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, 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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Safety Concerns Raised Regarding Surgical Warming Blankets

A product designed to prevent hypothermia during and after surgery is currently under scrutiny for potential safety hazards, especially when used for hip and knee implant surgeries. Surgical warming blankets, also known as forced-air warming (FAW) blankets, are used to filter and heat air which is then forced beneath a disposable blanket covering all or part of a patient’s body. The blankets are designed to help maintain body temperature and avoid hypothermia. Bair Hugger, manufactured by 3M and Arizant, is a type of FAW system that has been widely used in orthopedic surgeries since the mid-2000s. Unfortunately, Bair Hugger is the subject of several claims which allege that the product caused contamination in the operating room, reportedly leading to serious post-surgical infections with prolonged consequences.

The primary alleged concern associated with the design of FAW blankets is that they can cause heightened bacteria growth and risk of infection, particularly given the disruption of ventilated airflow in the operating room. Operating rooms have specific airflow controls that are designed to expel airborne pathogens and prevent them from reaching the patient. Ventilated air is pushed down from the ceiling toward the operation site and then outward toward the edges of the room. The air currents then flow back up toward the ceiling where they are again ventilated. This airflow creates a curtain of ventilated air around the operation site that helps prevent contaminated air from reaching the patient. The forced air from these warming blankets has been shown in several studies to disrupt the room’s airflow and therefore risk patient contamination.

Although the warm air being forced under the blanket is ventilated, the warm air escapes from under the blanket and flows toward the floor. Studies have shown that this released air creates turbulence in the operation room’s airflow system, causing the contaminated warm air, or “waste heat”, to flow back toward the patient rather than outward and toward the ceiling. When the waste heat is directed toward the patient, the presence of contaminated particles and increased temperature causes bacteria to accumulate that can cause infection.

The greatest concern for infection is with hip and knee implant and replacement surgeries, which by nature involve a high degree of risk for contamination. Post-surgical bacterial infections can lead to more serious, life-threatening complications, and often result in numerous, even redundant, surgeries and prolonged medical treatment. Orthopedic complications specifically impact the future mobility of patients as well.

Lawsuits against the Bair Hugger FAW systems claim that the manufacturers have failed to warn physicians of the potential harms the blankets can cause and that they misleadingly market the blankets as safe to use during surgeries. Many physicians, and even the original inventor of the Bair Hugger FAW system, have called for a halt in the use of these blankets, at least until further studies have been performed or the alleged defects are remedied. Despite these claims, to date there have been no perceivable efforts to modify the defective design of the blankets or widespread prevention of their use in hospitals.

If you or a family member has questions about a defective product, or negligence in the design or manufacture of a surgical warming blanket or other medical device, contact the law office of Swartz & Swartz, P.C. by email at, 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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Government Issues Statement Regarding Hoverboard Safety

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently issued a statement regarding hoverbaord safety, as concerns grow amid reports of some models catching fire unexpectedly The CPSC, as well as consumer advocates, are working to determine the root cause of the fire hazard, how much of a risk it might present, and to provide consumers with answers exoeditiously.

Unfortunately, at present, there is no clear answer as to whether certain hoverboards purchased this holiday season have safety defects. It appears that purchasers and users have effectively become unknowing participants in an expansive post-market testing lab, where the next potential tragedy is lurking. This approach is unacceptable. Regulators must move quickly to ensure that proper premarket testing is in place, to prevent defective products from reaching the shelves. Keep in mind that there is no safety standard in place for hoverboards.

Manufacturers must take the lead in designing and manufacturing safe products for consumers, including young children.

The fire hazard has, understandably, generated the most attention. The government, however, is also advising consumers that it has received dozens of reports of injuries from hospital ERs relating to fall injuries, including concussions, fractures, contusions/abrasions, and internal organ injuries. Always wear a proper helmet and padding while using these, or any wheeled or propelled product such as bikes, scooters, in-line skates, and skateboards.

We advise that consumers do not purchase or use hoverboards at this time, given the current safety concerns. The government has issued “tips” regarding the use of these products, including but not limited to:

• Do not charge a hoverboard overnight or when you are not able to observe the board.
• Charge and store in an open dry area away from combustibles (meaning items that can catch fire).
• Do not charge directly after riding. Let the device cool for an hour before charging.
• If giving a hoverboard to someone for the holidays, leave it in its partially charged state. Do not take it out of the package to bring it to a full charge and then wrap it back up. Often, the product comes partially charged. Leave it in that state until it is ready to be used.

Other tips can be found at If you or your loved ones have questions about hoverboards, please contact an attorney at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. We will answer any questions you may have. Call (617) 742-1900 in the Boston area, or in greater Massachusetts, New England, or other states across the U.S., call toll-free at 1-800-545-3732.

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Government Continues To Sound The Alarm About Bean Bag Chair Recall

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), along with distributor Ace Bayou, has again issued an alert regarding the voluntary recall of about 2.2 million bean bag chairs sold from 1995 to 2013. So far, only 790 purchasers have responded to the recall, which highlights the importance of preventing hazardous products from entering the streams of commerce in the first instance. Recalls, while important, are not foolproof, and do not lead to the recovery of all defective products.

There is a continuing concern that these recalled bean bag chairs are still being used by children. The foam beads inside the chairs are serious suffocation and choking hazards for children. Two children died after suffocating on the chair’s foam beads. An additional incident has been reported to CPSC involving a 6 year old boy who opened bean bag and reportedly swallowed some foam beads and had others in his nose and mouth. The two deaths involved a 13-year old boy from McKinney, Texas died and a 3-year-old girl from Lexington, Ky. who suffocated from lack of air and inhaling the chair’s foam beads. Both children were found inside the chairs.

According to the CPSC, the recalled bean bag chairs were sold at Bergner’s, Big Lots, Bon-Ton, Boston Store, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s, Meijer, Pamida, School Specialty, Wayfair, Walmart and Younkers stores and online at,, and other websites from 1995 to 2013 for between $30 and $100.

Designers and manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure that their products can be safely used in foreseeable home environments. Even when a product is not sold or marketed as a toy or children’s product, if it will foreseeably be used in a home with small children, it must be sold with the appropriate cautions and warnings, and most importantly, with design safeguards to prevent the needless and tragic loss of life.

If you or a family member has questions about a defective product or negligence in the design or manufacture of a bean bag chair or children’s product, contact the law office of Swartz & Swartz, P.C. Call (617) 742-1900 in the Boston area, or call us toll-free at 1-800-545-3732 in greater Massachusetts, New England, or other states across the U.S.

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