Suspected Gas Explosion in Dorchester, MA Injures At Least 12 People

A suspected gas explosion on last week damaged a multi-family house and initiated a three-alarm fire in Dorchester, Massachusetts. The 2 1⁄2-story house is located at 27 Hansborough St., near Harvard Street and Blue Hill Avenue. At least 12 people were reported injured – some of those people were reportedly outside the building.

The house was still standing, with large holes blown in the walls. A door was also blown across the street, according to fire officials.

There were reports at the scene of a “smell of gas” just prior to the explosion. As of last week, investigators had not yet confirmed a gas leak.

Factors causing or contributing to gas explosions resulting in burn injuries or wrongful death have included improper gas line locations, faulty parts and equipment in mobile homes, workplace equipment, camping equipment, and defectively designed propane stoves. One important signal indicating the potential for a catastrophic event is the odor of gas (note that although gas has no smell, laws require that odorants be added for safety purposes). Should a gas leak be suspected, the property owner or occupants should immediately evacuate, then contact the proper authorities.

If you or a loved one has suffered burn injuries from a fire, explosion or electrocution, contact a personal injury attorney at our Boston law office. We are here to answer your questions and protect your legal rights.

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

Posted in Burn Injuries, Catastrophic Injuries, Consumer Protection, Gas Explosion, Negligence, Personal Injury, Premises Liability, Products Liability, Safety, Wrongful Death | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Federal Arbitration Act and Forced Arbitration – Your Consumer Rights Are Affected

The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) is an act of Congress that provides for private dispute resolution through arbitration. Over the years, the rights of consumers to seek legal remedies have been significantly eroded. Some have seen — and many others have not seen the small print language buried in lengthy text — those clauses in cell phone, credit card and other consumer service and goods contracts, requiring that any and all disputes be submitted to an Arbitration process that is weighted heavily in favor of large corporations.

In a recently published book by law professor Imre Szalai, the papers of the three men who drafted and lobbied for the Federal Arbitration Act are examined. In painstaking historical detail, with reference to numerous primary materials, he establishes convincingly that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) was never intended to (a) apply to employment contracts at all; or (b) apply to take-it-or-leave-it contracts. This book is an important development in the historical scholarship on the Act, and demonstrates conclusively that the FAA has been distorted and mis-shaped by the U.S. Supreme Court in recent decades. The Act now covers millions of consumers and transactions that it was never intended to address.

Paul Bland, Senior Attorney at Public Justice in Washington, D.C., has posted a full discussion of this issue, and its effects on your rights, at http://publicjustice.net/blog/important-new-book-proves-federal-arbitration-act-badly-distorted-by-supreme-court.

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Construction Site Accident In Boston’s Theater District Being Investigated

On March 20, 2014, a partial building collapse in Boston’s Theater District caused injuries to three workers. While the investigation is in its early stages, initial reports indicate that a heavy load of steel placed on the unfinished 12th floor of the apartment tower under construction may have caused the incident.

Inspectors from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will conduct more interviews today and examine the debris field inside the damaged building. The federal investigation could take several months to complete. One focus will be whether there were any workplace safety violations that contributed to the event.

The planned 30-story tower at 
45 Stuart Street is being built by AvalonBay Communities of Arlington, Virginia; the developer’s general contractor is John Moriarty & Associates Inc. of Winchester.

Construction work is one of the most dangerous areas of employment, with thousands of workers hurt on the job every year. Many of these 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.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a construction site accident or workplace accident, and you have questions, please contact an injury lawyer at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. Call our Boston, Massachusetts office at (617) 742-1900, or toll-free at 1-800-545-3732.

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

Posted in Catastrophic Injuries, Construction Accidents, Construction Site Accidents, Fall Hazard, Negligence, Personal Injury, Premises Liability, Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cork Block Stacking Toys Recalled Due to Choking Hazard

CorkBlocks1LARGE

On February 26, 2014 the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of about 720 Cork Stacker block sets. Small pieces of cork can break off the blocks, posing a choking hazard to young children.

This recall involves a three-piece cork block stacking toy imported by manufactured by A Harvest Company, of Huntley, Illinois, and sold online by StorkStack.com. The toy was sold for babies as young as six months, an age that is particularly prone to potential choking hazards. There were at least seven (7) reports of cork pieces breaking off of the blocks, including two reports of children mouthing the cork pieces.

Choking and ingestion hazards in children’s toys and other juvenile products account for numerous deaths and injuries each year. A dangerous toy 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.

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

 

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

Infant Pacifiers Recalled Due to Choking Hazard

On January 30, 2014, the Consumer Products Safety Commission recalled about 200,000 (in the United States and Canada Fred & Friends Chill Baby Artiste, Volume and Panic pacifiers. These pacifiers reportedly failed to comply with federal safety standards. Specifically, the beard on the Artiste and the knob on the Volume pacifiers can detach, posing a choking hazard to infants. Furthermore, the ventilation holes on the Volume and Panic pacifier guards are too small.

This recall involves three styles of Fred & Friends Chill Baby pacifiers, including the Artiste with a black plastic beard and mustache, Volume with a black volume control knob  and Panic with a red panic button. The pacifier’s name and UPC are printed on the packaging.  These products were sold at department stores, gift, drug, toy, baby product, grocery and home decorating stores, and hospital, museum gift shops nationwide and various websites in 2013.

Small-parts hazards are of particular concern regarding products that are intended for use by babies, with the expectation babies will put the items in their mouths. Such reported defects are a stark reminder that toys and children’s products reaching retail shelves are not necessarily safe. Parents and caregivers should carefully inspect any such products before giving them to children.

If you have questions or concerns about pacifiers, or other toys or children’s products, please contact us. We will answer any questions you might have, and can advise regarding your legal rights.

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Baby Rattles Recalled by Midwest-CBK Due to Choking Hazard

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On January 22, 2014, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled about 1,900 donut-shaped polyester knit fabric baby rattles with heads and arms to resemble a bear, monkey and a lion. The head on the rattle can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children. The rattles were imported and distributed by Midwest-CBK LLC, of Cannon Falls, Minnesota, and were sold at small gift stores from July 2013 through December 2013 for about $10.

Small-parts hazards are of particular concern regarding products that are intended for use by babies, with the expectation babies will put the items in their mouths. Such reported defects are a stark reminder that toys and children’s products reaching retail shelves are not necessarily safe. Parents and caregivers should carefully inspect any such products before giving them to children.

If you have questions or concerns about baby rattles, or other toys or children’s products, please contact us. We will answer any questions you might have, and can advise regarding your legal rights.

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

Two Children Suffocate Inside Self-Locking Chest – Subject Of 1996 Recall

Two children from Franklin, Massachusetts died on January 12, 2014 in an automatically locking hope chest. Officials remain concerned that many similar chests remain in people’s homes after nearly 20 years of recall efforts.

In Reynoldsburg, Ohio in 1999, a small child died in a similar Lane chest. The lid is very heavy, and once it closes, with the original lock in place, children are unable to get out. In fact,  these two most recent deaths mark at least the ninth that officials have attributed to Lane’s hope chests since 1977. The Lane Co., through the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), issued a voluntary recall in 1996 for an estimated 12 million chests manufactured between 1912 and 1987, offering to replace the automatic lock for free. Lane also agreed to pay a $900,000 civil penalty in 2001 for failing to report the danger immediately.

One estimate places the number of still-hazardous chests in the streams of commerce at 6 million units. This despite the recall having been repeated at least twice — once in 2000 and again in 2006.

Concerns remain that more tragedies will occur, because recalls simply are not effective enough to inform all consumers. The chests are sturdy, and may be passed down through generations. The hazard of the defective lock is not easily known or understood by purchasers or users.

At any point during the design and manufacturing process, failures regarding safety issues associated with children’s products such as chests may contribute to a product’s 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 failure to include any relevant cautions. Even one act of negligence during the process from product’s conception to its sale can cause catastrophic injuries and even wrongful death once the product reaches homes, schools and workplaces of consumers. Moreover, the recall process – while necessary – is a step of last resort after a defect has been uncovered. The first line of defense is the manufacture and sale of a safe product in the first instance, so that defects will not find their way into the streams of commerce and onto retail shelves.

If you or a family member have suffered significant personal injuries as the result of a defective product, or have questions relating to recalls of children’s products such as the Lane chests, 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.

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Holiday Season Toy Alert: Recall of Doodlebutt Toys Due to “Serious” Ingestion Hazard

Parents and caregivers should be forewarned this holiday season – some toys that are attractive to oral-age children, including products resembling food or candy, could have small parts that are dangerous.

For example, on December 12, 2013, about 1,500 water-absorbing polymer toys made in China were recalled by Florida distributor Doodlebutt. They were sold on Amazon.com from February 2012 through September 2013 for about $9. These soft and colorful products can be mistaken by a child for candy. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), when swallowed, they can expand inside a child’s body and cause intestinal obstructions, resulting in severe discomfort, vomiting, dehydration and could be life threatening. Similar toys have not shown up on x-rays and needed surgery to be removed from the body.

This recall involves Doodlebutt Jelly BeadZ Jumbo BeadZ and Magic Growing Fruity Fun water-absorbing polymer toys. The toys can absorb from 300 to 500 times their weight in water and can grow up to eight times their original size. CPSC is aware of at least one incident with a similar water-absorbing polymer ball product in which an 8-month-old girl ingested the ball and it had to be surgically removed, and two cases outside of the U.S. with one death.

Sadly, choking and ingestion hazards in children’s toys and other juvenile products account for numerous deaths and injuries each year. A dangerous toy 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.

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

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REPORT: PORTABLE GASOLINE CONTAINERS MAY POSE EXPLOSION HAZARD

plastic gas can

NBC News is reporting that red plastic portable gasoline containers – consumer gas cans sold throughout the U.S. – may pose an explosion hazard many consumers may not know about. Approximately 20 million gas cans are sold in the United States each year, and there are more than 100 million plastic gas cans currently in circulation. According to the report and lab tests, there exists the potential for certain gas vapor mixtures to explode inside the cans, possibly causing significant, even catastrophic injuries.

The federal government’s Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) analyzed incident and injury databases and counted at least 11 reported deaths and 1,200 emergency room visits involving gas can explosions during the pouring of gasoline since 1998.

The results of scientific tests conducted at Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s combustion lab with the support of the gas can industry, published earlier this year, show the conditions under which so-called “flashback” explosions inside the cans are possible. Other tests conducted for plaintiffs’ attorneys, for a government criminal investigation, and for NBC News all reached the same finding.

At least 80 lawsuits have been filed during the past two decades on behalf of individuals injured in alleged gas can explosions.  The allegations are that portable plastic gas cans are “dangerous” and “unsafe” because they are “susceptible” to flashback explosions. Most of the lawsuits have named as defendants Blitz USA, until recently the largest manufacturer of plastic gas cans, and Wal-Mart, the largest seller. The lawsuits allege that all the incidents were flashback explosions of the kind WPI’s results demonstrated, from ignitions inside the cans. They allege that the gas cans are “susceptible” to such internal combustion explosions and are therefore “dangerous,” “unsafe” and “defective” for a specific reason: because their design does not include a flame arrester, a part the lawsuits allege could prevent flashback explosions.

Flame arresters — pieces of mesh or disks with holes that are intended to disrupt flame — are in use in metal “safety” gas cans, in fuel tanks, and in storage containers of other flammable liquids such as charcoal lighter fluid and rum. The CPSC has stated that it believes that “this technology also should be included in gasoline containers….CPSC is calling on the industry to regain the momentum that was lost in years past by designing their products to include this safety technology.  In addition, CPSC is asking voluntary standards organizations to incorporate a flame arrestor system into applicable safety standards for gas cans.”

Factors causing or contributing to gas explosions resulting in burn injuries or wrongful death have included improper gas line locations, faulty parts and equipment in mobile homes, workplace equipment, camping equipment, and defectively designed propane stoves. One important signal indicating the potential for a catastrophic event is the odor of gas (note that although gas has no smell, laws require that odorants be added for safety purposes). Should a gas leak be suspected, the property owner or occupants should immediately evacuate, then contact the proper authorities.

Swartz & Swartz, P.C. has investigated and handled major gas explosion cases, which have far-reaching consequences for those who have lost family members, suffered severe injuries or lost their homes. If you or someone you know has been affected by a gas explosion, seek experienced counsel early in the process to ensure that evidence is preserved and legal rights are protected. If you or a loved one has any questions about potentially defective gas cans, or other gas-related safety matters, contact the law office of Swartz & Swartz, P.C. in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Manhattan Group Recalls Baby Rattles Due to Choking Hazard

baby rattle

On December 04, 2013,  Manhattan Toy® Quixel™ baby rattles were recalled as the result of finding that the product’s colored arches can break, creating a small part which poses a choking hazard to small children. About 8,300 of these children’s products were sold in the U.S., and another 4,100 were sold in Canada

The plastic rattles have four, colored arches (red, orange, green and blue) with sliding beads on each of the arches. The arches are held together by a single string of red, white and blue elastic.  The rattle arches measure about 5 inches in diameter.  The product was sold with or without a box. “Manhattan Toy” is printed on one of the arches.

The manufacturer received at least four reports of the rattles breaking.

Tragically, defective children’s products sold for use by the most innocent and unsuspecting consumers – babies and young children – can cause death and debilitating injury. At Swartz & Swartz, P.C., we have long been a leader in the fight to rid our country’s store shelves and toy boxes of unsafe playthings and children’s products. In the process, we have helped bring about improved standards, toy recalls, and safer designs.

If you or a member of your family has suffered serious injuries due to a defective toy or children’s product, or if you have questions or concerns regarding a product, please contact us. We are here to answer your questions and discuss how to protect your legal rights. You can set up an initial consultation with one of the product liability attorneys at our Boston office by calling (617) 742-1900, or toll-free at 1-800-545-3732.

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

Posted in Choking Hazard, Consumer Protection, Dangerous Toys, Injuries to Minors, Negligence, Personal Injury, Products Liability, Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment