17 posts categorized "Product Liability"

January 25, 2009

Paper Shredders Putting Kids and Pets at Risk of Major Injury

Paper shredder NO Yesterday I received an e-mail from a parent whose young child lost 3 fingers in a home paper shredder.  It happened in a flash.  The poor mother did everything she could to save the child's  little fingers but, alas, to no avail.  Fingers are no match for the blades of a paper shredder.  The fault of the parent?  I think not.  Can she sue someone for the injuries sustained by her child?  Yes.  Should she sue someone for the injuries sustained by her child?  Yes.  Read on.

Manufacturers of paper shredders, whether for home or business use, are aware of the potential dangers of their products.  It's not rocket science that a child's fingers, or a dog's tongue, are small enough to find there way into the paper entry chute.  Very few manufacturers have addressed this issue.  Later in this article you will find information on two manufacturers that provide paper shredders with built in safety features designed to prevent injuries to kids and pets.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission published an article on this very subject.  Paper Shredder Safety Alert says "From January 2000 through September 2005, CPSC received 50 reports of incidents involving finger amputations, lacerations, and other finger injuries from paper shredders. The majority of injuries were to young children under age 5."  The incidents happen so quickly that they can occur even in the presence of adult supervision!  They offer the following safety tips:
  • Never allow children to operate paper shredders, even under adult supervision. Paper shredders can pull children’s fingers into the shredder mechanism.
  • Place the paper shredder in an area less accessible to children.
  • Unplug the paper shredder power cord when the shredder is not in use.
  • Do not place hands or fingers in the shredder opening.
  • Do not operate a paper shredder while wearing loose fitting clothing that may enter the shredder opening.
  • Keep hair and items, such as a tie or a long necklace, away from the shredder opening.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission wrote an extensive article on the evaluation of paper shredder related finger injuries.  Read CPSC Evaluation of Finger Injuries.  This article is in .pdf format.  If you can't open it, click here to download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Child Loses Fingers in Shredder (CBS News Video)

Fingers amputated child CBS News aired a video about the tragic story of Lisa Broadfoot's little boy Talan who "screamed, and then was begging me to get his hands out of this machine, saying, 'Please, Mommy, please, Mommy, get my hand out.' He was just screaming and crying and begging."  She rushed him to the hospital with the shredder still attached. He lost 3 fingers and, to this day, keeps asking his mommy when they're going to grow back.  Watch the video here.

Dog Shreds Tongue in Shredder (ABC News Video)

Tongue shredded dog 002
Kids aren't the only beings vulnerable to the possible horrors of the home paper shredder.  I found several instances of dogs shredding their tongues when trying to lick the paper shredder.  Shred the tongue to much and the doggie is a candidate for euthanasia because dogs use their tongues to drink water.  A doggie horror story was aired on ABC News.  Click here to watch the video.

Paper Shredder Horror Stories

Snopes.com has an article devoted to paper shredder horror stories too gruesome to discuss here.  You can go directly to their article on the web by clicking here  or to the .pdf version of the article by clicking here.

Child and Pet Safe Paper Shredders

Paper shredder fellowes safe sb-97cs A little research revealed that horrifyingly few manufacturers provide child or pet safe shredders.  I found two (2) such manufacturers: Fellowes and Royal.  Fellowes DS-1 and DS-2 both have the same SafeSense feature that turns off the blades if the paper entry slot is touched, thereby preventing fingers, tongues and tails from finding their way into the grasp of the life-changing blades.  Fellowes manufactures several other safe paper shredders including the Powershred P-57cs and SB-97cs models.

The Royal PX 110 MX paper shredder, with its patented throat safety guard, is also designed to protect children and pets from injury.

Please note that I have not personally used these shredders and am only reporting what I've been reading on the Internet.  In other words, I can't vouch for the viability of the safety claims made by these manufacturers.  You'll need to do your own research before purchasing any of these shredders.

Can You Sue For Paper Shredder Related Injuries?

Product liability Yes.  Injuries related to bad design or manufacture of a product fall into the product liability category.  If an injury is sustained as a result of bad design or manufacture, then everyone in the chain of commerce (i.e., manufacturer, distributor, retailer) can be held liable for that injury or injuries.  When you buy  or use a product, it is reasonable to assume that the product will be safe when used for its intended purpose.  It is also reasonable to assume that the product will warn you of any potential dangers.  If the product is then unsafe for use or if you have not been warned of its potential dangers, and if an injury occurs, then you have the legal right to take everyone in the chain of commerce to task.  Will they put up a defense?  Yes.  Are you guaranteed to prevail?  No.  However, an attorney experienced in the area of product liability will analyze the facts as they apply to the law and determine whether you have a viable case and proceed from there. 

What type of compensation are you entitled to?  The injured person is entitled to compensation for medical expenses, loss of earnings, future medical expenses and loss of earnings, and pain and suffering. 

Read more about product liability in the Case of the Exploding Wine Bottle.

If you, or someone you know, has been injured, please call me immediately at

(323) 852-1100 or send an e-mail to me at [email protected]

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

October 14, 2008

Attorney General Brown Announces $62 Million Multi-State Settlement with Eli Lilly


Eli Lilly has settled once again for improperly marketing the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa.  I blogged on this subject earlier this year.  See Eli Lilly Settles Claims Over Zyprexa.  Then, later in the year, drug giant Merck settled cases over deceptive television advertisements. See $58 Million Merck Settlement To Change Deceptive TV Drug Advertisements.  Are the drug companies an evil empire?  Well, maybe so, but they are not beyond the reach of those that have our best interests in mind -- i.e., Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr.  Here's the latest:

October 7, 2008
Contact: Christine Gasparac: (916) 324-5500

Attorney General Brown Announces $62 Million Multi-State Settlement with Eli Lilly

SACRAMENTO—California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced a record $62 million multi-state settlement with Eli Lilly and Company for improperly marketing the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa for use beyond the drug’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved uses.

“Eli Lilly put profits ahead of patients when it marketed Zyprexa for a use that had not been properly tested or approved, in many cases, putting young women at risk for weight gain, hypoglycemia and even diabetes,” Attorney General Brown said.

The settlement is the largest ever multi-state consumer protection-based pharmaceutical settlement. California will receive $5.6 million, the largest share of the award.

In his original complaint, Attorney General Brown alleged that Eli Lilly engaged in unfair and deceptive practices when it marketed Zyprexa for off-label uses and failed to adequately disclose the drug’s potential side effects to healthcare providers. As a result of the settlement, Eli Lilly agreed to change its marketing strategies and to cease promotion of its "off-label" uses. Off-label uses are those not approved by the FDA when it approves the sale and use of a particular drug. Physicians are allowed to prescribe drugs for off-label uses, but federal law prohibits pharmaceutical manufacturers from marketing products for off-label uses.

Zyprexa is the brand name for the prescription drug olanzapine. In 1996, Zyprexa was first marketed for use in adults with schizophrenia and belongs to a class of drugs commonly referred to as “atypical antipsychotics,” which are traditionally used to treat schizophrenia. The FDA has approved Zyprexa for the treatment of acute mixed or manic episodes of bipolar I disorder and for maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder. Zyprexa carries serious side-effects, including weight gain, hyperglycemia and diabetes.

Beginning in 2001, Eli Lilly launched an aggressive marketing campaign called “Viva Zyprexa!” As part of the campaign, the company marketed Zyprexa for off-label uses including pediatric care, high-dosage treatment, treatment of symptoms rather than diagnosed conditions and treatment of elderly patients suffering from dementia.

Stipulations in the settlement agreement require Eli Lilly to:
• Refrain from making any false, misleading or deceptive claims regarding Zyprexa.
• Require its medical staff, rather than its marketing staff, to have ultimate responsibility for developing and approving content for all medical letters and references regarding Zyprexa.
• Require its medical staff to be responsible for the identification, selection, approval and dissemination of article reprints containing more than an incidental reference to off-label information regarding Zyprexa.
• Provide specific, accurate, objective and scientifically balanced responses to unsolicited requests for off-label information from a healthcare provider regarding Zyprexa.
• Contractually require continuing medical education providers to disclose Eli Lilly’s financial support of their programs and any financial relationship with faculty and speakers.
• Provide a list of healthcare provider promotional speakers and consultants who were paid more than $100 for promotional speaking and/or consulting by Eli Lilly.
• Only provide product samples of Zyprexa to healthcare providers whose clinical practice is consistent with the product’s current labeling.

Other states included in today’s settlement agreement include: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

Read the Final Judgment Here.

Related Video

If you, or someone you know, has been injured, please call me immediately at (323) 852-1100 or send an e-mail to me at [email protected]

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

September 07, 2008

Ladder Safety: Videos, Photos and Links

Man_falling_off_ladder The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, has a common sense page on their site devoted to Ladder Safety.  Click here to read the article wherein they discuss the following topics:

  • Selection of the Appropriate Ladder
  • Inspection of Ladder Prior to Use
  • Proper Use of the Ladder

Click Lowell Steiger's Ladder Safety and Injuries Photo Album

Video, Choosing the Right Ladder: Ladder Safety by Work Safe BC, is a video designed to highlight the important safety procedures associated with ladder use on construction sites. The video uses classic B&W comedic film footage and computer graphic simulations to illustrate safe ladder techniques.

Here's another Ladder Safety Video -- graphic comedy styled video which really drives its point home

Ladder Safety Links

Ladder Safety eTools : OSHA (U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration)

PowerPoint Presentation Filled with Photos (University of Wisconsin): If you don't have PowerPoint, download a Free PowerPoint Viewer from Microsoft here

Ladder Safety: Safety Is Us, includes a section to Test Your Knowledge of Ladder Safety

ANSI/OSHA Ladder Requirements: Lab Safety Supply

Photos: Fotosearch provides 241 Safety and Ladder Stock Images and Photos

If you, or someone you know, has been injured, please call me immediately at (323) 852-1100 or send an e-mail to me at [email protected]

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"

July 08, 2008

Aged Tires: A Driving Hazard

Tiretreadwarning_still_frame ABC News investigated the dangers of expired tires. A tire failure can result when the tread peels off of a tire. Tires can sit on the retailer’s shelf for years and still be sold as new. Research shows that even if a tire has never been driven a mile, they begin to dry out while they sit on the shelf. After 6 years of age, they can become dangerous.

When a car is traveling at highway speed and the tread comes off, the car violently swerves and weaves.

The tires may have plenty of tread depth but, if the tire is old, its dried out condition may be a hidden danger.

ABC has done an extensive undercover investigation. Watch the video here.

Related Links

Tire Aging, An In Depth Article (Tirerack.com)

Safety Research & Strategies (SRS; several articles relating to horrific dangers of aging tires)

Tire Manufacturers Ask Feds for (Tire) Age Standard (Consumeraffairs.com)

Aging Tire Lawsuits Gain Traction Nationwide (bnet)

Landmark Case Decision: Ford Motors Pays $29 Million in Aging Tire Disaster Case (The Auto Channel)

Tire Aging and Decoding The Age of Your Tire (Didier Law Firm)


The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at          (323) 852-1100       

or via e-mail at [email protected]

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"


April 13, 2008

Exploding Gas Can Injures Child: Wal-Mart May Be On The Hook


I read a fascinating story in the Torts Law Blog wherein Wal-Mart, based on their own training videos, knew or should have known of the potential danger of explosion in a particular gas can sold by them.  Ultimately, that gas can exploded when a 12 year old boy "poured gasoline from the container onto a pile of wet wood he had been trying to light, and the can exploded." 

From my perspective as a personal injury attorney who has handled many cases where injuries occur as a result of a faulty product (see, for example, The Case of the Exploding Wine Bottle), it is my opinion that manufacturers, as well as others in the chain of commerce (i.e., distributors, retailers), do not always fully explore the dangers of the products that they are hawking or, worse yet, do not fully disclose or warn of the dangers -- and all of this is to the injurious detriment of the unsuspecting consumer.

Please read the story below.

Wal-Mart Video Archive Helpful in Products Suit

Consumerist has a post (based on a WSJ piece) about the second life of thirty years of videos made for Wal-Mart.  The company that did the work evidently retained the rights (oops on Wal-Mart) and Wal-Mart declined to pay as much as the company asked.  Now the company is selling access and it's helped at least one plaintiffs' lawyer:

Plaintiffs attorney Diane M. Breneman stumbled across the videos while working on a lawsuit she filed in 2005, on behalf of a 12-year-old boy, against Wal-Mart and the manufacturer of a plastic gasoline can sold in its stores. Her client was injured when he poured gasoline from the container onto a pile of wet wood he had been trying to light, and the can exploded. The lawsuit alleges that the containers are unsafe because they don't contain a device that prevents flames from jumping up the spout and exploding.

Wal-Mart's lawyers have argued in court filings that the retailer couldn't have known that the product "presented any reasonable foreseeable risk...in the normal and expected use."

* * *

Ms. Breneman says Flagler Productions located videos of product presentations to Wal-Mart managers in which executives gave parody testimonials about the same brand of gasoline can. In an apparent coincidence, one manager joked about setting fire to wet wood: "I torched it. Boom! Fired right up." In a separate skit, an employee is seen driving a riding lawn mower into a display of empty gasoline cans. A Wal-Mart executive vice president observing the collision jokes: "A great gas can. It didn't explode." The tapes were made before the lawsuit was filed.

Ms. Breneman argues the footage provides evidence that the retailer could have foreseen the risk that customers would use the gas cans when starting fires. She says she plans to ask the Kansas City, Mo., federal court handling the case to allow the footage to be used as evidence. Wal-Mart's lawyer on the case didn't return calls seeking comment.


The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at [email protected]

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"


January 25, 2008

Eli Lilly settles Claims over Zyprexa

Zyprexa  IndyStar.Com, Indiana's Number 1 Local Media Site, reports the following:  INDIANAPOLIS -- Eli Lilly and Co. has settled another 900 personal-injury claims against its antipscyhotic drug Zyprexa, including five set to go to court next month, thus avoiding what would have been the first trial in the U.S. The Indianapolis drug maker confirmed the settlement Wednesday but declined to reveal the amount. With the latest agreements, Lilly has settled more than 25,000 claims, leaving about 1,100 unsettled. Many of the plaintiffs have claimed Lilly underplayed the drug's side effects, including weight gain and elevated blood sugar. Lilly has set aside $1.2 billion to pay claims. (Star report)

A google search on Zyprexa Litigation will refer you to a plethora of relevant links.

The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at [email protected]

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"


December 08, 2007

Case of the Exploding Wine Bottle: Personal Injury Settlement

Alsp_bottle_001 A fascinating product liability case involved a wine conossieur who, while attempting to uncork a bottle of wine, was using a cork extractor which operates as follows: A needle is inserted through the cork, the user pumps the spring-loaded handle and air pressure then forces the cork out. The result is shown in the picture to your left. 

Mr. A. had owned the cork extracting unit for several years and, up to the date of his injury, had used it to uncork at least 200 bottles of wine. Although he reports that the cork is usually extracted on the fifth to seventh pump, the bottle exploded on the fourth or fifth pump on this grim occasion.  Alsp_hand_2

He reports that he immediately knew that his hand was dramatically injured because he could not feel anything and, as he held it up, blood started gushing heavily from the wound.  

It was my theory that the bottle itself was defective.  I engaged the services of a phenomenal expert, Fred Johnson, Ph.D., whose credentials as a professor of physics at Cal State Fullerton spoke for themselves.  Alsp_bottle_002 Dr. Johnson examined the bottle with the use of a high magnification microscope and determined that there were two major defects in the subject wine bottle: (1) Very uneven glass thickness and (2) an obvious glass anomaly (bubble), which weakened the bottle's integrity, such that when the internal gas pressure was applied (in order to remove the cork) it caused a catastrophic failure of the bottle.

Mr. A. sustained serious injuries as a result of this manufacturing defect.  Alsp_hand_002_2 To whit, he suffered a laceration to the flexor tendon in the ring finger of his left hand.  Although doctors attempted to surgically repair the injury, Mr. A permanently lost the use of his finger (see photo to left)

Settlement: We were able to achieve a settlement for Mr. A against the bottle manufacturer and the store who sold it to him of over $100,000.

The Law Office of Lowell Steiger Represents Injured Victims

If you have suffered a Personal Injury, Call for a Free Consultation

Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger at (323) 852-1100

or via e-mail at [email protected]

"Treated With the Respect That You Deserve"


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