Takata Airbag Recall Expanded to Millions of Vehicles

accident and injuries from takata airbag failure

As many as 34 million cars and 10 automakers are affected by the massive recall of airbags manufactured by the Takata Corporation. Most of the airbags were installed in automobiles sold in 2002 through 2008; however, in some instances the recall has been expanded to include 2014 models. The problem is related to a chemical that causes the airbag to inflate with explosive force, sending shrapnel into the passenger compartment. The root cause of the defect is still not thoroughly understood and remains under investigation. The faulty airbags are linked to at least 6 deaths and over 100 injuries.

It may be several weeks before  a complete list of vehicles affected by the recall is available. According to recent reports, this could be the largest auto recall in U.S. history. For more details about the recall and an up-to-date list of the autos covered go to safercar.gov. To determine if your car or truck is covered by the recall enter the vehicle Identification Number (VIN) at: https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/

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Supreme Court Considers the Liability of Generic Drug Companies

In 2008 a New Hampshire federal jury awarded Karen Bartlett $21 million for injuries she sustained after using a medication called sulindac. She was prescribed Clinoril for shoulder pain and received the generic version — sulindac. The drug was directly responsible for Bartlett developing Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN), conditions that led to severe skin deterioration. Bartlett eventually suffered additional permanent injuries, including near-blindness, lung damage and burns in her esophagus.

The jury award relied on a New Hampshire products liability law allowing for damages based on defective design. The defendant in the case, Mutual Pharmaceutical Company, appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit arguing that the federal law regulating generic drugs preempts state design-defect laws. The 1st Circuit upheld the lower court decision and Mutual Pharmaceutical then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and oral arguments were held on March 19, 2013.

Mutual Pharmaceutical claims no liability since they are required, pursuant to the Food & Drug Cosmetic Act (FDCA) to use the same ingredients and warning labels as those used by the original manufacturer. In other words, they claim they are legally required to keep a generic drug identical to the brand name drug. Brand name manufactures maintain that they are not responsible for injuries caused by drugs that were not purchased from them.

Ultimately, this case well help clarify how federal law applies to generic pharmaceutical companies as well as determine the extent to which state product liability laws pertain to the generic drug industry.

For a thorough analysis of the legal issues involved in this case see  Cornell’s Legal Information Institute.

Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacement Lawsuits

metal on metal hip replacement implantsJohnson & Johnson is facing up to 10,000 law suits due to the failure of the all metal DePuy ASR hip implants. The implants were recalled in 2010 following acknowledgement on the part of Johnson & Johnson that the devices had a higher than expected failure rate. Internal documentation revealed that the company’s own estimates predicted that 37% would fail within 4.6 years. As many as 93,000 ASR hip implants were sold prior to the 2010 recall.

The first of these cases is currently being tried in Los Angeles Superior Court. The Plaintiff alleges that the defective implants released toxic amounts of metal ions causing a form of metal poisoning.  Johnson & Johnson maintains that the levels were not high enough to cause health problems. Surgeons have predominantly stopped using metal on metal devices because of evidence that the components grind together and release metal debris, resulting in damage to tissue and bone.

Last month Johnson & Johnson recalled a  2nd type of metal hip implant that is sold outside the United States. The recent recall applies to the Adept metal-on-metal hip replacement device. Research shows that these devices need to be replaced after about 7 years in 12 % of the patients. Most hip implants are made with metal and plastic and often last up to 15 years.

For more information about problems associated with these devices and the recalls visit the FDA Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants page.