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In 2015, 4,836 workers were killed on the job in the United States.  That means, on average, 13 workers die because of injuries on the job every day in the United States.  This is more than the numbers were in 2013 and 2014.  Further, an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases.  This means that, in effect, 150 workers die each and every day from hazardous working conditions.

Older workers are at a greater risk. Thirty-five percent of all fatalities occurred in workers age 55 or older, and workers 65 or older have three times the risk of dying on the job as younger workers.

Temporary workers are at an even higher risk of injury.  Temporary workers often receive insufficient training or are inexperienced with how to protect themselves on the job site, but don’t want to complain about the lack of training for fear of losing their job. Temporary workers tend to be younger, less educated and disproportionately consist of minority workers, many of whom might be immigrant workers, according to researchers with the University of Massachusetts.  At the same time, temporary workers are employed in some of the country’s most hazardous jobs, including waste recycling, fish processing and construction.

Some politicians, and some gun manufacturers, think that there is complete immunity for such manufacturers for negligent or wrongful behavior, no matter the circumstances.  Here’s why:  in 2005 Congress enacted the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).  This statute does give the gun industry broad immunity.  But it is not absolute.

The PLCAA has a few exceptions that can be used to find gun manufacturers liable.  If a manufacturer or seller knowingly falsifies federal or state records, sells a gun to someone who is prohibited from owning a gun or manufacturers a gun with a design defect that results in injury or death, there can be civil liability.

The issue of civil liability for gun sellers and manufacturers has become very controversial because of the power of the gun lobby and the efforts of the gun control lobby to stem the proliferation of assault weapons.  The tragedy of mass shootings and the rise of terrorist activity have also heightened this controversy.  Some efforts have been made to circumvent the reach of the PLCAA by using causes of action that may not be in violation of its provisions.  For example, following the horrible tragedy of the mass shooting at Newtown, Connecticut some families filed suit based on the cause of action for negligent entrustment.  The Trial Court dismissed the case and it is now before the Supreme Court of Connecticut.

It has recently come to light that many passenger cars have an apparent defect that can cause serious injury or death.  In a rear end collision, the front seat backs can collapse, thrusting the seat back and the occupant of that seat violently into the back seat.  This is very dangerous for the occupant of that seat, but it is even more dangerous for a passenger in the back seat who is located directly behind the failing seat back.  And if that occupant is a child the results can be tragic.

All parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles know that the safest place for a child to be placed in a car is in the back seat and in an approved car seat or booster seat if necessary.  But when the seat back in front of the child collapses backward the resulting injuries can be devastating and permanent.  A Texas jury recently returned a verdict of more than $124.5 million against automaker Audi because the failure of its seat back caused permanent brain damage and paralysis to a seven year old passenger in the back seat.  Subsequently, CBS news did an investigation into this problem.  Their findings are shocking.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) promulgates safety standards for passenger cars.  Its seatback standard has not been updated since 1967.  When automakers are criticized for manufacturing flimsy and defective seat backs they proudly say that their seat backs meet or exceed the NHTSA standard.  Therefore, they say, their seat backs are not defective.  The jury in Texas disagreed.

Car makers and NHTSA have known about the danger and potential for seat back failure for many years.  Over one hundred people have been injured because of this failure.  Most of them were children.  Almost twenty people have died because of this defect.  Many of these defective seatbacks are incredibly flimsy.  They have been likened to a banquet chair.  Incredibly, even a banquet chair would apparently meet the NHTSA safety standard.  Testimony in a previous case from an automotive engineer indicates that the cost to fix this problem would be about one dollar per seat.

The old saying, “money is the root of all evil” never rang truer than it does today.  And in no sector of human endeavor does it ring truer today than it does in the political arena.  It is reasonable to think that conservatives, liberals, libertarians and independents alike could all agree on at least one thing:  Our country would be better if we could find a way to take the money out of politics.  If we could close the revolving doors between government offices and the corporate offices of the companies who desire government action that benefits them financially, wouldn’t there be less corruption, fewer conflicts of interest and less temptation on the part of those our citizenry has charged with the responsibility to write and enforce our laws and ensure fairness to all?  If we could end the practice of political contributions as a means of purchasing access to those in our government with the power to enact laws which have a financial impact on those who make those contributions, wouldn’t that benefit all Americans, especially those who don’t have the means to make such political contributions?

Most people, regardless of their political affiliation, would answer yes to those questions.  But somehow, in each political cycle, we seem to have gotten further and further from those common sense ideals upon which most Americans agree.  And finally, with just a little research, it is possible to point to a reason why:  the current United States Supreme court (at least until February, 2016, back when it was fully staffed with nine justices).  With holdings in cases like Citizens United, which codified such previously unheard of legal theories as “corporations are entitled to the same rights as persons,” and “money equals speech,” the court has given free rein to those who seek the cover of law in committing what is known in most democracies (and once was in this one) as open bribery.

It would be nice to say that all sides are responsible, and to some extent all are.  But some are more responsible than others.  The facts speak for themselves.  The Republican appointed justices prevailed in these cases, and they did so over the objection and dissent of those four justices appointed by Democrats.  Justice Scalia was the deciding vote in these cases, and his death leaves a vacancy that has engendered a ferocious battle over his replacement.  Despite their constitutional duty to do so, the U.S. Senate has refused to even consider the appointment of Judge Merrick Garland as Scalia’s replacement, with nearly eleven months available to do so, simply because President Obama, a Democrat, was the president who made the appointment.

A drug manufacturer’s attempts to get another opioid painkiller approved by the FDA has been shot down again this week.  Durect Corporation and Pain Therapeutics, Inc. have been attempting for several years to get Remoxy ER approved by the FDA.  The FDA once again rejected their claims, focusing on the company’s failure to adequately address the potential for abuse of these drugs as well as problems with the labeling on the drugs.

Despite Remoxy not being approved by the FDA, Durect is advertising the drug, claiming that the drug is “long-acting” and “tamper-resistant.” That part of the website did not state that the drug was only an investigational new drug and not authorized for marketing in the U.S., which made the advertising misleading, according to the FDA.

Opioids are a class of drugs that include prescription medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine, as well as the illicit drug heroin.

Most electronic devices are powered by lithium ion batteries.  This includes cell phones, portable music players, GPS devices, notebook computers and many others.  Lithium ion batteries have long run times, are small and produce a relatively greater amount of energy than other batteries.  However, they do pose certain risks.

The lithium ion cell has a carbon anode (positive) and a metal oxide cathode (negative).  Lithium molecules leave the carbon anode and lose a negatively charged electron leaving behind a lithium ion.  These ions flow through an organic solvent between the anode and the cathode.  This produces electricity.  If the battery is overcharged or produces too much current, or if there are impurities in the cell as a result of sloppy manufacturing procedures, this can result in a short circuit which leads to something called “thermal runaway.”  This is a rise in heat and pressure which is impossible to stop and can cause fires or even an explosion.  Thermal runaway can produce temperatures of over one thousand degrees Fahrenheit.

Needless to say these fires and explosions can cause serious personal injury.  Fortunately, the types of failures that lead to these incidents are extremely rare.  However, electronic devices that have lithium ion battery components have been the subject of many safety recalls and product safety warnings.  Many laptop computers were recalled in 2006; the FAA has recommended restricting their cargo carriage on flights and the International Civil Aviation Organization has banned the shipment of these batteries as cargo on passenger flights.  Recently Samsung issued a massive recall of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone because of the risk of these batteries exploding.

Now that football season is here, we should be mindful that the highest priority of the game should be the safety and well-being of the athletes.  Unfortunately,  this has not always been the case.

On August 28, 2011, Derek Sheely died as a result of second-impact syndrome. This syndrome occurs when the brain swells rapidly after a person suffers a second concussion before symptoms from an earlier concussion have subsided.  On August 22, 2013, the family of Derek Sheely filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NCAA, Kranos, George L. Heider, Inc., two Frostburg State University coaches, and a Frostburg State athletic trainer, asserting that Derek’s death was a preventable tragedy.

Last month, the Parties announced that a settlement was reached. The settlement provides that the Defendants will pay $1,200,000.00 to The Derek Sheely Foundation. In addition to the this payment, the Parties agreed to the following terms that are aimed at increasing awareness and research about concussions.

Our firm handles personal injury cases from around the country.  Many of them involve commercial motor vehicles.  Understanding the basics of commercial vehicle operations and regulations is imperative to litigating and successfully representing our clients.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was formed in 2000 with the goal of reducing crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.  It regulates and enforces a variety of rules that apply to large trucks and buses.  When there is a crash, injury or fatality involving a large truck or bus, it’s important to understand commercial trucking basics and these regulations in order to pursue the claim.

Motor carrier safety regulations are designed to protect the public from the risks associated with the operation of commercial motor vehicles. Among other things, motor carrier safety regulations ensure that a commercial motor vehicle is safely maintained and operated, prevent confusion about which party bears ultimate financial responsibility in the event of an accident, and ensure that injured parties are compensated.

There is a common perception that lawsuits involving car accidents are about which driver was at fault in an accident involving two or more vehicles.  Often such disputes arise, or maybe it is clear who the at-fault driver is, but the insurance company for the at-fault driver is not treating the injured person fairly.  Thus, people hire attorneys who pursue the case for them

What is often overlooked in this common perception about automobile accident lawsuits is that many accidents that involve terrible injuries or even death may not involve the fault of a driver at all, or may involve only a single vehicle.  Our firm regularly is called upon to investigate and pursue automobile accidents that involve much more than deciding who was at fault in an accident.  Here are a few examples of potential claims that often go unnoticed by families of accident victims.

Vehicle design and crashworthiness

Electronic cigarettes seem to have become very popular. It is commonly believed that E cigarettes are safer from a health perspective than regular cigarettes. However, there are some serious risks. An electronic cigarette has three basic components: 1) a cartridge that stores the liquid nicotine, 2) an atomizer which heats the liquid nicotine and 3) a battery. The battery is the source of the explosion risk.

Electronic cigarettes use lithium ion batteries. These are very powerful. They are also very common and can be found in any number of electronic devices such as cell phones, cameras and lap tops. The difference with electronic cigarettes is the proximity of the lithium ion battery to the atomizer which is a heating source. Lithium ion batteries are sensitive to extreme temperatures and have been known for some time to have a risk of explosion if they get too hot.

A lithium ion battery explosion is a very significant and destructive event. This is a very hot explosion that can cause significant burn injuries. Sometimes referred to as a thermal runaway, it can cause and has caused serious injury and in rare cases even death.

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