nor is it the most cost-efficient. It is important to separate the marketing hype from the reality when considering the best surgical approach for hysterectomies.”

Breeden’s statement also included the following information:

  • Expertise with robotic hysterectomies is limited and varies widely among both hospitals and surgeons.
  • There is no good data proving that robotic hysterectomies are even as good as – let alone better – than existing, and far less costly, minimally invasive alternatives.
  • Aggressive direct to consumer marketing of the latest medical technologies may mislead the public into believing they are the best choice.
  • A study of over 264,000 hysterectomy patients in 441 hospitals found that robotics added an average of $2,000 per procedure without any demonstrable benefit.

  • An estimated $960 million to $1.9 billion will be added to the health care system if robotic surgery is used for all hysterectomies each year.

Women should be aware of their options

TYPE

PROCEDURE DESCRIPTION

NOTES

Vaginal Hysterectomy Performed through a small opening at the top of the vagina without any abdominal incisions. Least invasive and least expensive option. Based on its well-documented advantages and low complication rates, this is the procedure of choice whenever technically feasible. 
Laparoscopic Hysterectomy A small incision is made in the belly button and a tiny camera is inserted. The surgeon watches the image from this camera on a TV screen and performs the operative procedure. Two or three other tiny incisions are made in the lower abdomen. Specialized instruments are inserted and used for the removal process.  This is the second least invasive and costly option for patients.
Total Abdominal Hysterectomy (TAH) The surgeon makes an incision approximately five inches long in the abdominal wall, cutting though skin and connective tissue to reach the uterus. Invasive and costly procedure. Patients face a longer recovery time and a large scar.
Robotic Hysterectomy Robot-assisted hysterectomy surgery is similar to the conventional laparoscopic technique. But the procedure is performed by a surgeon sitting at a console some distance from the operating table who uses hand and foot controls to manipulate surgical tools that are attached to a robot’s arms.  Similar to laparoscopic approach, but surgeons have widely varying experience.  Adds about $2000 to the cost of the procedure.

 

The da Vinci robot is the subject of lawsuits across the nation.  Plaintiffs have filed complaints alleging the surgical device was responsible for burns and other heat-related damage to intestines, ureter, bowels and other organs.

If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries because of the da Vinci Surgical Robot, you need an experienced defective medical device lawyer fighting for your rights. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our free, no-obligation online consultation form to learn more. For more information on the da Vinci Robot, click HERE.

Driverless cars raise legal questions

In 2010, Google announced that it had been conducting research on driverless cars. Using data the company initially collected for Google Maps, the Google Car also integrates cameras, wheel sensors, laser range finders and radar to avoid traffic and other obstacles. Sergey Brin, one of the internet company’s founders, expects the technology to be widely available in five years.

Google is not alone in its pursuit of developing autonomous vehicles. Other car manufacturers, including General Motors, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Audi, Nissan, Toyota, BMW, Volvo, and Cadillac, have begun testing driverless car systems. However, only three states currently have legislation in place for the testing of driverless cars, Nevada, California, and Florida. That will leave bureaucrats around the nation facing a landslide of legislation when these cars become available to consumers.

“Decades of road-safety legislation will have to be overturned before cars can roam the streets without a qualified and sober driver at the controls, and accidents involving driverless cars are bound to attract some lawsuits.” – The Economist

A 2009 study by the RAND Corporation suggested two possible solutions to address lawsuits resulting from increasingly autonomous vehicles: changing the liability laws to require courts to take the benefits of driverless technology into account when punishing car-makers for any failings; and limiting motorists’ ability to sue in state courts when driverless technology mandated by federal laws fails to prevent an accident.

Aside from liability, lawmakers will also have to address regulatory and privacy issues. The Sacramento Bee reports that Google and Chrysler have argued “that they have a business incentive to make sure their products are safe before putting them out to market, and that the state should allow them to determine themselves when the cars are ready for the public.” It is doubtful that safety advocates would adopt this type of self-regulation.

Privacy groups have also voiced concern over the technology. With a car’s information being broadcast in real time, what will happen to all that data? How long will it be stored? Who will have access to it?

With benefits of safety, improved gas mileage, and increased road capacity, driverless cars may be here sooner than you think. Proper regulation, privacy, and liability legislation should be enacted. As with any new product, it is important to have governmental controls in place to protect the consumer.

The product defect lawyers at Elk & Elk have nearly five decades of experience bringing real results to victims of defective product-related injury and their families. “Real results” means payment for medical procedures, follow-up treatments and medication associated with injuries suffered through the use of a defective product. And it means compensation adequate to allow a defective product injury victim to live a high-quality, productive and respectable life following a devastating injury.

Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO to schedule a free consultation with our Ohio product defect attorneys. You can also contact us online to learn more about your legal rights and options.

Statins may diminish benefits of exercise

May 24, 2013

A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that statins may block some of the benefits of exercise.  Statins are drugs used to lower cholesterol and include brand names such as Lipitor, Crestor, and Zocor.

According to a New York Times blog, “[R]esearchers from the University of Missouri and other institutions gathered a group of overweight, sedentary men and women, all of whom had multiple symptoms of metabolic problems, including wide waistlines, high blood pressure or excess abdominal fat.”  They underwent 12 weeks of aerobic exercise training with half of the group receiving a statin (simvastatin 40 mg/day).

After three months, the unmedicated participants had a 10% increase in cardiorespiratory fitness compared to the meager 1.5% increase in those taking the statin.  The study’s authors concluded: “Given the strong independent cardio-protective effects of increasing cardio respiratory fitness or lowering LDL, the benefits and risks of each should be carefully considered when choosing treatment modalities.”

The study revealed statins may affect the production of an enzyme which contributes to the health of the mitochondria, microscopic organelles that generate most of a cell’s energy.  Those not taking the statin had a 13% increase in mitochondrial activity in their muscles, while those taking the statin saw a 4.5% decrease.

John P. Thyfault, a professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri and senior author of the study, explained that those taking statins “were not getting the same bang from their exercise buck.”

This study, while provocative, is not conclusive. Forbes reports that Robert Eckel of the American Heart Association has raised questions about the study. “The bottom line is that the [statin] may impact on your training.”  He stressed that further research is needed.

Statins have been beleaguered by multiple lawsuits, linking them to numerous side effects.

At Elk & Elk, we are currently taking Lipitor cases involving the link between Lipitor and the increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Contact us for a free consultation if you are a post-menopausal woman and have taken Lipitor. At Elk & Elk, we put our resources to work for you. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or contact us online to see for yourself the serious work we do here at Elk & Elk: the home of serious lawyers for serious injuries.

Senate committee passes drug compounding bill

5/23/2013

 The U.S. Senate has approved legislation aimed at increasing federal oversight for companies that prepare and sell compound drugs.  One such company, the New England Compounding Center (NECC) was found to have shipped contaminated steroids that killed 55 people and sickened 686 others last fall.

According to The Washington Post, the new bill, approved by the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, “would create a new category of FDA oversight that would apply to a part of the industry that has grown rapidly over the past two decades, from small corner pharmacies into businesses that operate like large-scale manufacturers.”

Traditional compounding is a process in which medicines are combined or altered to change the dosing or form to address specific patient needs. However, many of these companies often ship drugs in advance of, or without a prescription for national use.  These drugs are not FDA approved.  Instead, they are currently regulated by states.

Today, in a hearing before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Joe Harmison of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) made the following statement.

“[B]efore expanding federal authority it is imperative that Congress look at whether current laws and regulations are being properly enforced. NCPA urges the Committee to preserve the authority of state Boards of Pharmacy over compounding by defining any new category with FDA oversight in a very limited and narrowly targeted manner. In addition, any legislation must not be used to facilitate a broad expansion of FDA power over the historically state-regulated practice of pharmaceutical compounding.”

Several consumer advocacy groups have voiced concerns about the bill, specifically that compound companies would not be held to the same rigorous standards as traditional pharmaceutical companies.  Also, the Senate bill leaves out medications taken in pill form as well as exempting compounders that only sell in one state.

$58M awarded in fracking related trucking accident

With the increase in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) gas well sites around the country, many are touting the economic boost the industry is forecasted to provide. More well sites mean more jobs. However, it also means an increase in the amount of semis and other large commercial vehicles. The increased traffic has caused concern throughout many communities, and for good reason:  Fracking related trucking accidents are on the rise.

A New Mexico jury has awarded $58.5 million in damages, the largest in state history, to the family of Kevin Udy who was killed three years ago when he was struck by a tanker trailer hauling fracking materials. The truck driver, Monte Lyons, “cut right out in front of [Udy]” according to Bill Robins, lead counsel for the victim’s estate.

At trial, evidence established that driver had been inadequately trained, was likely fatigued, and that the company defendants repeatedly violated federal and state regulations. The jury found the defendants liable for $11.5 million in actual damages and $47 million in punitive damages.

The jury released a statement after rendering the verdict:

“Our hope is that our judgment will clearly communicate that we expect a much higher standard of safety and training in the trucking industry. To the family, we understand that there is no way to put a monetary value on a human life.”

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According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, Robins said they jury “sent a clear message to the trucking industry, and the oil and gas industry in particular, that those companies who choose not to follow safety rules, and who place profits over human life, will be held accountable for the harm they cause.”

Similar suits are cropping up across the nation as the number of fracking related accidents soars. In 2011, the Wheeling Intelligencer reported 7 fracking related truck accidents in 12 days.

Litigation may improve patient safety

 

Much of the debate over medical malpractice law suits stems over the perceived increased costs such litigation creates. Businesses in the medical field have collectively spent billions of dollars lobbying for tort reform to limit the number and scope these suits as well as attempting to mitigate awards to plaintiffs.

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Lost in this economic debate is the issue of patient safety. While widely seen as a hindrance to transparency, a recent article published in The New York Times reveals evidence that medical malpractice suits may actually aid in transparency, thereby improving patient safety. Joanna Schwartz, assistant professor of law at UCLA, conducted a survey of over 400 health care professionals involved in risk management. She found that, “[M]alpractice suits are playing an unexpected role in patient safety efforts, as a source of valuable information about medical error. Over 95 percent of the hospitals […] said that lawsuits can reveal previously unknown incidents of medical errors.”

Hospitals review information revealed during litigation discovery and mine the data to ascertain which procedures or departments may be problematic. While litigation data may not always accurately represent a specific area of concern, hospitals take that into consideration while conducting reviews.

Schwartz opined, “Medical-malpractice lawsuits do not have the harmful effects on patient safety that they are imagined to have – and, in fact, they can do some good.”

Is Pfizer Benefiting From Negligence?

Pfizer announces partnership with Merck to develop a new drug to treat Type 2 Diabetes… the very disease that their blockbuster medication, LIPITOR® is accused of causing.

A number of recent studies have revealed an increased risk for LIPITOR users to develop Type 2 Diabetes.  Lawsuits are mounting against Pfizer, the drug’s creator; alleging negligence because the pharmaceutical behemoth knew of this risk and failed to warn patients.

In the wake of this pending litigation, Pfizer made a surprising announcement last month that it is out-licensing its diabetes drug candidate (ertugliflozin) to its big-pharma rival, Merck.

“We are pleased to join forces with Merck in the battle against type 2 diabetes and the burden that it poses on global health,” said John Young, president and general manager, Pfizer Primary Care. “Through this collaboration, we believe we can build on Merck’s leadership position in diabetes care with the introduction of ertugliflozin, an innovative SGLT2 inhibitor discovered by Pfizer scientists.”

Pfizer may be hedging their risk of potential multi-million dollar Lipitor negligence lawsuits on multiple fronts.  Patients taking Lipitor may be at risk to develop Type 2 Diabetes, thereby seemingly insuring the corporate giant more customers for their new diabetes treatment.  Additionally, Merck is already well-positioned in the oral treatment of diabetes with their own medication, Januvia.  The two companies hope to release ertugliflozin both as a solo drug and in combination with Januvia.

With ertugliflozin entering into Phase III trials later this year, it will be interesting to see how Pfizer addresses this issue in relation to the pending Lipitor class-action suits and the burden many claim Lipitor imposes on their health.

 

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