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Archive for the category: consumer product safety administration
  • Traffic Ticket Quotas

    The policy of assigning quotas for the number of traffic tickets each officer must issue officially ended in Illinois after Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation in June. This is good news for some drivers but ending the policy could have an effect on how Illinois police are evaluated as well as how much money some municipalities will earn from ticketing motorists. In many jurisdictions, ticket quotas were one of those traditions like doughnuts – always around but hidden in a drawer and not on the top of the desk where visitors might be able to see them. Quotas do have an upside for municipalities as traffic tickets generate income through fines. They also serve as an easy performance-measuring device for supervisors in police departments, since ticket numbers are verifiable. But the practice drew the fury of drivers who would often complain – unsuccessfully – that they were victims of an arbitrary rush on the part of police to meet a numerical goal. Some drivers argued that the number of tickets had risen at one point as a means of building public pressure to resolve tense labor negotiations between the police union and the city. Quinn was noted as saying that the law, which was overwhelmingly backed by both houses of the legislature, will allow police to exercise judgment when deciding whether to ticket a driver rather than simply pursuing a fixed number of citations during every shift. The law, which immediately went into effect, applies to local, county and state law enforcement officers. Law enforcement officers should have discretion on when and where to issue traffic citations and not be forced to ticket motorists to satisfy a quota system the Governor said in a news release; “This new law will improve safety and working conditions for police officers and prevent motorists from facing unnecessary anxiety when they encounter a police vehicle.” The Illinois law applies to the range of citations that police issue, including parking, speeding and other functions. It also specifically bars municipalities from using the number of tickets issued by an officer in their performance reviews. In a statement in April, as the measure was still being discussed, John H. Kennedy, executive director of the Illinois Assn. of Chiefs of Police, issued a statement opposing the bill. While law enforcement executives strongly agree with eliminating the imposition of arbitrary traffic ticket quotas, the bill also eliminated vital data-driven[READ MORE…]

  • Life Preservers Are a Boaters Best Friend

    I was on a friend’s boat fishing on Lake Michigan when we were hit by another boat. Only two of the four of us in the boat were wearing life preservers so my friend didn’t want to fill out an accident report even though the other boater was at fault. He and the owner of the other boat exchanged information and agreed to settle the damage privately. All 4 of us got to shore but I have continued to have back pain for the last two weeks. What should I do? First, let’s start out with the facts. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) IDNR reported 103 boating accidents in 2011, resulting in 71 injuries and 25 fatalities. The five most common types of boating accidents are collision with another vessel, collision with a fixed object, flooding, skier mishap and capsizing. Fatalities can often be prevented if personal flotation devices (PFDs) are properly used on board. Illinois law requires that there be one PFD available for each person on a boat or watercraft, and that anyone 12 years old or younger must wear a life jacket on board any watercraft shorter than 26 feet at all times while the boat is on the water. So, as long as there were 4 PFDs on board the boat and all four of you are adults, your friend doesn’t need to be worried about the law, just his own lack of common sense. Whether you are on the highway or on water, the first thing you should always do in the case of an accident is to file an accident report with the appropriate authorities.  The Illinois Boat Registration Act of 1959 requires the operator of every vessel to file a report in writing whenever a boating accident results in loss of life, injury to a person or property damage in excess of $2000. While accidents that result in death of or serious injury to any person must be reported to the DNR by the vessel operator within 48 hours of the accident, all other reportable accidents should be reported within five days. The same rules that apply to auto or workplace accidents where you are injured should be followed here also. Go to a doctor to determine the extent of your injuries. Make sure you have a clear diagnosis of issues as well as copies of the doctor’s report and any[READ MORE…]

  • Swimming Pool Safety

    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…]

  • What is a Class Action Law Suit?

    You may have heard on the news a number of times that a group of people are bringing a class action suit against a corporation, but most people do not know what a class action suit actually is.  Basically, a class action suit is when a group of people who have the same kind of harm (i.e. side effects from a drug) come together and file a suit against a corporation.  However, unlike in common civil law suits where one person files a suit against another party or corporation for some harm that has been done, the representative in a class action suit represents the whole class that has been harmed by the defendant.  Additionally, class action suits can be brought in federal court, or in state courts. Can I be part of a class action law suit? Yes.  Ordinarily, once a court certifies the class—allows the class action suit against the defendant—the attorney(s) who are representing the class will send opt-out forms to the members of the class.  These opt-out forms are what potential members of a class action suit may receive in the mail.  Basically, if you receive an opt-out form, you can choose not to be part of the class action suit.  If you decide to opt-out, you are not bound by the decision the court reaches in the class action suit.  Therefore, if the decision comes out against the classes favor or vice versa, you may still bring your own suit against the defendant at a later time.  However, if you choose to be a part of the class action suit, you are bound by any decision the court reaches regardless of whose favor it is in.  Therefore, a single plaintiff may no longer bring a separate case against the defendant if he/she was already part of a class action suit against the same defendant for the same harm.  In a small number of rare cases, members of a class action suit must opt-in to the suit.  However, these are few and far between, usually, members of the class must opt out of the suit so as not to be bound by the court’s judgment. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a class action law suit? There are many advantages and disadvantages to taking part in a class action lawsuit.  As mentioned above, if you are part of a class action suit and the court[READ MORE…]

  • What Regulates Gluten-Free Labeling?

    During the past decade gluten-free has become a $2.6 billion dollar industry. The problem is that many of the products that are labeled gluten-free vary greatly with the amount of gluten actually present. The 2004 Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act mandated that the agency designate a federal standard for the term by 2008. The deadline has come and gone, and no standard has been set by the FDA. Many consumers have taken the path to go gluten-free not only because of dietary restrictions but also because of the many benefits associated with a gluten-free diet.  However, although there has been a movement towards gluten-free diets, our legislation both in Illinois and federally, has not taken a substantive stance as to what qualifies something as gluten-free. In the state of Illinois, the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act governs the labeling of food products however, it does not specifically govern the labeling of gluten-free products.  410 ILCS 620/11.  Under this statute, a food item is misbranded if its labeling is false or misleading in any way.  Because the FDA and the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act has not set actual guidelines for how gluten-free products need to be marked, it seems possible that if a food is not gluten-free and a consumer has a bad experience with it, they may be able to recover damages under this statute. However, since there is no standard governing what gluten-free food is, it is difficult to predict how food falling under this category would be handled by a court. Internationally, the Codex Alimentarius has set standards for what qualifies as gluten free, and has pressured the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to finally define legislation.  However, the FDA has yet to establish any legislation to govern the labeling of gluten-free foods. The growing popularity for a gluten-free diet and pressure for federal legislation means it is only a matter of time before gluten-free foods are more closely regulated.    

  • Falling in the Food Store

    Did you know that a business is not automatically responsible for water causing harm to a patron at the entrance of a store? One of the most commonplace inquiries to our office involves a client falling on tracked-in water when entering a food store or other business. We hear from clients that there was not a slip mat or that it was soiled, and that is why they fell. Slip mats are provided as a courtesy in order to help prevent a fall.

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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.