Articles Posted in Injuries to Minors and Children

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“If you don’t have enough staff to take care of the kids, that’s negligence.”

-Casa Guadalupe employee speaking to ProPublica for Records Reveal “Lax” Supervision, Sexual Activity at Chicago-Area Shelters Housing Immigrant Children

Following on the heels of news that an HIV-positive employee at a youth immigrant shelter in Mesa, Arizona has been charged with 11 counts of sexual misconduct against minors, comes a report of similar offenses within Chicago-area facilities.

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A 3-year-old boy and his parents were awarded $1.6 million after suing the apartment complex’s owner and  management company for failing to take care of a bedbug infestation that left their son with lifelong facial scars.

After moving into a California apartment, the boy’s mother noticed red spots all over his body and took him to the emergency room. The ER diagnosed the spots as bedbug bites. Soon after, the boy’s mother, Liliana Martinez, noticed both bedbugs and cockroaches in the family’s apartment, as well as bedbug bites all over her newborn daughter’s back.

Right after the diagnosis and discovery of bedbugs, Mrs. Martinez and her husband contacted the apartment’s management company, who sent a pest control company. They also advised the family to throw away all of their furniture. The family followed the company’s directive and were then forced to sleep on a spot of floor while chemicals covered their home. Ridding the home of their furniture and spraying for bugs did little to deter the notoriously stubborn pests, and the family continued to experience bites. The family repeatedly complained and after 4 months, the management company took out old carpeting and replaced it with new carpet. After ridding the home of the carpeting, the bedbug bites finally stopped.

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Popular stroller maker Britax was sued on February 16th by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for failure to issue a recall of models of their B.O.B. jogging strollers that have been reported to cause injuries to both adults and children. According to claims by owners, the front wheel of the 3 wheel strollers is unable to be properly secured to the frame, causing the wheel to become lodged in the ground and the stroller to tip over. The CPSC complaint cites 200 consumer complaints involving a B.O.B. stroller’s front wheel since January 2012, resulting in injuries to at least 50 children and 47 adults.

According to the consumer complaints, B.O.B. jogging strollers have caused the injuries described below.

Infant/Child Injuries

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Ikea, the Swedish home retail giant, has agreed to pay $50 million to 3 families whose children were killed after being crushed by toppled dressers. To these families, money will never be able to replace what they have lost, but the settlement is expected to send a strong message to legislators and furniture manufacturers that parents are demanding better quality, safer furniture.

An Unsettling Statistic

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, a child dies once every 2 weeks from falling furniture or televisions. While there is no federal law requiring specific safety measures be followed in furniture production, there are voluntary national safety standards that manufacturers should follow. According to the lawsuit filed by the victims’ families, Ikea consistently refused to meet those standards and their negligence directly resulted in the death of 3 children, each 2 years old.

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Our attorneys cannot stress enough the importance of product safety. We have frequently discussed how imperative it is that manufacturers and sellers comply with product liability laws. This might be of the greatest importance though in regards to creating and selling safe children’s products. Children and babies are at an even greater risk than adults when exposed to danger and brought in harm’s way due to a dangerous product. Where adults may have some awareness of the situation and may be able to defend themselves from danger, children are completely innocent and have no reason to expect that they are in danger. In addition, with being so small and undeveloped, they are much more easily harmed than grown and strong adults.

Product safety in regards to children’s products has been in the spotlight in the news. According to a recent report by ABC, nearly 71,000 Britax brand infant car seats are being recalled. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recently announced this recall in wake of the knowledge of the great danger these defective seats pose. According to the CPSC, there have been over 74 reports of car seat handles breaking while in use. The handles have reported to easily develop fractures and cracks while they are used. These cases of broken handles have been so serious that they have caused infants to fall from their carrier to the ground. In one instance, an infant fell to the ground and suffered an injury to the head.

Our attorneys urge our readers to please take note of the models at issue in this recall. The car seats involved in this recall are the Britax B-Safe 35 and B-Safe 35 Elite infant car seats. Consumers are advised to immediately cease use of these car seats, and to especially not use them by the handle. Reports indicate that right now these seats are only safe to use when secured in a vehicle or stroller, but that they should never be used by the handle until further notice is relayed of repairs or new parts.
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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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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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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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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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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.
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