December 31, 2009

Safe Products for North Carolina Children in 2010

Danny Keysar.jpgOn this New Year's Eve, Danny Keysar would have turned 13 years old. Danny was killed in 1998 in a dangerous and defective portable crib. Danny's death prompted his parents to found KID - an advocacy group dedicated to alerting parents about unsafe children's products.

There has been tremendous change in the last few years in the area of children's product safety. With some new laws, some honoring Danny by name, and a new active administration at CPSC, our children are already safer today, but more must be done. Some children are still sleeping in cribs that have been recalled, some kids are still riding in child safety seats that have been taken off the market because they are unsafe, and some children are still playing with toys that have been recalled because of poisonous lead paint levels.

Join with us to honor not only Danny, but the children in your life with a safer tomorrow.

Make a donation to KID in a child's name.

Check the children's products in your home for recalls and urge others -- grandparents, caregivers, neighbors and family -- to do the same. There were 7 Million cribs recalled in the last 2 years. Sign up for email alerts from CPSC and KID.

Have a safe and happy 2010!

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December 27, 2009

Asheville Christmas Riding Toys Present Known Injury Hazard

With the last of the snow from the blizzard of 2009 slowly melting away, children will soon be wanting to get outside with some of their Christmas bounty. If your household is like mine, at least one of your kids got something from someone that they can ride.

Riding toys were always my favorites, whether it was a tricycle, bicycle, big wheel, scooter or skateboard, riding toys were always, and still are, GREAT fun! But that fun can come at a price, and the price can sometimes be a trip to the Emergency Room, especially if your child is not wearing a helmet.

The latest data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission indicates that riding toys, including non-motorized toys, are associated with more Emergency Room visits among all ages of children (67,700 or 26%) than any other catagory of toy. Non-motorized scooters accounted for over 51,000 (83%) of riding toy related injuries. Almost 50% of the Emergeny Room treated injuries were to the head and face area.

Preventing injuries to youngsters is not always possible, but as parents we can help minimize the risk of serious injury by requiring our kids to at least wear a helmet when on their riding toys. Bicycle helmets reduce the risk of serious head and brain injuries by almost 90%. Teach your kids that safety comes first. Please make them wear a helmet.

December 20, 2009

TVs & Furniture in Asheville Create Tip-Over Hazard for Children


Each year, more than 10 children, most under 5, are killed when a piece of heavy furniture tips over onto them. Several thousand more young children are seriously injured each year in the same way. Most of these injuries and deaths happen when a child climbs onto, runs into or pulls up onto a TV stand, bookcase, dresser or other unstable furniture. Sadly, most of these incidents are totally preventable.

For less than $10, parents can purchase an anchor system that secures the furniture to the floor or wall. This holiday season, if you have small children, take a few minutes and inspect all of the furniture in your house for being a tip-over hazard. If you identify a potential tip-over hazard, please take the time to correct it so that someone in your family doesn't become a statistic.

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December 8, 2009

Raleigh Bus Driver Causes Wreck with Firefighter - Was She Texting?

Bus wreck f-u.jpgThe North Carolina Highway Patrol has found the Wake County school bus driver at fault for causing the collision that critically injured a Raleigh firefighter last Friday. The bus driver has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

A Highway Patrol spokesman said that the bus driver, 52 year old Sheila Wimbush Hall, crossed the center line and side-swiped an oncoming station wagon on Ligon Mill Road near the intersection of Louisburg Road. The bus brushed off of the station wagon and continued into the oncoming lane and struck a pickup truck driven by off-duty Raleigh fireman Harry "Flip" Kissinger. After the collision, the bus landed on top of the pickup truck, pinning the driver inside. The Highway Patrol says that charges are pending.

As I reported in a previous post, Kissinger suffered a serious head injury in the wreck. He is stil in the intensive care unit at Wake Medical Center. He has undergone several medical procedures related to his brain injury, and he is still not out of the woods. The waiting room at WakeMed is packed with Kissinger's fireman colleagues and family members.

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December 7, 2009

Tired Trucker in High Point Spills a Ton of Milk

A Pennsylvania tanker truck driver fell asleep at the wheel of his 18 wheeler early Sunday morning and spilled a few thousand gallons of milk onto the side of Interstate 85 Business in High Point.


The crash closed down I-85 in both directions for several hours while commercial wrecker crews worked to clear the totalled tanker and the spilled milk.

TMilk Tanker 1.jpghe truck driver told investigators that he was hauling 6500 gallons of milk at the time of the rollover. No other vehicles were involved in the wreck, and no injuries were reported. While it is tempting to make light of this crash and ask where was the Keebler truck, the cause of this wreck (fatigued driving) is no laughing matter and is epidemic in the trucking industry.

To avoid being a victim of a tired trucker, never drive alongside of a large truck. If you must pass a tractor-trailer on the interstate, you should first make sure that you have room to move all the way past the truck before beginning your passing maneuvor, and you should steadily accellerate your vehicle as you move past the truck so that you do not get hidden in the trucker's blind spot.

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December 4, 2009

Raleigh Firefighter Critically Injured in Bus Crash

Bus wreck.jpgEarly Friday morning, a Wake County school bus ran into and over a pick-up truck driven by a veteran Raleigh firefighter. Another vehicle was involved in the wreck, and all three drivers were injured. Thankfully, no children were injured. The collision happened in North Raleigh on Ligon Mill Road near the intersection of Louisburg Road. The damage to fireman Lt. Harry P. ("Flip") Kissinger IV's truck was so severe that bystanders were unable to get him out.

When the firefighter's colleagues arrived on the scene, they quickly used the jaws of life to pry off the driver's side door of the truck. EMS workers then began working on the critically injured fireman. About 45 minutes later, EMS workers got Kissinger onto a backboard and transported him to the trauma center at Wake Med. The City of Raleigh reported in a "press statement" that Kissinger had suffered a significant head injury in the crash.

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol came to the scene but have not yet released the results of their investigation. In serious injury cases, where it is difficult to determine exactly how and why a collision occured, we recommend hiring an expert accident reconstructionist. Such experts are engineers and scientists who have special education, training and experience in the reconstruction of accidents. They start with the end result (the crash) and work backwards to determine such things as point of impact, pre-crash speeds, line of sight, and other factors that are critical to determining why a crash occurs and who is at fault.

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December 1, 2009

In North Carolina, Texting and Driving is Now Illegal

texting & driving.jpgMany of us have done it or have seen other drivers texting while driving. In North Carolina, as of December 1st, texting or reading emails while driving is now illegal and will get you a pricey ticket and points on your insurance.

The reason for the prohibition on texting and driving would seem obvious - if you are driving your eyes should be on the road in front of you, but there are many drivers on the road who think they can drive and text at the same time. State Troopers, in North Carolina and across the US, say the practice is unsafe and leads to many wrecks, serious injuries and sometimes even death.

Several national studies have found that texting and driving is very dangerous. A recent study at Virginia Tech found that drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash when texting on their phones. A Car and Driver Magazine study found that texting while driving is more dangerous than driving while impaired.


http://www.wral.com/news/state/video/5399126/

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November 18, 2009

Dangerous Carcinogen (TCE) Migrating in Asheville

CTS Contamination.jpgTrichloroethylene (TCE) is a clear, non-flammable solvent with a sweet smell that is commonly used as an industrial solvent for cleaning electronic components. This chemical was widely used by CTS of Asheville at the Mills Gap Road facility in south Asheville until the plant closed in 1986. The company did not properly contain and/or dispose of the cancer causing chemical and now much of the drinkable ground water in the communities surrounding the facitily are dangerously polluted.

In 1999, one family that lived near the CTS site noticed a foul-smelling oily substance in the spring that supplied their drinking water. EPA testing of that water showed that it contained 21,000 parts per billion (ppb) of tri-chloroethylene. That level of contamination is 4,200 times the EPA allowable limit for drinking water. Two members of that family suffer from brain tumors they believe were caused by their exposure to TCE.

Recent water testing in the area indicates that the TCE contamination is increasing and spreading. One Mills Gap Road property owner's water had 21,000 ppb of TCE in 1999, but now her water has a TCE level of 35,000 ppb. From an enviromental standpoint, that is a huge increase.

The EPA has ordered CTS of Asheville to clean-up the site, but so far all they have done is install a TCE soil-vapor extracting device in the most contaminated section of the property. The residents of this area are justifiably concerned about their health and their property values, but the local government has done little to support them. As a result, some residents are considering taking legal action.

November 13, 2009

Eli Lily Pays $24 Million in Zyprexa Case

Capsules - Pills.jpgDrug giant Eli Lily has been caught red-handed in an off-label marketing scheme of the drug Zyprexa. The FDA has approved the drug for treatment of schizophrenia and certain types of bipolar disorder. Many states have sued the drug giant for marketing the drug to treat other mental health conditions such as depression, dementia, Alzheimer's and agitation. Marketing a drug to treat conditions it has not been approved for is illegal.

The Associated Press reports that Utah has entered into an agreement with Eli Lily to settle that state's claim. Eli Lily has agreed to pay Utah $24 Million. The Utah Attorney General stated that his office found that 1,769 patients over the age of 65 had been prescribed the drug but had never been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Last year, Eli Lily settled similar claims with more than 30 other states, including North Carolina, in a $62 Million settlement, but Utah and 13 other states refused to settle and filed separate lawsuits. In the last 60 days, South Carolina agreed to settle for $45 Million and Connecticut agreed to accept $25 Million for Zyprexa's illegal marketing.

Eli Lily settled with the US Department of Justice in January for $1.4 Billion. As part of that settlement, Eli Lily also agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges that it violated the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. In that case, the DOJ alleged that Lily had persuaded physicians to prescribe Zyprexa to children and elderly patients when they knew that the drug was not designed for these patient populations and that it can be harmful to these age groups.

November 12, 2009

Asheville - Motorcyclist Killed By Sport Utility Vehicle

motorcycle crash w SUV.jpgA sport utility driver turned left across a motorcyclist's lane of travel causing him to crash last Friday afternoon. Joseph Cross, 32, of Brunswick County died at the scene following the collision. The North Carolina Highway Patrol concluded that the SUV broadsided Cross as he was traveling along Kirby Road.

The State Highway Patrol charged driver of the SUV, Dorothy Hewitt, 51, with failing to yield the right of way. At the time of the crash, Hewitt was attempting to turn left into her driveway. She stated that she did not see any oncoming traffic until the motorcycle collided with her vehicle. Unfortunately, this scenario happens all too often.

The most common type of motorcycle accident involves another vehicle causing the collision by violating the right of way of the motorcycle at an interesection, usually by turning left in front of the oncoming motorcycle because the car driver did not see the motorcycle.

From ahead or behind, a motorcycle's outline is much smaller than a car's, and if a car driver is not paying attention, the car driver can miss seeing a motorcycle. Most often, car driver's are not looking for motorcycles, and even if a car driver does see a motorcycle, the driver often perceives the motorcycle to be further away, or traveling slower, than it actually is. Fortunately, there are many things the motorcyclist can do to increase his/her visibility.

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November 11, 2009

Asheville - Wrong-way Driver Looked Sick Before Fiery Crash

Wrong way car wreck.jpgA recently released police report indicates that the woman who caused a fiery crash on the Taconic State Parkway in Mount Pleasant, NY looked ill on at least two occasions shortly before the wreck.

Police say that Diane Shuler was severely intoxicated and high on marijuana at the time of the crash that killed eight people, including herself. Toxicology reports show that Shuler's blood acohol content (BAC) measured .19 and that she had ingested marijuana during the hour prior to the wreck. The crash occurred as Shuler drove her minivan down the wrong-way of a scenic four-lane parkway.

Shortly before the crash, witnesses observed Shuler sitting on a guardrail beside her red minivan with her head down, looking sick. Another group of motorists described seeing Shuler driving down the middle of two lanes, staring straight ahead, both hands on the wheel, with a look of sheer panic on her face.

Tragically, Shuler's 2 year old daugher, her 8 and 7 year old nieces, and a 5 year old little girl were in the vehicle with Shuler and died in the crash. Three other adults were also killed as a result of the wreck. Shuler's son was the only survivor in the minivan.

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November 9, 2009

Asheville - Target Fails to Inspect Bicycle - Brain Injury

Schwinn Kids' Bike.jpgWhen a consumer purchases a bicycle, or any product for that matter, they have the right to expect that the product will be safe for its intended use. After all, a corporate retailer is never allowed to needlessly endanger its customer or the general public. But that is exactly what big box giant Target has been doing for years. There are an estimated 67 million bicycles being ridden in America, and more than 59% of those are ridden by children.

On April 15th, 2006, a North Carolina couple decided to purchase a bicycle for their 14 year old daughter. They researched the various types of bicycles available and selected, what was in their opinion, the best bike for their daughter. They purchased the bicycle at Target because Target offered free assembly, represented that the bike was ready to ride, and their price was cheaper than buying the bike at a local bicycle specialty store.

Two weeks later, after the bicycle had been ridden just a few times by the daughter, the mother hopped on the bike to ride 3 blocks down the street to a neighbor's house. As she pedalled along, she shifted the bike's gears and suddenly the handle-bar violently jerked to the right, throwing her into the street on her head. The investigation found that the cause of the bicycle wreck was that the gear shift cable was incorrectly routed around the water bottle cage.

The brain injury was devastating. Severe amnesia, over a week in the intensive care unit, and months of brain injury rehabilitation therapy. The medical bills were enormous. She was unable to return to her profession as an auditor, and the extent of her injury left her with severe cognitive and emotional impairments. There are more than 150,000 non-fatal brain injuries from bicycle accidents each year in the US.

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November 4, 2009

Asheville Area Child Seriously Injured By Drunk Driver

drunk_drivers[1].jpgLast Sunday in Arden, 25 year old Manuel Martinez drove his car through a row of mailboxes and then struck a 9 year old little boy. Martinez continued driving after hitting the child, but he and his passenger were arrested a short time later after eyewitnesses identified the pair at a local gas station.

Police officers determined that Martinez' blood alcohol content was .21 at the time of the crash - that is almost 3 times the legal limit. As a result of his conduct, officers charged him with DWI, felony hit and run, reckless driving, and having an open container of alcohol in his car. Our search of the State's criminal records does not show any prior criminal charges against Martinez.

Drunk driving is still a serious problem in North Carolina and in the US. On average, there are more than 300,000 people injured each year in the US in alcohol related crashes - that is an average of one person injured almost every 2 minutes (NHTSA, Alcohol, 1999). Many of those crashes involve pedestrians.

Crashes involving drunk drivers frequently cause serious injuries or death because the drunk driver is often speeding at the time of the wreck. "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that speeding alone was a contributing factor in almost 30% of all fatal crashes last year." (NHTSA, Speeding, 2009).

After the incident, EMS transported the child to the hospital where emergency room physicians diagnosed him with a severely fractured pelvis. Such injuries are usually not life threatening, but can cause problems that can last a lifetime, such as chronic pain and limited range of movement. Hopefully, the child will make a full and complete recovery.

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October 30, 2009

Halloween Flashlights Recalled - Danger to Children

Halloween Flashlight with Stencil.jpgHalloween Flashlight 3 Pack.jpg

ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The US Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall of over 600,000 Halloween Flashlights that have been sold by big box giant Target. There have been several reported incidents where the flashlights overheated to the point that they melted, and in one instance caused severe burns to a child's hand.

The recall involves two types of flashlights: a 3 pack of mini flashlights and a regular size flashlight that comes with six Halloween stencils. The mini flashlights have a key ring attached to the bottom of each flashlight and come in a package of 3. The standard sized flashlights come with a black handle with an orange top, and these come with six stencils in various Halloween colors of a pumpkin, ghost, spider, cat, witch, and skull & cross-bones.

These dangerous flashlights were sold exclusively at Target stores nationwide from August, 2009 through September, 2009 for $1 for the mini flashlights and $2.50 for the flashlights with stencils. Target imported the flashlights from China.

If you purchased one of these defective products, then you should immediately stop using the product and return it for a full refund to your nearest Target store. You may contact Target at 800-440-0680.

Davis Law Group handles personal injury cases involving defective and dangerous products as well as tractor trailer accidents, car accidents and various other personal injury cases. Davis Law Group is based out of Asheville, North Carolina and handles serious personal injury cases throughout western North Carolina. You may visit the firm's website at: www.davislawgroupnc.com.