Safety Tips for the 2013 Boston Marathon

Each year, the Boston Marathon is held on Patriot's Day in Boston. Also called Marathon Monday, thousands of runners from throughout the world will come to the city to complete the 26.2 mile journal that begins in Hopkinton and ends in Boston.

The Marathon is the world's oldest and this year in 2013 there are expected to be around 27,000 runners. marathon.jpg

Our Boston injury attorneys wish all the runners good luck in completing the marathon and we hope that the spectators have a good time at the event. We also urge everyone to remember that there are safety issues for runners and pedestrians and that it is important for those in charge of the event to do everything possible to ensure it runs smoothly.

Boston Marathon Safety Issues
The marathon runners who will be partaking in the famous race have trained long and hard for the event and hopefully will be able to cross to the finish line with no health issues. There will be first responders and emergency personnel present in case anyone involved in the race is hurt in order to provide assistance to the runners.

Those attending the race, however, are also at risk of being injured by the large crowds, by unsafe areas for patrons to watch the race, or in other situations where property owners or organizers may fail to ensure safety. For example, some of the potential injuries that spectators may face include:

  • Injuries due to lack of crowd control.

  • Injuries if benches or scaffolding are not able to support sufficient weight.

  • Injuries due to unsafe buildings along the path of the race. One incident reported by WHDH that occurred in 2011 involved a Babson College student falling five stories through a skylight while watching the Marathon on the roof.

  • Injuries if debris is left on the ground in an area where people may be walking.

  • Injuries due to negligent police or volunteers on vehicles in the race area. In 2011, for example, the Patriot Ledger reported that a woman was hit by a state police officer on a motorcycle while standing on the sidelines.

These are just a few examples of situations where a person could be injured at the Boston Marathon. If you or a loved one is hurt as a result of someone's dangerous property or someone's carelessness while watching the Boston marathon, you may be able to file a claim for damages.

Tips for Staying Safe
While attending the marathon, you should keep some basic safety tips in mind to avoid getting hurt. For example, you should:

  • Pay attention to the surface of the ground below you and try to avoid surfaces like areas with loose gravel that could be dangerous.

  • Take note of the exits closest to you in case the crowd gets out of control.

  • Be careful in choosing where to watch the race from.

  • Remain calm if you are in a crowd that becomes out of control.

By following these tips, hopefully you can stay safe and enjoy your time at the marathon this year.

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DePuy Speaks Out on Defective Hips, Claims It Acted Responsibly

Our Boston medical malpractice lawyers know that thousands of patients experienced complications after undergoing a hip replacement procedure using the DePuy ASR hip replacement device.

Data indicates that DePuy may have been aware that the ASR model had a high failure rate as far back as 2007, although the company did not recall the hip replacement system until August of 2010. A spokesman for DePuy, however, spoke out in a March editorial published in USA Today and claims that the company acted responsibly. 1385746_hospital.jpg

DePuy's protestations and its public claims that it did the right thing came shortly after an $8.3 million verdict in the first DePuy hip trial. DePuy was found liable to the plaintiff for damages and had to pay out $8.3 million for the failure of the ASR model hip replacement device that the plaintiff had implanted during her hip replacement surgery. Because the trial turned out so favorably, many other patients are encouraged that they too would receive fair compensation for their injuries caused by the defective hip replacement devices. DePuy, however, continues to argue that the company acted responsibly.

DePuy Representative Speaks Out
The Vice President for Clinic Research at DePuy recently published an editorial on the USA Today in the Opposing Viewpoint's section. The editorial was in response to a prior article charging that the company had failed to show leadership.

According to the Vice President, the DePuy Hip Replacement device called the Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) hip system had been released on the market after years of testing. The ASR was based on more than 10 years of design with expert surgeons who worked with DePuy to improve metal-on-metal hip implants to provide patients seeking hip replacement surgery another alternative.

This decades of design, the Vice President indicates, produced a product that was cleared for sale by various regulatory agencies throughout the world after rigorous testing. What the Vice President fails to mention, however, is that the device was cleared in the US as a result of a 510(K) program that makes it faster and easier to bring products to market with less testing and oversight.

The Vice President goes on to indicate that the company recalled its product in August of 2010 because it was "the right decision at the time." The decision was apparently wrong until that time. By then, data from a United Kingdom National Joint Registry report reveal that there was a 13 percent failure rate, leaving DePuy with little choice but to recall.

Again, however, this tells far from the whole story. Court documents revealed that DePuy's internal testing in 2007 showed a very high failure rate -- as high as 40 percent. Yet, despite these internal memos, the company failed to recall the product at that time but instead continued to allow it to be sold to unsuspecting and innocent patients for another three years.

The DePuy Vice President can claim corporate responsibility, but the facts seem to indicate otherwise. The Vice President also references a help line program set up to reimburse patients for medical costs and out-of-pocket costs related to the recall.

However, patients should be aware that the monetary help obtained through this help line program may be far less than what is available in a personal injury lawsuit in court against the manufacturer. Patients should be sure to understand their rights before accepting any settlement from the company in order to protect themselves from a business that has clearly proven not to always be very honest with patients.

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Fresenius Enjoys Growth as Dialysis Malpractice Claims Rage On

Fresenius Medical Care is the world's largest dialysis company with more than 2,100 clinics open throughout the United States. Although Fresenius already has thousands of dialysis clinics nationwide, the company continues to grow and expand its reach. In just the past few days alone, for example, reported that a new location had opened more than six months after seeking approval from the state. also announced that Fresenius Medical Care had partnered with Heritage Provider Network to prove composite health management for patients suffering form end stage renal disease. 391479_arteriography.jpg

With all of this good news, Zolmax reported that Fresenius Medical Care's stock had been trending upward with buy or hold ratings from stock analysts. The medical device manufacturer is undoubtedly enjoying both growth and success, as the news shows. Unfortunately, our Boston dialysis malpractice attorneys know that the company has already proven itself to behave in an irresponsible and unsafe manner towards patients. And the company is growing and expanding even as it faces ongoing lawsuits arising from some of its dialysis drugs.

The Ongoing Fresenius Claims
The claims that are ongoing against Fresenius hinge on two products: GranuFlo and NaturaLyte. Both of these medications were used to provide treatment for dialysis patients. Infortunately, providers administering GranuFlo and NaturaLyte were not made aware of the unique properties of this drug and thus mixed an incorrect solution for patients.

Those who were dosed with the drug had a significantly greater risk of developing a problem, and many suffered heart attacks as a result. This increased risk of heart attack was directly caused by Fresenius and by drugs it produced, and thus lawsuits are ongoing to make Fresenius pay the consequences. Especially egregious is the fact that Fresenius knew of the dangers of its products and sent out a warning to its own clinics but did not issue a more general widespread warning to clinics outside of the network -- despite the fact that those clinics also were using its product.

Unfortunately, this shows that Fresenius has made some grave mistakes in the past and that it may not have the best interests of patients at heart when it comes to choosing between patients and corporate profits.

So, even as Fresenius grows, expands and opens more clinics, patients who were harmed by the dangerous drugs released by this company continue to fight to seek justice. Recently, eleven of the federal claims that were pending against Fresenius were consolidated in a multi-district litigation in the District Court for the District of Massachusetts. This will allow for the cases to move forward more quickly and to resolve certain issues of fact that can be helpful in plaintiffs obtaining monetary compensation.

Multi-district litigations are different from class actions, which involve plaintiffs hurt by the same thing who suffered similar injuries. Multi-district litigations, on the other hand, involve plaintiffs hurt by the same basic cause -- in this case the bad Fresenius drugs -- but who are suffering from different medical problems as a result. The consolidated multi-district litigation will allow some of the basic questions to be answered more quickly and give each plaintiff the chance to get a damage award that makes sense for them in their own case.

As this multi-district litigation and other pending cases rage on, Fresenius simply continues to expand. Hopefully, the company has learned its lesson and isn't putting anyone else at risk.

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Bus Driver Faces Criminal Charges after Boston Bridge Accident

Officials with the Massachusetts State Police will charge a tour bus operator that recently slammed his bus into an overpass back in February on Boston's Soldiers Field Road. According to the State of Massachusetts, the charges are the result of an investigation by state police officers who found that the driver was operating negligently to endanger. Because of the investigation, he's also being charged with a number of civil violations for neglecting to follow instructions on a Department of Conservation and Recreation roadway as well as driving his bus on a DCR roadway.
Our Boston bus accident lawyers understand that the investigation discovered that the driving didn't listen to warning signs that prohibited buses from driving on that part of the road. At the time of the accident, he was driving a Calvary Coach bus that was carrying teens from Pennsylvania to Harvard for a school visit. The accident happened just before 8:00 p.m. when the driver entered the tunnel that travels under Allston's Western Avenue bridge. As you can imagine, the bus was too tall for the tunnel, which had a 10 foot height limit.

Upon completing the investigation, officials determined that the bus driver didn't even attempt to slow down as the bus went into the tunnel. The accident caused some serious damage to the top and front of the bus. Investigators looked at all of the evidence and talked to witnesses. They determined that the signs should have warned the driver of the height of the upcoming bridge.

The bus driver contends he had no knowledge about the road restrictions. Officials argue otherwise, saying signs were clearly visible in the area.

A number of the young bus riders were injured in the accident.

Each and every year, there are thousands of people who are injured of killed on our country's roadways. Many find these bus accident fatality statistics alarming because these buses are supposed to provide a safe means of travel. According to national bus accident statistics, there were nearly 13,000 buses that were involved in traffic accidents in 2010. In these accidents, more than 225 people were killed.

Officials with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) continue their journey in helping to make these buses safer for everyone by improving safety regulations. But unfortunately compliance is not always a guarantee.

As a passenger, you have rights. You use these busing companies and assume that they're equipped with safe vehicles and qualified drivers -- but that's not always the case. Do your homework before choosing a bus company. Check their accident reports, their safety history and their safety rating. It's important to remember that the cheapest fare doesn't always mean the safest ride, and you can't put a price tag on your safety.

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Missing Coaches Highlight Growing Pains at MBTA

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is awaiting the delivery of 75 double-decker coaches. Unfortunately, the South Korea-based company that was supposed to deliver on this promise has come up short -- by a lot. The MBTA has yet to receive any of the coaches promised in the 2008 contract.
According to The Boston Globe, the company has a near $200 million contract with the MBTA and with the state of Massachusetts. Still, only three cars are expected to be in service in April and only 15 expected to be running by September.

Our Boston accident lawyers understand that the fleet of the MBTA is growing older and older by the day. It's time that many of the subway cars, trains and buses are replaced. According to Beverly Scott, general manager of the MBTA, all of the new coaches expected should be ready for the commuter rail in 2014. But we've been awaiting the arrival of these coaches for quite some time now. Until they show, we're left using the worn, aged fleet we've got now, which could serve up some serious injury risks. These older trains are running the maintenance crews ragged with repairs and services, all while depleting resources. This kind of service shouldn't be something we're sitting back and waiting on. We need a proactive approach to make sure all commuters are safe.

The contract was initially awarded back in 2008. In this contract, there were four cars that were expected by October of 2010 and the rest of the 75 were to be here by the end of 2012. Unfortunately, those first four didn't make it to the MBTA until last fall -- and they only made it to testing.

The company has committed more workers, materials and funding to the development of these coaches in the last few months. Officials say it's not uncommon to experience delays like this one. About 10 years ago, the Hyundai Rotem made their debut in the US. They laid out prices to beat competitors and set out attractive promises. However, the company must ensure that these coaches get to us in an orderly manner. It's an expectation, not a luxury.

It's the responsibility of MBTA officials to make sure that this equipment is safe and working properly to keep riders safe. We can't overlook late deliveries from companies when the safety of commuters relies on it.

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Limited MBTA Maintenance May Increase Accident Risks

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) may be extending its hours if Governor Deval Patrick gets his way. While he sees this move as staying ahead of the game and providing convenience to users, many say that it's only going to cause more delays and frustrated riders.
According to WGBH, MBTA workers use the early-morning hours to make sure that everything is set and working properly. They prep the cars for rush hour.

Our Quincy accident attorneys understand that the nighttime hours are used by officials to replace faulty power cables within the T, like the ones that would up shutting down the T during a busy morning back in January. With the Governor wanting to increase the working hours of the T, when are crews going to perform maintenance and take care of preventative measures to help to eliminate those shutdowns and other problems a busy transit system like this often faces?

As it stands now, maintenance and repair crews with the MBTA are working to correct old and aged infrastructure -- and reducing their work time may increase accident risks.

"We have a three and a half to four-hour window to get this work done. So it's get in, get the cable out, get the cable in, and get out of the way," said John Martin, superintendent of power systems and equipment station support for the T.

There are roughly 1,000 miles of cables that work to bring power to these trains, switches and signals. Unfortunately, there are only a few hours in the night where this kind of work can be done. That only allows crews to work on a few hundred feet a night. At that rate -- the project will take years.

It's important that we replace these cables now -- as many of them are more than 50 years old.

Currently, there are over 500 MBTA workers who get the job done each night. They're in charge of signal repairs, track maintenance, cable replacement and much more.

The MBTA set aside more than $240 million in the Fiscal Year 2013 to help to make the much-needed repairs, but that's not enough. Officials estimate that it's going to take more than $3 billion in maintenance to get it to where it needs to be. Not only are we lacking the funds, but now officials are working to limit the hours that these crews can work to make out transit system safer for users.

As you may not have known, Boston is the birthplace of American mass transportation. It's important that we continue to set the example and lead the country is safe mass transit. And one of the most important roles is making sure that we're provided the proper maintenance to our historical system and keeping it up with the demands of users today.

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City of Boston and BU Join Efforts for Safer Pedestrian & Bike Travel

Officials with Boston University and the City of Boston are continuing their effort to keep the 1.5 mile-long campus safer for travelers. They're working to calm traffic on the main campus. They're going to continue the focus on pedestrians and cyclists by encouraging these forms of transportation and raising awareness of their vulnerability. Part of these efforts include more highway reflectors, enhanced bike-lane markings and new signage throughout the area.
"I am hopeful that these changes will help protect bicyclists and pedestrians traveling along this very busy stretch of Commonwealth Avenue," said Dr. Robert A. Brown, the President of Boston University.

Our Boston pedestrian accident attorneys understand that many residents and visitors to the area rely on their own two feet (or two pedals) to get to where they've got to be. Boston is a busy city and driving around isn't all that pleasurable -- not to mention it;s very time consuming. The problem we've been having in our area for a while now is the complete disregard for these kinds of travelers. It's important that all travelers -- especially motorists -- understand that both pedestrians and bicyclists have a right to our roadways and those rights need to be protected.

The new measures to achieve safer roadways for these travelers comes from recommendations from the City of Boston and Boston University, They've been working to urge President Brown and Mayor Menino to take action for safer roads. This movement launched after a number of bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities in recent months -- including the death of a BU student last year.

New safety measures have the City of Boston implementing a pilot program in the area to expand bicycle lanes. As part of the proposal, they're also working to get new signs declaring high bicycle and pedestrian traffic -- to remind drivers to share the road and to yield to bicycles as well.

They've also worked on getting better bike-lane road markings -- with the goal to have every bike lane and crossing area painted with a high-visibility, non-skid green paint. Safety advocates believe that this green paint will help to draw attention to and raise awareness of these riders. They've also worked to expand the bike-lane markings from 4 to 6 inches.

The truth of the matter is that bicycling ridership has increase in the area by more than 80 percent from 2007 to 2011. It's important that we keep the focus of safety on these riders.

Boston University is helping, offering close to 20,000 bike-safety items to locals, including reflectors, bicycle lights, flashlights and even helmets. Throughout the campus, there are signs reminding riders of safety tips and special safety days.

It's a group effort and while these vulnerable travelers are putting in the work to make our area safer, we're asking you to join the fight. It's a never-ending battle without your help.

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CPSC Pushes National Poison Prevention Effort

Officials with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) are still working to help Americans stay safe around dangerous products that can cause serious harm in our household. As one of the longest-running campaigns, officials with the CPSC are still proudly pushing National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW).
One of the most effective moves made through this campaign is the standard requiring child-resistant closures on specific medicines and other households chemicals. Unfortunately, companies don't always live up to the standard.

Our Boston child injury attorneys understand that our children are curious and don't always understand the risks that are associated with specific (and dangerous) chemicals and medicines in our home. For that reason, this campaign was launched about 50 years ago. Today, there are about 40 children that are killed because of these unintentional poinsonings each and every year. Although we're making progress is working to prevent these kinds of accidents, we've got quite a ways left to go.

"Products that pose a toxic risk to children need to be locked up and put away from their reach," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum.

In recent weeks, the CPSC has issued warning about the poisoning dangers that are involved with coin-sized batteries. They also released warnings for single-load liquid packets for our laundry. Children are getting their hands on these products, which can lead to serious or even fatal injuries.

Officials with the CPSC asked battery makers to make tougher packaging for their batteries and laundry detergent in particular, and to make packaging less appealing to children.

Our young children land in the hospital and in emergency care because of ingesting and swallowing these kinds of products. And the CPSC has a message to parents: "These incidents are preventable."

Parents should keep all dangerous products out of reach of children. Don't even let them have the chance to access these products. Although they may have "child protective" sealing, there's no telling when these seals will fail.

While you're using these products, you never want to let your children leave your sight. You know how sneaky our little ones can be. Keep an eye on them.

It's also a good idea to keep the original labeling on your products, not only for your own safety, but for the safety of your children, too. With that being said, it's important that you read the labeling for each use. With medicines, you want to make sure that you're delivering the proper dosage. And don't trick your children into taking the medicine by referring to it as "candy." Always call it "medicine" and tell them what it's for. Explain to them what medicine is, what it's used for and the dangers of being consumed when unnecessary.

It's important that you keep the phone number to the national Poison Help Line in your home -- 800-222-1222.

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Helping Our Teens on the Road to Safe Driving

A majority of parents say that they wish they would have spent more time with their teen drivers in high-risk situations. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), our teens aren't always getting the proper education they need behind the wheel to stay safe out there.
To help parents and guardians with this important task, officials with The Allstate Foundation and with the NSC have teamed up to create life-saving and unique approaches to get the job done. It's all there within the "Drive it Home" website.

Our Quincy car accident lawyers understand that motor vehicle accidents continue to be the number one cause of death for teens across the country. They're actually more likely to get into a car accident during their first year behind the wheel than during any other time in their lives. Luckily, parents, guardians and mentors can help to reduce these risks -- all it takes is a helping hand. We all have to make sure that we're staying active in our young drivers' lives. And now "Drive it Home" is going to make it a little easier.

"Drive it Home can help protect teen drivers, educate parents on the crucial role they play in the driving process, and help ensure our sons and daughters return home each and every night," said Vicky Dinges with Allstate.

So how bad are we at helping? According to recent studies with Allstate, parents aren't doing enough -- and they're regretting it later.

-Parents aren't understanding the risks that their young drivers are up against.

-Driver inexperience is the number one cause of accidents and fatalities among this young age group.

-Even though about 90 percent of parents say that it's important that their teens learn the importance of driving at night and driving with passengers, only about a third say that they've even covered these points with them.

-About 30 percent of parents aren't settling household driving rules for their teens to follow. It's important that we set these rules (and lay out the consequences for breaking them) to keep them safe behind the wheel. More enforcement means safer driving.

-More than 60 percent of parents say that they're currently seeking help with their teen's driving education.

One of the best things that you can do is to create a parent-teen driving contract. This is a contract signed by both you and your teen that agrees on driving privileges, rules and bad behavior consequences. When creating your contract, make sure you include rules regarding the number of passengers allowed in the vehicle, their driving curfew and communication standards.

You also should make sure that you're spending plenty of time in the passenger's seat. Ride along with your teen driver often. Make sure they know what they're doing behind the wheel and offer them constructive criticism when you think they need some. Make sure your teen has lots of practice - the more practice, the better. Start off driving during the daytime, then gradually add practice at night and bad weather. You want to make sure that they're ready for anything and everything out there.

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Unsafe Springfield Busline Banned by FMCSA

Santana Busline, Inc., Springfield-based, has been ordered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to cease unauthorized interstate passenger services immediately. The company was also declared to be a serious hazard to public safety. It was busted for failing to make sure that its vehicles and drivers comply with federal safety regulations.
Our Springfield personal injury attorneys understand that many locals and out of towners have relied on this company. Ir runs its services through Springfield, New York City and Hartford. What we don't expect when hiring these kinds of companies are to be put at unnecessary risk. We turn to these companies with the thought that they're working with safe equipment and qualified drivers. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.

"We won't allow the traveling public to be put at risk by unsafe bus operators," said Ray LaHood, U.S. Transportation Secretary. "We will take swift action when we uncover companies that ignore our federal safety regulations."

Back in October, the company was denied DOT operating authority to transport any passengers on the interstate. It was denied this authorization because of its close affiliation with Santana Xpress, Inc., which was another company that was put out of service by the FMCSA. It didn't get a good safety rating and refused to pay the civil penalties that accompanied violations.

Earlier this year, in January, Santana Busline was working with unmarked passenger vans. It was those vans that sparked an investigation and it was determined that the company was working without the proper authority and without meeting the minimum federal safety regulations.

Drivers weren't meeting the hours-of-service requirements, meaning that they were overworked and tired behind the wheel -- serving up serious risks for drowsy driving accidents. The company was also busted to allowed under-qualified persons to operate buses and for neglecting to inspect the buses properly. They equipment also was not properly repaired or maintained.

We've got to keep busing companies like Santana Busline off of our roadways -- our safety relies on it. If you encounter an unsafe company, you're asked to file a report with the FMCSA.

If you're planning a trip with a busing company, you should do your homework. Make sure you look into the safety reports of these companies and check to make sure they're following federal regulations. The lowest fare doesn't always mean the safest ride. You can check these ratings and other important safety information by using the FMCSA's Safer Bus App. With this app, users can easily access a bus company's safety performance record or file a complaint. You can also check a company's authority and insurance status, safety performance records as well as its safety results.

The SaferBus app is available through the Apple iTunes App store and was developed by the FMCSA for the iPad and iPhone. The app is free. All you have to do is enter the name of a bus company, or the company's U.S. DOT number or Motor Carrier (MC) number, and you can access information related to that company in the database. This is going to allow you to review information about a company's safety performance and whether or not the company is legally "allowed to operate."

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J&J Admits DePuy Defect in Trial Awarding Plaintiff $8.3M

A Montana man, the first to take on medical device manufacturing giant Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary DePuy over defective hip implants, has prevailed, with a jury awarding him $8.3 million in damages.
Our Boston personal injury lawyers reported the verdict last week. One of the most interesting developments of the trial is that a high-level executive at J&J testified that the rate of corrective surgeries as a result of the product was "not acceptable."

Yet in the same breath, he called the assertion that a recall was an admission of a defect "absurd." Of course, why would a product need to be recalled if there was nothing wrong with it?

The Los Angeles jury sided with the Montana plaintiff, awarding him $8.3 million in damages.

A second trial is underway in Chicago, where a 54-year-old nurse is claiming that her ASR XL hip replacement device was defective. She had the all-metal device implanted back in 2008. It had to be replaced just three years later in 2011.

Her case, Strum v. DePuy, is the second of some 10,750 pending lawsuits involving ASR implants.

Altogether, the company recalled some 93,000 hip implants back in 2010. The J&J executive said that the devices weren't meeting the clinical expectations of the company. In other words, they were failing.

Still, the executive backpedaled on his statement, saying that, "We absolutely didn't say the product is a defective product. We said, 'We don't know. We need to figure this out.' "

It's unfortunate, though unsurprising, that a corporate giant such as this simply won't admit to the damage it has caused these individual consumers, many of whom were ailing to begin with, and simply compensate them for the suffering they have endured.

The silver lining about the $8.3 million verdict is that it sets a strong precedent. It's basically an incentive for J&J to settle legitimate claims, rather than drag each one into court, considering the time and expense of a trial.

The problem with the DePuy devices is that they are solid metal, and normal erosion on the parts has resulted in metal poisoning, as well as a breakdown of the product years before intended. That means patients often must undergo new surgical procedures to correct the problems.

In other hip replacement news, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has proposed stricter regulations for two different hip replacement models manufactured by Stryker Corp. that were allowed to remain on the market. Those included improved practices for pre-market clinical studies. Unfortunately, these proposed changes have come too late for tens of thousands of patients who have already been implanted with these faulty devices.

Stryker issued a voluntary recall last July of its ABG II and Rejuvenate hip implant systems. These devices had the same metal-on-metal debris issues as the DePuy models.

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Spring Gives Rise to Boston Child Bicycle Injuries

March 20 marks the first day of spring this year. While here in Boston, we'll still be thawing out from a rough winter, it's not too early to think about you're child's bicycle safety, as kids will no doubt be begging to get out and ride within a few short weeks.
Our Boston child injury lawyers know that city officials have been keeping closer tabs on bicycle trends and related crashes in recent years, as bicycle ridership increased 122 percent between 2007 and 2009.

In part, this is due to certain bicycle-friendly improvements throughout the city, including many miles of bicycle lanes in various locations.

We don't know exactly how many of those riders are children, but we do know that while about 72 percent of Boston cyclists report wearing helmets, just 45 percent of those requiring EMS attention were wearing head protection. Wearing a helmet, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, reduces the risk of brain and head injuries by nearly 90 percent.

Yet, the NHTSA noted, just 25 percent of kids between the ages of 5 to 14 actually wear a helmet when biking. Teens report numbers close to zero.

In the last 10 years, an average of 130 children aged 14 and under die in this country each year in bicycling accidents.

Here in Boston area, there are approximately 1,500 bicycle crashes reported annually, with injuries ranging from scrapes and bruises to permanent disabilities and death. Late last year, the death of a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student, who died while bicycling his way to school, followed a fatality a month earlier when a 21-year-old student was on his bicycle when he was struck and killed by a metro bus.

As a result of these two incidents, the city announced this month that it will be installing more caution signs, enhanced bicycle lane markings and reflectors in the pavement in certain areas.

Children, however, should not be biking in traffic alone, unsupervised.

While the sad fact is, you can't force motorists to abide by traffic safety laws, you can do everything in your power to keep your children safe.

To do this, keep the following tips from the NHTSA in mind:

  • Wear a helmet, and make sure it is properly-fitted. You can learn more about how to ensure a proper fit by clicking here.

  • Adjust the fit of your child's bicycle. Have him or her stand over the bike and make sure there are 1 to 2 inches between you child and the top tube and that the seat is level front to back and adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended.

  • Teach your child to check the inflation of the tires and the breaks - every time - before heading out.

  • Instruct your child on how to best make him or herself visible. Whether it's day or night, wear bright or even fluorescent colors, as well as something that will reflect light, such as reflective tape or flashing lights. Understand that just because you see a car doesn't mean the driver sees you. For this reason, it's better to avoid driving at night.

  • Your child should know how to watch for road hazards, like potholes, gravel, leaves, broken glass, puddles and dogs.

  • Children under the age of 10 should not be riding in the street. They should be on the sidewalk.

  • Teach your child to watch for parked vehicles, as there is a risk of them backing out or a door suddenly opening.

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Transvaginal Mesh Defect Results in Multi-Million Dollar Verdict

In the first out of some 2,000 pending lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and its division Ethicon, a woman was awarded approximately $11 million for the pain she had suffered due to the now-recalled Prolift vaginal mesh.
Our Boston personal injury lawyers were encouraged at the precedent this case sets, though not surprised at all that the companies are vowing to vigorously appeal. They don't want a verdict like this to stand because that might force their hand in terms of providing a greater incentive to settle future claims, so they won't incur the enormous cost of a trial on each.

This verdict could have a significant impact not only these manufacturers but others who produced similar defective medical products.

The plaintiff in this case, a 47-year-old nurse from South Dakota, filed suit back in November of 2008 in Atlantic City, NJ.

As you are likely familiar, the mesh was used to treat pelvic organ prolapse. It's characterized by a portion of the vaginal canal protruding (or prolapsing) from the opening of the vagina. Most often, this conditions happens when the pelvic floor collapses due to childbirth.

It's a condition suffered by about 316 million women worldwide as of 2010, or more than 9 percent of all women. In the U.S., it's estimated to be about 34 million women.

In severe cases, surgery, with the implantation of the mesh, was supposed to fix the problem. But the real problem is that these devices in fact weren't safe. These manufacturers had a duty to know they weren't safe, and they failed to warn patients and doctors about the issues that were being reported.

In this woman's case, she suffered almost immediate and near constant levels of pain after having the transvaginal mesh implanted. As a result, she had to undergo another 18 operations in order to repair the abdominal injuries she suffered as a result.

The product was taken off the market completely last year, but it was too late for tens of thousands of woman who had already had the procedures. By that time, the FDA had received some 1,000 reports of adverse events, including pain, infections, erosion, incontinence and even a recurrence of the prolapse.

Ultimately, this woman was awarded $3.3 million in economic damages and $7.8 million in punitive damages.

This sounds like a lot, but consider that J&J has assets totaling $122 billion and a net worth of $65 billion, as of Dec. 31, 2012. This is a drop in the bucket for the company. That's why they are seeking to aggressively fight this verdict.

No doubt, other manufacturers will as well. (It's estimated that Endo Health Solutions, another top manufacturer of the mesh, is currently preparing to face some 3,000 lawsuits making similar claims.)

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First DePuy Hip Trial Results in $8.3M Verdict For Plaintiff

There are more than 10,000 lawsuits that have been filed regarding the premature failure and other complications of the DePuy ASR hip replacement system.
Our Boston DePuy ASR hip replacement plaintiff lawyers understand the first of those has set a promising precedent: An $8.3 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff. This verdict is likely to open the door to future settlements in the case with parent manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.

With so many cases pending, the company is likely to want to speed up and resolve the pending litigation. Seeing that plaintiffs are having success in court means it's less costly for them in terms of time and lawyers fees to simply settle a claim before it ever gets to court.

Court documents in this case revealed that Johnson & Johnson, as well as DePuy, were aware of critical design flaws in the product that would result in early failure - years before they initiated a recall on the ASR model. In fact, DePuy knew that the product had failed internal testing as far back as 2007. And yet, according to The New York Times, the company continued to sell the product without disclosing to doctors the results of those tests.

Those internal tests showed that the ASR model was probably going to fail within five years on about 40 percent of the patients who received it. Compared to the failure rates of most other orthopedic implants, the DePuy ASR was eight times higher.

These devices are metal-on-metal, with a metal ball inside a metal pocket. The inherent problem is that the cup had only a small surface area in which the ball could move. In turn, that increased the risk for the ball to grind against the cup, which generates metallic debris and further erosion. The production of debris, additionally, resulted in shards of chromium and cobalt being released into the nearby tissue, which resulted in swelling, inflammation and even poisoning.

In this case, the plaintiff's hip implant was installed sometime in 2007. Immediately after the surgery, he knew something wasn't right. He suffered severe complications, which included extreme pain, difficulty with walking and metallic poisoning. In order to have the device removed and replaced, he had to undergo a risky revision surgery.

It wasn't until August of 2010 - some three years after DePuy and Johnson & Johnson knew about the defects that would lead to situations like this, that the devices were actually recalled, some 93,000 units.

The trial stretched several days, after which the Los Angeles jury awarded the plaintiff nearly $400,000 in economic damages and $8 million in non-economic, or punitive, damages.

Of course, DePuy has announced its intention to appeal. It would, since it's never accepted responsibility. Our Boston hip replacement plaintiff attorneys believe they have little chance at success.

A second trial is underway involving a 54-year-old nurse from Illinois who had the device implanted back in 2008.

Andrew Ekdahl, president of DePuy's orthopedic products unit, testified before a Chicago jury in that case that the reason for the recall was that the revision rate, or the number of patients who had to return for corrective surgery, was "not acceptable."

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Food Poisoning: Undeclared Nuts Can Prove Deadly

Most people with a severe nut allergy know from a very young age that they must be extremely cautious about any and all foods they consume and products they use, as even miniscule contact could be fatal.
However, our Boston personal injury lawyers know that all too often, problems arise when companies fail to properly note every ingredient in their products. Alternatively, sometimes food manufacturers or restaurants aren't careful in their food preparation, causing cross-contamination to occur.

Even in cases where an individual may not have died from the incident, taking the company to court may help prevent such a situation from ever occurring there again.

Sadly, these kinds of errors happen all the time.

For evidence of this, just peruse the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's recent list of recalled food products. On March 1, the agency recalled some 20 lots of cereal produced by the California-based Food for Life because there were almonds in the cereal that weren't listed as an ingredient on the box. Specifically, the Original, Golden Flax and Cinnamon Raisin varieties were all affected. There haven't been any illnesses reported to date, but affected individuals may not have realized what made them sick - as they wouldn't have suspected cereal that didn't have nuts listed as an ingredient. The boxes were distributed between late last November and early February.

And then just last month, the FDA recalled numerous lots of snack mixes produced in Florida for undeclared peanuts.

Other products the agency has recently recalled for undeclared nuts include:

  • Brownie mix;

  • Coffee;

  • Fruit cereal;

  • Cookies;

  • Candy;

  • Granola bars;

  • Fruit bars;

  • Ice cream bars;

  • Pasta;

  • Pies;

  • Spreads;

  • Chocolate protein drinks;

  • Popcorn.

Severe nut allergies are basically the body's overactive immune response triggered by the allergen. People suffering an episode may have trouble breathing, plummeting blood pressure or an increased pulse rate due to shock.

It's estimated that approximately 200 people in the U.S. die every year due to nut allergies, with about 60 percent of those caused by peanuts. Tree nuts, meanwhile, are another common allergy, meaning those individuals must steer clear of things like almonds, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts and pistachios.

The problem is that these foods, and their derivatives, are found in so many different products. Those with allergies know they have to carefully screen labels and grill their restaurant servers. But these entities have a responsibility to know what is in the product and to inform consumers.

Undeclared nuts are a top concern to the FDA, due to the fact that they can potentially be life-threatening. Other kinds of undeclared ingredients that are on the agency's top list of inspection priorities for the same reason are: milk and milk by products, eggs, fish and shell fish, soy and wheat.

The most common offenders, according to the FDA, are bakeries, candy manufacturers and ice cream manufacturers.

Other food items in which you might not readily expect to find nuts include: chilis and soups, breads, honey, vegetarian burgers, pasta sauces, marinades and salad dressings.

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