Legal Edge E-Newsletter April 2012

CONSUMER ALERTS IN THE NEWS

Ford Recalls More Than 140,000 Focus Vehicles

Ford Motor Company is recalling certain model year 2012 Focus vehicles due to a possible missing seal in the wiring harness connector to the passenger side wiper motor. Water or other contaminants may accumulate into the connector resulting in the malfunction of the passenger side wiper motor. If the wiper becomes inoperative or runs intermittently, reduced visibility may occur, increasing the risk of a crash. Learn more here.

More than 550,000 Honda CR-V and Pilot Vehicles Recalled For Headlight Issues

Honda has issued a recall for certain model year 2002-2004 CR-V vehicles and 2003 Pilot vehicles due to a possible malfunction in the low beam headlights. The recall affects 554,428 vehicles. With tension from the combination switch wiring harness, wear on the surface of the electrical terminal can occur, creating copper oxide that increases electrical resistance. This resistance may cause the terminal ends to melt within the wiring harness connector. If this occurs, the low beam headlights may become inoperative, resulting in reduced driver visibility and increasing the risk of a crash. Read more here.

Nissan Recalls Quest Minivans for Stall Risk; Infiniti Q45s for Possible Air Bag Failure

Nissan North America, Inc. is recalling certain model year 2011-2012 Nissan Quest vehicles for a stalling risk. Due to a software problem with the fuel system, while driving at slow speeds or idling on a decline with a quarter tank of fuel or less, there may be an insufficient supply of fuel to the engine that could result in a stall. Vehicle stalling could increase the risk of a crash. More than 23,000 vehicles are affected by this recall. Learn more here.

Nissan is also recalling certain model year 2003-2005 Infiniti Q45 vehicles because a wiring connector for the seat-mounted airbags may experience increased electrical resistance over time. This may prevent the airbags from deploying during a collision, increasing the risk of injury. Read more here.

Chrysler Recalls 209,000 Jeep Liberty SUVs for Possible Crash Risk

Chrysler is recalling certain model year 2004-2005 Jeep Liberty vehicles because the lower control arms that keep the rear wheels in place may break.

A fracture of the rear lower control arm may result in loss of vehicle control, leading to a crash. Read more here.

More than 300,000 Office Depot Desk Chairs Recalled for Fall Hazard

The Consumer Product Safety Commission and Office Depot have issued a voluntary recall of 307,000 Office Depot Brand Biella Leather Desk Chairs in the United States and 12,000 in Canada, sold exclusively at Office Depot from 2002-2008. The weld connecting the seat plate to the gas lift can fail, causing the chair to separate from the base and posing a fall hazard to users. The company has received 11 reports of chairs breaking and consumers falling with injuries. Read the CPSC announcement here.

FIRM CASE RESULTS & UPDATES

Firm Wins $925,000 Settlement in Two-Level Lumbar Fusion Auto Accident Case
The firm’s client was stopped waiting to exit the parking lot of Lowe’s in Florida when the rear of her vehicle was clipped by the trailer of an 18-wheeler that was also attempting to exit the parking lot in the adjacent lane. The client was diagnosed with a herniated disc in her lumbar spine. After a series of epidural steroid injections, she underwent a lumbar discogram to further evaluate her disc injury. Following the discogram, she developed erosion of the end plates in her spine and ultimately underwent a two-level posterolateraldiskectomy with fusion. Just 54-years-old at the time, our client had to undergo vocational retraining as a result of her injury.

The defendant hired a biomechanical engineer with Biodynamic Research Corp. (BRC) who opined that the forces of the accident were not sufficient enough to cause damage to the plaintiff’s lumbar discs. In addition, the defense’s compulsory medical exam doctor said that the disc herniation and surgery was not related to the accident, but rather a result of preexisting degenerative disc disease. Despite this testimony, our client’s treating doctors causally related the disc injury and surgery to the accident. The case was settled for $925,000 the day before a specially set Fyre hearing to strike the Defendant’s biomechanical engineer testimony.

Tire Failure Turns Church Youth Road Trip into Tragedy, Firm Wins Settlements
A road trip for a group of teenagers traveling to a church camp retreat in the remote Utah mountains turned deadly when the SUV they were riding in suffered a tire separation and blowout. The tire failure caused the vehicle to roll over, resulting in several severe injuries and death. Attorneys Don Fountain and Hampton Keen were able to obtain confidential settlements in the case.

Firm Proves Tire Repair Store Negligence, Wins Settlement for Client
A tire repair store failed to follow the long-standing, industry recommended tire repair procedures when it fixed a nail puncture in our client’s tire. That improper repair allowed inflation-pressurized air to migrate into the tire’s belt structure, causing a separation that led to a blowout and rollover of our client’s SUV in the desert outside of Las Vegas. Even though properly seat belted, our client was killed in the crash. Attorneys Don Fountain and Hampton Keen obtained a confidential settlement.

LEGAL INSIGHTS

“The Truth About Torts;” Whitepaper Debunks Tort Reform Proponents’ Claims
According to a recent article in Healthcare Finance News, a whitepaper released by the Center for Progressive Reform, “The Truth About Torts: Defensive Medicine and the Unsupported Case for Medical Malpractice Reform,” says medical tort reform will not provide the savings proponents suggest because the costs of malpractice insurance and payments for the injured only equal 0.3 percent of total healthcare costs each year. The real costs, say the whitepaper, are a result of the “high costs of prescription drugs; the high demand for, and increasing use of, state-of-the art technology, the growing incidence of chronic diseases and an aging population that lives longer and consumes more medical care.” Why are these factors ignored or obscured by proponents of reform? Learn more about the whitepaper’s findings here.

Keyless Ignitions: Convenience or Safety Hazard?
A Boca Raton couple recently died of carbon monoxide poising in their home after they accidentally left their keyless-ignition car running in the garage. It is one of several incidents recently that has brought to the forefront the question of whether keyless-ignition cars are safe for consumers. Do these ignition systems make it too easy for the driver to forget to turn off the vehicle when they walk away? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants manufacturers to standardize all the push-button starters to avoid confusion. Learn more about the issue from this ABC News video report.