Articles Tagged with Boston

‘Tis the season to shop for holiday toys and gifts. Or to bring that product back, for a full refund or replacement?

While a record number of consumers shopped for the holidays, IKEA and Honda issued major safety recalls in November. We share an update on these recalls and continue our Project KidSafe series on toy safety.

Honda Odyssey Recall. It’s a replacement part if you own a Honda Odyssey and unfortunately, you can expect to wait.

Honda Odyssey van

107,000 Honda Odyssey vans because of a problem with the power doors. Photo: Wikipedia.

Just in time for the Thanksgiving drive, Honda recalled 107,000 Honda Odyssey vans because the power doors may improperly latch and can potentially open while the vehicle is in operation. Honda has not received any reports of injuries.

Honda recalled vehicles from the 2018 and 2019 model years on November 20, 2018. The automaker called on drivers to request replacement power sliding door kits through an authorized Honda dealer. Replacement parts should arrive at licensed dealers in late December.

Honda advised owners they can disable the power door. Use manual operation until replacements arrive.

This is not the first recall involving Honda Odyssey vans. Last year, 900,000 Odyssey models from 2011 – 2017 were also recalled. In that case, Honda reported second-row seats could tip forward if not properly latched. Tipping could happen during moderate or heavy braking if seats were not properly latched after adjusting side-to-side or reinstalling a removed seat. Honda received 46 reports of minor injuries.

To learn more about the recalls, visit the Honda website.

IKEA dining tables recall November 2018

IKEA recalled these dining room tables in November 2018 because the dining surface can collapse. Return for a refund.

IKEA Tables. It is a return if you have an IKEA table. The retailer recalled 8,200 dining tables in the U.S. and 1,500 in Canada on November 27, 2018, warning the table’s glass extension leaf can detach and drop.

This has already happened three times. IKEA reports one minor injury, requiring no medical attention.

These tables sold at IKEA stores and online from February 2017 through October 2018. They sold for approximately $300. IKEA says consumers  can return them for a full refund or a replacement table. Learn more on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

Consumer Safety Tip: Consumers do not have to wait for the news media to report unsafe products and product recalls. You can view recalls online on the CPSC website and even sign up to receive email alerts when products are recalled. Visit the toy safety page on our website to learn how to sign up.

Not every recall is the same. The CPSC can release product recalls calling for refunds or replacements. Some products can be repaired easily. Others cannot. Consumers should pay attention to all recalls. Encourage friends and family to do the same: return and refund or replacement/repair. Another option is just remove the recalled product from your home, if it can be taken apart and discarded with care, so other children cannot reuse it.

A Decade of Toy Safety Efforts, Passage of Federal Safety Legislation to Protect Massachusetts Families

Toys can be defective and recalled after causing serious injuries.At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston product liability lawyers specialize in representing those injured by defective products. Toy injuries are common, even though toys should only be safe and fun for children. It is painful to learn they can be defective or may not have been fully tested or properly labeled. Defective toys can cause serious injuries, including fingertip lacerations, burns, facial injuries and broken bones. For children under age 3, the leading hazard is toys which contain small parts and balloons which can cause choking and suffocation. Toys should be tested to see if parts can fit through the “small parts” test. Those which pass through the “small parts” cylinder should have age-appropriate warnings, which read “Choking Hazard – Small Parts. Not for Children Under 3 Yrs.”

Among older children and teens, Hoverboards and riding toys are popular holiday gifts. These toys have injured and killed  in recent years, with Hoverboards also burning down homes as the lithium ion batteries charged.  Before you buy, check the CPSC’s safety standard for Hoverboards (UL2272 safety standard). Remember the standard is still new, first issued in 2016, and not an endorsement for safety. In fact, the CPSC has strongly urged consumers not to buy Hoverboards, as has W.A.T.C.H., the Boston-based non-profit which included Hoverboards on its “10 Worst Toys” lists.

Taking the time to check if a toy you want to buy – or already own – has been recalled can prevent injuries and save your loved ones’ lives. The number of toy recalls varies by year, but there are always recalls. So far in 2018, we have seen child-related recalls of dolls, toys with loose wheels, clothing, toys with excessive lead limits and go karts. In 2017, the CPSC reported 28 recalls of individual products. Over the past 10 years, 2008, 2009 and 2010 have seen the most toy recalls, with the highest number coming in 2008, when 172 toys were recalled, according to the CPSC.

This was the first year of major safety changes, including passage of the landmark Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008. For the first time, toys had to be tested to ensure compliance with the law and the CPSC was granted greater authority in overseeing toy safety standards. Federal limits were also imposed on toys containing lead and other chemical hazards. In December 2008, Mattel and subsidiary Fisher Price agreed to pay $12 million to Massachusetts and 38 other states over events leading to recalls of toys with lead levels above the new federal limit.

Beyond toys, children’s products are also subject to frequent recalls, including names like Graco car seats and Britax strollers. This is a frightening fact, because these products carry children.


Breakstone, White & Gluck writes about toy safety as part of our Project KidSafe campaign, with a goal of preventing toy-related injuries. Our recent blogs:

Trouble in Toyland Report Offers Valuable Warnings For Holiday Shoppers

Hitting the Safety Brake: A Warning About Battery-Operated Ride-On Toys

The 10 Worst Toys of 2018

Protect Your Children from Lithium Button Batteries

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There is “Trouble in Toyland.” For the 33rd year, U.S. PIRG has released its annual survey on toy safety. This is a widely respected survey, which over the years has dispensed valuable information to protect children and families. The survey has led to the recall of more than 150 unsafe toys.

Highlights from this year’s report:

  • Toys which have been recalled for safety issues over the past year
  • Toys which contain high levels of toxic materials, such as boron
  • Toys which do not meet labeling requirements
  • Toy regulations

Toy recalls

Over the past year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced more than 40 recalls of toys and children’s products, such as wagons and strollers. These recalls represent 2.7 million units. During its survey, the group did not find any recalled toys or products still being sold. This is good news for consumers, but you still need to check products for yourself by going online. You can visit the CPSC Recall list.

You can also check the U.S. PIRG’s “Trouble in Toyland” report, so you can be informed while you shop or to see if you have any recalled toys in your home (See Appendix 4, page 29). Many people do not hear about recalls so it’s worth checking.

If you find a recalled product, you can contact the manufacturer for a refund or a repair. In some cases with inexpensive toys, it may be best just to discard it from your home in a safe way. Move onto other toys.

U.S. PIRG has long advocated for improvements to the CPSC’s recall system. One concern is that companies are not required to report how many consumers actually return products for repairs or refunds.

Toxic Materials

The report focused on two toxic materials in toys: Lead and boron.

slime boy

Beware of Slime: U.S. PIRG Researchers found 6 popular Slime sets which contain dangerous levels of boron.

Lead. Lead was banned from household paint, children’s products and cookware 40 years ago. But federal law states children’s products made after August 2011 can contain no more than 100 parts per million. Because lead is highly dangerous when breathed in, be careful when buying toys such as paint sets and other products. Electronic devices can contain some lead parts, as can metal components of bicycles. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends all products for children contain no more than trace amounts of lead (40 ppm).

Boron. Your child may be begging you to buy one of those popular slime toy sets. U.S. PIRG says you can’t trust these products are safe. Researchers found six slime products on the market had dangerously high levels of boron. One brand, “Kangaroos Original Super Cool Slime,” contained concentrations as high as 4700 parts per million (ppm).

Boron is a chemical element used mostly in glass manufacturing, pesticides, antiseptics and detergents. Children can ingest small amounts, even less than 3.68 ppm and suffer symptoms of nausea, vomiting and potentially longer term impacts on reproductive health. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports certain levels can even be lethal. Say the “Kangaroos Original Super Cool” slime has up to 4700 parts per million (ppm). Then consider that six states have made recommendations on boron limits in drinking water, non exceeding 1 ppm. It’s a frightening discrepancy. U.S. PIRG has asked the CPSC to explore setting limits on boron levels, as Canada and other countries have.

We recommend parents spend their money elsewhere this year. There are so many toys out there, which your child would enjoy without risk to their safety. Likewise, if your child plays at another friend’s home or goes to daycare, make sure the adult in charge knows you don’t want your child playing with slime sets.

Slime Toys with Dangerous Levels of Boron
Kangaroos Original Super Cool Slime – Amazon – 4700 ppm
Kidsco Glow in The Dark Slime  – Amazon, Walmart – 4600 ppm
Toysmith Jupiter Juice Slime  – Amazon, Walmart – 1900 ppm
iBaseToy Fluffy Slime – Amazon – 1500 ppm
Haniex Soft Magic Crystal Slime – Amazon – 1400 ppm
Meland Fluffy Slime Amazon Boron – 1100 ppm
Data from U.S. PIRG “Trouble in Toyland” Report 2018.

Labeling

toy testing cylinder for small parts

Drawing of the small cylinder test for toys. Credit: CPSC website.

Toymakers are responsible for properly labeling their products, especially those with small parts which are not intended for children under age 3. This warning is essential. Children are often putting small parts in their mouths. From 2001 to 2016, more than 110 children died this way, according to U.S. PIRG.

What’s important for consumers to know is the CPSC has a Small Parts Ban. Toys must be tested to make sure they cannot pass through a test cylinder, which has a diameter of 1.25 inches. The cylinder has a slanted bottom, opening 1 to 2.25 inches. If a toy can pass through, it must be properly labeled: WARNING: Choking Hazard-Small Parts. Not for Children Under 3 Yrs.

Researchers identified a few toys which are being sold online without age appropriate labels this year – Hatchimals and L.O.L. Surprise toys. Parents should watch and carefully inspect every purchase you make. A good rule of thumb is to open every toy well in advance of giving it to a young children. Open it out of your children’s reach, such as in a basement.

Balloons are another product which are not being labeled properly. Balloons should come with warnings that they are a potential choking hazard to children under 8 years old. Yet, 87 percent of the latex balloons on Amazon.com carried no warnings, according the survey.

Toy Regulations

As consumers, we deal with packaging, price tags and shipping dates more than regulations. But the “Trouble in Toyland” report shares three important regulations on page 17:

  • Small Parts Ban (1979)
  • The Child Safety Prevention Act of 1994
  • The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008

Read the 2018 “Trouble in Toyland” report.


About Breakstone, White & Gluck
Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244

The Boston law firm of Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in handling personal injury and product liability cases. This holiday season, we are committed to sharing our experience through our Project KidSafe blog series focusing on toy safety.

Learn more about Breakstone, White & Gluck: www.bwglaw.com.

We hope you are never injured, but if you or a loved one are, Breakstone, White & Gluck offers a free legal consultation to help you learn your rights. Our lawyers specialize in all areas of personal injury law, including car accidents, product liability, traumatic brain injuries and medical malpractice. We represent clients in Boston, Worcester, the South Shore, the North Shore, Cape Cod, MetroWest and throughout Western Massachusetts. If we can ever help you, please call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

There were frightening pictures out of Allston on Sunday, November 4, 2018, as the Boston Fire Department responded to a report of a commercial building collapse. Firefighters found very dangerous conditions: the façade at 85 Harvard Avenue, a one-story commercial building, had fallen onto the sidewalk. The building houses Common Ground Bar and Grill, which sustained serious damage, and also other businesses.

Two people were injured, including a woman who was hit by concrete and suffered critical personal injuries outside the building. The Boston Globe reported she was with friends and they, along with others, fought to free her from the concrete. When the Boston Fire Department arrived, she was rescued and transported for medical treatment. Others inside the building were safely evacuated with assistance.

As the investigation begins, the collapse must serve as a reminder to landlords and building owners. Injuries from property defects – such as fires, slippery floors or snow and ice accumulations – are devastating for victims and families and are much more common than many people realize. But structural failures, especially in aging buildings, present extreme hazards as well.

Boston City Regulations for Building Owners and Landlords 

Building owners and landlords have a responsibility to regularly inspect and maintain residential and commercial buildings. In older buildings with brick or stone facades, routing engineering analysis should be performed periodically.

In Boston, city regulations require inspection reports, but only for buildings over 70 feet tall. The regulation mandates that every exterior wall shall be inspected at least once every five years, and in the case of an unoccupied structure, inspection must be done at least once every year. Inspection reports must be completed by an architect or engineer, and filed with the city.

Inspections should not be limited to facades. Many buildings have aging iron work on balconies and exterior stairs and these can buckle under, leading to serious injuries.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Representing Those Injured by Unsafe Property Conditions
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our personal injury lawyers have over 100 years combined experience representing those who have been injured by the negligence and wrongdoing of others. Our attorneys have extensive experience investigating fires, porch collapses and unsafe buildings in the Boston area, then bringing claims on behalf of those injured.

If you have been injured because of unsafe property conditions, we urge you to learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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School bus with stop sign and lights

With students back to school in Massachusetts, local police departments are stressing safety around school buses while stepping up enforcement of drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.

If a traffic enforcement sting came to your community, how many drivers would be stopped and cited for unsafe driving? Would you be among them?

We ask these questions as students head back to school across Massachusetts, in communities from Boston and Cambridge to Plymouth and Brockton to Worcester and Springfield.

Police departments across the state have set up traffic enforcement over the past few weeks, focusing on drivers who are not stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks and school buses. A few of the communities include New Bedford, Attleboro and South Boston.

In South Boston, the surveillance followed the tragic death of a 2-year-old in a traffic crash. The child was being pushed in a stroller on the sidewalk, when a van and car collided. The van plowed onto the sidewalk, injuring and ultimately killing the young boy. A day after the crash, the Boston Police Department and Massachusetts State Police set up a traffic enforcement initiative focusing on crosswalk enforcement, speeding and other unsafe driving behaviors. Within a few days, officers had issued approximately 500 citations for traffic violations. This is a very telling number, one Massachusetts drivers can’t ignore.

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston law firm which specializes in personal injury, medical malpractice and car accident cases. Our firm is committed to safety for children, giving away over 20,000 bicycle helmets to children in Massachusetts through our Project KidSafe campaign. With experience representing clients who have been injured in pedestrian crosswalk accidents and other traffic crashes, we offer these tips for safe driving:

Slow down at crosswalks. Students who walk to school may have a crossing guard help them across the street. Always slow down as you approach crossing guards and children. Make eye contact with the crossing guard and assume you should stop. The crossing guard will wave you through when it’s safe to go.

But even when there is no crossing guard, drivers must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk when there is a “Walk” or green signal. Other times, drivers have a responsibility to yield the right of way by slowing or stopping for pedestrians in the crosswalk. This includes times when pedestrians are in the crosswalk on the same side as the driver and when pedestrians are approaching from the other half of the lane and within 10 feet. There is a $200 fine for crosswalk violations in Massachusetts.

The best thing to do is approach crosswalks slowly and stop if you see anyone even near the entrance of the crosswalk. If you can, make eye contact with them, then wave for them to go. Depending on whether other cars stop, they may not be able to immediately cross. You may need to be patient for a few moments.

M.G.L. c.89 § 11 is the law governing pedestrian rights in crosswalks in Massachusetts. Read more about the law.

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Boston personal injury lawyers Breakstone, White & Gluck

Left to right: Attorney Ronald E. Gluck, Attorney Marc L. Breakstone and Attorney David W. White have been recognized by Best Lawyers in America© 2019.

Breakstone, White & Gluck announces that our partners have been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© 2019. Best Lawyers© is the oldest and most respected attorney ranking service in the world, providing a resource for those searching for legal services for more than 30 years. It ranks lawyers in partnership with U.S. News & World Report and other media partners.

Best Lawyers© compiles its annual list of attorneys based on a peer-review process. Nominations can be submitted online by members of the public, clients and other attorneys. But attorneys alone provide evaluations. Nearly 87,000 lawyers around the world are eligible to participate. For the ninth year, lawyers in the Boston region chose to rank Breakstone, White & Gluck. Our rankings:

Baby swimming lesson

A media report explores whether swim lessons actually reduce the risk of injury. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says children should not start lessons until age 1. Previously, the AAP’s recommendation was not before age 4.

Swimming lessons have certainly changed over the years. Parents are signing children up earlier, as young as 6 months old, to get them used to the water. A recent WBUR report explored whether this is all for fun or if children in today’s swim lessons are actually learning enough to reduce their risk of drowning.

As a parent, ask your child’s swim instructor about their goals. Experts interviewed by WBUR said the goal should be water survival and broader pool safety skills.

man riding bicycle in mountains

Cyclist on vacation in Massachusetts wearing a helmet but not using bike lights

Fireworks are lighting up spectacular skies this week. All the color makes us think about bike lights. If you are a cyclist, are you lighting up the road this summer? Are you using bike lights and wearing bright colors to stay visible to drivers?

Whether you are commuting to work or enjoying a leisurely ride on vacation, bike lights are essential to preventing bicycle accidents. And many cyclists don’t realize this, but bike lights are required by law in Massachusetts.

We encourage you to buy yourself bike lights as soon as possible. If you already have lights, please check to make sure they are working properly. Bicycle accidents have risen in the U.S., reaching a 25-year high in 2016, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The majority of accidents happened between 6 and 9 p.m. The second peak time was 9 p.m. to midnight.

Massachusetts Law
Under Massachusetts law, cyclists are required to use bike lights if they ride after dark. The law is M.G.L c.85 § 11B.

Bicycles must be equipped with a white light facing forward and a red light facing backward. These lights must be in use from thirty minutes after sunset until thirty minutes before sunrise. The white light must be visible from at least five hundred feet away. The red light on the back must be visible for at least six hundred feet. Reflectors on both pedals facing front and back are also required. If a cyclist has no reflectors, they can wear reflective material around their ankles.

Plan
If you have your own bike, buy your own lights now. You can buy them online or at a local store for a few dollars. For everyone else, if there is a chance you may ride, purchase some small bike lights. They pack neatly in your work bag or travel luggage.

There are many different types of lights available. When you purchase lights, take note of the size, battery type and battery life and if they are designed for day or night use. Remember that lights are required for the front and back of your bike. Attaching lights to your helmet or other parts of your bike are helpful for safety, but are considered extra under the law.  Here is an article about bike lights to help you get started.

There is good news for Boston commuters. There are built-in lights on the rental Blue Bikes in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline. 

Stay Visible
Don’t stop at bike lights. Purchase a neon reflective safety vest, tape and any other clothing to help drivers see you. Amazon is full of ideas.

Know Your Bike Route
Before you ride at night, plan your route. Choose areas which are well lit and have clearly marked bike lanes. Travel the route during the day before you go at night.

Stay Informed
Monitor social media accounts for local police departments and bike committees which serve the area. Sign up for the newsletters offered by bike committees. Cyclists write these newsletters specifically for other cyclists and their experience is invaluable, especially when riding and making decisions at night.

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swimming poolYour swimming pool is your backyard oasis, a fun and refreshing place to beat the heat. To keep children and others safe this summer, we urge Massachusetts property owners to secure and properly maintain pools at all times. Take these steps now to help prevent injuries and drownings:

Secure your pool. In Massachusetts, pool owners are required to have fencing which stands at least 48 inches tall. Openings in the fence must be less than 4 inches in diameter. All doors to pool areas must have self-latching and self-closing devices. Homes with doors which open into the pool area must use pool alarms.

Walk around your pool fence now to look for areas which have been damaged. Make repairs right away.

As National Bike Month ends, we finish a busy May for our Project KidSafe campaign. Six years have passed since we began our campaign and each year, Bike Month and Bay State Bike Week, get better and engage more people in Massachusetts. A few of our donations:

Framingham Earth Day. This event was held on April 28th. But it’s always the unofficial start of Bike Month for us. This was our fifth year participating in Framingham Earth Day and donating bicycle helmets from our Project KidSafe campaign to the kids. Attorney David W. White and Framingham Police Officer Garrett Coffin fit 150 helmets over the first two hours of the event. The rain stayed away so this year, we got to enjoy being out on the Framingham Center Common. Dozens of vendors came out, including several organizations for cyclists. We have to add: this is always a worthwhile event for cyclists. Friends of the Natick Trails, the Natick Cochituate Rail Trail and the Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail participated, giving cyclists a way to learn about the latest developments before riding.

We want to offer a special thanks to Officer Coffin of the Framingham Police Department. Garrett comes out each year. He is patient, good with people and has to be one of the best bicycle helmet fitters in Massachusetts.

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Clinton Community Safety Rodeo. On May 5th, we were pleased to donate bicycle helmets at the Community Safety Rode in Clinton. This is the second year the town of Clinton Park & Recreation Department has organized the event. We are told last year, many children showed up with bikes, but were unable to participate because they didn’t have helmets. In Massachusetts, it’s not just good sense to wear a helmet. It’s required under the law for children (up to age 16). And as we said, it is important and good sense for all cyclists.

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Boston Attorney Ronald E. Gluck specializes in personal injury cases.

Attorney Ronald E. Gluck was interviewed by Boston Magazine about the truck crash that killed his client, the late Dr. Anita Kurmann. Gluck said he had to wait 20 months after the truck’s collision with the cyclist to obtain the video surveillance from the Boston Police Department. While the Boston Police Department found the truck driver was not responsible, Gluck said his investigation found the truck driver caused his client’s death. Gluck negotiated a financial settlement with the truck driver and his insurance company on behalf of Kurmann’s estate in June 2017.

Attorney Ronald E. Gluck is speaking about the video footage of the 2015 truck crash that killed his client, Dr. Anita Kurmann.

Twenty months after the fatality occurred, the Boston Police Department completed its investigation and concluded that the truck driver was not responsible for the cyclist’s death. The video footage, which came from a traffic camera at the intersection where the tragedy occurred, was in the hands of the police the day the incident occurred.  Yet, the Kurmann family and their attorney had to wait twenty months to see the video and to obtain any witness information from the police department, Gluck said.  Multiple subpoenas sent to the police were met with a refusal to produce the information until the police concluded it investigation.