September 12, 2014

Smoke Alarm Recall Affects More Than One Million

kiddesmokealarm-20140913.jpgThe Consumer Product Safety Commission is calling on the public to check their home smoke alarms, after more than a million units were recalled yesterday.

Kidde recalled 1.2 million smoke alarms in the United States and 112,000 in Canada. No injuries have been reported, but the models have a defect which may prevent them from working after a power outage. This is an important recall because each year, three to five deaths in property fires come in buildings without working smoke alarms, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

The smoke alarms are all residential models:

  • Kidde residential smoke alarm model i12010S with manufacture dates between December 18, 2013 and May 13, 2014
  • Kidde Combination smoke/CO alarm il2010SCO with manufacture dates between December 30, 2013 and May 13, 2014
  • Kidde Combination smoke/CO alarm model KN-COSM-IBA with manufacture date between October 22, 2013 and May 13, 2014

These smoke alarms are all hard-wired into a home's electric system. The i12010S and il2010SCO models come with 10-year batteries inside while the KN-COSM-IBA uses replaceable AA backup batteries.

These smoke alarms look like most: white, round and are about 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Closely inspect the fine print on the front of yours for the word "Kidde." On the backside, there is a label with the model number and manufacturing dates. "Always on" is also engraved on the front of alarms with sealed 10-year batteries.

These smoke alarms were sold at CED, City Electric Supply, HD Supply, Home Depot, Menards Inc. and other retailers. They were sold online at Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com and shopkidde.com from January 2014 through July 2014 for between $30 and $50.

Read the full recall notice.

Smoke Alarm Safety Tips

Daylight Saving Time. We will set our clocks back an hour for Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, November 2. The National Fire Protection Association and other safety officials recommend we also replace the batteries in our smoke alarms, test them to make sure they work and replace any models which are 10 years old.

Monthly Testing. Safety organizations also recommend we test smoke alarm batteries once a month.

Inform Others. Make sure everyone in your home knows what the smoke alarm sounds like and knows where they are located. Here is a resource for more safety and planning information.

Apartment Residents. If you rent an apartment, ask your building management company or property owner to show you the smoke alarms when you sign the lease. Contact them whenever you suspect a problem or have a question.

Continue reading "Smoke Alarm Recall Affects More Than One Million" »

September 10, 2014

Boston Mayor Proposes New Truck Safety Ordinance

Bicycling

Mayor Marty Walsh is proposing a new safety ordinance for city-contracted trucks in Boston, a measure being widely watched after several cyclists have died in truck crashes. It is believed to be the first such ordinance in the nation.

Walsh, who took office in January, submitted an Ordinance to Protect Vulnerable Road Users to the Boston City Council earlier this week. The City Council was expected to take it up today in session.

If passed, the ordinance will require side guards, convex mirrors, cross-over mirrors, and blind-spot awareness decals on all vehicles over 10,000 pounds which are contracted with the city. The goal is to prevent truck accidents by giving drivers a better view around them. When trucks do not comply, fines start at $100 for the first offense and contracts can ultimately be terminated.

The Boston Cyclists Union called for these measures after a cyclist was killed in a Charlestown truck accident in April. It has released a fact sheet, "Safeguards Saves Lives." According to the fact sheet, 4 percent of vehicles in the U.S. are trucks though they cause 11 percent of all bicyclist fatalities and 7 percent of all pedestrian fatalities.

Since 2010, 11 cyclists in Boston have died as a result of motor vehicle crashes, according to figures cited by Boston Magazine. Seven cases involved trucks. Here is another concerning figure: From 2009 to 2012, there were 1,700 confirmed cyclist incidents documented by Boston EMS emergency medical technicians and paramedics.

The City of Boston has been working on truck safety. Last year, the city began a pilot program, the largest in the nation. The Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics and the city's Public Works Department tested three different types of guards on 16 active vehicles driving the streets.

In April, the National Traffic Safety Board made similar recommendations to prevent tractor-trailer accidents.

Continue reading "Boston Mayor Proposes New Truck Safety Ordinance" »

September 8, 2014

Surgical Malpractice Lawsuit Alleges Boston Neurosurgeon Used the Wrong Dye During Spine Procedure

medical-surgery-blog.jpgTwo brothers filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against a Boston hospital last month, alleging their mother was killed because a neurosurgeon used the wrong dye during a spine procedure.

This is one of two serious cases which prompted a Medicare inquiry in February, according to a Boston Globe report. The other came in January, when a patient suffered an embolism, heart attack and severe brain damage after a resident removed his intravenous tube without elevating his feet.

The media report comes as hospital safety and health costs are being closely watched here in Massachusetts:

A few reports from August:

  • The Department of Public Health's new tracking system reported a 70 percent increase in serious medical errors at acute-care hospitals in 2013. One of the biggest increases was in surgical malpractice cases where doctors operated on the wrong body part.
  • Health insurance rates will increase 3.1 percent in 2015, more than this year because of administrative costs associated with implementing the federal Affordable Care Act.

August also marked two years since Massachusetts adopted a health care cost containment law, forecast to save $200 billion over 15 years. Massachusetts passed the law in part to address health care costs associated passage of the mandatory health insurance law passed here in 2006, the first in the nation.

One measure of the 2012 law was a new 180-day cooling off period for patients and families who want to file medical malpractice lawsuits. Hospitals and physicians are given time to apologize without legal repercussions and to negotiate a settlement.

But the law did not prevent a lawsuit in the case of a 74-year-old Watertown woman who died last November, the day after her surgery at Tufts Medical Center. Her sons filed the lawsuit against the hospital, 12 pharmacists, nurses and surgeons.

The Boston Globe reported Tufts Medical Center had no comment on the surgical malpractice lawsuit, which is pending. But regulators who investigated the case reported a neurosurgeon treating the woman for back pain requested a special dye to test the location of tubing which had been placed into her spine.

When the pharmacy did not have the right dye, they replaced it with another type, MD-76. The surgeon checked the dye label, hospital officials say, and injected it twice, even though its label read, "not for intrathecal use." This means do inject it in the spine.

The Boston Globe quoted experts who called this a form of "cognitive bias," when a person sees what they expect to see rather than what is actually there.

Tufts Medical Center Implements Changes
According to the The Boston Globe, Tufts Medical Center now requires nurses to submit detailed written medication orders to pharmacists. It has also implemented a new rule requiring two staff members to remove intravenous tubes and use a checklist that includes proper positioning of the patient.

Related:
Surgical Error at Tufts Prompts Widespread Changes, The Boston Globe.

Insurance Rates Will Increase for Small Business, The Boston Globe.

Continue reading "Surgical Malpractice Lawsuit Alleges Boston Neurosurgeon Used the Wrong Dye During Spine Procedure " »

August 25, 2014

Defective Bean Bag Chairs Kill Two Children by Suffocation

More than two million bean bag chairs have been recalled after heartbreaking accidents in which children suffocated and died.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced last week that Ace Bayou Corp. of New Orleans, Louisiana has voluntary recalled 2.2 million bean bag chairs, including both traditional and L-shaped bean bag chairs.

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The bean bag chairs have zippers which can easily be opened, a violation of the CPSC's voluntary standard. Children can crawl inside, become entrapped and suffocate from lack of air or choke on the chair's foam beads.

Prompting the recall were the deaths of a 12-year-old boy from Texas and a 3-year-old girl from Kentucky. The children were found inside bean bag chairs after suffocating. The boy's mother told the media that the bean bag chair had been in her son's room for years and she never thought he would climb inside.

The CPSC instructs consumers to check for these bean bag chairs in their homes. For the full list of recalled models, see the end of this blog.

The chairs have two zippers. Consumers can contact Ace Bayou for a free repair kit to permanently disable the zippers. Consumers should take chairs which can be unzipped away from children.

The defective products were sold at Bon-Ton, Meijer, Pamida, School Speciality, Wayfair and Walmart and online at Amazon.com, Meijer.com and Walmart.com. They were sold prior to July 2013 for $30-$100.

Another option is to simply remove these products from your home altogether. Call Ace Bayou and ask them how to safely dispose the product. (Remember, you should never give someone a recalled product or resell it to anyone. Reselling a recalled product is against federal law.)

Bean bag chairs have a history of injuring children. In the 1990s, the CPSC received reports that 5 children died from suffocation inside bean bag chairs and 27 were injured but recovered. It then launched an industry investigation and recalled 12 million bean bag chairs. More than a dozen manufacturers were involved in that recall effort.

More Recall Information

CPSC Recall Notice

Ace Bayou Recall Page

Continue reading "Defective Bean Bag Chairs Kill Two Children by Suffocation" »

August 18, 2014

Massachusetts Hospitals See Surge in Medical Errors

doctor-patient-2014.jpgDespite years of patient safety initiatives, reports of serious medical errors at Massachusetts hospitals are rising rapidly.

In 2013, Massachusetts acute-care hospitals reported 753 serious medical errors and other patient injuries, according to The Boston Globe. This was an alarming 70 percent increase from the previous year. Other hospitals, including those providing psychiatric and rehabilitative care, saw a 60 percent increase from 2012.

Some say the reason may be broader reporting requirements from the state. Since 2008, hospitals have been required to notify the state Department of Public Health about serious reportable events. In addition, the Department of Public Health now has a computerized system for reporting, a change from when medical errors were reported by fax.

In the past, hospitals had to report incidents which left a patient with a "serious disability."
In 2012, the term became "serious injury" and it has new categories, including if a patient dies or suffers serious injury if a medical professional fails to communicate test results.

State officials say the new requirements have been fully implemented. That means the conversation should move on to safety and preventing medical malpractice.

There were very serious injuries reported in 2013 and these are the areas which saw the largest increases:


  • Patients who underwent a procedure on the wrong body part

  • Patients who were burned in an operative room fire or by a heating pack

  • Patients who were exposed to contaminated drugs or improperly sterilized equipment


Massachusetts is working to reform medical malpractice along with many other states and the federal government. In 2012, the state passed a health care cost containment bill. The goal of the bill was to save the state $200 billion in health care costs over the next 15 years. Measures included $135 million in grants to help community hospitals adopt electronic medical records and a 182-day cooling off period for injured patients to negotiate out-of-court with hospitals and physicians.

A few months earlier, some Massachusetts hospitals had also joined a plan which would allow doctors to apologize to patients for medical errors and work to settle malpractice claims out of court. It was based on a model developed by the University of Michigan Health System which was credited with reducing the number of lawsuits.

Our Resources for Patients
Our lawyers have over 100 years combined experience handling medical malpractice and personal injury claims. Please view our patient safety resources.

Continue reading "Massachusetts Hospitals See Surge in Medical Errors" »

August 5, 2014

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Mentions Breakstone, White & Gluck's Bike Helmet Donations

Breakstone, White & Gluck was recently mentioned in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly for our bike helmet donations to children and for attorney David White's "Volunteer of the Year" award from Boston Bikes, a program of the City of Boston.

david-white-award-500.jpgPhoto credit: LivableStreets/www.livablestreets.info. Attorney David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck and Nicole Freedman, Director of Boston Bikes, during the 6th Annual Boston Bike Update at Faneuil Hall.

Breakstone, White & Gluck began donating bike helmets to children in 2013, giving away 1,000 bike helmets through organizations such as Boston Bikes, CYCLE Kids and Bikes Not Bombs. We also participated in events, by helping children choose the right helmets and talking to families about bike safety. We are back at it in 2014 and now approaching 2,000 helmet donations.

Attorney David White has worked closely with Boston Bikes, which fixes up used bikes for city residents who need one, including children. White has helped fit the children's helmets at bike giveaway events and Boston Bikes has called him "our helmet station guru."

Our other partners in 2014:

Boston Bikes' Roll It Forward
iCan Shine Camp Arlington
Framingham Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee and Framingham Earth Day
Westborough Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee
Lexington Bicycle Advisory Committee
Worcester Earn-a-Bike
Thompson School, East Arlington and East Arlington Livable Streets
The Kiwanis of Somerville
Ashland Farmer's Market
CYCLE Kids
Watertown Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee and Watertown Farmer's Market
Dedham Bike Rodeo
Boston Cyclists Union
Bikes Not Bombs

Continue reading "Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Mentions Breakstone, White & Gluck's Bike Helmet Donations" »

July 21, 2014

Pool Safety Starts with Your Pool Fence

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As a pool owner, you have a responsibility to secure your pool with a strong, adequate fence. Many property owners do so because it is the law and to prevent neighborhood children or trespassers from breaking in. But they may have a false security when it comes to friends, families and young children they invite over.

Many pool accidents and drownings actually involve invited guests, people we may know well and have over regularly. Let them enjoy your home, but block unrestricted and unsupervised access to your pool.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) conducted a survey of swimming pool accidents in Arizona, California and Florida. Data showed drowning was the leading cause of accidental death in and around the home for children under age 5. Most of these children - 75 percent - were between 1 and 3 years old.

Fewer than two percent of pool accidents resulted from children trespassing on the property. More often, children knew the pool owner, with 65 percent of accidents occurring in pools owned by an immediate family member. Another 33 percent happened in pools owned by relatives and friends.

More telling is what happened before these accidents:

  • Most of the children were being supervised by at least one parent when they drowned
  • Nearly half of the children were last seen in the house before the pool accident occurred
  • Another 23 percent were last seen on the porch or patio, or in the yard
  • Some 77 percent of children had been missing for 5 minutes or less when they were found

Adding an extra layer of fencing may make a difference in preventing these accidents.

Pool Fence Recommendations

Self-Closing. A pool fence should be self-closing and self-latching. It should open from the pool side and should be maintained so it can easily latch.

Fence Height. A pool fence should be at least four feet tall and four feet above the grade of the ground outside the fence.

Release Mechanism. You want to prevent children from reaching the latch. When the release mechanism is less than 54 inches above the grade, the release mechanism for the gate should be at least 3 inches below the top of the gate and installed on the side facing the pool. Also, make sure there is no opening greater than ½ inch within 18 inches of the latch release mechanism.

Bottom of the Fence. If your fence stands on a concrete surface, the clearance between the bottom of the fence and the ground should not exceed four inches. For fences on softer surfaces, such as grass, the maximum clearance is two inches.

Fence Spacing. The space between the vertical fence slats should not exceed four inches.

Chain Link Fences. For chain-link fences, the diamond-shaped openings should be no larger than 1 ¾ inches.

Decorative Fences. Fencing with decorative openings should follow the same standard as chain link fences and not exceed 1 ¾ inch.

Backyard Doors. Massachusetts requires pool alarms when doors from a home open into a pool enclosure area. For instance, if there are three sides of fencing around the pool and the home serves as the fourth side.

Pool Alarms. Purchase a pool alarm even if you are not required to by law. Pool drownings happen quickly and often silently. A pool alarm interrupts that process and provides you warning if someone is entering the gate.

Above Ground Pools. For above ground pools, build a fence on top of the structure as a barrier. Remove or lock the pool ladder when not in use. For another layer of protection, you can also add a fencing structure around the ladder and lock that when not in use.

Pool Covers. Consider a power pool safety cover to add another layer of protection. Purchase one which conforms to the specifications in ASTMF 1346-91.

Related:
Safety Barrier Guidelines for Home Pools, Consumer Product Safety Commission

Continue reading " Pool Safety Starts with Your Pool Fence" »

July 2, 2014

Talk to Your Loved Ones About Supervising Children by the Pool. This is the Most Important Job of Summer.

The long and lazy days of summer are finally here and many of us are spending them by the pool. We hope you enjoy these times with your friends and family. And please remember to think about safety.

Each year in the U.S., nearly 5,000 children under age 15 are treated for pool- or spa-related injuries at hospital emergency rooms, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Nearly 400 children under age 15 are killed in swimming pool and spa drownings. More than 75 percent of these children are under the age of 5 and the majority of these deaths occur at private residences. But injuries can happen at any pool where someone stops paying attention or is negligent, including hotel swimming pools, community centers and other places.

Prevent injuries this summer by talking about the rules of safety with your family and friends.

Pool Owners. You have a responsibility to keep your pool area safe for family and invited guests and to secure it from others. You must keep your pool behind a fence which is at least four feet tall and secures with a self-latching and self-closing gate. But we encourage you to go a step further. Try walking around your fenced-in pool area. Are there areas where a young child could easily get in on their own? If so, make adjustments.

If you have questions, a good resource is your town's local building department.

Drain Covers. Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings which could cause entrapment.

Home Spa Safety. If you have a home spa, install and use a child-proof locked safety cover to keep children out.

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Watch Children Closely. Before the swimming season, learn CPR. Then when you head to the pool, set aside all distractions and watch the children. Avoid distractions such as reading, cell phone calls, and texting--supervision should be treated like a job.

When supervising young children, swim with them and practice "touch supervision." For older children, watch them and be involved with them even if you are not swimming. Talk to them and let them know if they are doing something they should not be. If you are part of a group of adults watching children swim, designate someone the "pool watcher" so that the children are supervised at all times. But still supervise your own children at all times.

Likewise, at hotel and community pools, do not rely on lifeguards to watch your children.

Dress Children Appropriately. Make sure children are not wearing swimming suits or hair accessories that can get caught in pool drains or other openings.

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Poolside Toys. Many pool accidents involve diving board, sports equipment, rafts and pool slides. Always look before you use. If something looks unsteady, do not use it.

Many pools no longer have diving boards because homeowner's insurance companies have stopped providing coverage for them. But if you are going to dive, make sure the water is at least 10 feet deep.

Avoid portable pool slides, inflatable toys and using backyard trampolines with the pool. These products may not be designed for use with a pool or may be defective. In one Massachusetts case, a Colorado woman visiting the state died in 2006 after she slid down a Banzai brand inflatable slide at a backyard pool. It partially deflated, causing her to strike her head on concrete by the pool. The Consumer Product Safety Commission later recalled 21,000 of the Banzai brand inflatable slides and continues to recall unsafe pool toys and equipment each year.

Broken Glass. Do not bring beer bottles and glass out to the pool. Serious accidents can happen if the glass breaks in or near the pool and someone steps in it. If there is broken glass in the pool, it will be invisible and therefore impossible to find safely. Beyond injury, you will have a lot of clean-up. First you will have to drain the pool and then you will have to sweep it thoroughly.

Continue reading "Talk to Your Loved Ones About Supervising Children by the Pool. This is the Most Important Job of Summer." »

June 27, 2014

Breakstone, White & Gluck Makes Bike Helmet Donation to Somerville Schools

We want to share articles from the Somerville News Weekly and BostonNewsGroup.com about the CYCLE Kids program and our bike helmet donation to the Somerville elementary schools. CYCLE Kids is a Cambridge organization which provides curriculum that teaches riding skills, bike maintenance, road safety and nutrition. Locally, the curriculum is offered in Cambridge and Somerville schools as part of physical education classes.

Earlier this week, attorney Marc Breakstone attended a graduation ceremony for children finishing the curriculum at the Dr. Albert F. Argenziano School in Somerville. Breakstone, White & Gluck donated 325 helmets to Somerville schools.

"Our firm is honored to be associated with CYCLE Kids which does such an incredible job educating kids in bike safety and healthy lifestyle choices," Breakstone said. "The energy, excitement and elation in that gym were inspiring and many people should be recognized. Our firm looks forward to continuing to support this effort for years to come."

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Attorney Marc Breakstone, Somerville Community Police Officer Marianne Manfra and Somerville Deputy Police Chief Michael Carbral with a graduate. Photo credit: The Somerville News Weekly.

group.jpgFifth-graders at Somerville's Dr. Albert F. Argenziano School graduating from CYCLE Kids program, joined by community officials.

See a video of attorney Marc Breakstone leading the children through a pledge to ride their bikes safely.

Participating in the event were Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, Superintendent of Schools Anthony Pierantozzi, Deputy Police Chief Michael Cabral, Somerville Community Police Officer Marianne Manfra and CYCLE Kids Founder Julianne Idlet.

Breakstone, White & Gluck is donating bike helmets to cycling organizations throughout the Boston area in 2014. It is the second year we have made these donations and expect to donate 2,000 helmets by year's end. We have donated helmets to Boston Bikes' Roll It Forward, CYCLE Kids, the Kiwanis Club of Somerville and Worcester Earn-a-Bike along with other organizations.

It is our second year partnering with CYCLE Kids. Last year, we partnered with the organization and donated 300 helmets to fourth-graders in the CYCLE Kids program in Cambridge.

While CYCLE Kids is based in Cambridge, it is a national organization that promotes healthy lifestyles for youth and families. CYCLE Kids uses the bicycle as the vehicle to teach the importance of adopting healthy, active lifestyles. The CYCLE Kids curriculum teaches riding skills, bike maintenance, and road safety. In addition, the curriculum provides practical skills based on a child's existing knowledge of nutrition such as portion control and how to balance a meal. The CYCLE Kids curriculum is present in 8 states, with 38 programs and reaches 3,000 children a year.

Continue reading "Breakstone, White & Gluck Makes Bike Helmet Donation to Somerville Schools" »

June 23, 2014

MassBike Video Answers Safety Questions for Cyclists and Drivers

MassBike recently released a new training video which answers many common questions about the laws for cyclists and drivers. The video is very well-done and offers some good re-enactments. We encourage you to watch it.

The 11-minute video is called Shifting Gears: Bicycles & Public Safety and was developed by MassBike in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Boston Police Department and Boston Police Academy. The video was developed to train police officers on how to enforce the law.

The video explains M.G.L. c. 85, § 11B and M.G.L. c. 90, § 14, the laws regarding a bicyclist's rights on the road and the obligations of motorists. A few topics covered: where a bicyclist is allowed to ride, the illegal practice of dooring a bicyclist, and how drivers must yield to cyclists. It also touches on sidewalk riding, red lights and stop signs (cyclists have to stop too) and other areas of the law.

Continue reading "MassBike Video Answers Safety Questions for Cyclists and Drivers" »

June 16, 2014

Breakstone, White & Gluck Supports Bike Safety Events in East Boston and East Arlington

Boston has some hard-working community bike programs which help children and their families learn the rules of safety. We recently supported two of these community groups, Boston Bikes and East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition.

Boston Bikes Bike Giveaway in East Boston. On June 12, the Boston Bikes' Roll It Forward program gave away 40 bikes to children at the Orient Heights Boston Housing Authority Development. Children ages 5-7 were invited to sign up to receive a bike. Boston Bikes collects and repairs used bikes to distribute through its Roll It Forward program, which serves Boston residents who do not have access to a bike.

Children who participated received a new bike along with a new bike helmet. Attorney Sam Segal of Breakstone, White & Gluck helped fit the children for new helmets and spoke to them about the importance of wearing one while riding. Then, the Boston Bikes staff and volunteers taught the children safe riding techniques. Afterward, each child received a certificate showing they had completed safety training.

sam-500.jpgAttorney Sam Segal of Breakstone, White & Gluck helps fit bike helmets at a Boston Bikes event at Orient Heights Boston Housing Authority development.

boston-500.jpgBoston Bikes event at Orient Heights Boston Housing Authority development.

littleboy-500.jpgBoston Bikes event at Orient Heights Boston Housing Authority development.

Thompson School in East Arlington. On June 4, the East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition organized a bike safety training for 98 fourth- and-fifth graders at Thompson elementary school. A representative from MassBike spoke to the children about safe riding techniques, proper helmet fitting and bike maintenance. Phil Goff of the East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition also spoke to the children about wearing bike helmets and safety. Breakstone, White & Gluck donated bike helmets to children who showed up without one or needed one that properly fit.

east-arlington-500.jpgEast Arlington Livable Streets Coalition event at Thompson School in East Arlington.

Learn more about Boston Bikes' Roll It Forward and East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition.

Continue reading "Breakstone, White & Gluck Supports Bike Safety Events in East Boston and East Arlington" »

June 9, 2014

Bike Helmet Donations in Worcester and Lexington

worcester-earnabike-200.jpgThis spring, Breakstone, White & Gluck donated bike helmets to children in several Massachusetts communities, including Boston, Arlington, Framingham, Westborough, Worcester and Lexington. We write about two events here.

Worcester Earn-a-Bike. On May 31, attorney David White pitched in at the Worcester Earn-a-Bike's 4th Annual Kids Bike Sale. Worcester Earn-a-Bike is a community program which teaches fun and affordable bike repair to neighborhood youth and community members. It operates a bike shop which repaired many of the bikes on sale.

At the sale, families got to purchase refurbished bikes for children for just $5! We donated helmets to children who needed one at the sale. Visit the Worcester Earn-a-Bike website to learn more about their work.

lexington-boys-200.jpgFriends of Lexington Bikeways. On May 24, we donated bike helmets to children through the Friends of Lexington Bikeways and Discovery Day in Lexington.

If you live in Lexington, you are probably familiar with the Friends, who work to preserve and maintain the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway and other shared use paths. They work closely with the Lexington Bicycle Advisory Committee and each winter, they clear the bikeway of snow for cyclists, cross country skiers and others.

By the way, congratulations to the Friends, the Lexington Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Town of Lexington!

In May, the League of American Bicyclists recognized Lexington as a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community. The League has recognized 303 bicycle friendly communities in the U.S. Massachusetts now has seven communities on the list, including Lexington, Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Newton, Arlington and Northampton.

Lexington's application was coordinated by Bicycle Advisory Committee chair Peggy Enders, who also coordinated our donation to the Friends of Lexington Bikeways. Read what she told the Lexington Patch about town's new recognition.

Visit the Friends of Lexington Bikeways' website to learn more about their work.

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Continue reading "Bike Helmet Donations in Worcester and Lexington " »

May 30, 2014

Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month: Safety Reminders and Our Experience Representing Injured Riders

motorcyclist-20140530.jpgBefore June begins, we have a final thought for May, which was Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

Motorcycle use continues to grow in the U.S. but so do motorcycle accidents. For 15 years now, we have seen an annual increase in motorcyclist fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The one exception was 2009. When motorcyclists survive, they are also suffering more non-fatal injuries. In 2012, 93,000 motorcycling injuries were reported, 12,000 more injuries than in 2011.

A few safety reminders for drivers:

  • Remember motorcyclists have all the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as other motorists.
  • Allow motorcyclists a full lane width.
  • Give motorcyclists extra following distance when you are behind them.
  • Before you switch lanes, always check your vehicle's mirrors and your blind spot for motorcyclists.
  • Make sure you signal your intention to change lanes or merge with traffic.

  • Do not rely on a motorcyclist's flashing turn signal. The rider may have forgotten to turn it off or it may not be self-cancelling.

A few safety reminders for motorcyclists:

  • Remember to wear your helmet and do not let any passengers ride without one. In 2012, overall motorcycle helmet use fell to 60 percent. Passenger helmet use dropped to 46 percent.
  • Wear reflective tape whenever possible.
  • Do not consume alcohol when you are operating.
  • Obey traffic laws. You must have a special license to operate a motorcycle in Massachusetts and that is important. Some 24 percent of all riders who are involved in fatal motorcycle crashes are operating with invalid licenses.

Our Experience Representing Injured Riders
The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience handling automobile and motorcycle accident cases.

Read about one case attorney Ronald Gluck handled for an injured motorcyclist. Gluck's client was seriously injured when a negligent driver cut into his lane and struck his motorcycle. He suffered numerous injuries, including facial fractures, concussions, blindness in one eye and a shoulder injury and had to undergo surgeries. Gluck negotiated a $3.75 million settlement.

Read about the case on our website.

Read the client's review on Avvo or below.

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Continue reading "Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month: Safety Reminders and Our Experience Representing Injured Riders" »

May 23, 2014

General Motors' $35 Million Fine Starts Years of Investigations, Wrongful Death Lawsuits

General Motors (GM) has been fined $35 million for waiting a decade to recall vehicles with faulty ignition switches. The defects have now been linked to 13 deaths.

Attorney David White of Breakstone, White & Gluck appeared on Fox 25 TV in Boston last week to discuss the fine, GM's recent bankruptcy proceedings and his thoughts about handling recall notices.

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This is an important topic because we have seen many auto recalls in recent years, but 2014 may set the record, according to this Los Angeles Times article.

White said the fine is the first step in a long process ahead.

"Really this is just a slap on the wrist for the corporation," White said. "It's a civil fine. It's the maximum civil fine that they could be exposed to at this point, but GM is looking at years of investigation and probably... maybe even billions of dollars of fines down the road."

The federal government is sending a strong message that companies need to act within 5 days of learning of safety defects, as required by law, White said.

"Hopefully other automakers get this message and they tune into the need for greater safety, greater attention to safety," he said. "When they do find a defect, they come right out and say here's our defect, here's our concern so consumers can get notice of it promptly and get it fixed."

Continue reading "General Motors' $35 Million Fine Starts Years of Investigations, Wrongful Death Lawsuits" »

May 21, 2014

Unsafe Magnet Toys Buckyballs are Finally Recalled

Buckyballs We have written in the past about Buckyballs, a dangerous magnetic desk toy which has injured too many children. Last week came another development, which we hope finally removes this unsafe product from circulation.

On May 12, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a voluntary recall for all Buckyballs and Buckycubes. The recall settles an administrative case filed by the CPSC in July 2012. As part of this, Craig Zucker, the former chief executive officer of Maxfield & Oberton Holdings, agreed to establish a Recall Trust. Consumers will be able to request a refund from this fund, which will be controlled by the CPSC. The agency also urges the public to stop using these defective products immediately and look for loose pieces.

Maxfield & Oberton Holdings began selling Buckyballs in 2009. The company said the magnetic desk toy was intended for adults. The problem is if a child starts playing with the tiny magnets, they can swallow them. The magnets can attract inside a child and cause painful intestinal injuries. Surgery is often required and there can be serious longstanding health consequences, such as children having to consume food through a feeding tube.

The CPSC first worked with the company to improve warning labels. The products were marketed for children "Ages 13+" and the CPSC said they should have been marketed for age 14 and up. The company agreed to recall 175,000 magnetic toys and made the change. But the injuries continued. In July 2012, the CPSC filed a lawsuit asking the company to stop sales altogether, a rare legal action the agency has only taken four times in 11 years. The agency alleged that Buckyballs and Buckycubes contained, "a defect in the design, packaging, warnings and instructions, which pose a substantial risk of injury to the public."

Maxfield & Oberton refused to recall Buckyballs and Buckycubes and in December 2012, the company went out of business. But it was vocal about disagreeing with the CPSC and posted this message on its website:

"Due to baseless and relentless legal badgering by a certain four letter government agency, it's time to bid a fond farewell to the world's most popular adult desk toys, Buckyballs and Buckycubes. That's right: We're sad to say that Balls & Cubes have a one-way ticket to the Land-of-Awesome-Stuff-You-Should-Have-Bought-When-You-Had-the-Chance."

In April 2013, six retailers voluntarily recalled Buckyballs and Buckycubes while the CPSC kept trying to raise awareness about the dangers of Buckyballs and other magnetic toys. It established the Magnet Information Center as a consumer resource. Between 2009 and 2011, the CPSC estimates there were 1,700 ER-treated magnet ingestion cases related to high-powered magnet sets.

Zucker will have to eventually fund a website, where consumers can apply for a refund.

Related:
Buckyballs and Buckycubes High-Powered Magnet Sets Recalled Due to Ingestion Hazard; Craig Zucker To Fund A Recall Trust, Settles With CPSC, Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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