Increase in Robotic Surgeries Raise Concerns

Robotic surgical equipment, now solely made in the United States by Intuitive surgical Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., has been a topic of controversy since its U.S Food and Drug Administration approval in 2000.

Recently at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, seven nurses and doctors along with a half-ton, 7- foot- tall metal and plastic robot performed robotic surgery on Paul Claus, 77, of Winthrop. Claus had a potentially cancerous polyp removed from his small intestine.

The surgeons also planned to remove his gallbladder, full of painful stones, although given the routine nature of the procedure; they admit that using the robot is “a bit like killing a fly with nuclear weapons”.

Despite its risks, many hospitals throughout the Greater Boston area perform hundreds of robotic operations each year using high-tech machinery that takes delicate, risky and inaccessible tasks out of human hands.  The complex da Vinci robots—programmed and guided remotely by humans – dud the cutting in about 1,800 cases in Boston last year, a number that is slowly rising.

The controversial da Vinci surgical robot has no shortage of critics. There have been thousands of complaints to the Food and Drug Administration in the 14 years since the earliest version was introduced.

Many doctors and health administrators are concerned that safety risks, regulatory barriers and its hefty price tag outweigh any potential benefits. Robot surgeries also produce a myriad of malpractice suits when the surgeries go wrong.

Robotic surgeries can pose increased threats to patients. Swartz & Swartz, P.C. was one of the first law firms in the nation to file suit against improperly trained surgeons causing injury to patients while using a robotic device during surgery. If you believe you have been injured due to medical negligence or a mechanical defect during a robotics procedure, please contact one of the highly experienced medical malpractice and products liability attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C.  Our lawyers are here to answer your questions and discuss how to protect your legal rights. Call our Boston, Massachusetts office at (617) 742-1900, or toll-free at 1-800-545-3732.

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Nissan has recently increased the number of vehicles recalled in the United States for passenger airbags manufactured by the Japanese-based Takata. The massive airbag recall has affected over two dozen brands of vehicles in the United States.

Defective Takata air bags have been the subject of NHTSA safety alerts after reports of incidents in which the automobile restraint systems exploded and hurled metal shrapnel into the heads and bodies of drivers and passengers.

While airbags are one of the major safety innovations in the auto industry, the Takata recalls have now caused a shift in safety concerns for consumers.

At least two deaths and many injuries have been associated with the defective Takata air bags, which were installed in vehicles made by Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford and BMW in various model years ranging from 2000 to 2008. About 5 million of the cars are Hondas.

These vehicles were all originally sold or currently registered in geographic locations associated with high absolute humidity, specifically, vehicles sold or currently registered in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Florida and adjacent counties in southern Georgia, as well as the coastal areas of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Safety regulators believe the problem might be associated with hot, humid climates. But other safety experts, such as Clarence Ditlow, executive director for the Center for Auto Safety, said it’s not clear how much of a factor weather has been, believing there should be a wider recall.

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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. We are here to answer your questions and discuss how to protect your legal rights.

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Swartz & Swartz Files Suit In New Hampshire On Behalf Of Man Paralyzed While In Police Custody

The Valley Street jail, Manchester police and Elliot Hospital are named in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Fern Ornelas, a Manchester resident paralyzed last October at some point while he was under the care of one or more of the three organizations.

The lawsuit also names Hillsborough County Corrections Superintendent David Dionne, Police Chief David Mara and other corrections officers, jail nurses, hospital security guards and police officers who came in contact with Ornelas over a two-day period.

The 71-page suit was filed late last week by attorney David P. Angueira of Swartz & Swartz of Boston.

It lays out the altercations and injuries that Ornelas suffered at both the hospital and jail. And it claims his symptoms were ignored by law enforcement, jail officers and medical professionals as he was moved from hospital to police station to jail.

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911 remember

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Stroller Activity Trays Recalled Due To Strangulation Hazard


The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a recall for about 860 Tray Vous™ snack and activity trays with connectors sold in the United States and Canada. The opening between the recalled tray and stroller seat bottom allows an unharnessed child’s body to pass through, but could trap a child’s head, posing a strangulation hazard.

The snack and activity trays have connectors that fit into strollers; the three-piece units include a black plastic tray with a cup holder, a left connector and a right connector.  The products were sold at Dainty Baby in Brooklyn, N.Y. and other juvenile product stores nationwide, and online at,, and from May 2011 through June 2012 for about $50.

At any point during the infant swing design and manufacturing process, significant failures may contribute to products’ hazards, including (1) missteps during the early design stages; (2) inadequate testing to ensure safe performance; and (3) marketing efforts that include inadequate instructions and warnings, or even fail to include any relevant cautions. Even one act of negligence during the process from a product’s conception to its sale can cause catastrophic injuries and wrongful death once the product reaches unsuspecting consumers.

If you or a family member have questions regarding this recall, or generally regarding personal injuries, a defective product or negligence, contact the law office of Swartz & Swartz, P.C. Call (617) 742-1900 in the Boston area, or for clients in greater Massachusetts, New England, or other states across the U.S., call toll-free at 1-800-545-3732.

Posted in Catastrophic Injuries, Choking Hazard, Consumer Protection, Negligence, Personal Injury, Products Liability, Safety, Suffocation Hazard, Wrongful Death | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Child Deaths Lead to Beanbag Chair Recall

About 2.2 million bean bag chairs, made by Ace Bayou Corporation, are being recalled after two children were able to crawl inside, leading to their suffocation deaths. The chairs are made with zippers, which are easily opened by curious youngsters. A 13-year-old boy from McKinney, Texas, and a 3-year-old girl from Lexington, Kentucky, were found dead inside the chairs after they suffocated from a lack of air and inhaled the chair’s foam beads.

Significantly, the industry “voluntary” standard requires non-refillable bean bag chairs to have closed and permanently disabled zippers, to prevent such tragedies from occurring. Tragically and inexplicably, the standard was ignored by this manufacturer.

The chairs were sold at Bon-Ton, Meijer, Pamida, School Specialty, Wayfair and Walmart stores and online at, and They cost between $30 and $100 and were sold before July 2013. They come in all different colors, shapes, fabrics and sizes.

Suffocation hazards presented by children’s products, as well as products made for homes and schools where young children are expected to be living and plating, account for numerous deaths and injuries each year. A dangerous beanbag chair, or other furniture items such as cribs and juvenile beds,  may have been poorly manufactured or designed, misleadingly advertised, inaccurately labeled, or irresponsibly sold to or for children, many of whom are too young to appreciate the toy’s hazards.

Parents and caregivers – please carefully inspect any such items prior to purchasing. Do not assume that because a product reaches retail shelves, it is necessarily safe. This example highlights that safety standards are not always followed by manufacturers.

If you or a member of your family has questions about a dangerous toy or hazardous product, please contact us. We will answer any questions you might have, and can advise regarding your legal rights.

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Massachusetts sees an Overwhelming Jump in Hospital Mistakes

Within the last year, Massachusetts acute-care hospitals reported over 750 serious medical errors and patient injuries. This number is a 70 percent jump from previous years, causing concern for Hospital executives, as well as the patients and their families who were harmed by these errors.

Health officials attribute this annual jump to the expanded definitions of what constitutes medical harm.

Some of the hospital errors reported include instances where patients underwent a procedure on the wrong body part, were burned by an operating room fire or were exposed to contaminated or improperly sterilized equipment.  Patient falls, assaults, serious bed sores and suicides are also amongst the list of reported errors.

Commissioner of the Department of Public Health, Dr. Madeleine Biondolillo, said it’s unclear whether the increase in incident rates is attributable to the state broadening the type of incidents hospitals are now required to report.

Since 2008, Massachusetts hospitals have been required to notify the health department, patients and their families, about serious reportable medical errors.

Prior to 2012, hospitals were required to only report errors which resulted in a patient having a serious disability. Now, hospitals are required to report any “serious injury”, which could be a plausible cause for the increase in mistakes.

Despite this, hospitals still need to improve some of their practices. The broader reporting requirements do not eliminate the occurrence of medical errors. Biondolillo states that hospital reports for the 2014 year should give regulators a better idea of whether errors are rising because no more major changes to the notification system are planned. “We are always concerned. One of anything is too many,” she said. “But next year we’re going to be able to give a much more definitive answer to that question.”

If you or a family member have suffered significant injuries due to a medical error or if a loved one has suffered a wrongful death as the result of the negligence of a medical professional, please contact one of our personal injury attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C.. You can call us at (617) 742-1900, or if you are outside the Boston area, call toll-free at 1-800-545-3732. We are here to answer your questions and discuss how to protect your legal rights.

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Former Emerson Student Sues for Mishandling of her Sexual Assault Case

Jillian Doherty, a former Emerson student filed a federal Title IX complaint against Emerson College on Friday August 8th.  Title IX is a section of the Federal Educational Amendments of 1972 that protects students from discrimination based on gender — and the Jeanne Clery Act, which requires colleges to disclose campus crime information.

According to the complaint, Doherty was raped by a male Emerson student after a consensual act in his dorm room in April 2012. Due to her “fear and concern about her privacy and how she would be treated as a rape victim,” she did not report it to the school until almost a year later in March of 2013.  She names President M. Lee Pelton; Dean of Students Ronald Ludman; Director of Housing and Residence Life David Haden; and the Director of the Office of Student Conduct and the case’s Title IX investigator Michael Arno, with mishandling her rape case.

Doherty is seeking “compensatory and punitive damages, resulting from her pain and suffering resulting from the Defendants’ deliberate indifference” in addition to legal fees. Although she has declined to comment on the recently filed complaint, her attorney, David P. Angueira of Swartz & Swartz, in an interview with the Beacon, said that Doherty Hopes the case will improve the way Emerson handles student sexual assault cases.

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Oeuf Recalls Sparrow Cribs Due to Entrapment Hazard




On July 22, 2014, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled a particular model of cribs due to the safety hazard it posed to infants.

Over 14,000 Oeuf “Sparrow Cribs” were recalled this past Tuesday. Oeuf, a nursery furniture retailer which specializes in modern eco- friendly nursery furniture, issued a recall including four models of their Sparrow Cribs. The recalled cribs were manufactured between July 2007 and January 2014 and were sold in specialty stores nationwide and online for $800.

The CPSC reports that the slats/spindles and top rail of the crib can detach and pose an entrapment hazard to infants. Consumers should immediately stop using the cribs.

Product recalls are a cause for concern in households across the country. Infant product recalls are especially concerning due to the expected environment of use, particularly involving the youngest, most innocent consumers. Defective cribs are particularly concerning, since infants are foreseeably left alone for hours in what is supposed to be a safe, secure environment for playing and sleeping.

If you or a loved one has questions about this crib or any other children’s products, please contact a personal injury attorney at Swartz & Swartz, P.C.. You can call us at (617) 742-1900, or if you are outside of the Boston area, call toll-free at 1-800-545-3732. We have significant experience regarding applicable safety regulations and relevant hazards, and can answer any questions you might have.

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Seven People Dead After Fire In Lowell, Massachusetts

According to authorities, seven people died in an overnight fire at an apartment building in Lowell, Massachusetts. All of the victims were discovered in two third-floor apartments. The origin of the fire remains unknown. An extensive investigation, including the fire department as well as State police, is ongoing.

Residence fires unfortunately are a fact of life. Although we hope of course that we and our loved ones will not be involved in any fire incidents at home, it is important to understand your rights should such a fire occur. Proper investigations will focus on the existence, placement and operation of smoke and fire detectors; access to emergency exit routes; and other related potential building code violations. The first step is knowing whether or not you even have grounds to file a claim for your injuries. The accident scene should be investigated, coordinated (when necessary) with a proper team of professionals and experts, examining all evidence relating to the cause of the fire.

If you or a family member have suffered significant burn injuries as the result of a fire, or if a loved one has suffered a wrongful death as the result of burn injuries, please contact one of our personal injury attorney at Swartz & Swartz, P.C.. You can call us at (617) 742-1900, or if you are outside the Boston area, call toll-free at 1-800-545-3732. We are here to answer your questions and discuss how to protect your legal rights.

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