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Archive for the category: Recalls
  • Google Accused of Trade Secret Infringement

    In the past, lawyers for multiple small companies have accused search engine giant, Google Inc., of stealing and profiting from their clients’ trade secrets. In the case of VSL Communications, lawyers claim that Google did the same thing and left a paper trail of Post-it notes as evidence.   London-based VSL Communications is accusing Google of stealing its proprietary method for shrinking video and audio files without any sacrifice in sound or image quality. The suit, filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court this past month, claims that Google used those trade secrets to enhance all of its streaming and downloading technology including YouTube, Google Play and Google Earth.   The complaint alleges that Google coerced VSL into handing over trade secret information. A Google executive contacted VSL’s CEO to discuss the possibility of buying VSL’s video streaming and downloading technology. Google signed a nondisclosure agreement and VSL then provided the Google team with three CDs that contained working versions of its technology, 400 files and photocopies of additional VSL trade secrets as well as charts comparing the VSL technology with that of its competitors’. The complaint states that VSL did not know that”… behind the scenes, Google had devised a scheme to steal the VSL trade secrets and incorporate them into Google’s own products without compensating VSL for their use.”   After discussions between the two companies came to a standstill over eight months later, VSL decided the deal was not going to go through and asked Google to return its intellectual property. Google returned the disks but the files and material were now covered with Post-it notes that contained information including the following:   Google employees should delete any incriminating emails Google was concerned over the possibility of infringement regarding products in development Engineers at Google should “close eyes to existing IP” Google needed to speak with outside counsel about a non-infringement opinion Google should consider infringement lawsuit risk Concern over recklessness label on its infringement   The complaint alleges that Google began to amend its preexisting patent applications and file new applications using VSL’s technology. In early 2012, VSL noticed that Google’s software showed significant improvement after VSL had provided access to its files and, upon examination, VSL staff found that VSL technology had been used in the company’s publicly available code. The complaint states that “Defendants’ theft of VSL’s trade secrets pervades virtually every website and[READ MORE…]

  • What Does Product Liability Mean Anyway?

    Ralph Nader worked as a lawyer while he researched his 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed. The book focused on the Chevrolet Corvair, but many of the problems he detailed, including the lack of standard seatbelts, metal dashboards and steering wheels, and car doors that popped open or off in an accident, applied to every auto involved in highway smash-ups. In response to the book, Congress passed the Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966. Since that time seat belts, air bags, crash tests and manufacturers’ recalls can be traced to Congress and to Nader’s book. Nadar has continued to work for consumer protection, founding the U.S. Public Interest Group (PIRG) as well as Center for Auto Safety, the Disability Rights Center, the Pension Rights Center, the Project for Corporate Responsibility, and the Clean Water Action Project. His groups were instrumental in helping to pass the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of 1974 and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), and the Consumer Product Safety Administration. Today, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) investigates product problems, and once it determines that a product is unsafe, CPSC issues a recall. Often, by the time a recall is issued, the dangerous products are already for sale in stores and on websites. Once a recall is issued, stores and retailers are required to remove the product from their shelves, disallow the product to be sold to customers and post a written notice that the item(s) have been recalled. If the product is sold through a website, the merchant or seller must disallow customers from purchasing the product, post a warning or recall notice on their home page and contact the customers via their email or shipping address. Even second hand and resale stores must comply with this law, posting notices of recalled products and not allowing them to be sold or purchased. In Illinois, the Illinois Attorney General enforces the Children’s Product Safety Act. The Act requires manufacturers and retail suppliers to keep recalled products off the market and also to inform consumers who have already purchased the product with notice that the product has been recalled. Illinois law defines a child product as any item designed for the use or care of a child under the age of 9 years old. Products include toys and nursery products including cribs and[READ MORE…]

  • Tracking Medical Device Implants

    In an attempt to protect consumers from the dangers of defective medical devices, the U.S. Senate recently proposed draft legislation that would require manufacturers to conduct ongoing safety studies of medical devices even after the device has obtained the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The legislation was drafted, in part, as a response to the increasing number of lawsuits that have been filed against the manufacturers of defective medical devices, particularly vaginal mesh implants. Currently, the FDA permits certain medical devices to be approved under its 510(k) system, which requires only that manufacturers demonstrate that their product is substantially similar to one already on the market.  The Senate pointed to the 2010 recall of the DePuy ASR hip implant system, which was approved under 510(k) procedures, as evidence that the current guidelines are ineffective in protecting the public from dangerous and defective medical devices. With respect to the specific dangers associated with transvaginal mesh implants, the FDA has also requested that manufacturers of vaginal mesh implants, such as Bard and Johnson & Johnson, provide additional information regarding the companies’ safety inspections and recall procedures. Since 2008, the FDA has warned consumers and health practitioners since 2008 about serious complications associated with vaginal mesh implants that are used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.  According to the FDA, more than 1,000 reports from nine surgical mesh manufacturers, including American Medical Systems, Bard, Boston Scientific, Caldera, Ethicon, Gynecare, Johnson and Johnson, Mentor and Sofradim, have been filed with the FDA’s adverse events reporting database.  The American of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Urogynecologic Society issued a joint statement last November recommending that the use of transvaginal mesh be limited.  Although the FDA is continuing its safety review of vaginal mesh implants, there are currently no plans to issue a recall of these products. Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against the manufactures of transvaginal mesh implants, as well.  C.R. Bard and Johnson & Johnson face hundreds of lawsuits from women claiming that their transvaginal mesh implants caused scarring, pain, bleeding, blood vessel damage and other complications. If you have been injured by a medical device, such as transvaginal mesh or a hip replacement system, you may wish to consult with an experienced product liability attorney.  At Ankin Law Offices, LLC, our knowledgeable Chicago product liability attorneys focus on protecting the victims of dangerous and[READ MORE…]

  • BPA Litigation Hits Roadblock

    Litigation pending over BPA in plastic bottles has hit a major roadblock.  Last month a Missouri federal court denied class certification for the plaintiffs’ claims over the use of bisphenol A in baby bottles and sippy chips.  The plaintiffs’ claims were part of multidistrict litigation pending in a federal court in Missouri.  Multidistrict litigation, or MDL, is a federal court procedure whereby civil actions with common issues of fact are combined for purposes of discovery procedures and pre-trial motions. Although the court initially refused to certify three proposed multistate classes in 2011 based on issues regarding choice of law, commonality, and damages, the court granted the plaintiffs an opportunity to show that a class of Missouri-only consumers is appropriate for class certification.  The plaintiffs then filed a motion for class certification of claims brought by Missouri-only plaintiffs against three manufacturers of baby bottles and children’s sippy cups – Handi-Craft Company, Gerber Products Company, and Evenflo Company, Inc. In denying the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification of Missouri-only plaintiffs, the court focused on the plaintiffs’ lack of standing.  A court may not certify a class if the proposed class includes members who lack standing to bring a lawsuit against the respective defendants.  The plaintiffs’ class in this case included individuals who had not suffered an injury, such as those individuals who knew about BPA’s existence and the potential dangers associated with BPA but purchased the products despite possessing this information. The court also denied class certification based on issues of reliance.  For instance, plaintiffs argued that knowledge includes only consumers’ reliance on defendants’ alleged nondisclosure of the dangers associated with BPA.  The court disagreed with plaintiffs’ assessment, however, and explained that the issue of reliance presupposes that the consumer did not know the relevant information.  Since many plaintiffs in this case did possess knowledge regarding the potential dangers of BPA prior to purchasing the products, reliance could not be asserted. Moreover, the court determined that the proposed class included individuals who may not have suffered an injury even if they were unaware of BPA when they purchased the products.  The plaintiffs argued that the class members were injured through the lack of material information prior to making their purchases, but the court held that the consumers were purchasing baby products and not information. In addition, the court found that there were concerns regarding commonality of claims with respect to the proposed[READ MORE…]

  • Johnson & Johnson Recalls 12 Million Bottles of Motrin

    Healthcare and pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) recently issued a recall of approximately 12 million bottles of its popular pain reliever, Motrin, due to concerns that the Motrin IB pills may not dissolve and begin working as quickly as intended, resulting in delayed pain relief, as the pills approach their three-year expiration date.  The recall only affects Motrin IB from retailers, and not those in the hands of consumers, since there is no safety risk. The recalled bottles of Motrin were sold in 24 or 30 count packages that were distributed in the United States, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Fiji, Belize, St. Lucia and Jamaica.  There are 59 affected lot numbers, all of which are listed on the product’s Web site at http://www.motrin.com.  The affected bottles of Motrin were manufactured between February 2009 and July 2011. J&J’s Prior Recalls J&J has been plagued by safety problems and efficacy concerns with respect to its products for the past several years.  Since September 2009, J&J has recalled a number of prescription and over-the-counter medications, including children’s and adult Tylenol and Motrin, Benadryl, Zyrtec, Rolaids, Simply Sleep pills, Prezista (an HIV medication), Levaquin (an antibiotic) and Topamax (an epilepsy medication).  The manufacturer has also recalled a number of its medical devices, including hip replacement systems, contact lenses and diabetes test strips. As we reported, earlier last year, J&J was ordered to pay $1.8 million to an 82-year-old man from Minnesota who claimed that he was injured by Levaquin, an antibiotic used to treat infections such as pneumonia and chronic bronchitis, as well as sinus, urinary tract, kidney, prostate and skin infections.  Levaquin has been known to cause complications including tendon damage, Achilles tendon rupture, inflammation, Achilles tendonitis, and injury to the rotator cuff, biceps, hand and thumb that may require extensive surgery and could leave the patient incapacitated and facing large medical bills. J&J’s recalls cost the company $900 million in 2010 alone as a result of lost revenue from products pulled from store shelves, factory renovation costs, and legal expenses.  J&J’s Consumer Healthcare factory in Fort Washington, Pa., has been closed since spring 2010 when serious health problems forced the company to undergo a comprehensive renovation and rebuilding of the facility. J&J’s safety and efficacy concerns have sparked the interest of the federal government as well.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Congress are both investigating how the company’s[READ MORE…]

  • Over 30,000 Children’s Bike Helmets Recalled

    Parents should be aware of a nationwide recall of children’s bicycle helmets. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission recently recalled approximately 30,400 Little Tricky kid’s bike helmets after tests determined that helmets failed to meet safety standards. Bicycle helmets are an important part of bicycle safety and their use helps to prevent severe head and brain injuries, as explained in this East County Magazine article: “It’s estimated that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by approximately 85 to 90 percent”… “Head injuries have potentially the most severe consequences in the both the short and long term,” said Sue Cox, Director of Trauma Services for Rady Children’s Hospital. “According to HHSA, medics noted traumatic injuries to the head or neck in more than half the patients that were not wearing helmets at the time of their injuries.” Bike helmets help to prevent injury by virtue of their unique design and are intended to bear the brunt of an extreme impact occurring during a bicycle accident by protecting “the top and upper part of the forehead and back of the head.” Because bicycle helmets are such important safety devices, it’s particularly distressing when children’s helmets are recalled for safety violations, as is the case with the recent Little Tricky helmet recall. This wpbf.com article describes the reason for the recall and the specific helmets that were recalled: In a news release, the CPSC said children who use the multipurpose helmets produced by Triple Eight Distribution Inc., of Port Washington, N.Y., could suffer impact head injuries in a fall.According to the CPSC, the Little Tricky helmets are marketed for children and youth and feature a large Little Tricky logo on both sides of the helmet… The helmets were sold at bicycle and sports stores and other retailers nationwide and online from August 2006 through November 2011 for about $40. You can learn more about the recall in that article, including specific descriptions of the affected helmets and informational phone numbers. The Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. You can reach the firm by calling (312) 346-8780.

  • Spin Master Fined $1.3 Million for Harmful Aqua Dots Toy

    Image via Wikipedia Spin Master, a Canadian toy manufacturer, has agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle claims with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regarding the import and sale of Aqua Dots, which is a banned hazardous substance.  Aqua Dots are popular colored arts and crafts beads that stick together when sprayed with water to form various designs and shapes. Aqua Dots, imported into the United States in 2007, were recalled in November 2007 after the CPSC received reports of two children falling into comas and becoming hospitalized after ingesting the beads.  Tests have showed that a chemical coating on the toys, when ingested, can metabolize into the drug gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), also known as the “date rape” drug.  Children who swallow the beads could fall into a coma, develop respiratory depression, or have seizures. The CPSC alleged that Spin Master knowingly failed to report a defect and hazard associated with Aqua Dots and knowingly imported and sold a banned hazardous substance.  Spin Master allegedly received reports of children becoming ill after ingesting Aqua Dots in mid-October 2007.  Around this time, Spin Master also learned that the toy contained 1.4-butylene glycol (“TMG”), which can metabolize into GHB upon ingestion.  Despite receiving the reports and scientific information, however, Spin Master did not file the necessary reports with the CPSC at that time. It wasn’t until November 5, 2007 when the CPSC notified Spin Master of two reports it had received regarding children ingesting the product and becoming ill that Spin Master announced a voluntary recall of Aqua Dots. Since the 2007 recall, several product liability lawsuits, including class action lawsuits, have been filed.  Despite the fact that Spin Master agreed to the settlement, it denies knowingly violated the law. The Chicago personal injury lawyers at Ankin Law Offices, LLC are committed to child safety and protecting the rights of victims of personal injury and product liability accidents.  If you or a loved one has been injured by Aqua Dots or another children’s product, contact one of our skilled Chicago personal injury attorneys at (800) 442-6546 for a free consultation to discuss a possible product liability claim.   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. ANKIN LAW OFFICE LLC Chicago Workers Compensation | Chicago Personal Injury | Chicago Motor Vehicle Accidents Chicago[READ MORE…]

  • CPSC Database Faces Its First Legal Challenge

    The first lawsuit in connection with the new Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) database has been filed.  As we reported, the CPSC launched a website at www.saferproducts.gov to serve as a consumer products safety database.   The site allows consumers to submit reports of harm or risks of harm from various products, including household products and baby gear, and to research safety information about products by searching the database of past consumer complaints. The CPSC notifies the manufacturer within five days of any complaint filed against it.  The manufacturer then has 10 days to respond to the complaint by (i) submitting a response, (ii) challenging the complaint as false, or (iii) asserting that it will disclose a trade secret.  If a response is filed, it appears alongside the complaint in the database.  If a manufacturer claims that a complaint is false or that it would disclose a trade secret, the CPSC uses its discretion to decide whether to withhold the complaint or publish it in the database. The lawsuit, which was filed in a federal court in Maryland by “Company Doe” on October 17, 2001, seeks to prevent the CPSC from publishing an incident that allegedly harmed a child. The lawsuit also seeks to keep any related evidence or documents regarding the allegations, including the identity of the company, under seal. The database has been criticized for its potential for inaccuracy, but supporters of the website point out that because manufacturers have 10 days to respond to any complaints, there is plenty of time to correct any inaccuracies and to remove any material inaccuracies from the database before the information is made public.  Moreover, manufacturers are permitted to post comments alongside any complaints. According to a spokesman for the CPSC, as of September 2011, the CPSC received 383 material inaccuracy claims from companies, 204 of which involved a consumer naming the wrong company – a mistake that be easily corrected. The Chicago product liability attorneys at Ankin Law Offices represent a number of clients in connection with product liability and personal injury lawsuits stemming from defective or dangerous products.  If you have been injured by an unsafe product, contact us to discuss how we can help you protect your legal rights and obtain the compensation you deserve. 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[READ MORE…]

  • Ford’s Recall of Trucks with Defective Fuel Tank

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced on July 29, 2011 that Ford is recalling 1.1 million pickup trucks due to defective fuel tanks.  Reports have indicated that prolonged exposure to road deicing chemicals may cause severe corrosion of the fuel tank straps that secure the tank to the vehicle, allowing the fuel lines to separate from the tank and, in some cases, causing the tank to contact the ground, which poses a fire hazard. Ford will soon begin notifying the owners of vehicles affected by the recall, instructing them to take their vehicles to a Ford or Lincoln dealer where the fuel tank straps will be replaced with straps that have increased corrosion protection.  If replacement straps are not available, the dealer may install a cable support under the strap as an interim repair until a replacement strap is available or install a steel reinforcement over the existing strap as a permanent repair.  The fuel tank strap repair will be performed free of charge. Which Ford Trucks Are Affected By the Recall? The recall involves the following Ford vehicles: Certain Ford F-150s for model years 1997 to 2003 2004 Ford F-150 Heritage Ford F-250 for model years 1997-1999 2003 Lincoln Blackwood vehicles manufactured between June 29, 1995 and August 4, 2004 What Is the Status of Other Ford Vehicle Defects? A circuit court judge in Florida recently set aside the decision of a jury finding that Ford was not liable for damages and injuries caused by the sudden acceleration of its Aerostar van.  Judge Swigert found that Ford’s misconduct had amounted to “a “fundamental error” that had deprived plaintiffs of a fair trial and ordered a new trial on the issues of compensatory and punitive damages.  Judge Swigert’s opinion found “clear and convincing evidence” that Ford had engaged in fraud, misrepresentation and other misconduct that justified setting aside the jury’s verdict in favor of Ford and issuing a new verdict in favor of the Plaintiffs.  For more information on the decision in Stimpson v. Ford, see our recent blog post. Ford also recently recalled more than 26,000 vehicles, as well as service parts shipped to dealers for the affected vehicles, due to a risk that the multi-function switch can become deformed and prevent the turn signal, tail lights, hazard warning flashers and brake lights from activating, which could in turn increase the risk of a collision.  The recall[READ MORE…]

  • Macy’s Fined for Selling Dangerous Children’s Clothing

    Last month, Macy’s agreed to pay a $750,000 fine imposed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) based on allegations that the retailer knowingly failed to immediately report to the CPSC, as required by federal law, that it had sold children’s sweatshirts, sweaters and jackets with drawstrings at the neck between 2006 and 2010.  Drawstrings on children’s upper outerwear, such as sweatshirts, sweaters and jackets, have been shown to pose a risk of strangulation that can result in serious injury or death. Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors and retailers, such as Macy’s and other department stores, to report to the CPSC within 24 hours of discovering information that reasonably supports a conclusion that the product contains a defect that could create a substantial hazard, that could create a unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or that fails to comply with an consumer product safety rule.  The CPSC alleges that the sweatshirts, sweaters and jackets that are the subject of the fine were sold by Macy’s and other Macy’s affiliates, including Bloomingdale’s and Robinsons-May, after a recall had been issued, which violates the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.     The CPSC had issued guidelines regarding drawstrings on children’s clothing in 1996 and cited children’s upper outerwear with drawstrings as defective and posing a substantial risk of injury to young children.  In 2006, the CPSC, along with several manufacturers and distributors, recalled the following children’s clothing with drawstrings: Quiksilver Inc. Hide & Seek hooded sweatshirts Jerry Leigh of California Inc. Harajuku Lovers Hooded Jackets La Jolla Sport USA Inc. O’Neill children’s sweatshirts Dysfunctional Clothing LLC children’s hooded sweatshirts Macy’s Merchandising Group Inc. Epic Threads hooded sweatshirts and Greendog sweaters C-MRK Inc. Ocean Current boys’ hooded sweatshirts NTD Apparel Inc. Hello Kitty hooded sweatshirts S. Rothschild & Co Inc. girls’ coats VF Contemporary Brands Inc. Splendid girls’ hooded jackets and vest sets Although Macy’s has agreed to the settlement, it continues to deny the allegations that it knowingly violated the law. The Chicago product liability law firm of Ankin Law Offices, LLC is committed to protecting of consumers from dangerous and defective products, including unsafe children’s products.  We regularly update our blog to include information on important children’s product recalls.   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. ANKIN LAW OFFICE[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.