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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July 10, 2014

Springfield Boy Dies From Fall in Pool

by Levin & Perconti

Summertime is the favorite time of year for many people throughout Illinois. This warm weather calls for leaving home and enjoying the great outdoors, whether on vacation or in the comfort of your own city. As you know, Illinois offers many outdoor activities for people of all ages to enjoy during the summer, from street festivals, to our beaches, outdoor dining, and sports leagues. With the hot weather, many people enjoy cooling off and heading to local pools. However, lack of safety, maintenance, and oversight in these facilities can easily change an enjoyable summer day into a family tragedy with a swimming pool accident.

A three-year old boy recently died after falling into an above-ground pool, according to news from The State Journal-Register. The child is one of eight Illinois children who drowned in the months of May and June alone. This number has startled local organizations and parents to address the need for safety. American Red Cross, the Illinois Associations of Park Districts, and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services all recently met with their concerns and discussed with parents and caregivers the need to watch over their children near water. DCFS commented on how eight deaths in only two months is high and alarming because there have been years where 17 children drowned for an entire year, and here eight have drowned in only two months.

Our lawyers remind readers that it only takes mere seconds for a child to drown. Caregivers should always maintain vigilance over the children in their care and not incorrectly assume that someone else is watching the kids at play. It takes only a moment when an adult turns their back or becomes distracted that harm can come a child’s way. In addition to constant supervision, parents and caregivers can also help their children help protect themselves through swimming lessons and providing proper flotation devices.

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July 3, 2014

$1.2 Million Wrongful Death Verdict Awarded to Family of Boy Killed in Ambulance Collision

by Levin & Perconti

Our attorneys often remind readers about the importance of respecting emergency responders and protecting their safety. It is all too often that we read about emergency responders who are injured or killed while putting their own lives on the line to save others. However, with that being said, safety always goes both ways. Just as we are to be vigilant of and respectful of emergency responders on the job, these workers need to maintain a sense of awareness not only to the emergency they are attending to but to the rest of their surroundings. In this way, we can prevent further accidents and injuries.

According to an article by the Sun Times, a Pope County jury awarded $1.2 million to the family of a teenager who was killed by an ambulance while riding his bike. In 2007, the teenage boy was bicycling near Golconda but failed to stop at an intersection and collided with the side of an ambulance. The family’s lawsuit alleged that the ambulance was driving well over the speed limit and did not exercise the care required of them to avoid collision with the teenage boy. The ambulance was not carrying a patient at the time of the accident, nor was it on an emergency run, therefore requiring the driver to operate the vehicle according to normal traffic laws.

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July 2, 2014

Motor Vehicle Accidents on the Rise Around the 4th of July

by Levin & Perconti

It is easy for Chicagoans to observe that the holidays are a popular time to get together and celebrate with family and friends, and with these celebrations we see an increase in traffic. With having so many plans and events during the holidays, Chicagoans are often on the roads to get to their destinations for summertime fun. The 4th of July is an especially busy time too, with festivals and celebrations going on in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. From the Taste of Chicago, to Naperville’s Rib Fest, to even crossing the border to Milwaukee’s Summerfest, citizens of Chicagoland are on the go for holiday fun.

However, the 4th of July is a holiday season in which we see motor vehicle accidents rise. According to recent statistics from the Illinois Department of Transportation, there is a trend of crashes increasing during holidays in Illinois, including Independence Day. From 2006 through 2012, there were a total of 15,187 accidents during the 4th of July Holiday period in Illinois alone. From these accidents, 5,174 people suffered personal injuries, and 80 people died. Of the 74 fatal crashes, 40 were alcohol related.

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June 30, 2014

Dangers Discovered on Illinois Playgrounds Pose Threats to Children’s Safety

by Levin & Perconti

It is without argument that Chicago summertime weather is beautiful. Our vibrant city is filled with outdoor recreation for all ages, from sports leagues to running by the lake to food festivals and concerts galore. Summer in the city is the favorite time of year for many, especially families with young children who can take their young ones outside for fun activities. The city and the park districts of the suburbs are proud to boast a multitude of parks to host children at play. However, even though there are many options for play available, all of these facilities need to be properly maintained and safe for the patrons that use them.

According to recent news by CBS, several dangers were discovered on a playground in the Chicago suburb of Oak Lawn. Officials found several sharp screws embedded into the slides in Oak Lawn Memorial Park. Officials reported that there was ten one-and-a-half inch drywall screws hammered into the bottom of the playground slides with intent of harming children. To gather the danger of these screws, they could rip through flesh and left holes in the playground equipment. Thankfully, they were discovered and removed.

However, there are times when dangers are not inspected for and discovered soon enough. According to the same article, only three months ago, a two-year-old child was injured from razor blades that were taped to monkey bars at a park in East Moline.

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June 27, 2014

Five-Year Old Boy Dies in Daycare Playground Accident

by Levin & Perconti

Spring and summertime in Chicago are especially popular times to take young children to local parks and recreational areas. With the warm enjoyable weather, these are great spots to enjoy the sunshine and each other’s company with healthy exercise and outdoor activities. When not with families, many children are also enrolled in day camps through their local park districts, daycare facilities, and schools. In this way, they are playing with other children their age and provided with guardianship of trained professional adults. When parents entrust their children to these adults they believe that they will be cared for and watched after. However, it Is incredibly unfortunate when these caretakers breach their legal responsibility to watch after the children and intentionally or negligently cause them preventable injury, or even death, while in playtime under their supervision.

According to recent news by CBS Chicago, one mother is suing a daycare service after her five-year old son died in a playground accident. After dropping him off at daycare before work, she was contacted four hours later to learn the unfortunate news that her son died by choking from a jump rope that was hanging on outdoor play equipment.

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June 20, 2014

Before Independence Day Celebrations, Remember Fireworks Safety & Know the Dangers

by Levin & Perconti

It’s almost Independence Day, and if one thing is for sure, it’s that Chicagoans sure know how to celebrate. From backyard barbeques to parades to the Taste of Chicago and fireworks over Lake Michigan, there are celebrations, events, and festivals galore in the Windy City to celebrate our nation’s birthday. However, with celebrations also needs to come responsibility. Even though this time of year is enjoyable for people of all ages, caution needs to be taken and vigilance for safety should be high, particularly around fireworks.

While fireworks displays can be beautiful and an entertaining way to celebrate the holiday, it is important to remember that these are not toys but dangerous where not handled properly. Many times people may not remember that these are in fact are explosive devices and can cause serious personal injury if not handled properly, such as burns or facial injuries. These accidents can happen to people of all ages who do not exercise safety practices with fireworks, but particularly children who are not old enough or mentally mature to recognize and appreciate the dangers of these explosives or realize that they are not toys.

Injuries and accidents involving fireworks are not uncommon either. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, every year approximately 200 people go to the emergency room every day in the month of the Fourth of July. There are several parts of the body that are more prone to fireworks injuries than others. The most injured area of the body are the hands at fingers with 41% of injuries, with it being worthy to note that this is the part of the body that comes into contact with a firework when we light it. If we do not pull away from the firework soon enough when lighting, pick up a firework that is still lit, or use a faulty firework, this area of the body is easily prone to injury. The next most injured areas of the body are heads, faces, and ears at 19%, torsos at 15%, legs at 13%, eyes at 12%, and arms at 1%. It is also scary to think that the second most injured part of the body consists of some of our body’s most vital organs, such as our eyes and central nervous system of the brain.

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June 19, 2014

Chicago Area Boy Drowns at Local Pool

by Levin & Perconti

Many Chicagoans loves taking advantage of their local and neighborhood pools as a way to escape the summer heat. Many of us are fortunate to have these accommodations for family enjoyment, exercise, and leisure. However, even though pools area great source of fun and relaxation, where adequate safety measures and procedures are not in place, that enjoyment quickly diminishes when dangers are present and swimming pool accidents occur.

Whether is the local park district, a hotel or amusement park, or even a neighbor, there are precautions that need to be taken to protect swimmers of all ages, especially children who are unable to have the knowledge of physical strength to protect themselves. Landowners, companies, and employees have a legal duty to keep patrons safe from dangers the pool and its surrounding area can present, such as slip and falls or drowning. For instance, the depth of the pool should be marked or posted for swimmers to observe and be aware of how deep or shallow the water is. The same should be done for areas that are or are not appropriate to dive in. In this way, swimmers avoid areas that are too deep for their swimming capabilities and will not dive where it is too shallow to do so. Pools should also have proper surfaces, such as ones with friction, to prevent slipping and post warnings so that patrons are aware to move with caution. If an accident is to occur, readily available and professionally trained lifeguard staff should quickly attend to the accident and save a swimmer from the danger.

Furthermore, pools should properly maintain the facilities for health and safety. Where pool water is unclean, improperly filtered, or murky, swimmers are not easily observable to lifeguards. Remember that it only takes minutes for serious and permanent injury to occur to the human body from drowning. Where pool water is murky, someone drowning and in need of help is not easily noticeable and could suffer serious injury or death when not seen and rescued. The same is true when facilities are overcrowded. The crowding can cause bumping or force someone to be stuck under water, or cause someone to be unnoticeable when in a situation like drowning. Additionally, when a pool’s mechanics are not maintained or properly functioning, these can pose a risk for entrapment or disembowelment.

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June 18, 2014

Salmonella Outbreak Tied to Popular Health Food Chia Seeds

by Levin & Perconti

Health food has been all the craze lately, as we have witnessed a rise in fitness and nutrition among not only Chicagoans, but nationwide. It seems people are putting more and more effort and time into knowing and understanding what they eat and how it affects that body. With that being said, it is unfortunate when people are so diligent about their health and fitness that popular nutrition foods have been found culprit of carrying salmonella and causing injury and sickness to those same health-conscious people.

According to recent reports by Food Safety News, chia seeds have been found to be infected with salmonella across the nation. As of lately, chia seeds have been an increasingly popular health food item and are popular on health shows, magazines, and social media. Before people jump into this trend though, they need to be aware and ensure their seeds haven’t been on the list of recalled products that have or may be contaminated with salmonella, such as those produced by Navitas Naturals. Since May alone, there have been over 65 cases of salmonella infections in 12 U.S. states and in Canada linked to chia seeds products. A total of eight people have been hospitalized as well. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is the first time that chia seeds have been found to transmit salmonella.

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June 16, 2014

Summer Pool Safety Tips to Protect Chicago Children

by Levin & Perconti

There is not much that is more enjoyable than jumping into a cold pool on a hot summer’s day. While swimming is a great way for families to get outdoors and enjoy the summer months, when swimming pools pose great dangers for adults and children when they are not properly maintained or lack the appropriate life-saving equipment required by law. When drowning deaths occur as a result of poorly marked swimming pools or improper pool maintenance, families can hold wrongdoers accountable through swimming pool lawsuits.

Just this past weekend, four young children died in the Chicago area in swimming pool accidents. The Chicago Tribune reports that one child died at a relative’s home, another at a country club swimming pool, and two others in a water-filled pit in Gary. These tragic accidents highlight the dangers that swimming pools pose to children and importance of parents and pool owners doing their part to ensure a safe summer for everyone. Serious injuries or fatalities can occur when pools are not operated, secured, or properly maintained. Oftentimes pool accidents lead to death when victims are deprived of oxygen, but victims who survive may be faced with life-altering brain injuries from which they require lifelong medical care and support. We also know that others may suffer serious and debilitating spinal cord injuries in diving accidents.

What can pool owners and operators do to help ensure a safe and enjoyable summer for family, friends and patrons? One common cause of drowning is unclean and murky pool water which can hinder a swimmer’s visibility to guardians, lifeguards, and others sharing the pool. Owners should keep pool water properly balanced and clean to ensure visibility for swimmers and guards alike. At public pools and water parks, overcrowded facilities make it difficult for swimmers to move around and can cause swimmers to be pushed and held underwater. Pool operators can remedy this by setting and enforcing strict capacity limitations. Another important issue is inadequately marked shallow and deep ends. Deep ends should be marked to provide knowledge of water that is above wading level, and shallow ends should be marked so people know not to dive and avoid head injury.

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June 13, 2014

Attorneys Urge Chicago Motorcyclists to Keep an Eye on Safety

by Levin & Perconti

With summertime in full swing, many Chicagoans are excited to take their motorcycles out of storage and enjoy the open air. Our attorneys agree that this should be a safe and enjoyable time for all to take advantage of the warm summer weather, and for that reason is why we wish to address motorcycle safety issues and concerns with our readers. By abiding by safety as a motorcycle rider, or by being aware of safety concerns as someone who drives a passenger vehicle, we can all be safer both operating or around motorcycles.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation website discusses important issues for many motorcyclists. For instance, many drivers of passenger vehicles comment after being involved in accidents with motorcycles that they never even saw the motorcyclist next to them. For this reason, it is important that motorcyclists stay visible to other drivers, and that other drivers maintain a vigilant look-out for them. This means that both drivers and motorcycle operators should keep a safe distance between them and all other vehicles on the road.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation also acknowledges that the summer season is the busiest for motorcycle riding and the most important time to address safety concerns. In their safety publication called “Pretend You Are Invisible”, they address the issue of how many drivers do not notice motorcycles because they are distracted or simply lack expectation that a motorcyclist will be present. As our readers know, as vigilant as you may be, you can never stop another driver from acting negligently, so it is important that motorcyclists practice defensive driving skills to best protect themselves. By acknowledging and accepting that they can’t be seen, or pretending they are invisible as the article is titled, motorcyclists are much more cognizant and aware of ever-present dangers and constantly on alert. In addition to this vigilance, motorcyclists should do all they can to make themselves obvious to other drivers, such as wearing bright clothing and a light colored helmet, always having their headlight on, and using their high beam when they can.

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June 6, 2014

Bicyclist Sues City of Chicago For Endangerment and Injuries From Lakefront Trail Pothole

by Levin & Perconti

With summer weather ensuing, many Chicagoans are out and about enjoying the nice weather. During these months, many professionals opt to enjoy the sunshine and cool lakeside breeze by biking to work. However, the ongoing joke about Chicago’s two seasons – winter and construction – poses serious concerns for many Chicago bicyclists, particularly the epidemic of potholes that presents danger to many.

According to an article by the Cook County Record, a Chicago bicyclist is suing the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District to seek compensation for injuries he suffered after his bicycle tire became caught in a lakefront trail pothole. He was riding his bike on the Lakefront Trail near the Shedd Aquarim and South Lakeshore Drive, when his bike got caught on a pothole, and he fell to the ground. In the complaint, he asserts that the city and park district were aware of the dangers of the pothole and its presence on the trail but failed to warn of the danger or fix the pothole. He is seeking over $50,000 in damages in the Cook County Circuit Court.

Potholes can be a nightmare for many cyclists, and are often unavoidable. According to bicycling.com, a professional and Olympian cyclist describes how it is difficult, even for professionals, to avoid potholes. This is especially true when there is traffic or when riding in a large group. Unfortunately, due to harsh winter weather conditions and the chemicals we use to melt ice on our streets, sidewalks and trails, potholes are a common obstacle for Midwestern motorists and cyclists. Although bicyclists must do their part to remain aware of the conditions on the trails and streets on which they ride, it is important for cities and municipalities to maintain safe roadway conditions to protect the safety and wellbeing of all travelers.

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