April 28, 2015

Listeria Outbreak Prompts Recall of Blue Bell Creameries Ice Cream

by Levin & Perconti

Now that the weather is getting warmer and spring is hitting Chicago, it’s about that time of year for a warm-weather favorite treat: ice cream. Soon lines will start forming on hot summer nights at neighborhood ice joint favorites. Ice cream trucks will start driving through town with their catchy jingles to alert you of their delicious treats for sale. Unfortunately a recent recall draws attention to potential food poisoning risks associated with one popular store bought ice cream brand.

According to a recent article by the New York Post. Blue Bell Creameries has issued an all-product recall for potential listeria contamination. They issued this recall after two samples of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream tested positive for listeria, which is a potentially deadly bacteria. The recall includes ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, and frozen snacks. The recall affects 23 states and international locations, including Illinois. The illness was eventually tracked to two different company locations in two different states.

The article elaborates about a rather unsettling fact: the company cannot even say how the bacteria was introduced into the facilities. This begs the question about quality of the safety regulations and oversight within the company and its production area. The most recent contamination was discovered only after a testing program was initiated by the company after the first recall. It is interesting to ponder why this testing was not already in place. Last month the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked the contaminated ice cream to three deaths and five illnesses occurring in more than one state. This is a serious and widespread case of foodborne illness. However, this is the first recall in the company’s 108 years of operation. Blue Bell is now implementing a new process to test all of its products before releasing them to the market. However, under product liability law, it is already the legal duty of companies and manufacturers to inspect their products to discover dangers.

Continue reading "Listeria Outbreak Prompts Recall of Blue Bell Creameries Ice Cream" »

April 20, 2015

Beech-Nut Baby Food Recalled for Glass Contamination

by Levin & Perconti

A new baby is a joy for families. There’s a brand new member of the family and a tiny life to take care of and protect. Babies require different care than grown people too, such as different sleeping schedules, different entertainment, and different food and drink. As not being fully grown and so young, they need special diets in order to receive the right nutrients and in a consistency that their tiny bodies can chew and digest. That is why there are specially made baby foods and formulas on the market and available at our local grocers. Because companies specialize in producing foods particular to the diet of a baby, we grown adults trust that the company is providing a proper nutritious and safe food since they are selling a product and calling themselves experts in that field. Unfortunately, just as instances of negligence occur in our everyday adult foods, manufacturers of baby food have been found to be negligent in their production as well. What is most unfortunate about this though is that a baby is so young and fragile that this negligence can impact them far worse than it would to an adult, and a baby is unable to communicate with language when something is wrong like an adult can.

Unfortunately, recent reports relay that Beech-Nut baby food has been recalled for glass contamination. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that Beech-Nut Nutrition is recalling approximately 1,920 pounds of baby food that may be contaminated with small pieces of glass. The food was produced on December 12, 2014, and are 4-oz. glass jars labeled as “Stage 2 Beech-Nut CLASSICS sweet potato & chicken.” The product also has the establishment number “P-68A” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The products expire in December of 2016 with product numbers “12395750815” through “12395750821.”

Continue reading "Beech-Nut Baby Food Recalled for Glass Contamination" »

April 17, 2015

Blinds Recalled Due to Strangulation Hazard

by Levin & Perconti

Companies have a legal duty to provide safe products to consumers. This includes inspecting all products for dangers, removing dangerous products from the market, and warning consumers of known dangers. These dangers can manifest in everyday products. It takes only the slightest negligence or lack of attention to details for a product to be unsafe and dangerous. These dangers can be even more hazardous to the youngest members of our families too, like children and babies. That is why it is especially important that companies and manufacturers thoroughly inspect all consumer goods they produce and sell.

According to a recent report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Blinds To Go has recalled window shades due to a strangulation hazard. The report states that the custom-made window shades’ chain or cord loop can slip out of the hold-down device, which poses a strangulation hazard for small children. The hold-down device for the cord is a clear P-shaped plastic hook, and the cord or chain loops of the shades clips into this device. The plastic hook is screwed to the side of the wall or window when the shades are installed. It was shipped with the Blinds To Go custom-made roller shades, including Sidewinders Smartlift pleated and cellular shades, Panel Tracks shades, and Serenity Shades.

The shades at issue were sold in Blinds To Go showrooms and online from January 2009 through November 2014. Consumers should stop utilizing the shades with the hook to avoid the strangulation hazard and contact the company for a retrofit kit and new hold down device.

Continue reading "Blinds Recalled Due to Strangulation Hazard" »

April 3, 2015

100 Restaurant Patrons Suffer Food Poisoning

by Levin & Perconti

Going out to a favorite restaurant is a way for many to spend quality time and socialize with their family and friends. When we go to a restaurant, we expect this to be a fun and relaxing time. What we do not expect though, is to become ill or injured from food poisoning from the restaurants we patronize.

According to a recent post by ABC News, 100 restaurant patrons recently suffered food poisoning. Because the law of the state where the injuries originated does not allow disclosing the source of the food or contamination, it is being labeled as the “food source.” Dozens of lawyers and law students became ill after dining in an establishment in the local area’s Chinatown. Some were bedridden and others had to seek medical attention. The owner of the restaurant has denied responsibility, claiming that maybe they could have all gotten a cold or drank too much. However, two weeks prior to this outbreak, a Health Department employee cited the establishment for multiple violations, such as lack of soap and paper towels in the employee restroom. This was also a repeat violation.

Continue reading "100 Restaurant Patrons Suffer Food Poisoning" »

April 1, 2015

Patron Sues Chicago Restaurant for Sidewalk Slip and Fall

by Levin & Perconti

Chicago residents know that our city often has very intense weather, which can even switch between extremes in one season. Our winters are cold and snowy, and our summers can really heat up. At some times, we can even see both of these weather patterns in the same month. If you are the owner or operator of a restaurant, shop or other public space in Chicago, you should know to expect the unexpected with weather and to be prepared. This can mean having salt and shovels on hand for snowy days or mats available during a hard rain to provide a surface with traction. While the temperatures may be sunny and pleasant one day this can always change the next. What does not change though, is the duty that owners owe to visitors and customers to provide safe premises where they will not be exposed to dangers that may cause them injury.

A recent report by the Cook County Record reports that a patron filed suit against a Chicago restaurant for a 2013 slip and fall accident. The patron is alleging premises liability in her suit, which she filed last month in Cook County Circuit Court. The lawsuit alleges the defendant sprayed water on the pavement, which created an unsafe condition and/or unnatural accumulation of snow and ice that caused her to fall and sustain injuries. In her complaint, she argues that this condition was unapparent to her and that the defendants were aware of the hazard, failed to remedy it, and increased the probability that pedestrians and patrons would fall and suffer injury. The plaintiff is alleging personal pecuniary and permanent damage, and seeks compensation in excess of $50,000.

Continue reading "Patron Sues Chicago Restaurant for Sidewalk Slip and Fall" »

March 27, 2015

Late March Unexpected Snow Causes Many Accidents & Injuries in Chicago

by Levin & Perconti

Just when we thought spring was finally here to stay, Chicago surprised us with some snow early in the week. Despite it being late March, temperatures plummeted after a prior week of warmth. Unfortunately, the sudden heavy snow fall caused problems for many travelers on the roads, airport, and trains.

According to a report by NBC Chicago, the snow and icy conditions really caused a rough Monday for Chicagoans. By the afternoon, over 450 flights were cancelled at O’Hare International Airport, and those flights that weren’t cancelled reported delays of up to 90 minutes. At Midway Airport, over 50 flights were cancelled, with others delayed up to an hour.

On the roads, the snow and icy conditions created dangerous situations, especially for morning commuters. Several accidents were reported throughout the Chicagoland area, several of which included school buses. LaPorte County alone received over a dozen calls reporting motor vehicle accidents within two hours of snowfall. Then, a South Central School bus that was carrying 33 students was involved in a crash when it was rear-ended while waiting to turn into the school. A second school bus accident involved an East View Elementary School bus carrying seven students where a car crashed into the bus. A third accident involving a school bus occurred on Orchard Road in Montgomery where the bus was rear-ended by a car. Three other motor vehicle crashes were reported near County Road 400 N on U.S. 35, and another on U.S. 35 near Schultz Road.

Continue reading "Late March Unexpected Snow Causes Many Accidents & Injuries in Chicago" »

March 25, 2015

Major Recall Continues Over Amy’s Kitchen Frozen Entrees

by Levin & Perconti

Often, when we think of food poisoning, we think of under-cooked or contaminated meat or meat products. However, as our readers know from our recent blog post, food poisoning is actually extremely common as the result of eating contaminated produce and vegetable-based food products. Shockingly, food poisoning is actually higher from consuming produce than from consuming meat. In summary of that post, studies have shown that food poisoning may now be more common from produce consumption because of a decrease in meat consumption, the fact that produce is more often eaten raw than cooked which does not always remove bacteria, and that produce can be cross-contaminated by meat from being produced at the same facility.

A recent listeria outbreak exemplifies the dangers of foodborne illnesses stemming from contaminated vegetable-based products. According to a report by ABC News, Amy’s Kitchen frozen entrees are in the midst of a major recall for listeria-contaminated spinach. The organic food company is undergoing a major recall of over 74,000 items because of listeria found in its spinach. Three other companies are also undergoing a recall for their spinach products too, including Rising Moon Organics, Superior Foods, and Twin City Foods. Amy’s Kitchen and these three companies all received listeria-contaminated spinach from the same organic spinach supplier: Coastal Green. The supplier discovered listeria during testing, and realized that some of its products that were already shipped out were at high risk of contamination as well.

It is important to understand how serious listeria is. According to the same article by ABC, listeria is a bacteria that lives in the digestive tracts of animals but is likely to cause the illness listeriosis when humans consume it. Like we discussed in our recent post mentioned above, this occurs when produce is contaminated by animal waste, such as by dirty wash water through tainted irrigation, animals were in the field, or through cross-contamination when meat and produce are manufactured in the same facility.

Continue reading "Major Recall Continues Over Amy’s Kitchen Frozen Entrees" »

March 17, 2015

Father Sues Landlord After Air Conditioning Unit Falls on Daughter

by Levin & Perconti

When we walk around the city of Chicago, we expect that we are reasonably safe. We definitely don’t expect to suddenly fall into a manhole, a piano to be dropped from a forklift, or for things to fall from the sky like a scene from a cartoon or movie. However, when people are negligent or reckless, strange and dangerous things do happen.

A recent post by the Cook County Record for instance, explains how a father is suing a Chicago landlord after an air conditioning unit cover fell and struck his daughter. The father argues that the landlord was negligent by failing to fix and repair the air conditioning unit cover or warn him of the dangerous condition.

Our attorneys stress that under premises liability law, a landowner or landlord owes a legal duty of care to those on the land or premises, such as tenants. This legal duty includes the duty to inspect the land for dangers, remedy known dangers, and to warn those on the land of known dangers. When such an accident occurs to someone living on the property, the landowner may be liable if the plaintiff can prove that the landowner’s negligence led to the injury. Often the plaintiff must show that the landowner failed to maintain the property or created the unsafe condition that was the cause of the injury.

Continue reading "Father Sues Landlord After Air Conditioning Unit Falls on Daughter" »

March 16, 2015

Centers For Disease Control: Food Poisoning Most Often From Fruits and Vegetables

by Levin & Perconti

We have often talked about the dangers of food poisoning, and how sometimes food poisoning isn’t just like a bout of the flu. In fact, in some cases, food poisoning is so intense that it can leave people with permanent injuries and the need for hospitalization and serious medical care. In one food poisoning case, our attorneys represented individuals who were injured from the food they ate at a conference, and they suffered injuries so severe that they incurred crippling arthritic injuries.

However, many of the times we’ve discussed food poisoning, we’ve discussed it in regards to meat. As many of us are aware, when meat is not properly handled or cooked the proper temperature, it can cause serious illness such as salmonella poisoning or e.coli. Furthermore, the manufacturers and grocers from which we buy our foods have a legal duty to inspect food for contamination and remove it from the stream of commerce where they find dangerous defects, or where a food is inherently unsafe for consumption unless properly handled (such as meats), then the seller must properly label the food product with instructions and warnings. When a danger is not removed or a customer is not warned, the consumer may suffer illness and injury as a result. However, the same goes with vegetables.

According to a recent study by the Centers For Disease Control and analyzed in an article by Vox, fruits and vegetables actually cause more instances of food poisoning than beef and chicken. The CDC analyzed cases of food poisoning from 2008 to 2012 and examined the four most common pathogens: E. coli, Campylobacter, salmonella, and listeria. Produce actually causes nearly half of all foodborne illnesses. Dairy and eggs cause approximately 20% of illnesses, fish are the cause in 6% of cases, and meat is the cause in a surprisingly 22% of cases.

Continue reading "Centers For Disease Control: Food Poisoning Most Often From Fruits and Vegetables" »

March 6, 2015

Illinois Oil Tanker Train Derails and Causes 1 Mile Zone of Evacuation

by Levin & Perconti

We’ve frequently posted about the dangers of train accidents, but consider when trains are transporting more than just people. As you know, Chicago is a large hub of business. Not only do we have trucks transporting goods in and out of our city for business, but trains carry a significant amount of goods and materials for our state’s businesses and operations as well. Sometimes, the goods they carry are hazardous, and when there is an accident, this is no light matter.

To exemplify how serious train accidents can be, consider a recent report by ABC 7 Chicago. According to the report, an Illinois oil train that was heading for Chicago derailed on Thursday near Galena. Upon derailing, the tanks ruptured and caught fire. The fire was so significant that several of the cars remained on fire from the time of the accident through Friday. The fire, its fumes, and the toxicity of the flames posed harm to residents nearby, who needed to evacuate the area for their safety and livelihood. What is especially troubling about this incident and others like it is that the tanker was recently fitted with protective shields meant to prevent rupturing, yet as you can see from this accident, a serious fire resulted regardless.

The oil the train was transporting was “light crude,” meaning it is more explosive and toxic than other types of oil, and it can penetrate soil. Federal authorities have blocked and dammed off the nearby Galena and Mississippi rivers from the oozing crude to avoid spread of the toxicity and dangers and to avoid contamination of water. As crude oil production and transportation increases, water contamination is a major concern because oil trains often pass within a quarter-mile of protected wetlands, drinking water reservoirs, and major waterways like Lake Michigan.

Continue reading "Illinois Oil Tanker Train Derails and Causes 1 Mile Zone of Evacuation" »

March 5, 2015

Dirt Devil Vacuum Accessory Recalled For Laceration Hazard

by Levin & Perconti

We all have products that we use on a daily basis in our homes, such as cleaning supplies, appliances, and tools. These every day goods and products should be ones that we can purchase and use without fear that they will harm them, especially because they are so common and not inherently dangerous items. However, when a manufacturer fails to create a safe product and negligently places it in the marketplace, consumers can suffer injury as a result of this negligence from an unsuspecting product.

According to a recent report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there has been a recall of an accessory for the Dirt Devil hand vacuum. The official name of the product is the Dirt Devil Turbo Tool attachment, and it was sold as a vacuum accessory with the corded Dirt Devil Scorpion Turbo Quick Flip Hand Vac. To identify the product accessory, be aware that it is a clear yellow/green attachment with a black turbine fan and black brush roll with white bristles. The model number is “08225” and has a manufacturing date ending in 12A U, 13 A U, 13B U, or 14B U on the bottom of the hand vacuum. Consumers are advised that they can continue to use the vacuum safely but should cease use of the accessory attachment.

The report relays that the accessory has been recalled because it poses a laceration hazard. The interior fan of the accessory can break and eject from the tool’s housing. This poses a laceration hazard to the user or nearby bystanders. This accessory was sold at stores nationwide and online at Amazon and Walmart. They were sold between January 2012 and February 2015. There have been six reports of the accessory breaking in the manner described.

Continue reading "Dirt Devil Vacuum Accessory Recalled For Laceration Hazard" »

February 27, 2015

Mrs. T’s Pierogies Recalled Due to Plastic Contamination

by Levin & Perconti

A favorite aisle for many at our local supermarkets is the frozen food section. The frozen food section is notorious for people’s favorite snack foods like ice cream and frozen pizzas but also provides reliable staple foods like frozen vegetables so that people can have healthy foods with a long shelf life. However, even though frozen foods are not the same as the fresh picked fruits and vegetables of the produce section, stores and manufacturers still have a legal duty of care to provide safe goods to consumers.

A recent news release distributed by Ateeco, Inc., Mrs. T’s parent company, announced that Mrs. T’s Pierogies has issued a recall due to plastic contamination in the food. After a Quality Assurance check, plastic was found in the filling of the product. The product at issue, the 16-ounce tomato and basil variety, is recalled due to the plastic contamination which poses a choking hazard. These products were sold at various grocery stores in eight states, including Illinois. They contain “best by dates” of either 05/20/16 or 07/15/16.

Our lawyers believe that customers should be able to trust that the food they buy and eat should be safe for consumption. Unfortunately though, food is one of the most common categories of items arising under product recalls and product liability lawsuits. Under this area of law, it is the duty of a store and manufacturer to inspect their products for dangers, warn consumers of known dangers, and remove the dangerous items from the stream of commerce. Where unsafe products are available for purchase in the marketplace, this is evident of negligence and a breach of that duty of care owed to customers. If someone suffers injury or wrongful death as the result of this negligence and dangers that should have never existed in a product and made available to a customer, the injured party or family may file a product liability lawsuit to hold the wrongdoing and negligent parties accountable for their breach.

Continue reading "Mrs. T’s Pierogies Recalled Due to Plastic Contamination" »