Archive for the ‘Products Liability’ Category

Tire blow out on Ford Expedition causes deadly rollover on Highway 290 near Badtke Road

Sadly a woman and a six month old baby girl have died in a rollover accident following a tire blow out in northwest Harris County today. The crash happened at around 1:00pm on Highway 290 near Badtke Road. According to officials Jose Acosta lost control of the Ford Expedition SUV he was driving after a tire blew out. Witnesses said the rear left tire lost its tread (known as “de-treading”) before blowing out. There were seven people inside the Expedition when it crashed: the woman who died was riding in the front passenger seat. Channel 2’s story is here. Channel 13’s story is here.

A woman and a 6-month old girl died when this Ford Expedition rolled after a rear tire detreaded

Girl ejected when SUV flips on I-45 near Spring Steubner in Houston

A car cut off an SUV on Interstate 45 near Spring Steubner in Houston Friday evening, causing the SUV to flip over. Nine children were riding in the SUV and two adults. Despite that all of the occupants were wearing seat belts, a 12-year old girl was ejected from the SUV during the crash. That girl and two others were taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital by life flight helicopter. Channel 11’s story on the I-45 rollover accident is here.

If you have been seriously injured because a vehicle safety device failed to protect you, such as an airbag or seat belt, you may have a products liability claim against the vehicle manufacturer. Smith & Hassler exclusively represents injured people in Houston and throughout Texas.

Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor tires recalled after fatal wreck in Texas

The tragic deaths of two young Texans last August has prompted a major tire manufacturer to recall about 41,000 of its tires manufactured in 2009. Matthew Smith (21) and Kerrybeth Hall (18) from Port Lavaca, Texas died when the tread came apart on the front tire of Smith’s Ford F-150 pickup truck, which caused the pickup to go into a side skid and then overturn. The tires that are the subject of the recall are the Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor tires, used on vans, SUVs and pickup trucks.

The concern is that the Wrangler Silent Armor tire could tear, increasing the risk of a crash. During a May 2010 review Goodyear noted an increase in warranty and property damage claims, subsequently reporting this by letter to federal regulators. In a February 22 letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Goodyear said: “A small number of tires within this population may experience a partial tread separation under certain severe usage conditions. Use of these tires in severe conditions could result in partial tread separation which could lead to vehicle damage or a motor vehicle crash.”

Goodyear decided to recall the tires on February 16, based on an analysis of warranty and damage claims and discussion with safety regulators. Goodyear plans to send notices to customers by March 22. The Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor tires affected by the recall can be identified by the following Department of Transportation serial codes, also known as tire identification numbers, which can be found on the sidewall:

PJ0UY5HV0909 through PJ0UY5HV2209
PJAB35HV0909 through PJAB35HV2209
PJ4335HV0909 through PJ4335HV2209
PJ1535HV0909 through PJ1535HV2209
PJAH35HV0909 through PJAH35HV2209
PJLHL6HV0909 through PJLHL6HV2209

If you have been injured due to the failure of a Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor or other motor vehicle tire, contact Houston injury attorneys Smith & Hassler for an analysis of your products liability case. It is important to preserve the failed tire intact whenever possible so it can be examined by suitably qualified experts.

2004-05 Ford Windstar and Mercury Monterey minivans recalled over power loss problem

Ford Motor Company has announced a recall of 2004-2005 model Ford Windstar and Mercury Monterey minivans. The recall action affects approximately 205,986 vehicles in the United States according to a statement from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). The recall is happening because of the potential for the torque converter output shafts in the minivan powertrains to fail and cause a sudden loss of power. The recall is expected to begin the second quarter of 2012, and Ford will replace the torque converter in the recalled minivans. The NHTSA is only aware of two collisions probably attributable to the power loss problem in the Windstar and Monterey, one of those crashes involved injuries and the other did not. Still, the NHTSA announced the recall because the chances of a crash are increased due to a sudden power loss.

If you were injured in a crash involving a 2004 or 2005 Ford Windstar or Mercury Monterey minivan, contact Smith & Hassler to discuss a possible products liability case.

Woman dies when Toyota Sequoia crashes on Space Center Boulevard

A woman died in a single vehicle accident last night when her Toyota Sequoia sports utility vehicle crashed and rolled over on Space Center Boulevard. The wreck happened at around 9:00pm near the intersection of Space Center Boulevard and Pearhaven. According to Houston police the woman was traveling at a high rate of speed northbound on Space Center when she lost control of the vehicle, veered to left and crossed over a grassy median into the oncoming lane before the vehicle flipped on its side and hit a concrete wall. The SUV rolled onto its roof and the roof collapsed, causing the woman to be trapped inside. Sadly she died at the scene. The medical examiner will determine whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in the car crash.

The roof of this Toyota Sequoia collapsed when the woman driving it lost control and crashed on Space Center Blvd, August 20 2011.

FDA issues warning about pelvic mesh complications used in vaginal prolapse surgery

U.S Health officials in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are warning that a product commonly used in surgery to address pelvic collapse and other women’s health problems causes a lot more complications than was previously thought and is likely exposing patients to unnecessary risks. The FDA last week issued a statement that women who have had surgical mesh implanted to support their reproductive organs are at greater risk of pain, bleeding and infection that women who have traditional surgical procedures with stitches.

Problems with vaginal mesh have been associated with products made by a number of different manufacturers, including C.R. Bard, American Medical Systems (AMS), Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson and others. Dr. William Maisel, the FDA‘s chief scientist and deputy director of the center for devices said that “The added benefit of using the mesh is not evident but there certainly appears to be an added risk.”

Pelvic prolapse and urinary incontinence surgery are common procedures in the United States.  More than half a million women undergo surgery for these problems each year though not all procedures involve mesh. About 75,000 had prolapse surgery with mesh inserted through the vagina in 2010 and more than 200,000 women had the procedure for incontinence. There is a less common version of the procedure where the surgeon inserts the mesh through the abdomen, and the FDA reports fewer complications are associated with that method.

Between 2008 and 2010 the FDA received more than 1,500 reports of complications from women undergoing vaginal prolapse surgery with mesh, up 500 percent from the prior 3 years, and there were fewer complications among patients getting surgery for urinary incontinence. The warning the FDA issued on Wednesday July 13th applies only to mesh used for the prolapse procedure. Doctors who perform the procedures say the incontinence surgery uses less mesh, possibly resulting in fewer complications.

The FDA conceded that a 200 public notice it issued describing problems with the mesh as “rare” was a mistake: after reviewing the literature over the last 15-years, the FDA now estimates the most common problems occur in 10 percent of women within a year of surgery, and these patients often undergo multiple surgeries to remove the mesh.

Even though there is a high rate of injury the FDA‘s top device scientists says the government will NOT withdraw the product because certain patients may still benefit. Patients who have suffered through mesh-related complications however say the device should be banned in all but the most dire cases, such as Lina Keeton of Miami, Florida who has undergone 17 surgeries to remove mesh implanted in 2001. Her group Truth In Medicine has been lobbying the FDA on the risks associated with mesh.

The FDA will hold a two-day meeting in September to discuss studies that would identify which patients would benefit most from mesh implants. Studies of that type usually take years and millions of dollars. For now Dr. Maisel said surgeons should first consider traditional prolapse surgery in which the pelvic floor is re-positioned and tightened using stitches. Even though the procedure is safe it has a 20-45% failure rate, which is what lead doctors to first begin using the surgical mesh.

Medical device manufacturer and marketer C.R. Bard introduced its Avaulta Anterior and Posterior BioSynthetic Support System in 2007: a number of lawsuits have been filed by women who experienced complications with the system. The lawsuits allege CR Bard negligently designed the product and failed to warn patients of possible complications that can result in serious complications and physical pain.

The Food and Drug Administration’s Alert Notice can be read here. You can click here to download the 15-page FDA document titled “Urogynelogic Surgical Mesh: Update on the Safety and Effectiveness of Transvaginal Placement for Pelvic Organ Prolapse.”

If you have experienced serious complications due to placement of surgical mesh during surgery for pelvic prolapse, contact Smith & Hassler for a free evaluation of your products liability claim.

Fuel tank strap defect in 1997-2001 Ford F150 pickups investigated

Up to 2,700,000 Ford F150 pickup trucks could be affected by a fuel tank problem currently under investigation by safety regulators. The NHTSA said that steel straps used to hold the fuel tank in place can rust and deteriorate over time allowing the fuel tank to drop to the ground, potentially causing a fuel spill and fire. Ford F150 trucks for the 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 model years are being looked into: NHTSA investigations routinely lead to manufacturer recalls, including a recent recall of F150 pickup trucks for an airbag defect.

Last year the NHTSA received 32 complaints about the fuel tank problem but no injuries have been reported as yet. NHTSA and Ford have received a total of 243 reports of the fuel tanks falling: 2 of those incidents lead to fires: one fire destroyed the pickup truck and the other fire burned out by itself. According to the NHTSA, fuel leaked in 95 of the fuel tank drop incidents. Nine people reported sparks on the roadway when the tank dropped, which would increase the chances of a fire.

For more than 30 years Ford’s F150 has been the best selling vehicle in the United States. Owners with questions about how their vehicle may be affected should contact their nearest Ford dealership. Fortunately there are no known reports of injury, however this defect poses a serious risk of harm: a fuel tank could drop on a F150 parked in a garage only to start a fire that could spread to the rest of the home.

If you have been seriously injured in an accident resulting from a fuel tank dropping in a 1997-2001 Ford F150 pickup truck, call the experienced personal injury attorneys at Smith & Hassler for a free consultation regarding your potential products liability case.

This picture shows a replacement fuel tank strap installed in a 2001 Ford F150 with a badly rusted fuel tank

Ford expands F-150 air bag recall – bags may accidentally deploy

Ford Motor Co. is expanding a recall of the popular F-150 pickup truck to include nearly 1.2 million vehicles that may have defective air bags.  The additional recall, announced Thursday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, covers trucks from the 2004 through 2006 model years. An electrical short can cause the air bags to deploy unexpectedly, in some cases injuring drivers.

In February, Ford agreed to fix 150,000 of the trucks but resisted the government’s wishes to recall all 1.2 million trucks that may have the problem. Ford’s F-Series pickup truck is the top-selling vehicle in America, and the F-150 makes up about 60 percent of F-Series sales. Through March, the company sold nearly 127,000 of the pickups. The F-Series also includes heavier duty trucks such as the F-250 and F-350.

Ford said in a statement that it will notify all owners in May that they should take their trucks to a dealer who will replace an air bag wire in the steering wheel. The repair takes less than a half day, the company said. The wire can become chafed, causing a short circuit that can lead to the airbag inflating unexpectedly.

Ford said it knows of no crashes caused by the airbag problem. But NHTSA said in a January letter to Ford that the agency knew of 269 cases in which the air bags deployed inadvertently, resulting in 98 injuries, some serious. The agency noted that Ford made production changes to the trucks in 2006 and 2007 to fix the air bag wiring and other issues.

Ford told NHTSA in May that some drivers reported injuries that included burns from contact with the air bag, bruises, neck and back pain and minor cuts. Two customers reported broken or chipped teeth and two reported elbow or arm fractures.

NHTSA wanted Ford to recall all 1.2 million trucks, but Ford told the agency that the full recall was not justified and said owners got an adequate warning of the problem from the air bag warning light on the dashboard. But NHTSA disagreed and said it could hold a rare public hearing on the matter. “The potential for loss of vehicular control poses an unreasonable risk to safety,” NHTSA told the company. Earlier this week, Ford officially agreed to the full recall.

If you have been injured due to an accidental air bag deployment in a 2004-2006 Ford F150, call Smith & Hassler’s personal injury attorneys to discuss your potential products liability claim.

Chrysler recalling 250,000 minivans, SUVs due to engine stall problem

Chrysler has announced that it will be recalling 250,000 2010 model year minivans and SUVs because of an ignition problem that can lead to sudden engine stalling. Apparently the stalling problem occurs because the ignition in the vehicles can be too easily bumped or shaken into the “accessory power” position: when that happens the vehicle’s engine will immediately shut off. Obviously that’s a big problem if you are in the midst of passing an 18-wheeler when it happens and there is a vehicle coming toward you from the opposite direction. The sudden loss of power also presents a danger of a rear-end collision. In fact at least two rear-end crashes have been blamed on the problem according to a letter sent by Chrysler to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The specific vehicles involved in the recall are the Chrysler Town & County minivan and the Dodge Journey SUV manufactured between June 3, 2009 and August 17, 2010. Chrysler dealers will replace the ignition modules on the affected vehicles with replacements that are less likely to cut off.

If you have been seriously injured in an accident resulting from a sudden loss of power in a 2010 Chrysler Town & Country or Dodge Journey, call the experienced personal injury attorneys at Smith & Hassler for a free consultation regarding your potential products liability case.

Ford F-150 pickup trucks recalled due to air bag accidental deployment defect – lawsuits to follow?

Wednesday February 23, 2011: Ford Motor Company announced today that, in the face of government pressure to do so, it will recall nearly 150,000 Ford F150 pickup trucks to address a potential problem with air bags that could deploy without warning. The Detroit News first announced the recall: the Detroit News story is available here.

Ford describes the defect as carrying a “relatively low risk.” The effected vehicles are 2005-06 Ford F150 pickup trucks sold in the U.S.A. and Canada. Ford‘s recall however is being done on a smaller scale than the government had requested. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), pointing to 77 cases of injury, told Ford in a November 2010 memo that the recall should cover 1.3 million F-150 trucks, model years 2004-2006.

Ford‘s F150 pickup truck is the best selling vehicle in the United States. The government expanded its investigation into air bag problems in January 2010. A spokeswoman for the transportation department said Ford‘s response is under review to see if Ford‘s recall was adequate to address the potential danger the air bag deployment defect can pose. If the government decides Ford‘s recall was too limited in scope, a rare public hearing may be ordered to decide if Ford should be required to do more.

The NHTSA stated in a November 24th memo that it was aware of 238 cases of improper air bag deployment: the memo also noted that Ford made production changes to the 2006 and 2007 models to fix air bag wiring and other issues. In the memo government regulators said Ford did not believe the defect merited stronger action because there was a low number of incidents and reports, owners of F150‘s would get “adequate warning” from the air bag warning light and the reported injuries were not serious in nature.

Wes Sherwood, a spokesman for Ford Motor Company, said the effected F-150 pickups were manufactured between November 2004 and June 2005 at the Norfolk, Virginia Ford plant. Sherwood said that the rates of air bag deployment was much higher for vehicles made at the Virginia plant than the Ford plants in Michigan and Missouri. Ford said that an air bag wire located in the steering wheel was improperly placed so that it could chafe, the bare copper wire would be exposed, and a short circuit might occur that would cause the air bag warning lamp to come on.  Ford said that most of the air bag issues happened within the first few seconds of the vehicle’s ignition being started.  The recall is expected to begin in early March: F150 owners will be instructed to bring their pickup trucks to a Ford dealership for repair.

2004 Ford F150 pickup truck, some of which are subject to a recall for an air bag deployment defect

The apparent design and/or manufacturing defect in the 2004-2005 Ford F-150 pickup included in the recall has the potential to cause serious injury or death, either from injury to a driver due to the unexpected deployment of the air bag itself or because the air bag deploys while the vehicle is traveling at highway speed, causing the driver to lose control of the truck and crash. Injury or death resulting from a defectively designed or defectively manufactured products, or from a product that does not carry adequate warnings, can be addressed through a products liability lawsuit that seeks to hold the product manufacturer responsible for damages the defect has caused. If you have been seriously injured due to a defective product, contact the experienced Houston personal injury attorneys at Smith & Hassler for a free consultation.