RECALLS, RECALLS, RECALLS…

Last year (2014) was not a propitious year for many automobile makers.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, just about 64 million vehicles were recalled for various problems – with some news agencies dubbing it “2014: The Year of the Recalls.”

Two major ones dealt with car ignition switches and faulty airbags.  In some GM vehicles, the ignition switch would cut off while the car was in motion.  Bad enough if you were traveling on the highway and the car suddenly lost power.  However, the bigger problem was that when the ignition died, so did the airbag.  In a crash, it wouldn’t deploy. 51 deaths were reported due to this problem.

The other was with certain airbags themselves.  Made by the Japanese firm Takata, when some of these bags deployed, they would shoot out metal shards as well.  If the actual accident didn’t injure you, it seems the airbag could!

While auto recalls get the lion’s share of media attention, every year brings dozens upon dozens of other, less advertised events.

2015 BEGINS WITH A FLURRY OF RECALL ACTIVITY

The year 2014 barely ended and 2015 barely begun, and yet a slew of recalls have already happened, from the almost comical to the truly horrifying:

  • February 18th, 2015: Tommy Bahama recalls its “Hula Girl Cocktail Shaker and Glass Sets” due to laceration hazards.  It seems the glass shaker could suddenly just break or shatter.
  • February 13, 2015: SCOTT recalls their “Vanish Evo Bicycle Helmets” due to head injury hazards.  It appears that particular model of helmet cannot properly protect the wearer from falls, and neither do they comply with CPSC safety impact standards.
  • Again in February, we have a recall of System Sensor’s combination carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.  The problem?  The COSMO-2W and COSMO-4 models failed to detect… carbon monoxide!
  • Here’s something for the paranoid in all of us of which to take.  On February 5th, 2015 Sea Gull Lighting recalled its chandeliers.  Apparently, the screw collar holding the chandelier to the ceiling could break, causing the whole thing to come crashing down. (Always look up!)
  • Moving backward to the end of 2014, we witness every parent’s nightmare come true.  In November of that year, Graco, Inc. recalled eleven different models of its children’s strollers.  Why?  It seems the folding hinge could trap a little one’s finger – and thus in effect amputating the tip.  Graco seems particularly plagued by recalls, this being one of several over the course of several years. (In 2000 they had to recall 1.2 million baby high chairs, due to the risk of injury.)
  • Moreover, in October of 2014, we had Visonic recalling certain models of its “Amber Personal Emergency Response Pendants.”  The battery drain was greater than expected, causing the low battery warning to be significantly shorter than advertised.

The year 2009 saw one of the most extensive product recalls in history.  All Roman-style and roll-up blinds on the market were affected – 50 million blinds in all. The problem?  It was reported babies and toddlers died of strangulation after getting caught in the window covering cords.

Toys, adult chairs, scuba equipment, clothing, bicycles, Halloween projector flashlights, riding mowers, TV mounts… any category you can think of can be subject to recall.

To be fair, the vast majority of companies do not start out thinking they’ll sell defective merchandise just to make a quick buck.  The backlash and bad public relations – not to mention the enormous costs involved with a recall – preclude that.  Plus, most companies are honest and would never intentionally harm their customers.

Then there are those companies that became aware of their product’s faults, yet chose to do nothing.  The Firestone tire scandal is just one such example.  In 2000, they were forced to recall 6.5 million tires after a series of 46 deaths – a problem they were well aware of beforehand – already having recalled 46,000 tires of the same type being used overseas.

THE U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION

Safeguarding the public is the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, who oversees the use of thousands of types of consumer products under its authority.  This is no mean task – as it is estimated deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than ONE TRILLION DOLLARS each year.

Once a product is under recall, federal law bars any person from selling those products to the public.  The public can also report a dangerous product directly to the Commission at www.SaferProducts.gov or by calling the CPSC Hotline at (800) 638-2772.

Terry Bryant Law Firm in Houston has been helping Texas residents for over 30 years with their legal problems and concerns, ensuring their clients get the very best advice, assistance and compensation to which they are entitled.