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Law Offices of Jonathan M. Cooper

New York Noncompete, Trade Secret & School Negligence Blog

This blog by the six-time published author Jonathan Cooper, is intended to educate the general public about issues of interest, particularly innovations and changes in the law, in the areas of non-compete agreements, breach of contract matters, school negligence (and/or negligent supervision), construction accidentsslip and/or trip and fall accidentsauto accidents, and, of course, defective or dangerous products

For additional information on any of these topics, readers are encouraged to download these FREE e-books:

 


2/7/2010
Jonathan Cooper
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Toyota either has, or is about to learn, that the problem with going to desperate measures to conceal design defects with your product lines is that you can go too far, and then get caught in your own web of lies. As noted in a New York Times editorial that was published this past Friday, Toyota's claim that the federal safety agency had found no defects with their cars where the floor mat was compatible with the vehicle and properly secured was patently false.

Now, Toyota has essentially been forced to issue a product recall of over 4 million vehicles, roughly 3 times the number of vehicles it sold in North America in the past year. And, looking forward, I imagine this is only a small part of Toyota's problem, because I don't see how anyone in their right mind would trust a representation from either Toyota or the government (which, in fact, did look the other way on some of these problems until they mushroomed) that these defective designs, whether with regard to the sudden acceleration, the "sticky" gas pedals, or problematic driver-side mats had been remedied, and the cars were once again safe to be driven.

Stated differently, how can Toyota convince anyone to buy one of their products?



Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

2/4/2010
Jonathan Cooper
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The Most Important Exception To Owner/Contractor Liability For Worksite Accidents in NY

Although much has been written about the automatic, or near-automatic, liability of an owner or contractor for a worker's injuries that were sustained at a construction or worksite that resulted from a gravity-related danger or due to their failure to furnish the worker with proper safety equipment (see, e.g., "How To Prove A Construction Site Accident Case" and "Construction Accident Liability Under New York Law"), there is an important exception to this rule, which is known as "the homeowners' exemption." For additional information on this topic and other quality, Free information related construction accident cases in New York generally, please visit www.JonathanCooperLaw.com, or call Long Island Construction Site Accident lawyer Jonathan Cooper directly at his office at 516.791.5700.

Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

12/24/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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CPSC Launches New Product Registration Initiative - But They Can - And Should - Do Better

In this article, Long Island, New York children's safety and defective products attorney Jonathan Cooper discusses how the CPSC's newest initiative to improve product registrations is welcome, but falls short of the mark in enhancing the defective product recall process. For additional information on these topics, please download Jonathan Cooper's Free eBook entitled "Why Are There So Few Successful Defective Products Lawsuits?" from www.ProductLiabilityBook.com.

Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

11/24/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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CPSC Announces Largest Defective Children's Crib Recall Ever

Published author of the Insider's Guide to Product Liability Claims entitled "Why There Are So Few Successful Defective Products Lawsuits," discusses the largest children's crib recall in history. For additional articles and valuable information on crib recalls and other defective product recalls generally, please visit Long Island, New York Defective Products Lawyer's website and blog at www.JonathanCooperLaw.com.

Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

10/29/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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In NY, Can A Construction Worker Recover For His Injuries Even If The Accident Is Largely His Own Fault ?

In this article, Long Island, New York construction site accident lawyer Jonathan Cooper discusses a recent decision from Kings County (Brooklyn) that addresses the question of whether a construction site worker is precluded from recovering damages under New York's Labor Laws for his injuries if his accident was largely his own fault. For additional FREE information on this topic, and construction site accidents under New York law generally, please visit www.JonathanCooperLaw.com.

Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

8/13/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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Earlier today, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission issued a press release reminding everyone in the chain of distribution of children's products, from manufacturers and distributors to resellers and retailers that many of the provisions of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act become effective tomorrow.

Interestingly, one of the provisions of the Act that has received the least attention (most of the Act is focused on the lead level in children's toys) may have the most promise in terms of its likelihood to improve product safety: new labeling requirements.

Under the Act, manufacturers are now required (unless manifestly impractical) to put permanent tracking labels on any consumer product that is targeted for use by children aged 12 and younger. These tracking labels must identify the name of the manufacturer and its location, the date the product was manufactured, and must specify information from the manufacturing process itself, including the lot or batch number.

The immediate and practical benefits to this provision are twofold:

  1. At the first hint that a product may be defectively designed, and a recall may be needed, it will be far easier to identify which specific products need to be recalled, and concurrently, to track where the recalled products were sold. As a natural consequence, it should make product recall efforts far simpler and more effective.
  2. It will help claimants who have been injured by a defective product to identify with greater specificity the potentially responsible parties, and thereby reduce the litigation costs borne by parties with no real connection to the products at issue.


Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

8/6/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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Earlier today, in conjunction with the launch of its campaign to prevent re-sellers of consumer products from introducing into the stream of commerce various products that were the subject of safety recalls (an earlier study concluded that almost 75% of re-sellers failed to comply with the Federal law prohibiting the re-sale of recalled consumer products) the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission released its Top Ten List of Recalled Children's Products.

Interestingly, this announcement does not clarify why these particular products made the "Top Ten" list. While some may be inclined to think that this is a cheap marketing gimmick, or a vain attempt at humor (ala David Letterman), my reading of the description of incidents that led to the recall of these dangerous products convinces me that this is not the case. The distinguishing characteristic of these products? Unlike many other consumer safety recalls, the design defects in these particular products (mostly defective cribs) led to several wrongful deaths.

That said, I am still troubled by a few aspects of the CPSC's press release. One, if the stated goal of the Top Ten List is to garner and focus the public's attention on the unique dangers presented by these particular children's products, then they should say so. And rather than just issue a simple press release, they should broadcast this list all over the news, and post videos on the internet that demonstrate the manifest dangers of these products. Second, if the government went to the trouble of conducting a study roughly ten years ago which assessed whether re-sellers of consumer products were compliant with Federal law barring the re-sale of recalled products, why wasn't a companion study done to assess what measures could be implemented to improve compliance. Wouldn't that have been more important than the first study?

Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

7/30/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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In the near-daily bombardment of announcements of defective product recalls, it is hard for any one recall to really stand out, especially if it does not involve an egregious safety hazard. But, every once in a while, a relatively minor product recall can distinguish itself, if only because the circumstances underlying the recall are unusual, or simply off the beaten path.

Yesterday, the CPSC announced one such recall. And it was noteworthy in two respects: first, this recall has absolutely nothing to do with the actual design of the product - it had to do with the product's instructions. Second, and in the same vein, it wasn't simply a question that the instructions were inadequate or unclear (just imagine if that were the standard that companies employed to issue recalls); rather, they simply forgot to include a critical set of instructions regarding the swing seat's harness.

Consequently, this product recall is distinct from the garden variety recall because it touches upon a failure to warn claim rather than a defective design claim. For more information on the distinctions between these two different types of defective products claims, please see "Why There Are So Few Successful Defective Products Lawsuits."

Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

7/28/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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De-Bunking Some Myths About Defective Products Lawsuits Under NY Law

In this article, Long Island, New York products liability lawyer and author of the guide to New York defective products cases, Jonathan Cooper, explains why some commonly held ideas about the viability and prevalence of products liability lawsuits are terribly mistaken. For additional information on this topic, please visit www.ProductsLiabilityBook.com or www.JonathanCooperLaw.com.

Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

7/24/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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As reported in our news section, earlier this week, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, in a joint announcement with its sister organization, Health Canada, announced that nearly 90,000 gas grills were recalled after they had collectively received a whopping 161 reports of fires, burn injuries, and other assorted personal injuries, including loss of hearing, due to the defective design of these Chinese-made grills. And these complaints were all logged in less than 3 years.

Apparently, the fire hazard with this particular product, the Blue Ember Gas Grill, is that the gas tank's hose is set too close to the firebox.

In analyzing this news story, two questions immediately come to mind - and its not the first time we've raised these issues (see "CPSC's Recall of (Yet Another) Defective Crib Raises Questions About Recall System in General"):

  1. Why did it take so many reports of grill fires before this latest round of the recall became effective?; and,
  2. Why didn't the first round of recalls of this product in 2008 solve this problem?

The fact that these questions need to be asked is certainly troubling.

Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

7/19/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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How Product Safety Recalls Can Help Prove A Defective Products Case in NY

Long Island, New York product safety recall and defective fan attorney Jonathan Cooper discusses how a government recall of a product can be helpful and effective in proving a product liability case under New York law. For additional information on this topic, as well as products liability cases in general, please order a copy of Jonathan Cooper's FREE guide to defective products cases, Why There Are So Few Successful Defective Products Lawsuits, by going to www.ProductsLiabilityBook.com.

Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

7/6/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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On July 2, the Consumer Products Safety Commission, in conjunction with Aqua-Leisure Industries, recalled over 4 million children's inflatable boats and rafts, after they received over 30 complaints that the straps which secure the children's legs had a tendency to rip, causing the children to fall into the water. Although, thankfully, no drowning incidents have been reported due to this problem, it bears repeating that in terms of New York law governing defective products (or "products liability"), this is a classic example of a design defect. For additional information on what factors determine what a plaintiff must prove to succeed on a defective products claim, you can download the free eBook, "Why There Are So Few Successful Defective Products Lawsuits."

Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

6/14/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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On June 10, the Consumer Products Safety Commission, or CPSC, announced yet another recall of a children's crib after finding that a defect in the design of this crib, particularly the faillure of spring pins, caused the crib's drop side to become completely detached from the crib, thereby posing both a strangulation and fall hazard to infants.

While that seems fair enough, the question that both puzzles and frightens me is this: why did it take over 30 reports of the drop side of the crib failing before the recall was issued? Stated differently, considering the manifest danger posed by many children's products - and cribs in particular - why wasn't the (investigation concluded and) recall issued earlier?

Thankfully, from the statement issued by the CPSC regarding this particular product recall, it does not appear that they have received reports of anyone being seriously injured by this product. But given the numbers, it seems that this is in many respects due to good fortune rather than good practice.



Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

6/7/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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Following a recent story on CNN which reported that Chrysler's bankruptcy filing would mean that personal injury lawsuits against the auto manufacturer would now effectively be barred, the predictable response from tort reform advocates of "WHO CARES," was prominently displayed in the blog comments section of the report. My response to that is simple: you should. And here's why: even if you don't drive a Chrysler, someone else who's on the road with you just might. And if no one in the manufacturing  or distribution chain of that vehicle has any incentive to make sure that their consumers are apprised of any defects in the vehicle, whether in its design or manufacture, guess who's being put at risk? That's right - not only the drivers of those vehicles, but everyone around them, including you and me. So before anyone's too quick to dismiss as inconsequential this corollary to Chrysler's bankruptcy filing, perhaps they should take a broader view of the broader impact on consumer safety, and consider the possible impact on them.

Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

6/5/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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Yesterday, the FDA, in conjunction with two private firms, presented a report on the findings of their research study at the FDAnews Medical Device Quality Congress. Interestingly, their research demonstrated that less than 10 percent of the more than 200 companies surveyed used any type of electronic database to record customer complaints or other product issues; in the same vein, the official recordkeeping at more than 80 percent of those companies was still maintained did so on paper, or the equivalent.

This study seems modeled after those discussed in our earlier articles, Food Manufacturers Group Publishes Proposals to Improve Defective Product Recalls and New Report Finds Government Recalls of Defective Products Ineffective, and reaches similar conclusions: in order to have any chance at improving consumer safety, defective product recalls must be brought into the new millenium, using modern technology. Unfortunately, it seems that the conclusions of this new FDA study break little to no new ground. Stated differently, tell us something we don't know that can actually help remove safety hazards from consumer's hands.


Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

5/15/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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In the wake of numerous defective product recalls, particularly regarding defective food products such as salmonella-tained peanut butter and pistachio nuts that were unprecedented in their scope or magnitude, the Grocery Manufacturers Association has published its proposals to improve the efficiency and efficacy of defective product recalls under the title Prevention, Partnership and Planning: Supply Chain Initiatives to Improve Food Safety.

This is not their first initiative; it is their third initiative since 1997, and their second this year. Unfortunately, that begs the question: does this new initiative mean that they are to be lauded for being responsive, or does it mean that their proposals and initiatives either have been, or are, inadequate, ineffective and untimely?

A brief review of the GMA's proposals indicates that they are focused in 3 primary areas:

  1. Bringing Product Recalls Into the 21st Century: The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and GS1US have jointly created  a centralized internet-based product recall database in order to help assure that defective product recall information is more easily shared across the chain of distribution for these recalled products, from the manufacturers and distributors, all the way down to retailers. In this fashion, it is hoped that hazardous or defective products can be taken off the store shelves, and removed from the marketplace more quickly and efficiently.
  2. Using Accredited Third Parties to Audit Food Safety: The report urges the adoption of universal food safety criteria that will be put together by a recognized entity, such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), to reduce the occurrence and risk of tainted food reaching consumers.
  3. Updating the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) for Food: The Food and Drug Administration is currently updating its regulations as to the proper handling, storage and preparation of food products.

While none of these proposals are particularly bad, my concern is that they share an important common denominator: each proposal passes the buck onto someone else, whether the FMI, third-party auditors or the FDA. Moreover, these proposals would not appear to have any real chance of success in assuring compliance by smaller downstream retailers who are neither memebers of the GMA, nor technologically adept. And I suspect that a significant amount, if not the majority, of retailers fall into this category. Unfortunately, I think these proposals are doomed to fail before they leave the starting gate, and fall far short of the hope I had expressed in New Report Finds Government Recalls of Defective Products Ineffective.


Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

5/8/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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Since last June, crib maker Jardine Enterprises and the CPSC have now expanded their initial recall of defective and dangerous baby cribs a second time, raising the total number of recalled cribs by this company to nearly 500,000, and adds to the 4.2 million cribs that have been recalled over the past two years. Lest you think that the recalls are for minor structural issues, the latest recall was issued in response to concerns that the cribs’ wooden slats and spindles could break, and in that process entrap and strangle infants – clearly a significant consumer safety issue.

Thankfully, it appears that these recalls have compelled the CPSC to finally recognize critical problems not only with crib safety but also with the consumer-product-recall system. As we’ve noted previously, since crib makers are not required to undertake significant steps to announce the recalls, the vast majority of consumers never hear about them; and even if the consumers do hear about the recalls, it appears that many of them don’t respond to the recalls because they assume that their particular crib is okay so long as they haven't experienced problems with it.

Let’s hope the CPSC can use this recall constructively, and come up with a solution that will help product recalls work.



Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

5/1/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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KXAN of Austin, Texas recently reported on the Consumer Products Safety Commission's issuance of a recall of this dangerous home gym equipment which poses a major safety hazard to users of the defective product, as there is a risk of suffering serious personal injuries, particularly amputated fingers.

Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety

4/23/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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After reviewing the Consumer Products Safety Commission's progress reports regarding 25 recalled products and finding that several of the reports were either completely lacking critical information or internally conflicted, non-profit group Kids In Danger concluded in its annual report that the CPSC could not effectively determine whether these recalls were in fact successful or effective. In addition, the report opined that the CPSC's oversight of its product recalls was insufficient, because not enough was or is being done to notify consumers of the product recalls, as a result of which many of these dangerous products are remaining in consumer's homes or school facilities, rather than being taken out of circulation.

The CPSC's response to this report, which predictably defended their record on the recalls, also contained a somewhat interesting claim: according to their spokesman,  the primary method by which the CPSC  determines if its recalls are working is by waiting to see whether they are still receiving reports of problems with the product.

From this statement, it seems like the CPSC's follow-up on any one of its product recalls is largely, if not purely, reactive. Thus, theoretically, the CPSC would determine that one of its recalls failed only after someone suffered a tragic accident or traumatic personal injuries.

I, for one, would have hoped that this massive governmental agency, whose mission statement accepts responsibility for assuring the safety of our children from unsafe toys and other recreational and household products, would have a far more scientifically sound and proactive method for assessing the success of a product recall.



Category: Keyword Search: consumer safety