Putting the pedal to the metal: Ford sued for cars that may accelerate unintentionally

A multistate lawsuit was filed Thursday claiming 2002-10 Ford Motor vehicles contain a “design defect” in the electronic control of the gas pedals, making them vulnerable to unintended acceleration.

The lawsuit, filed in a West Virginia federal court on behalf of 20 Ford owners in 14 states, is seeking class-action status. The suit alleges that more than 30 models equipped with electronic throttle control systems did not have brake override technology in place. Brake override technology stops the car if both the gas pedal and the brake are activated at the same time. Ford started installing this technology in all vehicles in 2010.ford-logo

According to the suit, a 2011 report by the Transportation Department’s inspector general showed that Ford had 374 injuries and deaths from electronic throttle controls from 2003 through 2009. Ford had 22% of all complaints of unintended acceleration during that period, more than any of the other major auto manufacturers, the report said.

Ford claimed that studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have concluded that “driver error” was the “predominant” cause of unintended acceleration events.

Attorney Tom Murray, of the Sandusky, Ohio, firm Murray & Murray, is writing a book on unintended acceleration. In an article from USA Today, Murray says that the company’s failure to install a brake override system means Ford didn’t have a “fail safe” to protect its customers if the car took off on its own.

In 2012, Toyota paid $1.1 billion to settle a U.S. class-action suit over claims that millions of its vehicles had possible safety defects that could cause unintended acceleration.

Many Ford owners may not realize that their vehicle could suddenly take off on its own. This is a very serious problem that could still be putting millions of Ford owners at risk, unless the company recalls the vehicles and fixes the problem.

Lawsuit blames Whirlpool for Clyde Cancer Cluster

Cancer is a horrific disease that has touched every one of us in some way. It is especially awful when children are struck by the disease. And if children are getting cancer because of a company’s wrong-doing, then someone must be held accountable. Can you imagine a company profiting while causing children to get cancer?

A $750 million class action lawsuit filed Thursday attempts to link Whirlpool Corp. with what has become known in the area as the “Clyde Cancer Cluster.” The suit, filed in Sandusky County Common Pleas Court, alleges the company dumped toxic chemicals at the former Whirlpool Park in Green Springs.

Nearly 40 young people in the area have been diagnosed with cancer since the mid-1990s.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said that high levels of a chemical believed to increase the risk of certain cancers were discovered in soil samples from a former park that Whirlpool once owned near the town of Clyde. The company has a washing machine factory in Clyde. However, the findings did not specifically link the contaminants with the cancer cluster. And Whirlpool has not been linked to the chemicals.

More tests are planned to find more information about the chemicals found in the soil. They are seeking answers as to where they came from, and what link, if any, they have to the Clyde Cancer Cluster.

If these chemicals are tied to the cancer cases, the responsible parties must be held accountable and the affected families must be given some measure of justice. How can you put a price tag on the pain and suffering the young victims and their families have suffered and are suffering?

The personal injury attorneys of Elk & Elk have almost 50 years of experience battling big business and fighting for your rights. Find out more about how we can help you.

Arthur Elk: You don’t always get what you pay for

By Arthur Elk

originalIf you paid $1,500 for a baby stroller, would you worry about it breaking? You shouldn’t have to. But one baby product manufacturer has recalled its stroller that retails for between $900 and $1,600.

The Bugaboo Cameleon3 stroller has been recalled because its carrying handle can break and detach, causing a fall hazard. The manufacturer, Bugaboo Americas of El Segundo, CA, has received 16 reports of carry handles breaking, but no injuries have been reported.

Consumers who own the stroller should immediately remove the carry handle from the stroller’s bassinet or seat and contact Bugaboo for a free replacement handle. While you wait for the replacement handle to arrive, you can continue to use the seat or bassinet as long as it is attached to the stroller’s chassis. Do not use the seat or bassinet separate from the chassis.

The stroller was sold at Buy Buy Baby, Toys R Us and other baby product stores nationwide, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, online at Bugaboo.com and other online retailers from September 2012 to March 2013.

When you pay $1,500 for a baby stroller, you should be able to depend on it working properly for years without worrying about your baby being in danger. Unfortunately, expensive products may not necessarily be any safer than an inexpensive similar product.

If you have been injured by a recalled product, let the experienced product injury attorneys of Elk & Elk help you. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or visit our website for a free consultation.



ERs missing opportunity to inform parents about car seat safety

Emergency departments in hospitals can be doing much more to educate parents about car seat safety, according to a new study.

Although more than 130,000 children younger than 13 are rushed to hospital emergency rooms after being injured in a car accident each year, more than one-third of doctors are not sure if their emergency department has information on the proper use of child passenger restraints for these children’s parents or guardians, the study found.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Michigan’s CS Mott Children’s Hospital. Researchers found that less than half of the physicians responding to the study said that a parent of a 2-year-old being discharged after an accident would be given discharge instructions including advice about car seats.


Approximately 20 percent of children aged 1 to 3 and almost half of 4- to 7-year-olds are not put in the proper car seat. That may be a big reason why motor-vehicle collisions continue to be a leading cause of death among children younger than 4 and the leading cause of death among older children.

According to the study, many children who visit an emergency department after a car accident are not receiving specialized pediatric care, which may explain why parents are not receiving information about car seat safety. The study found that less than 15 percent of children seeking emergency care are seen in an emergency department with specialized pediatric services.

Emergency room visits are a great opportunity for doctors to inform parents about child safety matters, including car seat safety. With so many children improperly secured and at-risk, emergency departments should make a simple flyer or brochure about car seat safety available for the ER doctors to hand out to parents. This simple step could make a big difference and save a lot of lives.

If you have questions about car seats, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association offers tips for what type of car seat to choose for your child and how to install car seats.


March is Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month

Did you know that 1.7 million people, including 475,000 children, suffer some form of a Traumatic Brain Injury every year? More than 3 million people live with a life-long disability as a result of a TBI.

March is Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month. Brain injuries are very serious and can affect a person like no other type of injury. More than 50,000 people die each year as the result of a TBI and another 275,000 people will be hospitalized. Brain injuries are a contributing factor in nearly one-third of all injury-related deaths in the United States.

A brain injury can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere, and the effects can be devastating. Most often, these injuries occur from a car accident, motorcycle accident, a fall, a workplace accident or a sports injury. A blow to the head can affect everything from sleep patterns to your sense of smell and even your personality. Sometimes the changes are not recognized for months or even years after the original injury.

Victims of TBI may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Lightheadedness
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  •  Ringing in the ears
  •  Fatigue
  •  Mood changes
  • Trouble with memory
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Struggling with thinking or paying attention

If you recognize any of these symptoms following an accident in which you or someone close to you has suffered a head injury, you may have more than just a bump on the head. You may have sustained a traumatic head injury and after you have received medical treatment, you should consult with a licensed, experienced Ohio brain injury attorney.

Trust the professionalism and experience of Elk & Elk’s medical malpractice attorneys. Contact us today for more information about our law firm.

Mold risk leads to recall of products from NJ compounding pharmacy

Compounding pharmacies are making news again. In October, three lots of injected steroids produced by The New England Compounding Center were recalled after the compounds were linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak.

Now, the New Jersey Health Department is advising hospitals, health care providers and pharmacists to immediately stop using all products produced by Med Prep Consulting Inc.

The New Jersey compounding pharmacy issued a nationwide recall of all its products because visible particulate contaminants were seen in intravenous solution received by a Connecticut hospital. Five contaminated bags of magnesium sulfate were discovered at the facility. This prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to recall all magnesium sulfate compounded by Med Prep. The recall was later expanded to all products made by the compounding pharmacy.

Administration of an intravenous product contaminated with mold could cause a fatal infection. To date, no injuries or illnesses have been reported.

The products are used for a wide range of therapeutic uses for hospitalized inpatients and outpatients, and, patients directly treated by a health care professional at a physician’s office practice facility or clinic. None of these products are dispensed directly to patients from retail pharmacies or to home care patients for either self-administration or nursing administration. All products are packaged in plastic infusion bags, plastic infusion devices, plastic syringes and glass vials.

A list of Med Prep products included in the recall is available on the FDA website.

After the meningitis outbreak last year, there was a cry for tighter restrictions and more oversight of these compounding pharmacies. These pharmacies are not as closely regulated as major pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer or Bayer. This latest incident likely will be another motivation for the FDA and other government agencies to crackdown on these facilities.


Prevent accidental poisonings: Keep medicines away from children

According to a new report released this week from Safe Kids Worldwide, every minute of every day, a poison control center receives a call about a potential medicine poisoning for a child age 5 and under. And 67,000 times each year, or every eight minutes, a young child goes to the emergency room for medicine poisoning. This is a 30 percent increase over the past ten years.

March 17 to March 23 is National Poison Prevention Week. In recognition of the week, Safe Kids has released a report titled An In-Depth Look at Keeping Young Children Safe Around Medicine. In this report, Safe Kids examines data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, information from poison control centers and findings from several focus groups, and reviews what is happening in Americans home that has led to these frightening numbers.

One reason for the increase in child poisonings is the increase of medicines in the home. Most Americans take vitamins or medicine on a regular basis. Eight out of ten adults took at least one medication or vitamin in the past week, and three out of ten adults took five or more.

But statistics show they don’t always keep them up and away from kids. In 86 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the child ingested medicine belonging to an adult. According to the report, the top places children are finding medicine is on the ground (27 percent), in purses or bags (20 percent), or on a counter (20 percent).

What can you do to keep your children safe from accidental poisonings?

  • Even if you are tempted to keep it handy, put medicine out of reach after every use.
  • Look around your home for products you might not think about as harmful, like rubbing alcohol, eye drops or gummy vitamins, and store them out of the reach of children.
  • When you have guests in your home, offer to put purses, bags and coats where kids can’t get to them. (In 43 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the child got into medicine belonging to a relative, such as an aunt, uncle or grandparent.)
  • Never store household and garden chemicals in food containers like cups or bottles.
  • Be alert to medicine in places your child visits. Take a look around to make sure there isn’t medicine within reach of your child.
  • Program the nationwide poison control center number (1-800-222-1222) into your phones.

It only takes a second for a curious kid to get in trouble and get their hands on something they shouldn’t. Take a look around your house and make sure all medicines or hazardous products are up out of the reach of any children.


5-year-old Akron boy survives hit-and-run accident

By Arthur Elk

I was horrified to read about a terrible accident that took place last week involving a 5-year-old Akron boy.

Joshua Shaw, 5, and his older sister Jadynn, 9, were walking home from Judith A. Resnik Elementary School when the unthinkable happened. Jadynn crossed the street first and made it safely, but when Joshua followed, he was struck by a car. The driver got out of his car and started running toward Joshua, saying he was sorry. After the brief apology, the unidentified driver got back in the car and drove away.

Joshua underwent a two-hour surgery the next day to repair his left leg which was broken in two places. One of his bones was completely shattered, so doctors had to use nails to repair it. Joshua will be in a cast and use a wheelchair for the next two months while his leg heals. Police are still looking for the hit-and-run driver.

According to SafeKidsUSA, since 2000, an average of 400 children (under the age of 14) were killed each year in pedestrian accidents. In 2010 (the most recent year numbers are available for), there were about 256 child pedestrian fatalities recorded in the U.S. In addition, there were close to 15,000 child pedestrians injured in these same scenarios. That is way too many young people hurt and killed by drivers.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers the following tips:

  • Supervise your children constantly – especially when they’re near parked or moving vehicles, or playing near streets or driveways.
  • Hold your child’s hand when crossing streets, walking along streets and in parking lots
  • Show your child how to walk facing traffic when there’s no sidewalk.
  •  Demonstrate how to cross the street by stopping at the curb or street’s edge and looking left-right-left for traffic before crossing.
  • Children age 10 and under do not have the skill sets to manage traffic situations by themselves. They must be supervised closely by an adult or young adult.
  • Set a good, safe example when walking on streets or sidewalks and when crossing roads.

The Ohio personal injury lawyers of Elk & Elk want all young people to be aware of the dangers they face when they are walking near roadways. Please take the time to educate them and supervise them. Their safety depends on it.


Don’t Drink and Drive: Be Safe This St. Patrick’s Day

Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day and millions of Americans will be heading out to their local bar or pub to celebrate the holiday and drink. It is estimated that $245 million will be spent on alcohol.

Every 51 minutes in this country, someone is killed in a drunk driving accident. The majority of the crashes involve drunk drivers with blood alcohol concentration more than twice the legal limit. On St. Patrick’s Day in 2010 (the most recent year statistics are available for), 129 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in the U.S.

drunk driving stats

Whether you are meeting a few friends at the bar or attending a big St. Patrick’s Day party, these statistics should remind you of one important point: Don’t drive drunk. If you are going out and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, plan ahead and make sure you have established a designated driver. If you don’t have a designated driver, have the number for a local cab company in your wallet so you can call for a ride at the end of the night.

Driving a vehicle or riding a motorcycle while impaired is never worth the risk. The consequences are serious and will last a lifetime. Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for driving while impaired can be significant.

Drunk driving violators can face jail time, the loss of their driver licenses, higher insurance rates, and dozens of other unanticipated expenses ranging from attorney fees, court costs, car towing and repairs, and lost wages due to time off from work.

If you are out on St. Patrick’s Day and you are not drinking, you can do a few things to help keep yourself and others safe.

  • If you are driving and see a suspected drunk driver, contact the authorities.
  • If you are out at a bar or party and see someone who is drunk getting ready to drive, try and help them find another way home. You could offer to drive them home or call them a cab.
  • If a friend is drunk and about to drink and drive, encourage them to find other ways home, even if it means taking away their keys.

Have a safe and fun St. Patrick’s Day. And may the luck of the Irish be with you.

FDA warns Zithromax can cause deadly irregular heart rhythm

By Arthur Elk

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning Tuesday that a common antibiotic can cause a potentially fatal irregular heart rhythm in some patients.

Concerns about azithromycin, sold as Zithromax or Zmax, were first raised last May when a study in the New England Journal of Medicine compared the risk of cardiovascular death from different antibacterial drugs and found that the drug had a higher rate of death. In 2011, approximately 40 million Americans received a prescription for azithromycin.

The FDA said the drug can cause abnormal changes in the electrical activity of the heart, which may lead to a potentially fatal heart rhythm known as prolonged QT interval. In its warning, the agency urged physicians to use caution when giving the antibiotic to patients known to have this condition or who have certain risk factors, including people with low levels of potassium or magnesium, a slower than normal heart rate, or people who take certain drugs used to treat abnormal heart rhythms.

In addition, the FDA said the drug can cause problems in people with torsades de pointes, a rare heart rhythm abnormality.

The labels for azithromycin have been updated to include the new warnings from the FDA.

Too often in my years as a personal injury attorney, I have seen pharmaceutical companies cut corners and ignore dangers in an attempt to improve their financial bottom line. These companies must be held accountable for the safety of consumers.

If you or a loved one has experienced complications as a result of taking a prescription medication, contact the drug injury lawyers at Elk & Elk. We’ll put our resources and experience to work for you to get you the results you need. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or fill out our online consultation form.