June 26, 2015

Apple Beats Pill XL Wireless Speaker Recalled For Fire Hazard

by Levin & Perconti

In the age of technology and information, digital products are extremely popular, and arguably often a necessity in some cases, such as phones and computers. If you take a moment and simply look around you, try to count how many pieces of technology you use on a daily or weekly basis you would be surprised.. With such a high use of digital products among the majority of people, it is imperative that these products we use in our daily lives are safe and danger free for our use. However, when companies and manufacturers fail to use the diligence and care required of them by law in making a product, consumers often suffer personal injuries. In these instances, companies can be held liable under a product liability lawsuit for failing to inspect a product for dangers, failing to warn consumers of known dangers, or failing to timely remove a dangerous product from the stream of commerce.

In a recent report by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission the popular technology brand Apple known for the ipod, iphone, and Mac computers, has recalled some of its popular speakers. The product at issue for the recall is the Beats Pill XL Portable Wireless Speakers. They are the subject of recall for the potential of fire hazard. According to the report, the battery in the speakers can overheat, having the potential for fire to start. There are about 222,000 of these units in the United States. The Beats Pill XL portable wireless speakers are plastic, capsule-shaped speakers that are about 4 inches tall by 13 inches wide by 4 inches deep. They have a plastic mesh grille on the front and a built-in carrying handle in the back. They can be identified by the “b” logo on the grille and the “beatspillXL” inscribed on the handle. As of recently, Apple has received eight reports of the speakers overheating. One of these reports included a burn incident, where a consumer suffered burns to their fingers and damage to their desk. Consumers should immediately stop using the product.

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June 22, 2015

Young Girl Recovering After Near-Drowning at Warrenville Lifetime Fitness Pool

by Levin & Perconti

Summertime is in full swing in Chicagoland, and what better way to beat the heat than hitting your local parks and pools. It is a common sight to see the children of the greater Chicago area playing in local fountains like Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park, but especially kicking back and spending the day at local pools with family and friends. Both Chicago and the surrounding suburbs are filled with many recreational swimming pools for exercise, leisure, and fun. However, since these locations are popular spots for summer fun, they can often become very crowded as well. With increased popularity, this means these locations need to maintain extra vigilance and enforce safety procedure, as they are legally responsible for their guests under premises liability law.

Negligence by pool owners and operators happens far too often. As a result, members of our Chicagoland community, particularly young ones, can suffer serious personal injuries and even death from drowning. According to a recent report by the Chicago Tribune, a young girl is recovering after a near drowning at a Warrenville Lifetime Fitness pool. The four-year-old girl was found unresponsive at the bottom of the fitness center pool. Fortunately she is now able to answer questions and recall her family members and pets, according to the Warrenville Fire Protection. At the time of the incident, firefighters responded to a call of a drowning victim at the health club, and she was not breathing. The firefighters immediately began trying to resuscitate the girl through CPR and suctioning water out of her airway. What is alarming is that this near drowning occurred during open swim while lifeguards were on duty.

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June 12, 2015

Illinois Plaintiffs Weigh in on Tort Reform

by Levin & Perconti

Recently, tort reform became a topic of discussion in Springfield. Our attorneys believe this is an especially important topic because these lawsuits give injured victims of negligence access to the courts and allow plaintiffs to recover compensation and obtain justice for wrongdoing committed against them. When we bring lawsuits against negligent parties, we use the legal system as a vehicle of change to make our communities a safer place. When verdicts are granted in favor of the plaintiffs, not only are negligent parties held accountable, but the legal examples set by medical malpractice and personal injury lawsuits deter other potential negligent parties from committing wrongs and placing innocent parties in harm’s way in the future.

Some look to deny victims access to the courts by calling for tort reform. If we reform the tort system by placing a limit on jury awards, the legal system is thereby weakened and can no longer strongly deter tortfeasors as it has in the past. When there are caps, negligent parties are aware of the maximum they can be punished, regardless of how horrendous the act. The legal system we have in place currently operates successfully in a way to not only provide retribution for victims and their families but to punish negligent parties and prevent future negligence. The Illinois legislature is once again revisiting the issue of tort reform after the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that limits on damages awarded to victims of medical negligence are unconstitutional.

A recent article by The Herald-News discusses how Illinois lawmakers recently debated whether to make changes to the state’s tort laws. Plaintiffs in medical malpractice and wrongful death cases have spoken out saying that limits should not be placed on jury awards after Illinois’s new governor, Bruce Rauner, announced tort reform was a priority, claiming that it is pro-business and a way to save employers money. What supporters of tort reform fail to consider is the well-being of those who suffer at the hands of negligent parties. According to this article, over 4,000 deaths in Illinois have been linked to preventable medical errors.

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June 5, 2015

Jury Awards $2.5 Million to Family of Oswego High School Student

by Levin & Perconti

Our attorneys are always saddened to hear of tragic loss of young people in our community. It is all too often that young people are entrusted in the care of others, and even though these people or entities are aware they owe a legal duty to care for these young people, they breach that legal duty with negligence or disregard for the young person’s safety, resulting in wrongful death.

In 2008, according to a recent article by the Chicago Tribune, a young man member of the community and Oswego High School student, died after he suffered an asthma attack and collapsed in his English class. He was rushed to the emergency room, but unfortunately did not regain his breath and had no pulse. According to the hospital autopsy, the cause of death was bronchial asthma. Being only months from high school graduation, his mother then had to bury her son with the money she had set aside for his graduation party and college tuition.

Several months later, the victim’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Oswego-based District 308 and the teacher who was instructing the class at the time of her son’s collapse. In the lawsuit, the victim’s family argued that the district and teacher failed to get quick and appropriate medical care after he suffered an asthma attack, which resulted in his death. Both the district and the teacher denied these allegations. While the teacher was eventually dropped from the lawsuit, just this last month this case went to trial. After four days of deliberation, the jury found that the school district “acted with utter indifference or conscious disregard for the safety” of the victim.

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May 28, 2015

Several People Suffer Personal Injuries in Evanston Porch Collapse

by Levin & Perconti

Summertime is a favorite season for many Chicagoans. After our notorious cold and harsh winters, we gladly embrace the summer warmth and pleasant temperatures. Chicago citizens tend to flock to outdoor activities throughout the city, from festivals to the lakefront paths and especially neighborhood barbecues. However, when the places we go to relax with friends and family are unsafe, summertime fun can quickly turn dangerous, putting our loved ones in harm’s way.

According to a recent article by ABC 7, an upper level deck in Evanston collapsed, injuring several people. According to building inspectors, the porch was not properly attached to the home. The inspectors further stated that when porch collapses like these occur, they normally occur where the deck meets the house, which is what happened in this incident at hand. According to one building inspector, the deck was not properly adhered to the structure.

The incident occurred in Evanston in the 1900-block of Darrow Avenue on Memorial Day. Several people were on the second-floor porch when it gave way and fell down to the first floor. One of the seven victims described how she heard a cracking, and the floor suddenly dropped. She elaborated that no one had any time to grab onto anything. She was knocked unconscious from the fall and then awoke finding cuts to her head and an injured knee. Another victim described how the porch suddenly collapsed and everyone fell on top of one another, with debris from the porch, including a hot grill, falling on top of them too. The family said their landlord had told them that he was going to fix their deck.

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May 11, 2015

Advocacy Group Highlights Retailers with Highest Recall Rates

by Levin & Perconti

Having children is a joy to families. These youngest members of families are a lot of fun, especially in helping them learn and grow. Part of being a kid is having a fun and educational environment that helps you learn about the world around you, grow physically, and expand your mind. Families should not have to worry about kids being harmed by products and toys aimed at helping children do so.

Retailers have a legal duty under product liability law to provide safe goods that will not cause harm or injury to the users. Even though children may not be the ones purchasing the product, they are the foreseeable users and recipients of toys and other children’s goods. This means that companies have a duty to inspect all products for defects, warn of known defects, and remove dangerous products from the marketplace. Where they fail in this regard and do not abide by this standard of care and injury results to a child, they can be held liable in a product liability lawsuit for injuries they have caused.

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May 8, 2015

On the List of Companies Doing Food Recalls, Whole Foods Is at the Top

by Levin & Perconti

According to a recent article by Yahoo! Health, there have been 737 recalls of food since January 2014 alone by the Food and Drug Administration. Many of the recalls have been due to undeclared allergen ingredients (ex: nuts) or a confirmed contamination.

However, some companies have sold contaminated food more often than others. According to that same article, Whole Foods is at the top of a list of companies that have been forced to recall food. Since the beginning of 2014, Whole Foods has had 26 store-brand products recalled. What is alarming is that even though Whole Foods accounts for the store with the highest number of recalls, they still only account for 3% of all recalls issued in the United States during that time period. This means that recalls are not just centralized by one offender, but are unfortunately spread out among many grocers and sellers, suggesting that there may be no one seller that hasn’t been culpable of providing dangerous products to consumers.

Recently, food safety has been a major issue throughout the United States. According to the same article, just in the month of April, a large and diverse array of food products has required recall for food poisoning and safety concerns. These have included hummus, ice cream, and a variety of dairy products. The article relayed that many recalls have also involved prepared foods. Since 2014, 10% of recalls have included ready-made meals – a type of convenience food where you can purchase an already prepared meal from your local grocery store that they have prepared for customers.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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