First Death from Exploding Vape Pen Is Official

On May 5, 2018, a man in St. Petersburg, Florida, was discovered in a blazing bedroom with burns on 80 percent of his body. But apparently what killed him weren’t his burns, but his vape pen blowing up while he was using it. After an autopsy, the medical examiner listed the cause of death as projectile wounds to the man’s cranium from two pieces of the vape pen driven into his head by the force of the explosion. The type of vape pen the man was using is known as a “mechanical mod.” His model carried the Smok-E Mountain Mech Works logo; the company is based in the Philippines. Mechanical mods differ from other vape pens and have their own set of problems. Smok-E believes the explosion is due either to the atomizer or to the use of a cloned battery (a non-authentic knockoff battery that is often of inferior quality and safety). Smok-E insists that their product does not explode. What Makes Mechanical Mods Distinctive? Mechanical mods are simpler than other vape pens because they are nothing but devices that deliver power directly to the atomizer. The atomizer supplies the fumes that users inhale; the entire vape pen is[…..]

Second Award of Large Punitive Damages against Pelvic Mesh/Transvaginal Tape Maker

Pelvic Injury

In mid-February of 2016, a Philadelphia jury socked Ethicon, Inc., a unit of Johnson & Johnson, with a $13.5 million judgment because of a transvaginal tape (TVT) product called Prolift. (TVT products are also known as pelvic mesh products.) Nearly three-fourths of the award, $10 million, consisted of punitive damages. Punitive damages mean that the amount has the intention of punishing Ethicon for an intentional or reckless act. This most recent verdict follows on the heels of a similar verdict, in Philadelphia during December of 2015, when $12.5 million was awarded to another sufferer, with the total including $7 million in punitive damages for marketing an unsafe product. What is TVT/Pelvic Mesh? TVT and other pelvic mesh products are often used to correct stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and pelvic organ prolapse (POP). But it has been charged that the pores in the mesh are too small, rendering the Prolift device defective because it promotes excessive scar tissue growth. An additional complication is that removing the mesh is difficult to do and sometimes does not alleviate the pain or other side effects. The women in question both claimed that the faulty mesh left them with frequent to nearly constant pain and[…..]

Take the Chill Off Safely

Space Heater

You might know the following scenario: it’s cold outside and getting colder. Sitting around watching TV or simply relaxing with your family is making you shiver, and you don’t have a fireplace. Raising the thermostat setting for the entire house is expensive, so you turn to your portable heater. When the warm air shoots out, you are instantly comforted. Portable heaters, also known as space heaters, serve a multitude of short-term purposes, such as warming a room with a high ceiling while you are sitting and inactive, or helping an elderly person remain more comfortable on a cold day. They aren’t meant to be a permanent, 24/7 solution, but they can take the edge off on a bitterly cold day. However, portable heaters can be hazardous. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 25,000 residential fires and more than 300 deaths every year are due to space heaters. It’s also estimated that 6,000 people annually go to emergency rooms to be treated for burns from contact with hot surfaces on heaters in non-fire situations. Space Heaters Explained Space heaters are either electric or combustion (requiring propane, natural gas, or kerosene for fuel). Electric space heaters are vent-free[…..]

Alert: Whole Foods Recall

Peanuts

On February 10, Whole Foods Markets, Inc. recalled tens of thousands of pounds of ready-to-eat products because they have been contaminated with peanut allergens. The U.S. Department of Agriculture declared it a Class I hazard — that is, “a situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.” The tainted products were shipped to retail stores in Connecticut, Kentucky, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Whole Foods Markets are located in a number of cities in Maryland: Annapolis, Columbia, Baltimore, Gaithersburg, Chevy Chase, and Rockville. Dates to Know & Recalled Products List A company which supplies spices to Whole Foods alerted them that cumin used in chili products may have been contaminated with peanut allergens. The recalled items were produced between January 14, 2015 and February 5, 2015. If you have recently shopped at Whole Foods, these are the contaminated products you should look for in your pantry or refrigerator: 16 lb bulk containers of “CHILI, TURKEY AND BLACK BEAN” with production dates of 1/14/15 to 2/5/15. 16 lb bulk containers of “CHILI, BRAISED BEEF”[…..]

‘Tis The Season

Christmas Lights

This time of year, newspapers and social media post photos of homes lavishly decorated and lit for the Christmas season. Homeowners associations often sponsor decorating contests, drawing sightseers to “oooh” and “aahhh” as they slowly wind through neighborhood roads illuminated by all manner of electric light displays. What doesn’t always make the news are the catastrophes caused by dangerously manufactured or damaged Christmas decorations. Even modest apartment displays can be the cause of tragic accidents when consumers unwittingly use defective products. Whether you are decorating with newly purchased supplies or you have retrieved some old ones from that box over the garage or in Grandma’s dusty attic, you should check them out from a safety standpoint before you deck the halls. Observe these safety tips published by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): Make sure all lights have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, like UL; use only lights that have fused plugs. Check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed wires or loose connections. If a bulb has burned out, replace it with one of the same wattage. Don’t use more than three sets of lights on one extension cord and make sure[…..]

Take That Back!

Different Types of Pills

As a kid you might have given that order to someone who insulted your sister. But officials in Baltimore and all across the country are urging all of us to do just that with unwanted, unnecessary medications. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) began hosting prescription drug take-back events four years ago because at that time the Controlled Substances Act made no legal provision for patients to rid themselves of unwanted controlled substance prescription drugs except to give them to law enforcement; it banned pharmacies and hospitals from accepting them. Consequently, most people flushed their unused prescription drugs down the toilet, threw them in the trash, or just kept them in the medicine cabinet, resulting in contamination of the water supply and the theft and abuse of the prescription drugs. In 2010, however, the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act was enacted, allowing the DEA to develop regulations for drug disposal options. Now, manufacturers, pharmacies, and others may register to become authorized collectors of unwanted drugs. Each year the DEA has sponsored National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, this year’s designated day being September 27, when Americans can take their expired, unneeded, or unwanted prescription drugs to one of over 5,200[…..]

Viagra: Is It Worth The Risk?

Viagra Attorney

Viagra – “the little blue pill.” Manufactured by Pfizer, Inc., to treat erectile dysfunction (ED), Viagra has been taken by an estimated 25 million men since its release in 1998, raking in $2 billion in sales for Pfizer and making it one of the pharmaceutical giant’s best sellers. Marketed strongly through direct-sale advertisements, Viagra is promoted with certain caveats: side effects can include priapism (an erection that will not go away), sudden vision loss in one or both eyes, and sudden hearing decrease or loss. You’re probably well aware of those dangers from listening to their television commercials. There’s another potential consequence of Viagra use, however, and one that Pfizer isn’t warning about. That’s the possible link between Viagra and the deadly skin cancer, melanoma. Earlier this year the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School. They analyzed 10 years’ worth of data about almost 26,000 men, some of whom had taken Viagra and others who had not. They took into account factors such as sun exposure and family medical history. Men who had taken sildenafil (Viagra) were found to be more than twice as[…..]

The Hidden Dangers Of Bean Bag Chairs

Ace Bayou Beanbag

For decades people of all ages have been lounging on bean bag chairs. First designed in the 1960s to appeal to the carefree flower children, they continue to be found in dorm rooms, dens and playrooms across the world. They were never actually filled with beans, rather with pellets of polyurethane, Styrofoam or PVC. As with many products, there were inherent dangers in their design. Twelve million bean bag chairs were recalled in 1995 because children could unzip them and suffocate by inhaling or swallowing the filling. In March of that year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a standard for the industry requiring all chairs sold after 1996 to have childproof zippers. You may have read that on August 22, 2014, the CPSC announced a recall of 2.2 million bean bag chairs manufactured by Ace Bayou Corporation of New Orleans, La., after two children died from crawling inside the chairs and suffocating. Wait a minute! What about that standard requiring childproof zippers? It was a “voluntary” standard. And apparently Ace, and possibly other manufacturers, chose to put children’s safety at risk rather than adhere to the voluntary standard. Maybe they thought it was an over-reaction. After all, who[…..]

Ruling Expands Protections For Whistleblowers

Whistleblower

Remember Sherron Watkins? She was the accounting executive who blew the whistle on Enron’s “creative accounting” practices, which included hiding risky investments and financial losses by creating special purpose entities and inflating assets and profits. In 2002, TIME magazine named Watkins one of its persons of the year, praising her for her “exceptional guts and sense.” Enron’s collapse led to its filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a little more than 12 years ago now. The scandal also led to new regulations and legislation – the Sarbanes-Oxley Act – which was intended to “enhance corporate responsibility, enhance financial disclosures and combat corporate and accounting fraud.” Sherron Watkins resigned as Enron’s vice president of corporate development in November 2002, discovering only later that then Enron Chairman Ken Lay had tried to get her fired after she met with him in 2001 to discuss her findings that the company had masked $500 million dollars of losses in 2000. We’re betting that Ms. Watkins is cheering the U.S. Supreme Court’s expansion of whistleblower protections under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act by their February ruling in Lawson v. FMR. At issue in the case before the Court was whether contracted employees are given the same protections under[…..]

Assault By Battery

Did you ever get one of those musical greeting cards? The kind that blares out a digitized version of “Who Let the Dog Out?” when you open it up. Did you know a danger lurks therein? We’re not talking about a dog; we’re talking about button batteries, those tiny cells that power many of our commonly used household items. They may be in your TV remote, calculator, watches, key fobs, and Grandma’s hearing aids, as well as in greeting cards. Their size makes them useful – it also can make them deadly. Each year, about 3,000 American children are injured and several die after swallowing the tiny batteries. As the prevalence of battery-operated devices has increased, so have battery-ingested deaths and injuries, increasing sevenfold since 1985. We all know how kids are – they can’t resist sticking small items in their nose or mouth. That’s why Congress passed the Child Safety Protection Act (CSPA) imposing strict labeling laws for children’s toys which contain small parts that may present a danger to young children. One Philadelphia family has recently sued the store which sold them a pair of tweezers with a tiny light attached. Their three-year-old daughter was able to remove[…..]