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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

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1/22/2014
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Fire Hazard Prompts Sears & Kmart to Recall Oscillating Fan Heaters

Following reports of 7 of these oscillating fan units catching fire, Sears and Kmart issued a product recall, in conjunction with the CPSC.

Category: Keyword Search: defective product

10/9/2013
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Dehumidifiers Recalled After $2 Million in Property Damage Repored,

China-based manufacturer Gree was forced to recall 12 brands of dehumidifiers after receiving reports of fire and shock hazards

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4/30/2013
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Sudden Acceleration in Toy Scooters Prompts Product Recall

Apparently, sudden acceleration problems aren't limited to cars; they now include the toy car market, explains NY defective product lawyer Jonathan Cooper.

Category: Keyword Search: defective product

1/20/2013
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Hy Cite Recalls Over 1.7 Million Pots Due to Fire Hazard

After receiving over 1,100 complaints that its cookware had failed, Hy Cite was compelled to voluntarily recall its Thermal Wall cookware, explains Jonathan Cooper

Category: Keyword Search: defective product

8/15/2012
Jonathan Cooper
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Over 1 Million Bumbo Baby Seats Recalled Due to Fall Hazard

After a series of injuries to small babies, Bumbo has recalled its infant seats, explains Long Island, NY defective product lawyer Jonathan Cooper.

Category: Keyword Search: defective product

5/20/2012
Jonathan Cooper
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Safety 1st Forced to Issue Another Recall for Defective Child Safety Locks

Long Island, New York product safety lawyer Jonathan Cooper discusses how Safety 1st was forced to issue yet another recall of its child safety locks.

Category: Keyword Search: defective product

3/27/2012
Jonathan Cooper
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Safety 1st Recalls Over 900,000 Defective Child Safety Locks

After receiving hundreds of complaints, Safety 1st is forced to recalls over 900,000 defective child safety locks.

Category: Keyword Search: defective product

2/5/2012
Jonathan Cooper
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Fire Hazard Prompts HP to Issue Product Recall of More Than 1 Million Fax Machines

Fire hazards are not limited to household kitchen items (or cell phones, computers or car batteries), explains Long Island, NY product recall attorney Jonathan Cooper.

Category: Keyword Search: defective product

10/10/2011
Jonathan Cooper
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One Reason That Manufacturers Will Promptly Recall a Defective Product

Did you ever wonder why a manufacturer would voluntarily recall one of its products? Long Island, NY product recall & defective product attorney explains.

Category: Keyword Search: defective product

8/1/2011
Jonathan Cooper
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Offered Full Damages for Defective Dryer, NY Insurer Still Says No

Long Island, New York defective dryer and products liability attorney Jonathan Cooper discusses how one insurer refused a manufacturer's offer to pay in full.

Category: Keyword Search: defective product

7/7/2011
Jonathan Cooper
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Baseball Gloves Recalled Due to Mold Concerns

Long Island & Queens, NY product recall attorney Jonathan Cooper discusses a recent consumer product recall involving baseball & softball gloves due to mold.

Category: Keyword Search: defective product

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: defective product

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: defective product

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: defective product

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: defective product

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: defective product

4/26/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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After a trial that recently took place in Brooklyn's federal court, a jury found that Black & Decker, which manufactured the lawnmower, was liable to the plaintiff, who lost his fingers in the cutting blades of one of its lawnmowers, because the lawnmower was defectively designed. The significance of this case lies in the second part of the jury's finding, however: although the jury held that the lawnmower was defectively made, in that the Black & Decker lawnmower's on/off switch was too readily turned on, which was a safety hazard, and further held that this defect was a significant factor in causing the plaintiff's personal injuries, they also held that by forgetting to unplug the mower before performing maintenance on the machine, the plaintiff was 90% responsible for his own accident. Consequently, despite finding that the plaintiff's loss of his fingers was worth $2 million, the plaintiff was only awarded $200,000.

So, why is case is blog-worthy? Because it provides one of the clearest demonstrations of how New York's comparative negligence doctrine works in a practical way. More importantly, I believe that this case shows the wisdom of some facets of our judicial system, in this case, the comparative negligence doctrine.  Although some might be inclined to side with Black & Decker in this case, and might even go so far as to say that the plaintiff should never have brought this lawsuit, especially considering the high degree of culpability that the plaintiff bore for his own accident (I admit that I probably would have rejected this case had it come to my office for this very reason) I think that this attitude is wrong both on public policy grounds, as well as for this specific case and plaintiff. Simply put, had this case never been brought, Black & Decker would have had no incentive to make their lawnmower safer for consumers by making it more difficult to accidentally engage the power switch, even though it is apparently a relatively simple modification. And without this case, the plaintiff would have been denied monetary compensation that Black & Decker owes him for their share of the fault for his accident.


Category: Keyword Search: defective product

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: defective product

3/8/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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As noted in our news section, a New York jury recently held that the manufacturer of a conveyor system was not liable for the personal injuries suffered by a man whose hand was caught in the machinery. Although the plaintiff's personal injuries in this particular case were severe, it certainly seems - at first blush - like the plaintiff pursued the wrong defendant.  Here's why:

In this case, the plaintiff claimed that the manufacturer should be held responsible for the serious injuries he sustained because the manufacturer should have warned against setting up the machine in close proximity to a table and offloading tray, since such a setup posed a risk of his hand getting caught in the gap between them. To say the least, this is a weak theory of liability, and the jury apparently concurred.

In rendering their verdict, the jury agreed with the defendant manufacturer's assertion that the defendant should not be held liable in negligence or otherwise, because there was no evidence that the product they manufactured was defective, and they should not be held responsible to warn against a dangerous condition that was created by the user (i.e., plaintiff's employer) rather than them.

This raises an important question: presumably, the plaintiff knew there was a weak case against the manufacturer. So why did plaintiff sue the manufacturer rather than what was presumably a much stronger case against his employer? The answer lies in the Workers' Compensation Law, which bars a claimant from suing his employer for work-related personal injuries unless he sustains one of the specifically delineated categories of  "grave injury" set forth in Workers' Compensation Law §11. Realizing the limitations imposed by the law, the plaintiff elected to pursue the only other potentially liable defendant - the manufacturer.

Category: Keyword Search: defective product

3/8/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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Although there has been much written and reported about defective and hazardous drywall material made in China, a report that came out earlier today on this subject is downright frightening. According to Florida-based News-Press.com, it appears that officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, among other governmental entities (including the Florida Department of Health), waited at least 2 months from the time that they knew of the potential health or toxic hazard that these materials caused until notifying the public because they wanted to coordinate their efforts with a prominent builder that had used much of these materials, and to avoid any hysteric reaction caused by "sweeps week" on televsion.

To put this in context, following is a partial list of the complaints received regarding the Chinese-manufactured drywall:

the faulty drywall gives off a rotten-egg smell, and also gives off chemicals that rust air conditioning coils and either tarnishes or ruins other metals inside the home, including jewelry, electrical wiring, and plumbing. Those living in homes with the defective product have complained of experiencing respiratory difficulties, nausea and skin-related problems that tend to lessen when leaving the home, and are aggravated while at home. These are hardly "minor" discomforts.


At the very least, this story should help inform the tort reform debate, in order to assure that people with legitimate claims are not left subject to the whim (and perhaps, irresponsibility) of governmental officials whose agenda does not have the public's safety as their foremost concern.




Category: Keyword Search: defective product

3/4/2009
Jonathan Cooper
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After 2007, which bore the dubious distinction as "The Year of the Recall," and 2008, which saw even more recalls that were undertaken either voluntarily or in response to a governmental demand (not to mention the recent recall of well over 2,000 peanut-based products following the salmonella scare), there were several news reports of small businesses, particularly children's toy distributors and tire suppliers, that openly expressed their fears that any recall of their particular products would force them to close their doors. Strangely, none of these articles discussed a relatively straightforward solution to this threat: defective product or product contamination insurance.

According to A.M. Best Co., this area of insurance, despite the economic recession, is continuing to grow at a rapid clip of over 30% a year. 

If you run a small business that either manufactures or distributes products that could potentially become the subject of a safety recall, it certainly behooves you to ascertain whether this brand of insurance can cover your business; your business's survival may one day depend on it. 



Category: Keyword Search: defective product