August 22, 2014

Brita Recalls Water Bottles That Pose a Risk for Injuries to Children

by Levin & Perconti

As consumers we trust that the products we buy are safe for our use and free from any defects that may pose us harm. Under products liability law, it is the duty of companies and manufacturers to provide safe goods to consumers by inspecting goods for dangers, removing dangerous goods from the marketplace, or warning consumers of known dangers. Although it is the legal duty of companies to not cause injury through dangerous products, at least as adult people we can be aware of these dangers and receive warnings from companies.

However, consider children who do not know to be on the lookout for dangers in the things they use in their daily lives and trust that they are not in harm's way. Children are often not emotionally mature enough to understand dangers that are commonly around us, particularly if the dangers exist in something that is ordinarily not dangerous, like their food and toys. It is understandably a hard concept for such a young mind to grasp that an everyday item could cause them harm, particularly if the same item of another brand is safe. Without this differentiation or knowledge, children can easily be in harm's way from dangerous products. Nevertheless, it is the legal duty of companies to provide safe products for consumers, especially to children who require more protection than adults.

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August 20, 2014

Train Collision Results in Toxic Spill and Mass Evacuation

by Levin & Perconti

Trains are a popular mode of transportation throughout the country, both locally and across states. Frequently, commuters and travelers use trains such as the CTA el, the Metra, and the Amtrak. However, it is not just people who rely on trains to get to their destinations, but companies use trains, like freight trains, to transport goods for their businesses. These long distance trains often carry cargo across over long distances across state lines. Due to its central location and being home to a number of large corporations, Illinois is a national hub for commercial train transportation. As a result, we frequently read about train accidents that occur and the devastation these incidents can bring to individuals and communities.

Because these trains are large vehicles with many cars that carry a large amount of people and/or a great deal of cargo at one time, when trains get in an accident, the collisions can be extremely serious. This was the case as reported by WREG News Channel 3. Two people were injured and two were killed when two trains collided head on near Highway67 in Arkansas. In addition to the human lives lost, families were evacuated from their homes nearby the accident due to toxic chemicals being spilled from one train. Currently the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the collision, but authorities currently have no idea how two trains could have collided head on.

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August 15, 2014

McCormick Spices Recalls Oregano Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination

by Levin & Perconti

Who doesn’t love the smell of spices simmering on the stove in a freshly made pasta sauce? Or the smell of Italian seasons wafting from the oven as a pizza bakes inside? The first bite of freshly made spices with an eclectic variety is the best taste too. We anticipate that dish that we spent a great deal of time and preparation on to be exquisite too, with its delicious aroma and bouquet of seasonings. However, with all the work and preparation people put into gourmet foods, chances are that they did not prepare these entrees with a side of salmonella and food poisoning.

As many food-lovers know, oregano is a popular spice for many loved dishes. It’s commonly found in pastas, sauces, and as a seasoning for meats. It’s a staple in many home spice cabinets as is the popular brand McCormick. However, recent news from Baltimore Business Journal has relayed that McCormick spice company has recalled their oregano for salmonella contamination. Under a voluntary recall, the company is recalling 74,000 bottles of ground oregano. The bottles at issue will be the 0.75 ounce bottles with Universal Product Code of 0-52365106 and contain best-buy dates of August 21st and August 22nd. The potentially contaminated bottles were shipped to 41 states across the country and internationally between April 4th and August 5th. McCormick became aware of the contamination after a routine inspection by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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August 14, 2014

Amusement Park Attendees Trapped on Roller Coaster For Over Five Hours

by Levin & Perconti

Imagine that you’ve done it. You’ve seen all of the commercials and heard all of the hype. You are finally going to face your fears. You travel to your nearest amusement park and get in line for that notorious crazy adrenaline-inducing coaster you’ve been hearing about for months. Finally, it’s your turn, and you board the coaster, take off for your ride, and become stuck upside down.

This is extremely frightening to think about happening, but it unfortunately occurred to patrons of Six Flags, according to a recent article by Slate. Two dozen patrons of the amusement park were stranded on the ride “Joker’s Jinx” 75 feet in the air for five hours. Firefighters had to put up a 105-foot tower ladder in order to reach the track of the ride. They then removed some fencing around the ride in order to access the cars in which the people were trapped. The firefighters then had to remove people from the cars via buckets by placing harnesses on each rider and lowering them one at a time. The first responders also had to bring those stranded on the ride water, umbrellas, and sunblock to prevent sun-stricken and heat injuries. Authorities are still investigating the cause as to why the ride stopped.

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August 7, 2014

Lawsuit Against Pepe’s in Chicago Echoes Precedent of Famous McDonald’s Coffee Lawsuit

by Levin & Perconti

The next time you order a hot beverage from your favorite fast food restaurant or coffee establishment, examine your cup for words cautioning you about the beverage you are going to consume being hot. In case you have never noticed these words before, they are actually a legal warning by the company to the consumer regarding a known danger of the product. By placing these words on the container, the company is warning the consumer about the temperature of the beverage. However, when temperatures of beverages and food are so hot as to become an inherent danger to the consumer by the very degree of temperature, they can be deemed more hot than reasonable, a danger to the customer, and a breach of a legal duty by the company.

According to a recent article by the Cook County Record, a lawsuit has been filed against Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant in Cook County Circuit Court for injuries caused by their chili con queso which the legal claim calls unreasonably hot. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff picked up a carry-out order from a local Pepe’s restaurant and placed the order of chili con queso between her legs as to prevent it from tipping over. The chili con queso was inside a plastic container inside of a white paper bag. However, during the drive the queso spilled from the container, which caused the paper bag between her legs to dissolve and the hot food to soak through her jeans, burning her legs. The suit claims that the queso was so hot as to cause “redness, blistering, and bilateral partial and full thickness second and third degree burns to her right and left anterior thighs.” The burns in total covered 9.5% of her body and led to hyponatremia and significant infection, which required her to undergo surgical debridement and remedial skin graft procedures. The plaintiff claims that Pepe’s “carelessly, negligently, and recklessly,” improperly secured the container, and failed to warn her that the queso was hot enough to cause severe burns.

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August 1, 2014

Chicago Father Files Lawsuit After Son Drowns in McKinley Park Pool

by Levin & Perconti

When we think of summertime and pools, we envision many things. We think of kicking back on a raft relaxing, warm sunshine as we float in the cool water, having splash fights with our friends in the hot sun, or sliding down a water slide. Wrongful death lawsuits are typically not on the top of one’s mind when they think of spending summer days by the pool, but unfortunately drowning is a common occurrence every year in public and private pools in the Chicago area.

According to an article by the Chicago Tribune, a father of a teen who died last year at a public pool is suing the Chicago Park District. He alleges that officials at the pool failed to properly monitor the area and provide aid to the boy. The teen boy died last August at the McKinley Park pool on Pershing Road in Chicago. Witnesses to the drowning described that the boy dove into the deep end of the pool and didn’t come up to the surface for over a minute. They also described that they did not see a lifeguard perform CPR on the boy. The father filed the lawsuit in the Cook County Court and claims that the Chicago Park District, through its lifeguards, failed to monitor and control the premises to help the boy. The suit claims that the teen’s father and brother have suffered as a result of the death and asks for over $50,000 in damages.

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July 30, 2014

Ingestion Hazard to Children Sparks Toy Recall

by Levin & Perconti

While children are young and still learning about the world around them, their adult parents and guardians must look after their well-being and teach them safe habits. It is common for a parent to teach their child important safety lesson such as to stay away from the stove to avoid being burned from the hot surface, to not run by a pool for risk of falling and being hurt, or not to put certain toys and other objects near their mouth or eyes for risk of choking or poking their eyes. However, sometimes these warnings may fall on deaf ears and children are young and cannot appreciate the severity of dangers around them, or like other humans, learn from experiences.

This is common knowledge to most everyone that children learn by physically, visually, and tactilely experiencing their environment. With this knowledge, manufacturers of toys, clothes, and other products are aware of children’s common behaviors, such as putting objects in their mouths. By having this knowledge, companies have a legal duty to not manufacture products for children that could cause them harm through their everyday behaviors and habits. When companies fail to take measures to protect children, and children are injured as a result of this neglect to properly manufacture a product accordingly, the company can be held liable in a product liability lawsuit.

According to recent news by the Columbus CEO, Maxfield & Oberton Holdings, the maker of Buckyballs, has been ordered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to recall their product. This is following a two-year effort to get Buckyballs off of the market. For those unfamiliar with Buckyballs, they are sets of tiny yet powerful magnetic sticking balls. The commission argues that the high-powered magnets pose an ingestion hazard to children. Because the balls are significantly stronger than most magnets, they could pose a greater danger if they are swallowed.

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July 25, 2014

Nationwide Fruit Recall From Major Grocers Due to Listeria

by Levin & Perconti

From the time we are kids, we are told how important it is to eat our fruits and vegetables to be conscious of our health. These foods are generally very nutritious and full of the vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy. However, when these foods are not properly handled by grocers or producers, they can become contaminated and cause food poisoning or even fatal disease in unknowing consumers. Because we trust that the foods we purchase are safe for consumption and rely on producers and growers to provide healthy and safe foods, it is the legal duty of commercial food producers and merchants under the law to inspect foods, remove those that are unsafe or contaminated, and to warn consumers of known dangers.

According to CBS News, fruit is being recalled from major grocers for due to possible listeria contamination. Wawona, a fruit-packing company based out of California, announced a recall of their peaches, plums, nectarines, and pluots. Some of the fruit has tested positive for listeria. The fruit at issue was packed between June 1, 2014 through July 12, 2014 and was shipped to major grocers, such as Trader Joe’s and Costco. As our readers know, under products liability law, it is the job of producers and stores to inspect products for damage and contamination, remove the dangerous products from the stream of commerce, and to warn consumers about the known dangers. Where a company fails to do this and a consumer suffers injury as a result of their failing to do so, they have breached their legal duty and can be held liable in a lawsuit.

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July 24, 2014

Chicago Father Sues Driver of Van For Hitting Son in School Zone

by Levin & Perconti

What is great about Chicago and its surrounding areas is the diverse neighborhoods and communities. There is always something for people of all ages, especially with our numerous and vast parks and open outdoor recreational spaces. However, bear in mind that Chicago is also a heavily populated area with extremely busy streets and oftentimes congested traffic. When drivers are not vigilant and engage in negligent behavior, many innocent bystanders can suffer personal injuries or wrongful death.

Negligence can even cause injury to the most innocent of victims – the children of Chicago. It is a common sight to see children at play throughout Chicago, with many children’s events at museums, playgrounds, day camps at the parks, and popular outdoor activities like bicycling or playing ball. When people are negligent with children in vicinity, children cannot properly defend themselves from imminent injury because they are too young to mentally understand and grasp an oncoming danger. They are also extremely small that a collision may harm them much worse than fully grown adults.

One Chicago father has filed a lawsuit against a driver who allegedly hit his son in a crosswalk while e was riding a bike, according to the Cook County Record. The father described how his son was injured after a van hit him as he was crossing the street in a crosswalk. The father has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the minor child in Cook County Circuit Court alleging negligence and battery. The complaint elaborates that the boy was riding his bicycle in a crosswalk within a school zone in order to cross West 59th street at the intersection of South Kolin Avenue. The boy became unconscious as a result of the collision and required immediate care in the emergency room for his injuries.

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July 18, 2014

Chicago Boat Rental Company Sued for Fatalities

by Levin & Perconti

Chicago is a great place for summer fun. What’s especially great about our city is that unlike many other areas of the country, Chicago has all four seasons but still has beaches and waterfront enjoyed mostly by warmer coastal cities. People in our community love to hit the water during the summertime, and have many opportunities to do so with architectural tours, speedboats, tall ships, or just boarding your friend’s boat for the day. However, as with any activity, safety is extremely important. It is important that boat owners, operators and rental companies follow regulations so that passengers are kept safe and free from injury or death.

According to a recent article by CBS Chicago, one woman is suing a boating company after she survived an accident that killed three people. The rental motorboat caught on fire miles off shore. This survivor filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against Sail Time Chicago and alleged that the maintenance that was performed on the boat prior to rental was the cause of the fire.

The article elaborates that the investigation found that just three days before her group rented the boat, a battery or electrical problem occurred. Sail Time Chicago had worked to repair this problem the same day that they rented the boat to the group. That afternoon the boat caught fire, and by 8 p.m. it sank in Lake Michigan. The accident killed two people, causing one to drown and the other to die from hypothermia. Another individual is still missing, but presumed dead.

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July 17, 2014

Safety Inspectors Surprised by Tesla Motor Crash

by Levin & Perconti

It is far too often that we report and inform our readers about the dangers of defective designs in automobiles causing and accidents tied to these products that result in personal injury or death. For instance, just earlier this year we reported on safety issues surrounding General Motors vehicles and Congressional hearings to bring these issues to light. However, we are always happy to hear news about vehicles with exceptional performance and safety ratings, these vehicles proving that producing safe cars and trucks is possible.

According to news by the Financial Post, a recent crash involving a car made by Tesla Motors has surprised safety experts. A Los Angeles man stole a Tesla model car from a service center and continued in a high speed chase with police, eventually colliding with several vehicles before crashing into a light pole. This sequence of collisions resulted in the car breaking into two parts and its battery catching fire. However, safety experts are surprised because a crash of this intensity that involved multiple collisions should have killed a person. In this instance, the individual was driving at extremely high speeds while running from authorities in pursuit of him. Such recklessness and negligence may have resulted in a multitude of crashes with both vehicles and objects. However, the driver only suffered injuries.

The article includes an interview with a with an expert who studies automotive fires for the National Fire Protection Association – an organization dedicated to helping firefighters and emergency responders improve safety. This expert called this crash one that should have been non-survivable.

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July 11, 2014

Foster Farms’ Chicken Responsible for Salmonella Outbreak

by Levin & Perconti

When growing up and becoming a young adult and learning to cook, many of us may remember lectures and lessons from our parents about how to properly handle the food we consume and handle, particularly in preparation. During those family meal preparations and cooking as a group, you probably heard a lot about clean surfaces, washing your hands before and after touching raw meats, and thoroughly heating our foods until they were an even color. Many of us were taught this especially regarding chicken. It’s a favorite food to many families and is consumed in pastas, salads, and sandwiches but does indeed require safety knowledge.

However, consider what if even when you have this wealth of knowledge about cooking that you learned and applied these skills that you could still be in harm’s way. This can in fact happen by no fault of the consumer, but due to negligence of the grocer or distributor. When these parties fail to inspect a food for contamination, improperly handle it as to cause it to spoil, or fail to remove the products from the stream of commerce and customers suffer injury and illness, they can be held liable under products liability law.

According to a recent article by the Wall Street Journal, within the past 16 months more than 500 people in the U.S. have become sick due to salmonella linked to Foster Farms’ chicken. Federal officials have linked the company to an antibiotic-resistant strain of salmonella. Foster Farms has issued a product recall and said that the recall affects 170 products sold in 11 different states under both its brand and the store brands Kroger and Safeway. For the most part these products should have “use or freeze by” dates of no later than March 31, but USDA officials fear that the products could still be in the hands and homes of consumers. Since March of last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified 621 people in the country who have become sick from the salmonella known as Heidelberg. Of these people, 36% have needed hospitalization.

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