Category Archives: Product Liability

Latest Posts

Archives

Categories

Tags Cloud

Can Fitness Trackers Cause Injuries?

Devices that track personal health and activity statistics have become all the rage. Fitbits, Apple watches, cell phone apps, and other devices all can keep track of an astonishing amount of information about their users. Everything from a person’s heart rate and step counts to sleep patterns and minutes spent exercising. Every fitness tracker device is intended to help users keep tabs on their activity and, in theory, move more.

Fitness trackers aren’t without their critics. Several types of potential harm have been pointed out, with varying degrees of substance behind them:

  • Potentially harmful radiation. The science is unsettled on whether cell phones and other similar devices can cause cancer. Some doctors recommend limiting cell phone use in case a connection between the radiation phones produce and certain kinds of brain cancer. Fitness trackers operate at a lower energy level than cell phones, but they can still release a constant stream of low-frequency energy that could theoretically pose a health risk. Only time will tell if such fears are warranted.
  • Over-exercise. Fitness trackers push their users to meet goals based around a general standard that might not be appropriate for every user. People who push themselves to meet the goals set by their trackers may be putting themselves at risk, especially if they have undiagnosed conditions like heart disease that could make exercising dangerous.
  • Anxiety and other mental health. Some people are reporting serious bouts of anxiety and obsessiveness caused by their trackers. Someone who fails to meet the goals set by their tracker might feel stress that affects other parts of their life. People who are prone to problems like eating disorders or depression may develop significant complications as a result of using a fitness tracker.

It’s always a good idea to consult with a doctor before beginning a new exercise routine. A doctor might also help a patient evaluate whether a fitness tracker is the right solution for them. For most people a fitness tracker is probably a good tool, but taking some precautions is probably a good idea.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. If you have been injured we would be happy to provide you with a free attorney consultation about your legal options. Call us at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Injuries Caused by Broken Equipment at Work

Workplace equipment can endure a lot of heavy abuse, especially in industries like construction or transportation. That equipment can break down and become a danger to employees is one reason that responsible employers incorporate routine maintenance checks into their risk management programs. But broken or badly maintained equipment can still end up in use, and workers can be injured as a consequence.

Equipment maintenance and the law

Nevada employers have an affirmative duty to maintain their work environments in a condition that is safe for employees. Under the standards set by Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), NRS 618 et seq., and its related regulations, employers with at least eleven employees are required to adopt formal safety programs, which among other things should address potential hazards like wear and tear on dangerous equipment.

OSHA is a regulatory program enforced by the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations (DIR). Although employees can make complaints to the DIR about safety problems at work, they are not able to take direct legal action themselves against their employers for safety violations. The DIR may respond to complaints by pursuing investigations into safety violations, which may result in fines and, in extreme cases, litigation.

Bad equipment and workers’ compensation

Workers who are injured by inadequately maintained equipment can be surprised to learn that their only recourse for recovery may be workers’ compensation. Nevada’s workers’ compensation system has several features that come into play. First, it is an exclusive remedy, which bars most personal injury lawsuits against employers who comply with their workers’ comp obligations. Second, it is no-fault insurance, which means that an injured employee will be covered for any injury arising in the course of employment, regardless of who is to blame.

An exception to the exclusive remedy exists for an employer’s intentional acts that are intended to cause harm to an employee. If, for example, an agent of the employer (a manager, for example) deliberately sabotages a piece of equipment knowing that it creates a hazard for employees, an injured employee can pursue direct litigation against the employer and the employee who caused the injury. Note that even if an employer has behaved irresponsibly, for example by requiring workers to use equipment that hasn’t been properly maintained, the most likely recourse remains workers’ compensation.

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. If you have been injured on the job, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation about your situation. Call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

The Risks of Unproven Dietary Supplements

The dietary supplements industry has seen rapid growth over the last decade. Supplements are available in virtually every grocery store, with many more available online. The industry pays significant sums to promote products, often making wild claims about the health benefits customers will experience. But many dietary supplements aren’t subject to the kinds of regulations that protect consumers. Especially when a supplement claims to have drug-like efficacy, consumers need to be careful about consuming a product that may not work, or worse, may cause significant health problems.

The regulatory process for dietary supplements

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration enforces regulations related to dietary supplements. These regulations are distinct from those that apply to other kinds of food, and importantly, they do not come close to the standards used to regulate medicinal drugs. This despite the claims of many supplement manufacturers that their products have profound medical benefits, like enhanced brain function or improved sexual performance. The FDA’s regulatory authority has two prongs:

  • Selling adulterated products is prohibited. Adulteration simply means using a substitute ingredient for the one that is claimed on the label. The substitute typically is of lower quality than the ingredient that is described. A simple example would be if a business claims that its products’ ingredients are 100% organic, but in fact they include non-organic materials.
  • Selling misbranded products is prohibited. This rule is important, because brand information is key to determining the source of, and therefore the responsibility for a product’s safety.

Applicable rules place the burden on manufacturers and marketers to test the safety of their products within the parameters of applicable food safety laws. There is no independent process of review that applies to all products. Some companies have gone to great lengths to devise showy “testing” procedures that in fact are grounded in arbitrary measures and not in a rigorous and studiously neutral scientific process.

The potential health risks of dietary supplements

One hopes that at worst a supplement simply doesn’t do anything other than drain one’s wallet. But organizations like the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society have raised the possibility of serious complications arising from their use. These complications can include:

  • Unforeseen interactions with medications, such as reduced effectiveness of birth control pills.
  • Potential complications for women who are pregnant or nursing.
  • Dangerous overdoses of certain vitamins or minerals, especially when taken in conjunction with other foods.
  • Lack of disclosure of allergens, especially from businesses operating behind the relative anonymity of websites.

Someone who suffers serious side effects from a supplement should stop taking the supplement and consult with a doctor. In severe cases, pursuing compensation through a lawsuit may be appropriate. A lawsuit may be especially appropriate if the manufacturer or seller of the product has failed to disclose a significant danger associated with the supplement, but there may be other circumstances where a lawsuit makes sense.

The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in products liability and personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have been injured by a dietary supplement and you would like to discuss your legal options, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our website.

Interesting Product Recalls from 2018

Consumer product recalls often offer interesting insights into the concerns manufacturers have about the risk of injury posed by their products. Recalls happen when a flaw in a product’s design or manufacture creates an unacceptable danger. Examining them reveals the sort of injuries that may give rise to products liability lawsuits.

Manufacturers often voluntarily recall their products that have proven dangerous. Sometimes these recalls are triggered by lawsuits bringing risks to the manufacturers’ attention, while in other situations the problem is discovered through the manufacturer’s internal testing procedures, or through investigations by regulators. Sometimes regulators sue manufacturers to force recalls for violations of safety standards or other compliance problems. Regulators maintain lists of recalled products on their websites. Two examples are the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In 2018 there were plenty of product recalls to watch. The recalls ran the gamut:

  • Many products designed for children were recalled for choking hazards, such as this jacket with a zipper that could become detached.
  • Numerous high-profile lettuce recalls due to coli and other contaminants disrupted supplies enough to force many restaurants to stop serving lettuce altogether.
  • Major home appliances like this water heater are often recalled for problems with minor parts that can be replaced with a minor, manufacturer-provided repair.
  • An elevator model was recalled due to the alarming possibility that it could “fall unexpectedly to the bottom of the elevator shaft and abruptly stop.”
  • Nearly 1.4 million units of this printer power supply were recalled due to a fire hazard.

Manufacturers issue recalls to prevent injuries to their customers. Besides not wanting to hurt people, these companies also want to avoid expensive products liability litigation. Issuing a recall doesn’t absolve a business of its products liability obligations, but it may reduce the chance that someone will be seriously injured and sue.

Consumers should take recall notices seriously. A consumer who knows about a recall and is injured while using the product anyway should still consider filing a lawsuit, but may have a more difficult legal case to make. Even in such cases, products liability law provides consumers with powerful tools for pursing compensation from manufacturers who sell defective goods.

If you have been injured by a defective or improperly designed product you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible to explore your legal options. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in products liability cases for over 45 years. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

Who Bears Responsibility for Prescription Drug Overdoses

A drug overdose can cause severe injuries and even death. The National Institute of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that deaths from opioid-based prescription pain medications are by far the leading cause of drug-related overdose deaths in the United States. Opioids are not the only class of prescription medication that can lead to abuse and overdose. Medications to treat anxiety and depression, sleep disorders, behavioral problems, and others can also be misused. The specific effects of overdose vary by drug, but can include severe consequences like coma, tremors, or long-term injuries to the brain and other organs.

Prescription drug overdoses are a complex problem with many different causes. The individual who suffers an overdose may be a habitual abuser, but overdoses can also happen due to a mistake, such as if someone forgets that they’ve already taken a dose and they keep taking more. An overdose may also result from errors made by the prescribing doctor or the pharmacy supplying the medication.

  • Doctors. Under Nevada law a doctor must exercise reasonable care, skill, or knowledge while treating a patient. Failing to do so is grounds for a professional negligence lawsuit against the doctor. Doctors have many legitimate reasons for prescribing drugs that can have severe negative effects if taken in large doses. Professional negligence can come into play if a doctor fails to act on signs that the patient is abusing the drug or is likely to misuse it.
  • Pharmacies. The role of dispensing pharmacies in the opioid epidemic has received a great deal of attention. Pharmacies follow procedures to ensure that the prescriptions they fill are lawful and accurate. If a pharmacist fails to follow these procedures he or she may be committing a crime as well as placing the patient in danger. In rare cases the pharmacist may also make a mistake, like supplying the wrong dosage, that could lead to overdose.
  • Caregivers. If someone other than the patient is administering medications that person may bear legal responsibility for ensuring that the dosage is correct. Patients who receive home care or who live in residential care facilities may be given incorrect dosages and suffer harm as a consequence.
  • The drug’s manufacturer. In some cases the manufacturer of a drug may bear liability for a patient’s overdose. Among other things, a manufacturer must warn patients about potential side effects of using its products. If a warning label fails to disclose important risks the labeling may be inadequate. The manufacturer may bear responsibility in other ways as well.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served clients in the Las Vegas area in cases involving personal injury and professional negligence. If you or a loved one has suffered a drug overdose and you have questions about your legal options, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our website.

Should You Join a Class Action Lawsuit?

We’ve all encountered plenty of advertising by law firms looking for potential plaintiffs in a wide variety of class action lawsuits. Asbestos-related illnesses, defective medical implants, and questionable auto brakes have all had their day in the advertising limelight. These lawsuits bring together many plaintiffs who have suffered similar injuries into a “class” that collectively pursues its claims against a defendant. The aim is to take advantage of scale to go after defendants that have sophisticated legal defenses at their disposal. For the individuals who are the targets of this advertising the question is often whether joining the firm’s class action lawsuit is the right course of action. Unfortunately, many firms aren’t going to give potential clients a complete picture of their options.

Why you might want to join a class action suit

Despite the problems that we examine below, there are plenty of advantages to clients who are part of a class action. Each client needs to examine their own interests with care, because the general rule doesn’t always apply to the specific case. But for many clients, advantages like these are enough to warrant giving the class action route a serious look:

  • The possibility of recovering compensation for a claim that might otherwise be too small to litigate on its own.
  • Economies of scale achievable by grouping claims together. For example, each client’s recovery may be a bit greater thanks to shared costs (but be careful).
  • Having a seat at the table when the defendant dishes out compensation to the class may be the one opportunity for taking part, as defendants who are found liable in class actions can end up in bankruptcy or spinning off their troubled assets to make future litigation more difficult.
  • A cookie-cutter approach to members of the class may mean less investment of time on the part of each individual client, who typically fills out forms and may only have a small number of personal contacts with the firm handling the litigation.

The downsides of class action suits shouldn’t be ignored. By joining the class action an individual usually waives the right to sue on an individual basis, so the choice should be made only after some careful thought. Here are a few common problems for clients in class actions:

  • The individual client has no control over how the litigation is handled, including how it is resolved.
  • Class action suits can take a long time to resolve.
  • Members of a class rarely recover for any unique circumstances that distinguish them from other members of the class. For example, the case probably won’t compensate someone who has endured especially serious pain.
  • The law firm handling the class action may treat its clients like numbers.

Someone who is considering joining a class action lawsuit should think about consulting with an attorney other than the firm running the solicitation ads. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have questions about joining a class action suit related to an injury you’ve suffered, contact us today for a free attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.

What Relaxed Asbestos Rules Might Mean

Asbestos is the name given to a collection of naturally occurring minerals that have properties useful in a wide range of commercial and industrial applications. Among other things, asbestos is an effective fire retardant. The risks to human health posed by asbestos have been understood as far back as the early 1900s, and today we know that it can cause long-term problems, including cancer. In the 1970s authorities in the United States began a concerted effort to ban its use in certain products, especially drywall. In 1989 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned all new uses of asbestos, while allowing existing uses to continue, and adopted regulations governing the inspection of buildings for potential asbestos hazards.

In June 2018 the EPA announced a proposed a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) addressing asbestos use. The SNUR was proposed due to a regulatory gap in existing law, which leaves a range of potential asbestos uses unregulated. The SNUR makes clear that the uses it is aiming at were in use as late as 1991, but are no longer in use today. The explanation is that manufacturers have voluntarily avoided these unregulated uses in large part to avoid potential liability for incorporating a carcinogen into their products. The SNUR aimed to bring these out-of-use but unregulated applications for asbestos into a framework to give the EPA mechanisms to evaluate and regulate them. Among other things, the SNUR proposes to ban the use of asbestos in clothing and a range of construction products.

Critics of the SNUR have raised two chief concerns. The first is that the SNUR does not address all potential new, unregulated uses of asbestos, leaving in place significant regulatory gaps. The second concern is that the SNUR’s proposed examination procedure would stop the EPA from considering historical data when evaluating proposed new uses. This means that the deep scientific background in the risks posed by asbestos will not be included in future product evaluations. The new rule also narrows the definition of “asbestos” to potentially leave dangerous compounds beyond the reach of regulators.

How the proposed rules may affect public health remains to be seen. The fact that the SNUR addresses currently unregulated uses should give some comfort that manufacturers are already deterred from those uses by other legal standards, including state products liability laws. The risk of liability for widespread cancers and other diseases related to asbestos exposure serves as a powerful deterrent even without EPA action. Still, if new uses for asbestos are approved under the process proposed in the SNUR they could lead to a higher incidence of asbestos in our environment. It seems that ordinary people, especially those who work around old construction, will need to continue to be mindful of the potential risks of asbestos exposure.

Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm with over four decades of experience in products liability litigation. We can help clients who have been injured by exposure to asbestos seek recovery from responsible parties. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

NutriBullet Class Action Raises Explosion Concerns

Capital Brands, the maker of the popular NutriBullet line of high-speed blenders, has been sued by a various plaintiffs who claim that the blenders caused injuries by exploding unexpectedly. The suits allege that pressure builds up inside the blender during operation. The pressure can cause the canister to explode, sending hot liquid and other contents into the air. A recent suit also alleges that the blender’s blade assembly can be forcefully ejected from the unit as a consequence of the pressure buildup, threatening serious injury to users.

The latest string of explosion-related lawsuits is not the first time the NutriBullet has come under scrutiny for potential safety problems. In 2014 Consumer Reports gave the NutriBullet Pro 900 model a “Don’t Buy” rating due to concerns that the blender’s blades could come loose and cause choking or internal cuts. The rating was later lifted after the product was redesigned.

Cases against Capital Brands have focused on the company’s failure to warn consumers about the potential dangers of explosions. This could be an important component in any case brought in Nevada. A typical consumer products liability claim in Nevada focuses on whether a product was defective at the time it left the defendant manufacturer’s possession. To prevail the consumer must have used the product in a reasonably foreseeable way and been injured by the product’s latent defect.

People in Nevada who use NutriBullet products should take steps to avoid being injured by their blenders. First, watch for recalls covering your blender. If Capital Brands is found liable for injuries that have given rise to lawsuits it may voluntarily recall some products to avoid future lawsuits. Although a recall doesn’t necessarily affect a manufacturer’s liability for defective products, it is much better to avoid being injured at all than to suffer an injury and then seek compensation. Second, be sure to follow instructions with care. Capital Brands has modified its instruction manuals to caution users against certain types of pressure buildup and the risks of putting hot materials inside the blender. It’s important to follow these instructions to avoid injury. These instructions may also give the company a way to limit its liability in some situations.

Someone who has been injured while using a NutriBullet should consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the incident. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and products liability cases. We are here to answer your questions about injuries caused by defective or unreasonably dangerous products. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476 or ask us to reach out to you through our contact page.

Falling Furniture Can Seriously Injure Small Children

In recent years a series of recalls has brought to light the serious risk that furniture can pose to small children. Ikea has issued recalls for its Malm series of low-cost dressers, which the company says pose an unreasonable risk of toppling over if a child climbs on them. The recalls came after the eighth child was killed by a dresser in the Malm line falling on top of them.

Take steps to make your home more safe

Everyone, not just parents of small children, should give some consideration to the potential risks of furniture tipping over in their homes. The recalled Ikea dresser is only one example of “tippy” furniture. Another common source of serious injuries is modern TV sets. Modern televisions are quite large, and though they tend to be lighter than obsolete tube-based units they can still cause serious harm if they tip over onto someone.

Fortunately there are simple steps that people can take to make their homes more safe. Securing tippy furniture doesn’t necessarily require making every piece of furniture impossible to move. The key is to ensure that if the furniture does tip over the anchor breaks the fall. Here are some suggestions:

  • Secure furniture and other heavy objects to anchor points, such as shelves that are firmly secured to walls or by using drywall anchors that are rated to handle the weight of the anchored object.
  • Mount flat-screen televisions on the wall instead of using tabletop stands.
  • Make sure to repair damaged furniture, especially if the damage could make the furniture more likely to fall over.
  • Supervise small children who might be prone to climbing bookshelves or open drawers. If necessary, put up gates to restrict access to dangerous rooms.

Pay attention to recalls

One reason the Ikea case is significant is the sheer number of the affected dressers. Because they are inexpensive the dressers are very common, meaning they frequently show up for sale on Craigslist and other informal channels. Even if they are available for free, consumers should not bring these dangerous items into their homes.

If a product poses an unreasonable risk to consumers the manufacturer and marketers of the product may be subject to a products liability lawsuit. Retailers like Ikea try to avoid this liability by issuing recalls, which do not absolve the company of responsibility but can serve to mitigate the company’s risk. Customers who know about a recall but choose to ignore it may be considered to have assumed the risk of injury, and therefore may have difficulty recovering compensation from a company like Ikea if a recalled piece of furniture causes serious injury.

People who keep furniture that poses known risks around their homes may also increase their risk of facing a lawsuit by a guest who is injured by the dangerous furniture. Homeowners can bear legal liability for injuries that occur within the home. Even if a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy will assume some of the costs associated with defending against such a claim, this is not a position anyone should want to be in.

Have you been injured by falling furniture?

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in Las Vegas pursue products liability and personal injury claims. If you have been injured by furniture falling over and you would like to explore pursuing compensation from a manufacturer or other responsible person, we are happy to talk through your options. Call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Hernia Mesh Litigation Update

In recent years manufacturers of hernia meshes have come under legal scrutiny for complications arising from the implants. Hernia meshes function by adding support beneath and around weakened tissues that have allowed an organ to squeeze through, creating a painful hernia. They can be made from a range of substances, including synthetic fibers and animal tissues, and can have a few different forms. A properly functioning mesh can treat a hernia and prevent it from recurring.

But some patients have discovered that their hernia meshes have not performed as advertised or have had design defects that may be responsible for a range of complications. Plaintiffs in lawsuits against Atrium (maker of the C-QUR mesh) and Ethicon (maker of the Physiomesh) have raised a range of complaints against the manufactures. The problems related to hernia meshes have included pain, infection, migration (implants moving from their original locations), physical collapse of the implant, bowel obstruction, and even damage to nearby tissues and organs. In many cases serious complications require additional surgery.

Hernia mesh lawsuits often raise a number of specific claims that are common in products liability cases involving medical devices. Among other things, the lawsuits often argue that the manufacturers knew about the complications that were possible with their devices but didn’t disclose those risks to patients. Plaintiffs also may argue that the manufacturers failed to follow legally mandated safety processes to ensure that their products performed safely.

Over the years the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received numerous complaints about complications from hernia mesh implants. Some products have even been recalled for safety reasons, forcing patients to endure new surgeries to replace the recalled mesh.

For patients who have received hernia mesh implants there are a number of important steps to take:

  • Keep an eye on product recalls and news about your implant’s make and model.
  • Notify your doctor about any complications you experience as soon as possible so that any serious problems can be addressed quickly.
  • If you do suffer a serious complication, talk to an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your legal rights are protected.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients recover compensation for cases involving defective products. If you have questions about your legal options to seek compensation for problems associated with a hernia mesh, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.