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  • California Woman Files Class Action Against McDonald’s Over Happy Meals

    Earlier this month we predicted that in 2011 there will be increasing backlash against fast food, particularly when marketing it toward children. By way of example, we cited the recently enacted San Francisco ban of McDonald’s Happy Meals. Now, in keeping with this trend, a Sacramento women, Monet Parham, has filed a class action lawsuit in California  claiming that McDonald’s uses Happy Meals to entice children to eat unhealthy food. According to an ABC.com article, a representative for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the organization that filed the lawsuit on behalf of Parham, explained the basis of the lawsuit as follows: “McDonald’s knows that kids like toys more than they like the burgers, so they dangle these little toys in front of kids to pester their parents to take them to McDonald’s,” Jacobson said. “It’s a trick that works. It’s unfair to kids, they are being totally manipulated and it’s unfair to parents who have the company going behind their back using this toy trick to get their kids to pester them.” The lawsuit was filed in mid-December and class action status has not yet been ruled on. Nevertheless, the fact that the lawsuit was filed is a sign of things to come. In 2011 and beyond, expect more lawsuits of this type, which challenge advertising and other fast food company gimmicks intended to induce consumers into eating unhealthy food. Legislation in other jurisdictions banning certain types of fast foods or advertising practices will also be on the rise. The backlash against fast food is just beginning. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com. Related articles Mom to Sue McDonalds in Happy Meal Battle (abcnews.go.com) Mother Sues McDonald’s for ‘Interfering’ With Kids (motherjones.com) McDonald’s sued over Happy Meals (cbc.ca)

  • FDA Uncovers More Manufacturing Problems at Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceutical Plant

    The safety of our pharmaceutical supply is of the utmost importance and the failure to control the quality of medications produced can have serious ramifications, including long lasting injuries, side effects and even death. In recent years,recalls of medications have become more frequent as manufacturers cut corners in an effort to curb costs. In one case, earlier this year, Johnson and Johnson recalled a score of children’s medications, including children’s Tylenol, due to manufacturing problems at a plant in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. And, just last week, the Food and Drug Administration uncovered ongoing problems at that very same Johnson and Johnson plant as reported in this article: In an inspection report released late on Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration said a recent visit uncovered multiple quality control problems, including a failure to properly handle customer complaints. Inspectors…found “a failure to thoroughly review any unexplained discrepancy” in batches of products and a lack of proper record keeping, according to the report from an inspection that ran from October 27 to December 9. Obviously, governmental oversight of pharmaceutical production is an important part of ensuring that medications are produced under safe conditions. Most corporations are rarely inclined to police themselves and in a pinch, will cut corners despite the risk to unsuspecting consumers. Personal injury attorneys also play an important role in forcing drug companies to produce safe products by ensuring that those injured by the defective products are compensated for their injuries. Product liability lawsuits also serve to deter companies from producing defective products in the future as well. Ultimately, the goal is to keep consumers safe by ensuring that pharmaceutical produce safe medications. Governmental oversight and personal injury lawsuits are both effective at achieving this goal. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com. Related articles FDA Finds More Problems at Johnson & Johnson Plant (dailyfinance.com) FDA uncovers more problems at J&J Fort Washington plant (reuters.com) UPDATE 1-U.S. FDA uncovers more problems at J&J Fort Wash plant (reuters.com)

  • New Jersey Governor Signs Brain Injury Awareness Legislation

    There is no such thing as a “mild” concussion, according to recent scientific research. Every brain injury is a traumatic brain injury and requires careful medical follow up. Recent studies have shown that young athletes are increasingly suffering from concussions at an alarming rate. This marked increase in student athlete brain injuries prompted the United States Congress to consider the passage of the “Concussion Treatment and Care Tools Act.” This is an important piece of legislation. First, it will educate the public about concussions and would dispel the myth that they are “mild injuries.” Second, it will protect school-age children by establishing preventative guidelines, educational policies and standardized treatment procedures. New Jersey has taken notice of the importance of addressing this issue and has followed suit, passing legislation that creates a multi-pronged concussion awareness and prevention program. As explained in this NJ.com blog post, like the federal legislation discussed above, the New Jersey law focuses on the protection and treatment of injured student athletes: The strictest part of New Jersey’s law states student-athletes suspected of having sustained a concussion will be immediately removed from participation and not allowed to return to athletic activity until he or she is evaluated by a concussion specialist. The Brain Injury Association of America estimates 3.8 million sports-and-recreation-related concussions occur in the country each year. Approximately 40.5 percent of high school athletes who suffer from concussions return to play too soon, setting themselves up for more severe injuries, according to the Center for Injury Research and Policy in Ohio. Like the federal legislation, the New Jersey law helps to emphasize the seriousness of traumatic brain injuries, like concussions, and aids in the prevention and treatment of concussions in child athletes. Kudos to Governor Christie for signing this law and for raising awareness about this important issue. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com. Related articles Comprehensive Concussion Safety Bill to Protect New Jersey’s Student-Athletes Signed (gloucestercitynews.net) Sharon Chirban, Ph.D.: Concussions: Using ImPACT in Schools to Measure Athletes’ Post-Concussive Brain Function (huffingtonpost.com) Concussion Symptoms May Differ in Girls and Boys (webmd.com) Congress Moves To Prevent Student Brain Injuries (education.change.org)

  • Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Ruling Reviewed by Court

    Help at Home v. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, No. 4-09-0977 WC, is a case in which the appellant challenged the Circuit Court of Morgan County’s decision in regard to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission’s (the Commission) determination in this case. The workers’ compensation claimant alleged that she was injured while employed by Help at Home, sustaining injuries to her lower back and right shoulder. At issue on appeal was whether the original arbitrator, who concluded that the claimant’s injuries were caused by work-related activities, could re-consider additional evidence in that regard. When reviewing the arbitrator’s decision, at the request of the employer, Help at Home, the Commission disagreed that a causal connection existed and remanded the case for further consideration of additional evidence regarding whether a causal connection existed. The Circuit Court of Morgan County affirmed the Commission’s decision. On appeal to the Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District, the appellant and employer, Help at Home, asserted that “the circuit court erred, as a matter of law, in confirming that part of the Commission’s decision which provides that, on remand, the arbitrator may consider additional evidence relating to a causal connection between the claimant’s work accident of December 14, 2007, and her right-shoulder injury.” The Court agreed, holding that because the claimant failed to seek judicial review of arbitrator’s decision that a causal connection existed, that determination “became the law of the case, and (she was) barred from raising the issue of a causal connection between her right shoulder injury and the accident on December 14, 2007, during any further proceedings on remand.” Thus, unfortunately for the claimant, the Commission’s conclusion that she failed to prove a causal connection between her injuries and the accident at work was upheld as “the law of the case” and could not be re-visited. became the law of the case, and the claimant is barred from raising the issue of a causal connection between her right shoulder injury and the accident on December 14, 2007, during any further proceedings on remand

  • A Look Back at 2010

    2010 was a memorable year and throughout the year we covered an assortment of interesting legal issues on this blog. There were a few, however, that stood out and that we discussed repeatedly. First, a notable decision for Chicago was the United States Supreme Court’s decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago (08-1521). At issue in McDonald was whether the Second Amendment is incorporated into the Due Process Clause or the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, thus making it applicable to the States and invalidating ordinances prohibiting possession of handguns in the home. The Court’s decision was arguably a victory for proponents of the Second Amendment. Essentially, the Court reaffirmed the right to bear arms, although, interestingly, many commentators noted that the decision appeared to be deliberately vague and didn’t even specifically address the Chicago gun laws at issue in the case. Another issue that cropped up repeatedly in 2010 was the danger of distracted driving, whether in the context of texting while driving or iPads in cars. While everyone necessarily agrees that distracted driving is dangerous, the solution isn’t as obvious as the problem itself. As we explained in this post, instead of simply enacting laws banning distracted driving, the focus should be on educating people about the hazards of all types of distracted driving, while also passing laws that forbid people from engaging in very specific types distracting activities while driving. Finally, another issue that we blogged about a number of times in 2010 was traumatic brain injuries–especially in young athletes. In March we explained that traumatic brain injuries are rarely mild. Then in September we discussed how student athletes are increasingly at risk for concussions and similar issues and reported that Congress was considering passage of the Concussion Treatment and Care Tools Act. The Act will help to educate the public about concussions and establish preventative guidelines, educational policies and standardized treatment procedures. Concussions are serious injuries and in 2010, this issue began to get the attention it deserved. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

  • Judge Allows Class Action Lawsuit to Proceed Against Toyota

    There has been an onslaught of lawsuits against Toyota in recent years due to design flaws with some of its vehicles.  Most recently, two auto product liability lawsuits were filed in August 2010 against Toyota in which the plaintiffs cited six different incidents between 2003 and 2010 involving sudden acceleration and claimed that the automaker knew that some of its vehicles were experiencing sudden unintended acceleration problems but failed to take the appropriate action. One of the lawsuits is seeking class action status for auto owners claiming that the alleged defects have reduced the market value of their cars.  Late last month, a California judge denied Toyota’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit and allowed the claims to move forward for the time being. Judge James Selna ruled that the plaintiffs did not need to show that they had experienced a malfunction in their own cars but that it was enough to show that they suffered an economic loss when they tried to sell their vehicles due to their diminished market value.  Judge Selna noted that many of the plaintiffs in this class action had sold their vehicles so that had suffered an actual and specific economic loss that was due to the possibility that the vehicles were defective. The other lawsuit was brought by or on behalf of motorists that were injured or killed as a result of accidents caused by the vehicles’ unintended sudden acceleration. Hundreds of product liability lawsuits have already been brought against the automaker due to its sudden acceleration problems, many of which were consolidated into two federal lawsuits in 2009.  The lawsuits accuse Toyota of knowing about the sudden acceleration problem and of not only failing to report the problems, but also going to great lengths to hide the defect. The lawsuits filed to date include allegations that Toyota is responsible for product liability claims due to sudden acceleration and/or defects with the electronic throttle control system, fraud, negligence, breach of warranty and wrongful death. Even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said that it believes that Toyota vehicles have been involved in approximately 90 deaths since 2000 in traffic accidents linked to unintended and sudden acceleration. Toyota claims that its vehicles were and are safe and that the accidents were caused by driver error and other factors unrelated to the vehicles themselves.  Nonetheless, the automaker has issued a recall of more than 8[READ MORE…]

  • Surgical Errors Continue to Persist in High Numbers

    The recent report published in the Archives of Surgery in October 2010 paints a grim picture regarding surgical errors.  According to the report, there is a “persisting high frequency of surgical ‘never events,” or errors that are entirely preventable and should never occur, despite the fact that hospitals must abide by a universal protocol of procedures intended to prevent these types of mistakes.  The universal protocol requires that three critical steps be performed prior to surgery: (1) a pre-procedure verification, (2) marking the correct surgical site, and (3) a “time-out” for the operating stuff just before the surgery. Despite the procedures intended to safeguard against “never events,” researchers found 25 incidents of wrong-patient procedures and 107 incidents of wrong-site treatments over a six-year span.  The report was based on data drawn from an insurance database in Colorado that included more than 27,000 adverse events self-reported by Colorado doctors between 2002 and 2008. The most drastic incident involved the insertion of a chest tube into the wrong lung, causing it to collapse and thereby killing the patient. Other incidents included surgeons removing a healthy ovary, operating on the wrong side of the brain, fusing the wrong vertebrae and performing procedures on the wrong eye, knee, foot, elbow and hand. According to Dr. Stahel, director of orthopedics at Denver Health Medical Center and the study’s author, “These data are shocking.  These are catastrophic events that are unacceptable. They have been termed a ‘never event’ — because they should never happen.” The study’s researchers found that diagnostic errors accounted for 56% of the operations performed on the wrong patient, and poor communication was the cause of all of the operations performed on the wrong patient. Among operations performed on the wrong part of the body, 85% were due to errors in judgment and 72% were caused by the lack of a “time-out” as required by the universal protocol. The “time-out” is typically performed before surgery begins so that everyone present in the operating room can confirm that they have the correct patient and that they know the body part on which they are operating. Researchers noted that while blame for these mistakes falls across the medical profession, internal medicine specialists were most frequently responsible for wrong patient errors, causing 24% of such mistakes.  Clinicians involved in general medicine, pathology, urology, obstetrics-gynecology and pediatrics were each responsible for 8% of wrong patient errors. With[READ MORE…]

  • Johnson & Johnson Recalls two hip replacement systems affecting thousands

    DePuy Orthopaedics, a division of Johnson & Johnson, recently recalled two of its popular hip replacement systems – the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular System and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System – due to a higher-than-normal failure rate of the devices.  Despite the devices’ marketed success since they were approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in 2003, many patients have experienced serious side effects from the hip replacement systems. The recalled hip replacement systems have been used in more than 93,000 hip replacements since they were approved six years ago.  In the past two years, the FDA has received more than 300 complaints regarding the devices, including loose hip cups, hip dislocations, bone fractures, pseudotumors from metal debris, allergic reactions and permanent muscle and tissue damage. Data has shown that in the five years following implantation of the ASR Hip System, 12% of patients who received the ASR resurfacing device, and 13% of patients who received the ASR total replacement system, have required a subsequent hip revision surgery to correct the medical problems caused by the ASR system. While hip replacement systems are generally expected to last up to 15 years, the DePuy implant system has been failing after just two to three years.  Many doctors believe that the cup of the DePuy ASR hip implant is too shallow, which can lead to improper implantation and other health complications, such as a condition known as metallosis which may result in the release of higher, potentially dangerous levels of chromium and cobalt ions into the body. DePuy is providing patients with compensation to cover “reasonable and customary costs of monitoring and treatment for services, including revision surgery if it is necessary, associated with the DePuy ASR hip recall;” however, the compensation is limited to out-of-pocket expenses, may not cover expenses incurred following hip replacement surgery and does not cover many diagnostic tests or blood tests that may be required prior to the revision surgery. If you received one of the recalled systems, you may have received information from DePuy or its parent company, Johnson & Johnson, regarding the recall.  You may wish to consult with an experienced attorney before signing any paperwork provided by DePuy Johnson & Johnson since the documents may include a waiver that could prevent you from receiving any additional compensation from DePuy or Johnson & Johnson in the event that medical complications arise in the future.[READ MORE…]

  • Graco Recalls 2 Million Popular Strollers

    Graco recently recalled approximately 2 million Graco strollers because the strollers have been known to cause entrapment and strangulation, including four deaths between 2003 and 2005.  There have also been several reports of infants becoming entrapped in the stroller, resulting in cuts, bruises and difficulty breathing. The recall includes the older versions of the Graco Quattro Tour and MetroLite strollers and travel systems that were manufactured before the enactment of the voluntary industry standard in January 2008 that required a larger stroller opening between the seat bottom and the stroller’s tray. Entrapment and strangulation is possible with the recalled strollers when the child is not secured with the stroller safety harness, especially for infants less than 12 months of age. When the safety harness is not used, infants can slide down the stroller seat and pass through the opening between the stroller tray and seat bottom and his or her head and neck can become entrapped by the stroller’s tray. The stroller models included in the recall include the following: Quattro Stroller, distributed between November 2002 and December 2007 Quattro Stroller Travel System, distributed between October 2002 and October 2007 MetroLite Stroller, distributed between November 2000 and December 2007 MetroLite Travel System, distributed between December 2000 and June 2005 The strollers were sold at AAFES, Babies R Us, Burlington Coat Factory, Fred Meyer, Meijers, Navy Exchange, Sears, Target, Walmart and other stores nationwide between November 2000 and December 2007 and cost between $90 and $190 for the strollers and $190 and $250 for the travel systems. Consumers are advised to stop using the strollers immediately and contact Graco for a free repair kit.  The model numbers of the recalled strollers are available at http://www.gracobaby.com/SafetyAndRecall/Pages/SafetyAndRecallArticle.aspx?recallID=38&page=SafetyAndRecall.  Consumers are able to use the stroller as a “travel system” with the infant car seat because when the stroller is used with the accompanying infant car seat the risks of entrapment and strangulation are not present. The CPSC advises parents and caregivers to always use the safety harness when your child is in the stroller since the harness can prevent a child from slipping between the seat bottom and the tray and to never leave a child unattended in stroller, especially when stroller seat’s backrest is in the reclined position.  The CPSC safety report also reminds parents and caregivers that babies as young as a few weeks old can move around, even when asleep.  Babies[READ MORE…]

  • San Francisco Bans Popular McDonald’s “Happy Meal”

    The city of San Francisco has effectively banned McDonald’s “Happy Meal.”  The city’s Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance on November 2, 2010 requiring that meals that include toys with their purchase, like the popular Happy Meal does, meet specific nutritional guidelines.  Since the Happy Meal currently does not meet such nutritional requirements, it is effectively banned from the McDonalds restaurants throughout the city. The ordinance, which will take effect in December 2011, requires that meals that include toys have less than 600 calories, less than 640 milligrams of sodium and less than 35% of calories from fat (with less than 10% from saturated fat).  The meal must also include at least a half cup of fruit or three-quarters of a cup of vegetables. Supporters of the ordinance believe that it could be an extra incentive for other restaurants – not just McDonalds – to offer healthy food options to children.  They hope that if children are told that they can get a toy with the healthier option, they will choose that meal. In support of the ordinance, the Board of Supervisors cited a study recently released by Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, which examined 12 popular restaurant chains and found that only 12 out of more than 3,000 kids’ meals met the nutritional guidelines for preschool-aged children. According to the study, the fast food industry spent $4.2 billion on advertising in 2009, with approximately 40% of preschool-aged children asking to go to McDonald’s on a weekly basis and 15% on a daily basis. The study revealed that 84% of parents admitted that their children had eaten at fast food restaurant at least once in the past week. Not surprisingly, McDonald’s expressed disappointment in the ordinance. “Parents tell us it’s their right and responsibility — not the government’s — to make their own decisions and to choose what’s right for their children,” said McDonald’s spokeswoman Danya Proud. Others are also skeptical of the likelihood that the ordinance will be successful in achieving its intended goal of combatting childhood obesity and promoting healthy eating.  There are many causes of childhood obesity, including genetics and sedentary lifestyle and banishing certain foods or meals can have the unintended consequence of making them even more appealing to children. Mayor Gavin Newsom vetoed the ordinance shortly after it was passed, but since the ordinance passed by an 8-3 vote, the Board[READ MORE…]


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    Our firm handles workers' compensation and personal injury claims in Chicago, Berwyn, Joliet, Cicero, Waukegan, Chicago Heights, Elgin, Aurora, Oak Park, Oak Lawn, Schaumburg, Bolingbrook, Glendale Heights, Aurora, Niles, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Naperville, Plainfield and all of Cook, DuPage, Lake, Will, McHenry, LaSalle, Kankakee, McLean and Peoria Counties.