Questions Arise Within Braintree MA Police Department Regarding Missing Evidence

On September 14, 2016 the Boston Globe reported an emerging scandal involving the Braintree Police Department. An audit commissioned by the police chief revealed missing drugs, guns and money from the evidence room. As a result, numerous cases which resulted in convictions will be reviewed by the district attorney’s office and a number of pending criminal complaints were dismissed because of the tainted evidence. Therefore, a number of dangerous criminals may be set free.

Were you a victim related to any of these convictions or pending prosecutions? If so, your rights may have been violated. If you or a family member has questions, please contact the law office of Swartz & Swartz, P.C. by email at attorney@swartzlaw.com, or call (617) 742-1900 in the Boston area, or toll-free at 1-800-545-3732.

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Ikea MALM Drawers Recalled

On June 28, 2016, Ikea announced that it is recalling several models of its MALM drawers due to a tipping hazard that has caused the deaths of three children since 2014, as well as 19 reported incidents of injuries to children. The most recent incident occurred in February 2016, when a 22-month-old boy in Minnesota died from a MALM chest falling on top of him. This recall follows an announcement made in July 2015 in which Ikea warned of this potential hazard from these same models of MALM chests. At the time, Ikea offered consumers of this product free wall-anchoring kits which, if properly installed, would prevent the drawers from tipping over and causing injuries.

If these chests are not properly anchored to a wall, they become unstable and pose a serious danger. The drawers are made of light particleboard or fiberboard which may make the base of the drawers unstable and possibly be the cause of this tip hazard if the drawers’ contents make them top-heavy.

Parents and caregivers should also be aware of this hazard generally regarding other household furniture items, especially those filled with weighty items, and those which serve as a stand for larger items, such as televisions. In fact, recent statistics indicate that a major cause of personal injuries to children are tip-overs involving heavy furniture or televisions. Every year 23,000 children (under the age of 9) are rushed to emergency room for injuries sustained from unanchored products.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has urged parents of young children to anchor and stabilize their televisions, furniture, and appliances to prevent tip-over related incidents. In a quest to reach a toy, TV or game remote, or other desired item, young children may use dressers and tables as climbing devices, often leading to tragic results. Manufacturers of such items have long been aware of these dangers, and are required to anticipate the environment of end use, to help prevent these injuries.

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W.A.T.C.H. Out! 2016 Summer Safety for Children

On June 28th, the consumer advocacy group W.A.T.C.H. (World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc.) presented its 2016 Summer Safety Report at its annual “Safe Fun in the Sun” conference at Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.

The conference addressed “Summer Safety Traps” of common outdoor activities and highlighted some of the many different types of hazards of which parents and caregivers should be aware in order to prevent potentially life-threatening injuries to children this summer. One of the primary goals of this conference was to increase awareness about hazards associated with some summer recreational activities and products so that these incidences become less frequent. There are especially high rates of child injuries during the summer in particular, when almost half of all injury-related deaths in children occur, according to W.A.T.C.H.

Some of the summer activities that were discussed at the conference included swimming and drowning hazards, toys made for outdoor play like remote helicopters and other flying objects, realistic-looking toy guns, projectile toys, and “hoverboards”, the motorized two-wheeled scooters that have gained particular popularity over the past year.

If you have questions about children’s toys or products, please contact an attorney at Swartz & Swartz, P.C.

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Nader’s Tort Museum and Swartz & Swartz Founder’s Efforts Featured

A recent article in Connecticut’s Journal Enquirer highlights the important exhibits at Ralph Nader’s Tort Law Museum, including a feature dedicated to the efforts of Swartz & Swartz founder, the late Edward M. Swartz, and the legacy carried on by the non-profit group, World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (WATCH). Swartz started a crusade against toy hazards, and the life-altering injuries suffered by children, when he testified before The National Commission on Product Safety in 1968.

The hallway devoted to harmful toys, described by the author as “an absolute highlight”, contains examples of explosives and other dangerous items manufactured and sold as playthings for minors. Among the “toys” displayed are “Jarts”, lawn darts which were banned in 1988 after more than 6,000 people were injured or killed, some with severe brain injuries.

The tireless work of Nader, Swartz and others to enhance safety through consumer advocacy and the civil justice system, provide shining examples of how individuals truly can make a difference.

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Medical Research Links Proton Pump Inhibitors with Kidney Disease

A correlation between the use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and kidney disease has been suggested in recent studies released by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). PPIs are medications which work to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach, which helps to treat chronic heartburn, acid reflux, esophageal inflammation, and stomach ulcers. PPIs are found in most common heartburn and acid reflux medications like Nexium, Prevacid, and Prilosec.

These studies found that taking PPIs may lead to a higher risk for kidney-related diseases including chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD). While this alleged heightened degree of risk is still being evaluated, the studies show a significantly higher degree of risk for kidney disease in those who used PPI’s for an extended period of time compared with those who only used PPIs for 30 days or less. There was also an increased risk for those taking two doses of PPIs per day versus just one dose per day.

In the past, PPIs have also been suspected of leading to acute kidney inflammation and magnesium deficiencies. The vitamin deficiencies are thought to be due to the impact the drug has on the stomach’s ability to absorb nutrients into the body. These other alleged side effects of PPIs have led scholars to try and determine if either or both are the reasons for the increased risk of kidney disease.

Once a person has CKD, there is a gradual progression to kidney failure if it is not properly treated. If kidney failure is left untreated by dialysis or a transplant, toxins and fluids begin to build up in the body, leading to a number of serious consequences including a likelihood of hypertension, heart disease and premature death.

The authors of the JAMA study note that the next step in determining whether this possible link is in fact causal would be to look at whether limiting PPI usage reduces the risk for CKD.

Swartz & Swartz, P.C. is committed to the persistent and unrelenting pursuit of drug manufacturers who cause serious injury or death to unsuspecting consumers. If you or a family member has questions about a dangerous drug, contact the law office of Swartz & Swartz, P.C. by email at attorney@swartzlaw.com, or call (617) 742-1900 in the Boston area, or toll-free at 1-800-545-3732 in greater Massachusetts, New England, or other states across the U.S.

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Parents and Families Beware – 11-Year-Old Girl Dies after Choking Tragedy

SOMERSET, Mass. (AP) — A young girl who choked on a marshmallow at a birthday party has died. News reports identified an 11-year-old who died at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence last Friday morning. The Somerset, Massachusetts girl had been there since she was found unconscious at a friend’s birthday party one week prior.

The girl’s mother has said that about an hour after she dropped her daughter off, she got a call from the hosts saying she had “passed out”. Apparently, no one realized she was choking when she was found passed out on the floor. When rescuers arrived, they found a marshmallow lodged in the girl’s throat.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued numerous recalls over many years relating to small parts on defective toys. The CPSC as well as watchdog groups like World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (WATCH) have long sounded the alarm about choking hazards associated with balloons, small magnets, and, as this recent tragedy illustrates, even certain foods. Parents and caregivers with small children – please recognize the potential for such hazards, and be educated about how such hazards present themselves, as well as the significant risks involved. There is, of course, no excuse for the design, marketing and sale of defective toys, but ingestion risks abound even for items that at first glance seem safe.

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Moogy Plush Toys Recalled

On April 15, 2016, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a recall of Moogy Plush toys. The importer and distributor, Miniland Educational Corp., of Miami, FL., sold approximately 2,000 of the Moogy Plush toy from July 2015 to February 2016 in the United States. Moogy Plush toys were designed for toddlers between 12 and 36 months of age.

The Moogy Plush toy is about 18.5 inches tall, has a blue and green face, red ears, a blue jacket with a red zipper, pink/red striped pants and pink and orange shoes with polka dots. However, the red button on the left pocket can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children.

Many consumers shop under the false pretense that toys bought from big-name manufacturers and retailers are not dangerous. Dangerous toys are still available for sale far too often. In fact, seeing a familiar name on a package can lead to a false sense of security that the toy enclosed is safe. Small parts on toys have been a perpetual, often deadly, and shockingly overlooked hazard. Over the years, many toys have been recalled because of easily detachable small parts, or affixed small parts that can be mouthed and occlude a child’s airway. Many toys on store shelves may not violate industry or regulatory standards but are nevertheless clearly dangerous, given the inadequacy of existing standards. For instance, toys with soft parts that can detach and become lodged in a child’s throat are often not considered “small parts” by the industry. Young oral age children are at risk when they break off pieces of shoddily made or inadequately designed toys. These hidden hazards have led to many incidents of deaths and brain damage, yet can still be found in newly designed toys.

The bottom line for parents and caregivers – please inspect all toys carefully before making your purchases. Understand the potential hazards, which may be lurking despite existing government standards.

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American Museum Of Tort Law Reopens, Including Exhibit Paying Tribute To The Pioneering Work Of Edward M. Swartz

Famed consumer protection advocate Ralph Nader first conceived of a museum honoring tort law in the late 1990s. Last fall, after a fundraising effort, the museum opened its doors in Nader’s hometown of Winsted, Connecticut.

The American Museum of Tort Law hosted private tours during this past winter, and is now reopening to the public with its Great Spring Reawakening. The hall is designed as a tangible educational institution, with a goal of reminding the public of the importance of the jury system and the need to play an active role in it. The exhibits have been well received by thousands of visitors to date.

One popular exhibit pays tribute to the work of the late Boston lawyer Edward M. Swartz, the founder of Swartz & Swartz, P.C. Swartz was a pioneer in the field of product liability law, and is well known for his advocacy on behalf of children and toy safety. His efforts include the writing of many books for the legal practitioner and consumers, the annual “10 Worst Toys” list, and formation of the non-profit group World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (WATCH).

The museum seeks to increase citizen understanding of Tort Law – the law of wrongful injury – and the role it plays in protecting personal freedom, health and safety through the American civil justice system.

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Investigation Of Deadly Ammonia Leak At Boston Warehouse Raises Safety Questions

A man died on the night of Wednesday, March 23rd as the result of a large ammonia leak in a warehouse operated by Stavis Seafoods in Boston’s Seaport District. The fatality involved a worker, one of several on site at the time. The city’s homicide unit, as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), were investigating the cause of the leak.

Ammonia is used at the facility for the transportation of fish. Authorities indicated that there was about 5,400 pounds of ammonia in the tank that connects to the building’s pipeline.

The South Boston seafood company where a worker died was reportedly issued thousands of dollars in fines by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) for serious violations related to how it dealt with ammonia in the facility’s refrigeration system. For example, in August 2009, the company was issued $47,250 in fines for 15 separate serious violations, chiefly in its process safety management program. The case was closed in November 2009. Serious citations mean that death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards the employer knew about or should have known about, according to OSHA.

Workplace safety always must be the primary concern for employers and facility owners, especially when dangerous chemicals or conditions are present. Thousands of workers hurt on the job every year, and many injuries are the result of contractors’ and management’s failure to maintain a safe jobsite. Some of these injuries are the result of defective equipment. Other injuries are the result of carelessness or negligence on the part of a general contractor or subcontractor, for example failing to properly inspect the jobsite, failing to provide safe machinery or tools, or failing to provide workers with adequate fall protection equipment.

Management must ensure that its work environment is fully in compliance with all OSHA regulations, and even exceeds such federal safety requirements when the lives of workers are at stake.

By James A. Swartz of Swartz & Swartz P.C.Permalink

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Takata’s Faulty Airbags Still Exact Toll as Recalls Lag

Joel Knight, a 52-year-old welder of South Carolina, was injured by the shrapnel from the Ford Ranger airbag, which punctured his neck with so much force that investigators initially thought a fatal shooting had occurred. Mr. Knight hit a stray cow while he was driving on a South Carolina highway. A metal chunk hurtled out from his ruptured airbag and punched a one-inch hole in his neck, breaking his vertebra. He also had wounds on his right arm which show that he tried to brace himself from the airbag before he died. Mr. Knight bled to death, not ever knowing that the airbag in his truck had posed a risk.

His airbag had been manufactured by Takata, the Japanese supplier whose faulty airbags have been linked to 10 deaths and more than 100 injuries. Unfortunately, Mr. Knight was not aware that the airbag had been recalled.

Tens of millions of people drive vehicles that may pose a lethal danger but have not been repaired or, as in Mr. Knight’s case, have not even been recalled. Since 2000, Takata has sold as many as 54 million metal “inflaters” in the United States containing ammonium nitrate, an explosive compound that regulators believe is at the center of the problem, according to an estimate by Valient Market Research and provided to The New York Times. About 28 million inflaters in 24 million vehicles have been recalled. Of the 28 million recalled inflaters, only about 30 percent have been repaired. The rest of the inflaters, about 26 million, have not been recalled.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has stepped up its scrutiny of the problem, after a series of missteps over nearly a decade, but has stopped short of an immediate recall of all Takata airbags containing the compound. The safety agency, which has barred Takata from using ammonium nitrate for new orders, has given the supplier until the end of 2018 to prove that ammonium nitrate is safe in existing airbags. And Takata has even longer, until the end of 2019, to show that inflaters with a more advanced version of the compound are safe.

Swartz & Swartz, P.C. has assisted many families over the years whose lives have been tragically and forever altered as the result of a significant personal injury or wrongful death due to a car accident or automobile defect. If you would like to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney at Swartz & Swartz, P.C., please contact us. You can call us at (617) 742-1900, or if you are outside the Boston area, call toll-free at 1-800-545-3732.

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