August 2012 Archives

August 30, 2012

Salmonella in Cantaloupes Leads to Indiana Product Recall and Lawsuit

800031_cantaloupe.jpgFarm-grown fruits and vegetables are supposed to be the healthiest foods to eat, far surpassing the processed foods that frequently fill our pantries and freezers. But sometimes, even fresh food can cause illness. Cantaloupes grown in Indiana and sold in July 2012 are thought to be the cause of over 178 cases food poisoning. The illnesses span 21 states, and two people have died. At least 50 of the cases were in Kentucky.

One farm has been identified by the FDA as producing the tainted cantaloupes - Chamberlain Farms in Owensville, Indiana. Even though the farm voluntarily recalled all of their cantaloupes, the FDA issued a formal product recall of the fruit on August 22, 2012 to make people more aware of the situation.

At least one lawsuit has been filed in the outbreak. A mother from Michigan claims she bought three of the tainted cantaloupes from Walmart. Both of her daughters ate the melon and contracted salmonella, which causes fever, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea. People can become severely dehydrated and some even die. This woman's daughters both required a doctor's care and emergency room visits, and one daughter was hospitalized for four days. Her attorney has filed a lawsuit on the family's behalf against Chamberlain Farms in Indiana and the Walmart that sold the melons. It claims that the family has incurred over $25,000 in medical bills.

This outbreak is similar to the one that occurred in September 2011 with cantaloupes. In that case, the cantaloupes were from Colorado and were tainted with listeria, which causes illness similar to salmonella. The attorney handling the recent lawsuit also represents 42 families that were allegedly affected by the listeria outbreak. He states that he is surprised that another outbreak has occurred because he "would have expected farmers, distributors and retailers to have better food safety procedures in place this year to prevent another cantaloupe-related outbreak from happening."

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August 22, 2012

Curbside Buses may be Unsafe for Kentucky Residents

Curbside buses - so named because they pick up and drop off passengers on the roadside instead of in a terminal - have been in the news a lot lately because they have been involved in several serious accidents. A 2011 bus crash killed 15 people in New York, and a driver and passenger were killed in another bus accident in New Jersey two days later. In May, 2012, numerous curbside bus companies were shut down, including three that operated out of Indiana, because of safety concerns.

On August 2, 2012, another curbside bus crashed into a bridge support in Illinois, killing one passenger and injuring several others. It is possible the crash was caused by a blown tire, but the investigation is still ongoing. The bus was run by megabus.com and was traveling from Chicago to Kansas City, Missouri with a couple stops along the way.

Why are these buses so dangerous? In some cases, the fault lies with the bus drivers. Many of the companies hire drivers that do not have valid commercial driver's licenses, which means they lack the proper training to safely operate a large vehicle like a bus. Some hire drivers that have been fired by other companies because of safety violations. Oftentimes the drivers operate the buses longer than they federal laws allow, causing them to become too fatigued to drive the bus safely.

The buses themselves can also contribute to accidents if they are not properly maintained and operated. Investigators in the August 2, 2012 bus crash are most likely checking the maintenance records of the bus to verify that the blown tire did not occur because of improper maintenance. In Georgia, Megabus has stopped using their double-decker buses until they are all thoroughly inspected. Bus companies, including Megabus, received warnings from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regarding the importance of the load on the bus and its relation to tire pressure. Companies need to properly load passengers and cargo, being careful not to exceed the weight limit. They also need to increase tire pressure if the bus is at capacity. These commercial buses are now being randomly selected to be weighed at weigh stations to make sure they are not over the limit.

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August 8, 2012

Victim Awarded $5.5 Million in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit over Mesh Implant

Advances in medical technology are amazing and can provide great benefits to patients. Unfortunately, sometimes the products created to help people can end up causing more harm than good. In this type of situation, victims can seek compensation not only from the doctors or hospitals involved in the procedure, but also the company that created and marketed the product.

One medical product that is under intense scrutiny right now is a mesh that is implanted in various parts of the abdominal area to treat bulging organs, called pelvic organ prolapse (POP), or incontinence due to weakened tissues around certain organs. In 2011, the FDA updated its report on the use of vaginal mesh implants. The update states that serious complications are more frequent than initially thought and that it is unclear whether surgery that includes the mesh implant is any more effective than the traditional method. Between 2008 and 2010, the FDA received 2,874 reports regarding medical issues associated with the vaginal mesh implants including "mesh erosion through the vagina (also called exposure, extrusion or protrusion), pain, infection, bleeding,...dyspareunia,...organ perforation, urinary problems... recurrent prolapse, neuro-muscular problems, vaginal scarring/shrinkage, and emotional problems." In January, 2012, the FDA told numerous manufacturers of this product to perform a three-year study to confirm it is safe and effective.

Hundreds of victims have filed medical malpractice lawsuits claiming these implants are causing additional medical issues. One case has already gone to trial and been decided by a jury. The victim had claimed that her vaginal mesh implant that had been manufactured by C.R. Bard Inc. caused chronic pain and incontinence and that she had endured nine surgeries to try to fix the problems caused by the implant. The lawsuit, which was filed against both the manufacturer and the doctor who performed the surgery, alleged that the company had not thoroughly tested the product before selling it, despite the fact that the FDA had approved it. The jury determined that the manufacturer was 60 percent responsible and the doctor was 40 percent responsible. The victim and her husband were awarded $5.5 million for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and loss of consortium.

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