Legal Edge E-Newsletter March 2012

CONSUMER ALERTS IN THE NEWS

More than 680,000 Toyota Vehicles Recalled for Airbag, Brake Light Issues

According to USA Today, Toyota has issued two recalls for more than 680,000 Camry, Venza and Tacoma vehicles. The first recall affects approximately 70,500 Camrys and 116,000 Venzas. During assembly line installation, silicon grease may have contaminated the stop-lamp switch, which may result in a series of mechanical issues such as failure of the brake light, failure of the vehicle to start and inability of the shifter to move out of Park.

The second recall affects approximately 495,000 Tacoma pickup trucks due to the risk that the driver-side airbag may not deploy in a crash. Over time, steering wheel vibration may damage the spiral cable assembly that powers the driver’s airbag module. This could cause the airbag to become deactivated, preventing it from deploying in a crash. Failure of airbag deployment could increase the risk of injury. Learn more about these latest Toyota recalls 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.

Volvo Issues Recall for Possible Air Bag Deployment Flaw

Volvo is recalling over 10,000 S60, XC60, S80 and XC70 vehicles manufactured in 2011 because the wire harness under the front seats may not have been anchored properly to the seat frame. If an occupant moves the seating position, the wire harness could get pulled, causing it to disconnect. In a crash, this wire harness flaw could result in the inability of the front or side impact air bags to deploy properly, increasing the risk for 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.

Discount Retailers Sold Recalled Children’s Products After Recall Date

Consumers are being warned that certain products originally sold at Meijer Inc were resold after the recall date. Due to an error, the products were offered for sale at discount retailers nationwide. Consumers should stop using these products immediately, as they pose serious safety risks, from suffocation and choking, to lacerations and fire hazards. The recalled items include Sassy Refreshing Rings Infant Teethers/Rattles, Innovage Discovery Kids Animated Marine and Safari Lamps, Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Kick & Crawl Aquarium, and Infantino "SlingRider" baby Slings. For a complete list of the resold recalled items, read the CPSC announcement here.

FIRM CASE RESULTS & UPDATES

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

ccording 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.

Experts Warn: Next-Generation Cars Could Lead to More Driver Distractions

As texting-and-driving bans continue to be fiercely debated in states across the nation, a new distraction could be looming on the horizon for drivers: the vehicle itself. Safety experts are now turning their attention to the next-generation of vehicles, which could be "virtual iPads on wheels," according to an article in The Chicago Tribune. Auto manufacturers are turning their attention and dollars to advances in automotive technology and internet communications, including technology that will allow drivers to read information on their windshield by waving their hand. According to the article, Ford is offering a system that converts smartphones into routers to give passengers internet connectivity. Could this new technology make the already dangerous epidemic of distracted driving even more dangerous? Learn more 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.