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On May 12, 2015, a devastating derailment of a Pennsylvania Amtrak train occurred. The Amtrak train was occupied by a little over 240 people when the accident transpired. The derailment ensued while the train was traveling at over double the intended speed limit as it approached a curve. Also, the derailment occurred while the engineer responsible for driving the train was reportedly (according to the National Transportation Safety Board) distracted by radio traffic.

Of those on board, approximately 200 people sustained injuries and eight individuals were killed as a result of the Amtrak derailment.

Subsequently, several lawsuits have been brought by the passengers and employees of Amtrak that were negatively affected by the May 2015 derailment of the Pennsylvania Amtrak train. Currently, Amtrak is in the settlement process and, in a couple of those lawsuits, Amtrak has agreed to settlement terms with those that have brought suit.

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With the present day evolution of transportation vehicles coupled with the steady use of transportation services, a shift towards focusing on the backseat car passenger’s safety is of the upmost concern. Transportation services and ride sharing applications, such as Uber or Lyft, have contributed to the necessary focus and advancement in back seat passenger safety. The emphasis of backseat safety is substantially due to the overall increase of backseat passengers that are becoming more and more popular in today’s society. In order to further progress in the area of backseat safety new testing techniques and standards are being put into place.

In the forefront of these safety testing techniques is the use of crash-test dummies in the backseats of vehicles during safety testing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA) plans to use the backseat crash-test dummies as a means of furthering backseat safety procedures and collecting valuable safety data. Previously, the NTSA only used crash-test dummies in the driver and front passenger’s sides during safety testing.

Beginning in 2019, the NTSA plans to start using the backseat safety crash-dummies and the information gathered from the backseat safety crash-dummies as a part of their overall 5-Star Safety Ratings Program. This approach will allow for a new form of gauging the vehicle’s total safety, not only on the driver and front passenger areas as in the past safety testing strategies.

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When a train accident occurs the damage can be devastating and have a lasting impact on all those involved. Many times the victims are left with overwhelming medical expenses and other expenditures related to the accident as a result. After an accident the sufferers must be made whole again, but due to the regulated maximum amount in which Amtrak is allowed to compensate the collective victims of a single train accident it may leave victims in need of more.

In 1997, the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act (“the Act”) was passed by legislation to control the amount that Amtrak could be found liable in a single train accident lawsuit. According to the Act, legislation capped the “aggregate allowable awards to all rail passengers, against all defendants, for all claims, including claims for punitive damages, arising from a single accident or incident, shall not exceed $200,000,000.” This tort reform is attached collectively to all victims of single railroad accidents, regardless of the total number of suffering parties seeking damages in the given lawsuit. When the Act was established, the aim of the provision was to ensure that railroad processes would be able to maintain operations during periods of substantial lawsuits against their company.

Unfortunately, the capped amount is not allowing for adequate compensation to all victims of railroad accidents. The federal limit cap does not account for inflation, dating from approximately two decades ago as it was enacted by Bill Clinton while in office. Also, because of the pre-established amount of $200 million the victims and their families are not afforded the opportunity to use the judicial system and its procedures to determine the appropriate amount for their total suffering. Families are finding out that the 1997 provision is not allowing for enough reparation to ensure the expenses produced by the train accident can be paid in full, such as medical expenses and lost wages, because the statute sets the firm limit at $200 million.

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In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approve the blood thinner Pradaxa. Pradaxa was used by patients to prevent blood clots from forming due to the individual’s irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation). The drug was produced by German manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals as a substitute to the drug warfarin. Initially, Pradaxa was advertised as a safe blood thinner that did not require patient dietary restrictions (unlike warfarin that requires dietary restrictions as well as weekly exams) and was readily prescribed to patients by their doctors.

Although only a year after the drug was approved by the U.S. FDA in 2011, over 540 patients died from using of the drug Pradaxa, while thousands also were left suffering from negative side effects because of the drug according to the FDA data. Family members of the deceased and those who have experienced negative side effects brought lawsuits against the German manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals (Boehringer).

  • Side effects of Pradaxa include, but are not limited to:
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Among the hazards in choosing a career in the railroad is the presence of and exposure to asbestos, which was readily used in the 20th century railroad companies because of its lastingness and durability. Asbestos was used in the creation of many of the train’s various components, railroad equipment and several types of insulation dating to the 1930s. Asbestos materials are released into the air as microscopic materials and are inhaled by individuals and can have detrimental impact on that individual’s health and life overall.

The practice of using asbestos in the railroad industry was consistent for decades, until Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) stepped in and limited the overall used of asbestos in the production of train components in the 1970s. Although, some railroad companies chose to still use asbestos into the 1980s.

Many railroad companies allegedly knew of the risks associated with the dangers of using asbestos, yet chose not to warn their employees of such hazards associated with their occupational contact and exposure to asbestos. Exposure to asbestos has been linked to:

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A staggering number of families have made claims against the drug manufacturing company GlaxoSmithKline. These claims are centered around GlaxoSmithKline’s drug Zofran (the generic form of which is named ondansetron and is commonly used to prevent nausea, vomiting and other sicknesses in cancer patients during various cancer surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation therapy) and that Zofran factored into negative effects as a result of being prescribed and consuming the drug while pregnant, particularly in terms of various types of birth defects.

Zofran is a drug that frequently can be prescribed and used in attempts to cure morning sickness in pregnant females. Many of the women are prescribed Zofran during their first trimester (due to the large amount of nausea and overall morning sickness experienced during that specific period of their pregnancy). Furthermore, research has found that during the first trimester of the pregnancy the fetus is its most vulnerable. Thus the fetus can be negatively affected by outside elements that factor into proper human development, such as the Zofran drug taken by their pregnant mothers during pregnancy.

The FDA has recognized Zofran a Category B pregnancy medication. This recognition has been given to Zofran because a properly controlled testing of the drug’s safety is unavailable to be done on pregnant women. Although, researchers have continued to examine the effects of Zofran by observing infants, whose mothers took Zofran, after their birth. Many researchers have found an increase in negative effects among those infants, when compared to infants whose mothers did not take Zofran during pregnancy. The birth defects of Zofran include:

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Furniture related tip-over accidents occur throughout the household. The results of these accidents can be dangerous and in some cases life threatening, especially to the young small children of the household. Since 1989, at least six child deaths and over 70 injuries in tip-over furniture related accidents have occurred. Most recently, in the past three years there have been three child deaths and numerous reported and unreported injuries as a result of Ikea furniture related tip-over accidents. These accidents have forced Ikea to recall various free-standing furniture.

In 2016, Ikea struck an agreement with federal regulatory officials to announce a recall over their furniture related to tip-over accidents, specifically free-standing dressers and chests. The recall applies to over 29 million pieces of furniture in the United States, in what is the largest furniture safety recall in American history according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Elliot F. Kaye, the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, delivered a statement speaking to the dangerousness of the recalled Ikea furniture. Kaye emphasized the seriousness of the dangers in those households with young children because in many cases children attempt to climb or pull on the furniture, and if the furniture is free-standing, a tip-over related accident may occur.

According to the recall agreement, customers are able to choose from two options. The first option is Ikea will pick up all recalled furniture from the customer’s home and offer the customer a refund. According to the second option, Ikea is offering to install wall anchor kits to secure the recalled furniture to a wall or any other secure surface for those customers not looking to return their recalled dressers and chests.

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Fresenius Medical Care (FMC) is the world’s largest provider of kidney dialysis services products and is responsible for the materials of thousands of dialysis centers across the United States. Recently, the company was obligated to recall two of its dialysates, GranuFlo and NaturaLyte.

On March 29, 2012 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) delivered a Class I recall of the two FMC manufactured drugs due to their negative side effects on dialysis patients. Among the adverse effects caused by GranuFlo and NaturaLyte were cardiac arrhythmia and an increased risk of low blood pressure. The totality of the negative effects (caused by use of GranuFlo and NaturaLyte) led to serious health concerns, including but not limited to:

  • Heart arrhythmia
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Are common talcum-powder products a leading cause of cancer? Over 1,200 current and former lawsuits would argue that the talcum-powder, also known as talc, products are doing just that, causing cancer. Among the lawsuits are allegations that a common talc product producer, Johnson & Johnson, had knowledge of their talcum-powder products’ potential cancer risks, yet chose not to give their customers any cautionary warning.

Talcum-powder is regularly used in the production of various feminine hygiene products, including but not limited to sanitary napkins, powders, makeups, shampoos, lotions, lipsticks, deodorants, face masks, shower products, and eye shadow. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, “Some talc may contain the known carcinogen asbestos, therefore it should be avoided in powders and other personal care products, unless it is known to be asbestos-free.” Johnson & Johnson’s Shower to Shower is recognized as one of the most popular talcum-powder based products. Also, the Cancer Prevention Research journals cite an increase of the association of genital powder use and epithelial ovarian cancer.

Since the use of talc products has been linked to lung cancer, various respiratory diseases and ovarian cancer many foreign nations have been taking the necessary steps towards barring health threatening talc cosmetic products. For instance, Canada has put in place strict regulations on talc use in baby products and the European Union has gone as far as banning the use of talc in cosmetic products all together. Currently, the United States has no such regulations or a ban of talc products.

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The Michigan based Stryker Corporation, a medical technology firm, has been the under the spotlight due to their medical device recalls. In 2012, Stryker was forced to recall the popular surgical implant or replacement medical products Rejuvenate and ABG II Modular-Neck Hip Stems due to their connection to patient problems and negative side effects.

Rejuvenate and ABG II Modular-Neck Hip Stems were unlike any of the current hip implant technology on the market. At that time the market was known for using a one-piece neck and stem construction, but the Rejuvenate and ABG II Modular-Neck Hip Stems were constructed using a system of multiple stem and neck mechanisms. The multiple components were instrumental in allowing for a more custom fit for implant or replacement patients. The products’ qualities including the system of multiple components, coupled with theoretical stability, longevity and larger range of motion, allowed Stryker Corp. to advertise the Rejuvenate and ABG II Modular-Neck Hip Stems as one of the top of the line performance surgical products, especially to younger patients in need of implant procedures.

Stryker also made their Rejuvenate and ABG II Modular-Neck Hip Stems with an alloy that allegedly was stronger than other alloys being used on that time’s current market. Stryker additionally claimed that their alloy blend “resembles that of bone.” The alloy blend consisted of titanium, iron, molybdenum and zirconium. Stryker maintained that this blend would deter metal corrosion and fretting, which is where small metal flakes break off and enter into the body. Unfortunately, Stryker was incorrect and the alloy blend based products caused serious negative side effects, predominantly the release of combinations of toxic metals into the body of the implant or replacement patient.