Articles Posted in Product Liability

If pediatricians have their way, the baby walker will soon be a relic of the past.

Baby walkers have traditionally been seen as the perfect toy for a curious infant. Parents were able to let their infants explore a little, convinced they were both safe and picking up a little help learning to walk.

In reality, baby walkers are incredibly dangerous for infants. In addition, they may even contribute to developmental delays — rather than promoting coordination and walking. If pediatricians have their way, baby walkers will soon be thing of the past. They’re already strongly urging parents to get rid of any walkers that they currently have.

Kentucky truck owners may be interested to learn that Ford and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have declared 2006 Ford Ranger trucks unsafe to drive. Tests have determined that the trucks have defective Takata air bag inflators that pose an “immediate risk” to drivers and passengers.

In January, a West Virginia man was killed when the air bag in his Ford Ranger exploded. Ford then studied the air bags in 2006 Ranger trucks and found that they have a higher risk of rupturing than air bags in other model years. According to the company and the NHTSA, the vehicles are not safe to drive. As a result, Ford dealers will arrange to have them towed to a service center to have the airbag inflators replaced. The recall involves 33,428 Ranger trucks built between Aug. 5 and Dec. 15, 2005. It also includes 2006 Mazda B-series trucks, which were built by Ford.

Nearly 70 million Takata air bag inflators have been recalled throughout the United States. The air bags inflate by using ammonium nitrate to trigger a tiny explosion. However, the chemical can deteriorate over time and become volatile, causing it to blow apart a metal canister within the air bag and send shrapnel flying into the vehicle’s passenger cabin. The airbags have been linked to the deaths of at least 22 people worldwide. More than 180 people have suffered injuries.

While the number of automotive recalls in 2017 has not yet been officially determined, it will likely not approach the figure posted in 2016. In fact, Automotive News has stated that 2016 was an all-time record, with 53.1 million vehicles being recalled in the U.S. In comparison, there were 50.8 million vehicles recalled in 2015, marking a 4.5 percent increase. Kentucky motorists should be aware of why 2016 saw such a spike.

One major factor was the Takata airbag recall. Takata Corporation recalled over 20 million airbags, and continues to recall them, because of defective inflators. The airbags were discovered to explode upon impact, injuring or killing the vehicle’s occupants with metal shards. That year, General Motors Company was also recalling vehicles with faulty ignition switches. These switches would turn off the engine and disable the airbag, power steering, and other features.

Automotive News states that as in-car technologies become more popular, they become the subject of more recalls. Recalls of electronic systems rose 30 percent annually from 2013 to 2016. The increase also stems from the globalization of technologies. With more cars containing similar technology, issues can potentially be more widespread. Recently, automakers and suppliers have also cut spending on quality control.

Kentucky Ford pickup owners may be interested to learn that, on Jan. 11, Ford Motor Co released a statement that confirmed that a second death was caused by a defective Takata airbag. The fatal accident occurred in July 2017 in West Virginia. The previous fatal accident occurred in December 2015.

Ford confirmed that the two vehicles involved in the accidents were 2006 Ford Rangers. Both airbags had actually been built on the same day. The death prompted Ford to issue an updated recall for vehicles that were recalled back in 2016. The affected vehicles included more than 391,000 2004 to 2006 Ford Ranger vehicles. The updated recall also identified 2,700 vehicle owners in the U.S. who were at the highest risk.

There have been at least 21 deaths linked to faulty Takata airbag inflators. These inflators were known to rupture, potentially sending deadly fragments into the passenger area of the vehicles when the airbags were deployed. A spokesperson for Takata stated that the company intends to ensure that it delivers replacement inflators as the company is able. By 2019, it is expected that about 125 million vehicles will have been a part of the recall.

Takata Corp., the auto parts supplier that set off a massive recall of air bag inflators, is recalling another 3.3 million air bags under a U.S. order. The order also calls for repairs to be scheduled over the next several years. This is important news for drivers in Kentucky and across the U.S. as the supplier identified 15 automakers that purchased its air bags. They include Toyota, Honda, GM, BMW and Tesla.

The initial recall was announced when defective inflators were found to explode after crashes and spray vehicle occupants with metal shards. So far, there have been 13 deaths as well as hundreds of injuries related to the inflators. Takata filed for bankruptcy in June 2017 and will be acquired by Joyson Electronics.

More than 31 million vehicles in the U.S. contain these defective air bag inflators. An independent monitor stated back in November 2017 that only a third of the inflators had been repaired as of September 2017. Takata continues to urge customers to have their inflators replaced. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to recall about 65 million inflators by the end of 2018. It will have them replaced in phases, starting with the riskiest parts first.

Some Kentucky drivers may have heard about or even received recall notices for faulty Takata airbags. On Dec. 19, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Honda announced that a faulty Takata airbag was responsible for the July 10 death of a driver in a 2004 Honda Civic. The airbag had actually been salvaged from a 2002 Civic.

Takata airbags have been known to injure or kill people when they burst open and spray shrapnel. This accident marks the 20th death worldwide that has been attributed to the product. According to Honda, the owners had not replaced the airbags despite several recall notices.

Honda was Takata’s largest customer, and it has used both Facebook and door-to-door visits to try to inform people and get them to replace the faulty parts. The recall, which has been underway for 15 years, affects more than 40 million vehicles and several different brands. The goal for Dec. 31 is 100 percent replacement, but a report showed that only around half that many replacements have occurred. About two-thirds of Hondas affected have been fixed. For other manufacturers, the rate ranges from 50 percent to as low as 2 percent. The NHTSA has been coordinating the recall for the past two years.

Kentucky Volkswagen owners should be aware that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating whether the automaker’s 2015 recall to fix an airbag problem went far enough. The investigation was announced on the federal agency’s website on Nov. 17.

The recall addressed an issue with a steering system electrical component known as the clockspring, which could fail and turn off the vehicle’s horn and driver side airbag. The issue affected more than 400,000 vehicles, including the 2010-2014 CC, 2010-2013 Eos, 2011-2014 Golf, 2011-2014 GTI, 2012-2014 Jetta SportWagen, 2011-2014 Jetta sedan, 2010 Passat sedan and Passat Wagon, 2012-2014 Passat sedan and 2011-2014 Tiguan.

While Volkswagen first learned about the faulty clocksprings in 2011, it did not act until the NHTSA received nine consumer complaints and demanded that the automaker issue a recall. Even though the recall has been completed, the agency said it is still receiving consumer complaints about the problem. Some complaints have come from owners whose vehicles were not included in the recall, and some have come from owners who are still having problems after taking their vehicle in for repair. The agency said it has received 90 complaints so far and will investigate whether another recall should be issued. No crashes or injuries have been linked to the problem.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced two recalls on Nov. 2 that involve about 1 million vehicles around the country manufactured by BMW. The recalls address two issues that have been linked to a series of fires involving parked BMW vehicles, and cars and SUVs manufactured between 2006 and 2011 are covered. BMW says that its dealers in Kentucky and across the U.S. will have the parts necessary to perform the recalls by Dec. 18, and owners will not be charged for the work.

When reports emerged in May about more than 40 parked BMWs catching fire, the German carmaker denied that a product defect or manufacturing issue was to blame. Some of the vehicles involved had been idle for several days before going up in flames according to the reports, which BMW blamed on nesting rodents, arsonists or vehicle owners who relied on untrained mechanics or failed to properly maintain their vehicles.

One of the recalls calls for faulty positive crankcase ventilation valves to be replaced in 740,561 BMW cars and SUVs produced between 2007 and 2011. The second recall involves checking, and replacing if necessary, the wiring and electrical connectors in the air conditioning and heating systems of 672,755 BMW vehicles produced between 2006 and 2011. The total number of vehicles being recalled is less than these two figures combined because some of the models involved are covered by both recalls.

Many Kentucky residents who suffer from severe allergies rely on EpiPens to deliver potentially life-saving doses of epinephrine. EpiPens are designed to administer the drug quickly and simply to stave off anaphylactic reactions, but recent media reports reveal that the Food and Drug Administration has linked the device to seven deaths during the first nine months of 2017. Malfunctioning EpiPens have also caused at least 35 people to seek hospital treatment, according to the FDA.

The FDA has reported issues with EpiPens in the past, but the problem seems to be getting worse. The FDA received four reports about EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. failures in 2012 and 12 in 2013. However, 67 reports were received in 2014. The pharmaceutical company that manufactures EpiPens says that the defect responsible for the problems is extremely rare, and they point out that higher failure rates can be expected when products like EpiPens are used by individuals with no medical training under highly stressful conditions.

The higher number of reports could also reflect the media attention that the EpiPen has been receiving. Consumers reacted angrily when the price of the devices was increased from $50 to $300 in 2016, and the FDA sent a warning letter to the maker of EpiPens in September after inspectors found epinephrine leaking out of the devices at a Missouri plant.

Many Kentuckians like Subaru cars because of their features and fuel economy. According to news sources, the company recently admitted that it conducted inspections that did not meet the Japanese ministry’s standards for over 30 years and might recall as many as 275,000 cars.

News sources report that Subaru’s inspections during the manufacturing process did not comply with the rigorous inspection standards that were required by the Japanese government. The company admitted that it used unlicensed inspectors during its process while the government requires that the inspections are performed by licensed inspectors.

The company stated that there isn’t anything wrong with the cars that did not receive proper inspections, but it is mulling over whether or not it should recall them anyway. The affected cars are all in the Japanese domestic market. The company states that cars that were manufactured for export to other nations, including the U.S., would not be affected by any inspection-related recall of the Japanese cars.

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