Recently in Product Liability Category

March 25, 2014

Known Safety Defect in GM Vehicles Blamed for Up to 303 Deaths

Following pressure from lawmakers, General Motors (GM) has recently recalled 1.6 million vehicles that reportedly share a defective ignition switch linked to a number of deaths across the country. According to reports, the ignition switch in the recalled vehicles, which is connected to the airbag system, activates the airbag system when drivers start their cars. However, the airbag system does not remain active the entire time the vehicle is running, a serious safety defect in the device. Alarmingly, GM employees and designers admittedly knew about the defective parts since as early as 2004.

The car company has recalled six models of vehicles manufactured between 2003 and 2007, which share the same ignition parts. In a press release, GM explained that there is a risk, under certain conditions, that the ignition switch in certain vehicles may move out of the "run" position, causing a partial loss of electrical power to the safety system in the vehicle. GM acknowledges that adding a key fob or having other keys on a ring may increase the risk of the partial electrical loss occurring. The press release advises drivers to remove all other keys and key fobs from their key rings to avoid any issue, but the risk of having the safety system rendered ineffective remains.

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February 4, 2014

New Study Shows Rise in Highchair-Related Injuries

As recently discussed by WebMD, statistics released in a new study show that the number of highchair-related injuries has risen steadily over the past decade. The study focused on the period between 2003 and 2010, the years preceding the adoption of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Since the Act went into effect in 2011, millions of highchairs have been recalled for defective design or manufacture. While researchers attribute some recent highchair injuries to parents and caregivers misusing products, defective design was found to be the major cause of injuries.

The study appeared in Clinical Pediatrics, and revealed that thousands of children suffer injuries from highchairs each year. The injuries are often serious, as the study found over 9,500 children require emergency care because of falls, cuts, and other injuries resulting from highchair use. Between 2003 and 2010, the number of highchair-related injuries increased by 22%.

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January 1, 2014

Vehicle's Black Box Data Can Be Useful Evidence In Car Accident Cases

The car event data recorder installed under most vehicles' hoods is becoming increasingly important in civil and criminal lawsuits. The device, colloquially known as the "black box," stores data regarding a driver's habits, and it is capable of detailing the events that take place during each trip in the car. As the boxes were long used by car manufacturers to record performance data, the new trend is to use the information stored as evidence from automobile accidents.

Roughly 96% of all new vehicles sold in the United States have a black box installed. National lobbies from car insurance companies, law enforcement, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hope that 100% of cars will have the black box installed by 2014.

Recently, the high-profile events in Massachusetts involving Lt. Governor Tim Murray increased awareness of the issues and exemplified how the black box data may be used by law enforcement or a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit. According to reports, the Lt. Governor was involved in a car accident and was interviewed by state police at the scene. Lt. Governor Murray stated that he was not speeding and that he was wearing his seatbelt, but the black box in his car offered a different story. The black box installed in his vehicle recorded that the public official was driving over 100 mph. No one was injured in the accident, but the facts illustrate the potential evidentiary value of the data stored on a driver's black box.

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December 24, 2013

Report Identifies Potentially Dangerous Toys In Time For Holiday Season

Few things are more fulfilling than seeing a child's face light up when she opens her gifts this holiday season. Some toys will entertain your child for hours on end, while others may be tossed aside and forgotten almost immediately. Regardless of your child's expert opinion on the entertainment value of the toys, one thing is certain: each toy must be free of choking hazards, dangerous levels of lead and other toxins, and design and manufacturing defects.

The United States Public Interest Research Group's 2013 "Trouble in Toyland" report warns consumers about the most common hazards in some popular children's toys just in time for the holidays. Historically, the report has identified children's products that could cause injury, choking, strangulation, and toxic chemical exposure. The 2013 report made important findings about the lead content in toys, other toxic chemicals in toys, choking hazards, magnets, and noisy toys, and identified some specific toys that raised significant child safety concerns. For example, the report noted the following:

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September 9, 2013

Chobani Recalls Yogurt after Illnesses Reported

Chobani has decided to issue a voluntary product recall of yogurt following reports of at least 89 people falling ill.

A spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that those who have fallen ill have experienced symptoms similar to food poisoning that have included nausea and cramps. However, the cases have not been confirmed, and no link between the illnesses and eating the yogurt has been proven. Chobani is working with the FDA to remove the defective product from grocery shelves as quickly as possible in order to avoid any further potential food poisoning.

The product recall affects those cups that have the code 16-012 and expire between September 11 and October 7. At this time, the yogurt in question is not considered a public health threat, but the mold can cause health problems, especially for anyone who already has a compromised immune system.

As of September 9th, the source at the Twin Falls, Idaho plant had been found, and the company has already taken steps to prevent a similar problem in the future. However, Chobani has not publicly stated neither the cause nor what the preventative measures taken have been. Late last week, a spokeswoman for the company said the 95% of the defective product had already been destroyed. The company also noted that the reason the mold became an issue was because of the lack of preservatives used in the yogurt. Mucor circinelloides, the mold that was found in the yogurt, is said to be common in the dairy environment. It is not dangerous to most people, and is also not classified as a foodborne pathogen.

Customers who purchased the yogurt noted that the cups looked like they were swollen and bloated. Different sizes of Chobani were affected, ranging from the 3.5 ounce cups all the way up to the 32-ounce tubs. A total of 91 varieties of the product were involved in the recall. Customers who ate the yogurt had various comments about the quality not being right, ranging from a fizzy texture to a taste that reminded one customer of wine.

Adding to the concern, days after the company issued the product recall it was still spotted on grocery store shelves. Retailers in Wisconsin were found to be selling the moldy yogurt despite the fact that a product recall had been issued.

If you purchased the defective yogurt, do not eat it and follow the measures of the recall, which can be found on the company's website. Any customers who have fallen ill after eating the yogurt are encouraged to see a medical professional and then call Chobani at 877-847-6181. A complete list of the containers can be found on Refunds can also be obtained by contacting Chobani via the company website.

UPDATE: As of September 12, a total of 118 people have reported falling ill after eating the yogurt.

February 21, 2013

Novartis AG Announces Voluntary Recall of Cough Syrup

Novartis AG, a Swiss drug company, has recalled almost 200 lots of cough syrup. According to Novartis, the child resistant feature on some bottle caps was functioning improperly.

According to The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), the "child-resistant" caps on some bottles of cough and flu syrup were not as sturdy as advertised. Because the cough syrups contain acetaminophen and diphenhydramine, an overdose of the drugs can cause irreparable harm to children. The CPSC notes that thousands of children each year are poisoned by acetaminophen and diphenhydramine. In large doses, acetaminophen can cause serious liver damage.

The CPSC has warned users of these cough syrups to not use the products if they were purchased between May 2010 and December 2011.

The cough syrup involved in the recall includes 142 lots of Triaminic and 41 lots of Theraflu Warming Relief Syrups. All lots were manufactured in the Lincoln, Nebraska before December 2011 and lot numbers can be found on the Novartis AG web site. Manufacturing at the Lincoln, Nebraska, facility was suspended in December 2011 and the plant has yet to reopen.

Twelve reports of children unscrewing possible faulty caps have been reported. None of these have included the Theraflu syrup. Of these twelve Triaminic cases, four children ingested the cough syrup after opening the bottle. One of the four required medical attention.

According to Novartis, approximately 97% of the recalled syrup has already been used, returned, or put in a warehouse for quarantine. Novartis has asked consumers who still have bottles of affected cough syrup to either destroy or return unused product to Novartis Consumer Health Inc.

In January 2012, Novartis Consumer Health Inc. voluntarily recalled lots of Excedrin and NoDoz products with expiration dates of December 20, 2014 or earlier, as well as Bufferin and Gas-X Prevention products with expiration dates of December 20, 2013 or earlier.
If you have or a family member has been injured by a defective product or need advice on a personal injury matter, please contact Parker | Scheer LLP for a free consultation with one of our experienced Personal Injury Lawyers.

December 19, 2012

New Federal Court Order for Meningitis Cases

In a recent Federal Court ruling, a judge overseeing claims filed in Massachusetts against New England Compounding Center (NECC) and other related entities linked to the fungal meningitis outbreak, ordered that "destructive testing" and on on-site inspection of the compounding center in Framingham, Massachusetts, may proceed. Parker Scheer LLP is one of approximately two dozen law firms representing victims of the tainted injectable drug, methylprednisolone acetate.

In her Order of December 10th, 2012, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal of the U.S.District of Massachusetts, concluded that "time is of the essence. Several months have passed since the relevant events and the passage of time will only make it more difficult for Green to obtain scientifically valid information."

Proposed testing will include "sampling of wall, roof, ceiling and foundational assemblies and cavities, interior mechanical systems, including, but not limited to HVAC systems and its ductwork and plumbing systems," among other tests.

Attorneys from Parker Scheer LLP are expected to attend the upcoming inspection in Framingham.

The outbreak of fungal meningitis caused by the tainted doses of the injectable drug has led to more than 30 wrongful deaths and 490 injuries across the United States.

If you or a family member have been injured or suffered wrongful death due to the fungal meningitis outbreak, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer quickly. Please contact Parker | Scheer LLP for a free consultation with one of our experienced Personal Injury Lawyers.

December 4, 2012

Lowe's Does Nationwide Recall of Master Forge Gas Grills - Boston Personal Injury Attorneys Parker Scheer

Lowe's, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, has issued a nationwide voluntary product recall of Master Forge Gas Grills Model # GD4825. According to the recall, the $270 gas grill, manufactured by Guangdong Vanward Electric of China and imported by LG Sourcing, of North Wilkesboro, N.C. poses a potential fire and burn hazard if the gas hose is improperly installed. Specifically, if the hose connecting the gas tank and regulator to the burner control can touch the burner box, the hose can melt and blow up when the grill is lit. Though no one has been injured to date, two incidents where the hose melted and ruptured have been reported.

The Master Forge Gas Grill Model #GD4825 is a four-burner grill with a single door base. It was sold exclusively by Lowe's from November 2011 through May 2012. About 37 thousand gas grills are involved in the product recall.

Anyone with a Master Forge Gas Grill Model #GD4825 is asked to contact Guangdong Vanward Electric for revised instructions and a warning label to apply to the grill that shows how to properly install the hose and the regulator. Once the instructions are received, gas grill owners should inspect their grill to ensure the hose and regulator are properly installed and run along the outside of the grill cabinet, then pass through the round hole in the side panel.

Companies in this type of situation usually decide to have a product recall when they have found a defect or potential risk with the product. It is an attempt on the part of the company to limit liability for negligence and avoid any potential negative publicity.

"If you or a family member have sustained a personal injury or had an incident with the Master Forge Gas Grill or any defective product, please contact Parker | Scheer LLP for a free consultation with one of our experienced Personal Injury Lawyers."

November 27, 2012

CPSC Warns Public About the Hazards of Detergent Packets - Boston Personal Injury Attorneys Parker Scheer

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning to the public about the hazards of detergent packets. According to the CPSC the chemicals in single-load liquid laundry packets can cause severe injury, especially to children unaware of the toxicity of the laundry packets. Because of their colorful design, laundry packets, which come in a variety of brands, grab a child's attention. Once ingested, wet substances like water and saliva cause the packets to dissolve quickly which releases high concentrations of toxic chemicals

Parents, family members, and child caregivers should take precautions to keep laundry packets away from children. The CPSC recommends locking laundry packets in cabinets where prying little fingers can't get to them.

To date, almost 500 incidents of injury have been documented due to the defective products. Some children who were injured required hospitalization after ingesting the chemicals caused loss of consciousness, throat swelling, breathing difficulties, and excessive vomiting. Injuries to some adults have also been reported.

Inez Tenenbaum, the Chair of the CPSC, issued the following statement:
"Time in the laundry room should result in clean clothes, not a call to the poison control center and a trip to the emergency room. Ingestion and eye injuries involving laundry packets containing toxic chemicals are impacting kids and adults and becoming an emerging hazard nationwide. Reducing a child's exposure to these packets in particular is a must. I believe this can be achieved through a combination of safer packaging being used by all manufacturers of laundry packets and increasing consumer awareness of the dangers that these packets pose. CPSC is keeping all options on the table to tackle this product safety issue and protect consumers, including taking action under the Consumer Product Safety Act and the exploration of rulemaking under the Poison Prevention Packaging Act."

"If you or a family member have been injured by a defective product, please contact Parker | Scheer LLP for a free consultation with one of our experienced Personal Injury Lawyers."

October 7, 2012

Meningitis Outbreak Tied to Framingham Massachusetts Pharmacy

iStock_000020900352_ExtraSmall.jpgA total of 52 people have now been identified as being infected with fungal meningitis after receiving injectable steroids (methylprednisolone acetate) prepared by New England Compounding Center Inc. in Framingham, Massachusetts. The newest count brings to eight, the number of states reporting infections tied to the tainted medications, which has already claimed five lives.

To date, more than 950 people have been identified as receiving the tainted medication from the Framingham pharmacy. Those infected reported symptoms including headache and fever, and traces of meningitis were found in the patient's spinal fluid. Meningitis, which can be either viral or bacterial in nature, is an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain ("meninges") and can be fatal. A list of health care facilities and dispensaries believed to have received tainted lots can be found at

Parker Scheer LLP is closely following the ongoing investigation of the Framingham, Massachusetts pharmacy. If you or someone you know has suffered an infection thought to be caused by tainted medication, call us. There is never a charge to discuss your potential case and all information shared will be maintained in strict confidence. Parker Scheer attorneys are available to speak with you seven (7) days at 866-414-0400.

May 19, 2011

New Study Confirms DePuy Hip Implant Product Recall Came Too Late

Nine months after DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, issued a voluntary recall of its defective product, ASR XL Acetabular Hip Resurfacing System, it is evident that DePuy's reaction to the product's defects may have been a classic example of: "too little, too late."

While much of the controversy surrounding the DePuy ASR XL System, a product designed for patients undergoing total hip replacement, has centered on the adverse health effects of metallic debris that the product deposits in a patient's body, an equally concerning issue exists: the likelihood that the implanted device will fail.

A recent study by the British Orthopaedic Association revealed that patients who have been implanted with a DePuy ASR System will experience a revision rate of between 21% after just four years, to 49% after just six years. This means that after only six years post implantation, as many as half of all implanted patients will need a second surgery to remove and replace the failed DePuy ASR System.

This new study conflicts with the information that originally accompanied the DePuy recall, where DePuy claimed that only about 12% of patients who had received the device would require revision surgery.

This is just one of many questionable representations made by DePuy. For example, DePuy had represented that the DePuy ASR XL System was a safe medical device, substantially similar to devices already approved for use in the United States market, thereby allowing DePuy to speed the product through the FDA regulation process, bypassing the rigorous safety testing generally required of new medical devices. In marketing the device to orthopedic surgeons, DePuy represented that the DePuy ASR XL System was simple to implant, reduced the risk of dislocation, and was ideal for patients will smaller body frames and those who lead a more active lifestyle. When DePuy finally recalled the product, it claimed to have done so promptly after receiving "new" data relating to the DePuy ASR XL System revision rate. However, all of these representations were made with knowledge of substantial evidence to the contrary. In fact, DePuy had been aware of warnings contained in studies and medical literature relating to "metal-on-metal" devices such as the ASR XL System years before the August 2010 recall. Nevertheless, DePuy continued to sell the DePuy ASR XL System for implantation in patients requiring total hip replacement.

Based on the new data, DePuy's sale of an unsafe product will have resulted in up to an estimated 46,500 revision surgeries, representing half of the 93,000 DePuy ASR Systems sold worldwide. To date, approximately 700 lawsuits have been filed in the United States federal courts against DePuy and Johnson & Johnson by patients who have received and been injured by the defective device. Additional lawsuits have been filed in New Jersey and California state courts.

As of January 2011, Johnson & Johnson had arranged a $922 million set-aside for litigation costs and potential settlements associated with the recalled DePuy ASR XL System. However, given the serious injuries caused by the device and the growing number of lawsuits, it is anticipated that the company may end up paying much more to compensate victims.

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April 26, 2011

Concerns Grow for DePuy Hip Implant Patients Amid Reports of Potential Effects of Cancer-Causing Metals

When it comes to the science of hip replacement surgery, DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, is a U.S. market leader. DePuy began selling the ASR XL System in the United States beginning in 2005, for use in total hip replacement surgeries. On August 26, 2010, DePuy issued a voluntary recall of the system amid claims that it is a defective product causing serious health issues. Johnson & Johnson claims that the voluntary recall demonstrated its unwavering commitment to patient safety. However, recently released information suggests that DePuy and Johnson & Johnson were aware of the safety issues with the ASR XL System long before it yielded to pressure to recall the product. As a result, unsuspecting surgeons continued to implant the ASR XL System in their patients, only to find - in short order - that those same patients suffered complications from the implant and required hip revision surgery. To date, over 1,000 patients have filed lawsuits in connection with the DePuy ASR XL System. And because 37,000 units have already been implanted in the United States alone, that number is only expected to grow.

ASR XL System: Design Flaws and Patient Injuries

The DePuy ASR XL System is a "metal-on-metal" hip replacement system that uses a cup in the hip joint and a metal ball that connects to the femur. DePuy marketed this product specifically to young women and to those who live an active lifestyle, claiming that the product was tough and durable. Studies and research have discovered otherwise.

Design flaws in the ASR XL System have led to various complications. For example, dislocation of the replacement joint may occur when the hip is rotated at an angle 10 degrees less than competing products. Due to the unique design of the cup, a reported 30% of surgeons have had difficulty inserting the cup at the angle recommended by the manufacturer. This "error rate" is far greater than the industry standard. Additionally, the ASR XL System offers the lowest coverage (meaning the area in which the hip joint can rotate) and the lowest clearance (meaning the distance between the surface of the interior of the cup and the ball rotating within the cup) of any similar product currently on the market. Low clearance results in a minimal fluid-film barrier to protect against friction, leading to increased breakdown of the cup, resulting in joint pain, medical complications, and, ultimately, failure of the product.

The list of medical conditions that may arise is sobering. Among the most serious concerns is the product's release of metal particles into the tissue surrounding the implant, caused by friction between the ball and cup. These metal particles can have numerous harmful effects, including an increase in the levels of chromium and cobalt in the patient's blood stream (which can potentially result in various other serious complications and health risks) and necrosis of otherwise healthy tissue in the area surrounding the implant. With enough exposure to the metal ions, pseudo tumors may develop in the adjacent area, potentially leading to cancer. The list does not end here. Patients can suffer pain, immobilization from dislocation of the joint, bone fractures, and infections. It therefore becomes necessary for a patient implanted with a DePuy ASR XL System to undergo explantation (removal) of the existing system and reimplantation with a replacement system, presenting a new risk of infection and an increased risk of future dislocation.

How Has DePuy Responded?

Prior to the August 2010 recall, DePuy did little to address the issues presented by its ASR XL System. Interestingly, the ASR XL System never underwent the rigorous Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review and testing process to which such products are typically subject. Instead, DePuy was able to legally circumvent the standard FDA approval process by demonstrating that the ASR XL System was "substantially similar" to another metal-on-metal total hip replacement system already on the market.

Clearly, there were many indications that DePuy's product was unsafe well before August 2010. In 2007, a study by the Australian Orthopedic Association's National Joint Replacement Registry provided DePuy with preliminary warnings regarding many of the failures previously outlined, and warned that the internationally-sold equivalent to the ASR XL System was twice as likely to fail as other systems on the market. Nevertheless, DePuy continued to sell the ASR XL system.

Between 2007 and 2009, in the United States alone, the FDA received an increasing number of reports regarding the adverse affects of the DePuy ASR XL System, rising from a reported 87 to as many as 426. These numbers likely understated the actual number of issues with the product, as such reports are entirely voluntary. Yet DePuy and the orthopedic team that developed the device continued to assure patients and doctors that the ASR XL System was safe. In 2007, DePuy faced criminal charges in New Jersey for kickback payments to doctors who used DePuy knee or hip replacement systems with their patients. Investigations revealed that doctors on DePuy's orthopedic team, who continued to maintain that the ASR XL System was safe, were receiving generous compensation from DePuy, including $552,000 to one doctor and $3 million to another between 2009 and 2010. DePuy eventually settled these charges to the tune of $84.7 million.

What Now?

Since this information has come to light, doctors have been increasingly recommending that the DePuy ASR XL Hip Replacement Systems be removed from patients who currently have the device implanted. One reason for the recommendation is patients' ongoing complaints of pain and hip dislocation. Another reason is that patient with the existing ASR XL System are showing dangerously high levels of chromium and cobalt in their bloodstreams. Some studies have shown that the longer the body is exposed to these metal ions, the greater the risk of cancer to the patient. However, these levels can be detected only with a specially ordered blood test. Thus, asymptomatic patients and their physicians may not be aware of the harmful effects the product may be causing while the ASR XL System remains implanted.

Patients currently implanted with the DePuy ASR XL System should contact their surgeon to determine whether the implant is a DePuy ASR XL System, and if so, request that the necessary blood tests be ordered to monitor the patient's chromium and cobalt levels. Patients would also be well-advised to discuss revision surgery with his or her surgeon, due to the high risk of product failure and associated complications.

Continue reading "Concerns Grow for DePuy Hip Implant Patients Amid Reports of Potential Effects of Cancer-Causing Metals" »

January 7, 2011

Tobacco Companies' Intentions Made Public

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was granted regulatory power over tobacco companies in 2009. The FDA, sometimes considered incredible, has made tobacco companies and manufactures accountable by law for their products, with the intention of protecting the public and to prevent personal injury cases.

If, for example, a tobacco company wants to change its product, it must disclose intended changes to the FDA.

It's possible that the tobacco industry will be made to reveal all the ingredients in brand-manufactured cigarettes.

Previously, tobacco companies were sued when their negligence for public health was publicized. Often times cases were kept quiet. Now, like other public and private institutions, tobacco companies will have to maintain transparency.

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December 20, 2010

Chelsea Water Main Ruptures: Community Pipes Up

A water main break in Chelsea, Massachusetts resulted in about 200 customers losing their water supply. The public works department has had workers repairing part of the 100 year old pipe, as well as fully replacing about 12 feet of pipe where it ruptured causing a premises liability.

The rupture was likely not due to the recent cold weather but because the pipe was so old. The flow due to the break was stopped but the streets it flooded were sanded to prevent icing over potentially causing pedestrians and workers to slip and fall.

The full article and an embedded video is featured in the Boston Globe: Repairs underway to Chelsea water main

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December 3, 2010

Have we delegated our parental responsibilies to others?

Every year, World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H.) comes out with its list of the "10 Worst Toys" for that year. Below is the 2010 list:

The list usually involves seemingly benign toys that the group has determined - or through incidents has confirmed - that there is a propensity for the toys to injure children. Let me first state that I think any group whose mission is to minimize or eliminate injuries to children using harmful toys is worthwhile and bringing the group's concerns to consumers is important given the seemingly benign nature of these toys.

The question then becomes what next? Do we boycott these toys, do we demand a product recall of the toys from store shelves, or do we as parents make an independent decision regarding whether to purchase these toys for our children or not? I believe too often, parents rely on others - be it the school, toy manufacturers, or the government - to weigh in on issues involving our children. When did that happen and because of that, do we as parents feel somewhat protected by our decisions because we are following the advice of others? I hope not. What is appropriate for one 8-year-old girl may not be appropriate for another 8-year-old girl. Who is in the best position to make those determinations? The school? Toy manufacturers? Government? Or are the parents in the best position to make those decisions and then be responsible for the consequences of their decisions. Are we better or worse off having agencies caring about the safety of our children? I believe the answer is "better off," so long as parents do not use these agencies as a substitute for prudent decision making for their children.

If an injury occurs to a child using a toy, and those parents decide to take action against the toy manufacturer, that toy manufacturer will seriously consider whether it makes sense to bring the parents into the case as defendants. Toy manufacturers will argue, among other defenses, that the parents were not supervising their child, they purchased a toy that was inappropriate for their child, or they did not follow the directions included with the toy. Massachusetts law regarding product liability can make these arguments fail, but you can imagine the toll it can take on parents to have blame placed on them as the cause of their child's injury.

While being an informed parent as to the dangers your children may be exposed to is important, it is equally important not to take a backseat to these agencies' decisions or recommendations regarding your own children.

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