Poet Robert Frost wrote that “fences make good neighbors” in the early 1900’s but his simple instruction still has applications to living in urban areas today. Suppose you decide to forego your summer vacation trip this year and instead buy an above-ground pool for your backyard. Your kids love to swim, having taken lessons at the local Park District as small children, and your wife has completed a Red Cross Water Safety Instruction course. While the pool poses little issues for your family, you cannot be sure that the other children in the neighborhood will be as equally prepared for the potential risk or hazard that it provides. Cook County requires a permit for above ground pools 18 inches or deeper; other municipalities have similar laws or ordinances. Among the list of Cook County requirements is that the pool must be enclosed on all four sides by a 4 feet high non-climbable fence. The permit requirements, often considered somewhat onerous by home owners, were designed to meet one of the primary legal concerns a swimming pool poses: that of being an attractive nuisance. If anything on your property could both draw children into it while also potentially putting them in harm’s way, the law requires you to protect any children who may come onto your property, even if they are legally trespassing. The attractive nuisance doctrine says that children cannot be expected to understand the inherent dangers they face and, if a property owner believes that children might come onto their property, it is the property owner’s responsibility to prevent harm. If an owner does not meet this responsibility, they can be held liable for the child’s injuries. Swimming pools cause 300 drowning deaths a year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. You are not required to childproof your property, but use common sense. Take some basic precautions to prevent injuries and limit your liabilities. If you see that neighborhood children are interested in something on your property, consider installing an audible alarm which detects movement in or around the pool. While a pool cover may keep debris from the pool, it will not necessarily stop a determined child. Make sure you have rescue equipment on hand. Don’t leave swimming pool toys, floats or other pool equipment lying around. Learn basic CPR and instruct all visitors about methods for preventing accidental drowning. Never assume that guests can swim or[READ MORE…]
A recent headline announced that Abbott Laboratories must pay over $1.6 million for misbranding the prescription drug Depakote. The total included a criminal fine and civil settlements with the states and federal government. In addition, Abbott has agreed to pay 45 states in order to resolve liability under state consumer-protection laws. Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West stated that Abbott put “profits ahead of patients.” This article coincided with a recent expose from ProPublica about an apparent lack of oversight by the FDA of medical devices including artificial hip replacements and pacemakers. According to the May 3rd report, the FDA primarily depends upon voluntary reporting from manufacturers, hospitals, doctors, and patients for notification of problems with devices already on the market. If manufacturers are notified by a doctor or hospital about a death or injury resulting from the use of their product, they have a legal obligation to investigate as well as notify the FDA. A report published last year by members of the Institute of Medicine suggested that only a small number of doctors actually contact manufacturers and that even when incidents are reported to the FDA it may be months before devices are recalled. While the FDA does have a website area devoted to recalled medical devices http://1.usa.gov/Vqkk1 the site is confusing for consumers, as well as medical providers, to navigate. According to the ProPublica article, the FDA does maintain adverse event reports in a searchable database but does not have system for systematically or analytically reviewing reports. The FDA is working on the Sentinel Initiative, a national electronic system for tracking drugs and medical devices, but it has been in development and testing stages since 2008. In March of 2012 bill S.2193 – Ensuring Safe Medical Devices for Patients was introduced in the Senate which would, among other items, expedite the implementation of the unique device identification system for medical devices. While manufacturers and the FDA claim that every medical device carries a potential risk, but the vast majority of devices perform well and improve patient health, as a patient you should be able to rely upon the safety of all medical devices used by your physician. If you believe you have been injured because of a faulty medical device please contact Ankin Law Office. We have experience in both medical malpractice as well as class action suits.
Starting July 1st 2012 Illinois jurors will be allowed to submit written questions for witnesses on the stand in civil trials. More than half the states, and all federal circuit courts, allow this practice; this rule, recently approved by the Illinois Supreme Court, offers another opportunity for jurors to actively participate in the trial. One of the justices stated that this rule would hopefully enhance juror engagement by focusing their attention on the testimony. Jurors would be asked to submit questions to the judge who would consult with the attorneys away from the jury and then decide which, if any, questions could be posed to witnesses while still complying with court procedures and the rules of evidence. Some attorneys are already applauding this new rule as they find that jurors are often frustrated when they have unanswered questions. In another court decision, a Cook County judge has banned tweeting or the use of other social media in his courtroom during a criminal trial. The judge felt that allowing reporters, spectators and jurors access to social media would prove to be too distracting during testimony. The judge is allowing reporters to bring cell phones into the courtroom but has stated that he has assigned the sheriff’s department to track their Twitter accounts while court is in session. Journalists were asked to disclose their Twitter account names in order to receive accreditation’s to cover the trial. This action does not seem to violate First Amendment rights as Twitter feeds are open to all. Nationwide, courtroom judges continue to deal with ever evolving technology as well as striving to improve the accuracy and fairness of all trials.
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