Advantages of Bike Lanes

KY Cycling safetyAvid cyclists know that riding a bike helps keep you physically fit, reduces stress and provides a variety of cognitive benefits. But for cyclists who must ride in traffic, biking also can be a dangerous way to maintain health.

One answer is dedicated bike lanes, which establish a protective boundary between cyclists and vehicle traffic. Physical barriers that set off bike lanes can include plastic posts, trees and other plants, and even parked cars.

However they’re delineated, bike lanes help keep cyclists safe. One study found that on streets with protected bike lanes, bike riders suffered almost 90 percent fewer injuries. More than 70 percent of Americans have noted interest in riding a bike more frequently but believe the activity is dangerous.

Bike Lanes in Louisville

Louisville has made strides in recent years in helping bike riders feel safer with wide bike lanes around downtown. And the bike lanes — and related presence of more cyclists — have provided additional support for downtown businesses.

In addition, the city in 2014 opened the Big Four Bridge, which is available for use only by cyclists and pedestrians. The historic bridge links downtown with Jeffersonville, Indiana, which sits just across the Ohio River.

But despite the improvements, some Louisville cyclists remain frustrated. The bicycle infrastructure budget proposed by the mayor was cut in half, and the city is just starting a bike-share program and protected bike lanes.

Still, Bicycling magazine has given Louisville its highest rating — platinum — in the Bicycling-Friendly Business Score category, and the city improved to number 31 in the 2016 overall rankings of the 50 best cities for biking.

The Many Advantages of Bike Lanes

Lanes dedicated to bike traffic have a high cost-benefit ratio, research has found. In addition, the lanes provide multiple benefits, including:

  • Significantly fewer injuries to cyclists. Cyclists in North America have between eight and 30 times more risk of suffering serious injury than do some European cyclists. Some researchers believe the difference is segregated bike lanes.
  • More people riding bikes because they feel safer, which helps control obesity and promotes physical fitness in the local population.
  • Improved safety for vehicles making right turns. Bike lanes add to the turning radius at driveways and intersections, reducing the risk of rear-end crashes.
  • Higher probability that drivers can avoid utility poles and other fixed obstacles due to the greater area cleared of trees and other barriers to visibility.
  • More space to place bus stops, improving safety for bus riders.
  • More-confident drivers due to the additional open space created by paved shoulders and dedicated bike lanes. The additional space improves drivers’ ability to navigate and make quick stops.
  • Improved safety for motorists who no longer need to cross into the oncoming traffic lane to avoid bicyclists. The added space for bikes means that drivers can stay in their own lanes without swerving to get around.
  • Available space for vehicles that need to stop temporarily due to an emergency or breakdown.
  • Easier passage for emergency vehicles that need to get around congested traffic. Drivers can pull onto the shoulder or into the bike lane to allow emergency vehicles to pass.
  • Motorists travel at a more uniform speed without the need to slow down for cyclists, increasing the traffic carrying capacity of local roads and highways.
  • Better chances that motorists can avoid accidents or maneuver to make unavoidable accidents less severe.
  • Improved working conditions for utility and maintenance crews.
  • Increased probability that drivers who accidentally swerve out of their travel lane can safely returning to their own lane.
  • Better visibility for motorists and cyclists entering a roadway from a driveway or side street, along with better turning space and sight distance for all drivers.
  • Improved runoff of stormwater from travel lanes, which increases road capacity and traffic safety.
  • Better air quality because vehicles no longer need to travel on an unpaved shoulder to get around cyclists.
  • Increased functional life of pavement due to structural support, which decreases wear on the outer pavement edge.
  • The ability of drivers to safely pass on the right when other vehicles are turning left.

Boosting the Local Economy

At Meinhart, Smith, & Manning, PLLC, we are proponents of dedicated — and preferably protected — bicycle lanes. In addition to the many advantages listed above, bike lanes also provide two significant benefits to all residents regardless of whether they choose to travel by bike.

The addition of bike lanes stimulates the economy, experts say. In fact, research has found that bike lanes actually may increase sales for businesses they pass by.

Safe bike lanes also tend to lower the number of vehicles on the roads, which lowers emissions and pollution levels. Vehicles produce in excess of 30 percent of the carbon dioxide and 80 percent of carbon monoxide emissions in the United States every year, and short trips — the kind easily made by bike — are the worst offenders.

Bike lanes improve the environment and the local economy, and they provide a safer means of travel for cyclists, motorists and pedestrians alike. If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, you need legal representation. For a no-cost review of your case, please contact Meinhart, Smith, & Manning, PLLC.

Posted in Personal Injury Cases

Stryker Hip Replacement Issues

stryker-hip-replacementSevere pain, metal poisoning, lost mobility and noticeable shortening of limbs are among the adverse effects behind a potential hip replacement recall.

The LFIT CoCr V40 Head, made by Stryker Orthopaedics, is a hip implant component that replaces a patient’s femoral head that connects with the hip joint socket. The LFIT — or Low Friction Ion Treatment — Anatomic head appears to be defective and may soon be subject to recall.

Corrosion, Fracturing Among Problems

The  LFIT CoCr V40 Heads work by fitting into the femur, or thigh bone, of a hip replacement patient. During a hip replacement, the taper lock portion of the device is inserted into the patient’s thigh bone.

Multiple reports have surfaced of the part fracturing and corroding, which can cause a variety of injuries for patients. Among the potential problems are broken bones around the surgical site that can cause significant hip replacement pain symptoms and require corrective surgery. The device also appears to carry the risk of metal poisoning.

An Australian agency similar to the United States’ Food and Drug Administration brought attention to the issues with the device. The manufacturer, Stryker, voluntarily warned the public, and Health Canada recently initiated a recall. The agency noted that it has received complaints at a higher rate than expected for certain sizes and varieties of the devices manufactured before 2011.

U.S. Recall Imminent?

The FDA’s Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience database lists at least 100 reports of negative incidents associated with the device. Some of the events include significant pain or noticeable shortening of limbs.

Following the warning from the Australian government and the recall by Health Canada, it appears likely that a U.S. recall will occur soon. Reports indicate that Stryker sent paperwork to a doctor that included a multi-page list of defective lots of the device, but the information has not yet been made public.

Not the First Allegedly Defective Product from Stryker

Stryker implant devices have been the subject of previous problem reports and recalls. In 2008, the company recalled 5,600 devices due to an elevated risk of fractures to the stem neck when the device was used with certain other devices in patients who were classified as being overweight or obese.

In 2011, the Accolade TMZF Plus Hip Stem was recalled due to a problem caused by employee error.

In 2014, Biomet paid a $56 million dollar settlement when over 500 individuals had to undergo revision surgery after receiving a hip replacement.

Two varieties of the company’s artificial hip products — the ABGII and Rejuvenate Modular-Neck Stems — were recalled in 2012 with a warning that the implants might cause damage to tissue surrounding the hip. As a result, patients might experience additional health problems, and patients who had the implants were urged to check with their surgeons.

The products recalled in 2012 were found to cause metallosis, or metal poisoning affecting the tissues and bloodstream. Although the Rejuvenate system was not constructed with metal against metal, the recalled components were made from metal that apparently contributed to their high rate of failure and introduced metal particles into patients’ bodies.

Following that recall, Howmedica — parent company of Stryker — agreed to a settlement of more than $1 billion with approximately 3,000 people who suffered effects from the defective systems and filed hip replacement lawsuits.

Fast-Track Clearance: Bad for Patients?

Stryker’s Rejuvenate system gained approval through the FDA’s fast-track, 501(k) process for approving medical devices. Critics charge that the fast-track system often doesn’t prove that medical devices are effective and safe for the public since it does not require clinical data. Instead, manufacturers must show that their devices are similar to other devices that already are on the market.

Artificial hips historically have lasted for about 15 years under normal usage conditions. However, as the baby boomer generation has begun aging into the hip-replacement market, manufacturers have tried to create updated artificial hip products that will last longer and hold up better to an active lifestyle.

The FDA’s fast-track system helps get these products to market in less time but without the practical testing that would be required in clinical trials. For patients, products that are rushed through the government approval process can lead to significant problems. Initial hip surgery can require a lengthy recovery; having to go through surgery twice within just a few months or years creates a real burden — along with pain and incapacitation.

What to Do if You’ve Been Injured

If you’ve undergone a hip replacement, it’s important to know whether the LFIT CoCr V40 Head from Stryker Orthopaedics — or another possibly defective product — was used. To determine the specific model of medical device used in your surgery, you can contact your surgeon.

If you believe you have one of the possibly defective implants or if you’ve been harmed by surgery or medical malpractice, get legal representation from an experienced dangerous products attorney. For a free case review, please contact Meinhart, Smith, & Manning, PLLC.

Posted in Medical Malpractice Cases

Louisville 2015 Accident Map

Louisville’s Most Dangerous Intersections and Roadways

Kentucky’s roadways are headed down a dangerous path for motorists. Fatal crash rates have risen significantly over the past few years; in 2015, the total number of people killed on the state’s roads was 761, compared to 672 in 2014 and 638 in 2013.

For 2016, the statistics are looking even worse. As of May 10th, 239 people have died, compared to 222 and 198 for the same periods in 2015 and 2014, respectively.

The state’s overall vehicle accident death rate is higher than the national average and also has seen an upward trend in recent years. In 2013, the death rate per 100 million miles traveled stood at 1.36 in Kentucky versus 1.18 nationally. In 2014, Kentucky’s rate rose to 1.40 deaths per million miles traveled, while the U.S. rate remained steady.

In Jefferson County, a number of roadways and intersections were the sites of multiple accidents with injuries in 2015.

Most Dangerous Intersections

Dixie Highway at Pendleton rd. – Eight Accidents with Injury

S. Hurstbourne Pkwy at Bunsen Way – Eight Accidents with Injury

BardstownRd at Grinstead Dr – Eight accidents with Injury


Most Dangerous Roadways

I-65 South on JFK Memorial Bridget – 18 Accidents with Injury

5400 Block of New Cut Rd – 15 Accidents with Injury

I-64 West near Mile 13 – 14 Accidents with Injury

I-264 W Near Mile 13 – 14 Accidents with Injury

The total numbers of wrecks with injuries is just one way of measuring the level of danger presented by roads and intersections. Another way of viewing the data is by the number of people killed.
Multiple roadways and intersections in Louisville were the sites of crashes that injured between one and three people in 2015. At two intersections — Broadway and 26th, and 12th and Oak — four or more people were injured during the year. Two roadways — Broadway near Mile 0, and Interstate 65 near Mile 137 — also were the sites of four or more injuries.

At a number of intersections in downtown Louisville, wrecks occurred that each resulted in a single fatality:

      • S 2nd St and W Jefferson St
      • Magazine St. and Dr W J Hodge St.
      • W Gaulbert Ave and Catalpa St.
      • W Griffiths Ave and N. 25th St.
      • S 13th St and W Breckinridge St

Several roadways were the sites of wrecks that caused multiple injuries or fatalities; for example, on Cane Run between Donald and Clarinet, 23 people were injured in one accident in February 2015. In March 2015, a single-vehicle collided with a train on Buechel Ave killed three and injured one person.

Urban, Rural Crash Rates Vary

The Kentucky Transportation Center at the University of Kentucky notes that the overall fatal crash rate in the state increased by 2.5 percent in 2014 over the average rate for the previous four years. The injury crash rate for 2014 increased by even more: 10.6 percent. But the center also found in an analysis of crash data that the injury and fatality rates varied significantly by the type of roadway.

One-lane portions of highways — which often ran for only short distances — showed the highest rate of all types of crashes. Undivided, two- and four-lane highways also had high crash rates. The fatal crash rate on two-lane highways was substantially higher than on other types of roads.

The lowest crash rates — with and without injuries and fatalities — occurred on parkways and interstates. Parkways showed the lowest rate of fatal crashes, and the rate on urban highways was just 35 percent of the rate for highways in rural areas. The lower rate is attributable to higher traffic volumes and slower speeds that often prevail in urban areas.

Reasons Behind the Data

Driver inattention is the top cause of most accidents and near-accidents, research indicates. In almost 80 percent of all accidents — and 65 percent of near-accidents — a driver is inattentive in some way within three seconds of the incident. Inattention includes using a cell phone and especially texting, but it also includes activities like conversing with passengers, changing a radio station, or eating.

Kentucky data indicates that in 2015, distracted driving played a role in more than 58,000 crashes, which resulted in 182 deaths and more than 15,000 injuries — 24 percent of all fatal crashes and 43 percent of total crashes that happened on Kentucky’s roads.

How Can Drivers Reduce the Danger?

The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety offers tips for managing distractions while driving:

      • Stay completely focused on the road at all times. Diverting your attention for a split second can cause a crash.
      • Learn how to drive defensively, and watch for sudden movements by other motorists around you.
      • If you need to eat or talk on your cell phone, pull off the road and choose a safe spot away from traffic. Exiting the roadway only takes a short time, and it could avert a crash.
      • Leave enough following room so you have sufficient time to react to unexpected incidents. Experts recommend a two-second differential between you and the vehicle ahead of you.
      • Avoid speeding, which gives you less time to react to hazards ahead of you.
      • Always wear your seatbelt, and ensure that passengers wear theirs.
      • Never drink and drive.
      • Never text and drive. Always pull over to text, and consider pulling over to talk as well.

Work with an Experienced Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one have been injured in Louisville, it’s important to work with an attorney who is experienced in litigating motor vehicle accidents. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, including the costs of your medical treatment, lost time from work and other expenses. To schedule a free case review and consultation, please contact Meinhart, Smith, & Manning, PLLC.



Posted in Car Accident Information

Best Car Seats For Toddlers And Babies

Car seats reduce the risk of death for infants 71% and reduce the risk of death by 54% for children ages 1-4, this according the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Also, using the incorrect child seat is against the law. This showcases the vital need for all babies and toddlers to be safely restrained in a car seat when riding in a car. The car seat options listed below are some of the safest on the market today. You can feel good knowing that choosing any of them will ensure your baby or toddler is as safe as possible in a vehicle.

Infant Seats: Rear-Facing

This type of seat is designed for babies. They always face the back, so their weight limit will not always accommodate larger babies or toddlers. The benefit of this type of seat is its portable design. These seats are created in two separate pieces. The base stays installed in the car, while the infant seat itself can be unlocked and removed from the car. This allows parents to transport sleeping babies from the vehicle without waking them. It also provides parents a safe, secure place for their baby to sit when away from home.

Britax B-Safe 35

This sleek little seat is aptly named, as it offers many features geared towards making it as safe as possible for your little one. The weight/height capacity is anywhere from 4-35lbs and up to 32” tall. It comes with SafeCell Technology, which was created for impact absorption in the event of a crash. It also has easy-to-read level indicators to help parents know they have installed the seat properly.  Other neat features include an extra large canopy that keeps baby’s face from getting too much sun and a carrying handle that locks into any position during travel. It is also noted for being especially good for small babies, like preemies.

Chicco Keyfit 30 Magic:

Known as the easiest infant seat to install, the Chicco Keyfit 30 Magic seat has also been voted the best infant seat by “Good House Keeping.” The weight/height limitations on this seat are from 4-30lbs and up to 30” tall. This seat has a unique feature, its center-pull lower LATCH anchor adjustment and tightening capabilities. You can also adjust the five-point harness on this seat with one hand. This is a welcome feature for parents who rarely have an extra hand to spare.

Safety 1st Onboard 35 Air:

This is another aptly name car seat, thanks to its many safety features. One such feature is its “air protect” technology that provides enhanced protection for side-impact accidents. The weight/height limitations are 4-35lbs and up to 32” tall. This is another seat that is especially noted for its ability to safely fit small infants, such as preemies. However, it is also one of the taller infant seats on the market, meaning babies can use the seat for longer than most other similar seats. It’s also made is the USA.

Convertible or All-in-One Car Seats

This type of seat is the typical next step for parents after the infant seat. This seat can be installed to face the back for smaller babies or turned to face forward for toddlers. Many of the models will even fit full term newborns, which leads some parents to forgo an infant seat altogether and instead opt for this type of seat, which grows with their baby.

Britax Boulevard ClickTight

This convertible seat by Britax has a weight limitation of 5-40lbs when rear-facing and 20-65lbs when forward-facing. It features the ClickTight installation system, which is in essence a built-in lockoff device for the seatbelt. The seat also contains EPP foam, has an energy-absorbing headrest and HUGS harness pads, which are also energy absorbing, along with non-twits harness straps and an impact-absorbing anti-slip base. It has seven recline positions and comes complete with an optional newborn insert.

Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat:

Voted the 2015 winner for the “Best Convertible Car Seat of The Year” by “Moms’ Picks” on babycenter, this convertible car seat by Chicco offers a little bit of everything. Its weight limitations are 5-40lbs when rear-facing and 22-65lbs when forward-facing. The NextFit Zip has the SuperCinch LATCH tightener for easy installation, along with a bubble level indicator that allows parents to know the correct seat angle. It also features nine reclining positions and six headrest options, along with an infant insert for babies. What likely makes this is a mom favorite; however, is the fact that the seat pad unzips, allowing parents to run it through the washing machine.

When you have a new baby, you want to do everything within your power to keep that precious life safe. Consequently, you will want to choose the safest and best car seat on the market. To make this choice, you need to know which seats are the best when it comes to keeping your baby and toddler safe. We hope this list has helped make this all important decision easier for you.

Posted in Car Accident Information

Kentucky Car Seat Laws

Child SeatThere is an undeniable link between traffic safety and child car seat laws. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) emphasizes the importance of child safety requirements and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is on board with them as well.

That is why we have car seat laws affecting all passengers under the age of eight years old or under 57 inches tall. Most recently, Governor Beshear signed House Bill 315 and enacted a booster seat requirement for children raising the height standard from the previous 50 inches. This is consistent with recent data from the NHTSA and proposed federal regulations. The law is expected to reduce car accident injuries in children.

However, laws affecting child restraint systems are only effective if adults who transport children in their private vehicles are aware of them. Here is a review of the car and booster seat laws in Kentucky so you can be prepared and help your young passengers travel safer.

Car Seat Law Requirements

Car seat laws are codified under KRS 189.125.  “Child restraint system” includes any device designed to transport children in motor vehicles that meets all federal regulation requirements. Systems include car seats and booster seats. While car seats are more encompassing, the booster seat elevates a passenger so the lap and shoulder belt system fits him or her correctly.

Children under 40 inches tall require car seats that are rear or front facing, depending on age. Normally, children can start using a booster seat at 40 inches, as long as the seat belt crosses the lap and shoulders correctly. Fit should sit low on the hips or high on the thighs and the shoulder strap needs to cross the collarbone. Until you are able to accomplish this fit with a booster seat, you will need to use an infant or child car seat. Once a child outgrows a car seat, it will no longer offer the same protection.

If you are pulled over and carrying child passengers, police officers will check for required safety systems and will see if seat belts fit children correctly. It is a good idea to check how car seats and seat belts fit as your children grow since you will need to upgrade once a child outgrows a car seat. Once children hit 57 inches, the regular seat belt laws apply.

Your Responsibilities

Booster SeatUnder the new car seat laws, failure to use a booster seat for a child who still needs it will result in a $30 fine. You can avoid paying the fine if you show proof that you since purchased a booster seat.  Once your child reaches his or her ninth birthday and is over 57 inches tall, you no longer need a booster seat but you will need to follow seat belt usage laws or risk those fines.

The new law, though, does not assign civil liability to drivers who fail to use restraint systems. Contributory negligence is a defense strategy that states the plaintiff had a role in his or her injuries or those sustained by passengers. While this can be relevant if you were also driving recklessly, it is not admissible evidence if children are not in restraint systems. You can face the fine and other penalties, but you will not be considered responsible for injuries just because you did not use a car or booster seat.

However, the benefits to using a child restraint system are very clear. According the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, infant safety seats are 71 percent effective at reducing traffic fatalities, 67 percent effective in reducing hospital visits, and 54 percent effective in reducing fatalities for children between the ages of one and four. When it comes to booster seats, 90 percent of children between the ages of four and eight sustain serious injuries in car accidents when drivers do not use one.  With liability not being an issue for drivers, avoiding the trouble of booster or car seats almost seems worth avoiding the extra trouble. The reality is, these devices save lives and reduce serious injury. Even if the law was not enacted, the effort is still worth it as it will preserve a child’s quality of life.

If you suffer a car accident, Meinhart, Smith & Manning, PLLC offers skilled representation to help you collect compensation from negligent drivers. Contact us today to set up a free case review and consultation.

Posted in Car Accident Information

Abilify May Lead to Compulsive Gambling

What is Abilify?

abilifyAbilify is a prescription medication manufactured by Bristol- Meyers Squibb that has helped many people who struggle with various medical conditions including Tourette’s Syndrome, Autism, Depression, Schizophrenia, and Bi-Polar disorder. It works by adjusting the levels of both serotonin and dopamine, and can relieve irritability and nervousness. Abilify’s own information page lists many potential side effects including increased risk of stroke, increased blood sugar, weight gain and more. One thing is doesn’t list is the potential for the drug to prompt impulsive behavior, most commonly compulsive gambling. Gambling is of special concern because it can have a serious financial impact on a person, and put a strain on their entire family.

Abilify Connected to Addiction Issues

According to various studies, several medications that alter dopamine levels have been found to bring about various impulsive behaviors. Gambling has been reported most often, however other behaviors such as compulsive shopping and binge eating have also been a problem for some people taking the medication. One French study looked at eight patients who were being treated for a gambling addiction with Abilify, and seven of those patients suffered a serious backslide in their program, which was corrected when they stopped taking Abilify.

Abilify is considered to be an anti-psychotic. While it can help several different mental health and other conditions, the fact that Bristol-Meyers Squibb has failed to properly warn patients against impulsivity side effects is more than concerning. The absence of sufficient warning has led to some patients taking this drug to have increased medical problems and suffer greatly socially, emotionally, and financially.

Paying the Price

Any substance that encourages a behavior such as impulsive gambling is far too costly. Those who have sought compensation due to their own suffering of these problems, as well as those of family members who have died while on Abilify are seeking help with medical bills, gambling debts, loss of wages, and treatment costs.

At Meinhart, Smith, and Manning in Louisville, Kentucky our firm works hard to stay on top of dangerous drugs and medication. Most pharmaceutical lawsuits center around a company’s failure to properly warn patients of potential dangers, and with Abilify it seems that many doctors were not given the information they needed in order to properly inform their patients of the risks involved in taking the medication.

Other Health Risks With Pathological Gambling

When a person suffers from pathological gambling, it is more than just their pocketbook that is at risk. They are more likely to develop conditions such as sleep deprivation, hypertension, peptic ulcers, and cardio-vascular problems that are commonly brought on in part by excess stress. Mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression are also likely to increase when gambling problems become severe. This may result in a person’s loss of productivity, cause legal problems, relationship problems, and may put them at a greater risk of suicide.

Evidence has shown that for those who are compulsive gamblers the actual brain changes in a way that is very similar to those who suffer from substance abuse. Another medical side effect comes from the actual gambling environment, which is often a casino that allows cigarette smoking. For non-smokers second hand smoke can be another problem.

Creating new drugs to help better people’s lives is not an easy task, but is also not a task that we can afford to rush. When pharmaceutical companies push for drugs to be approved before they are truly ready they put both individuals and society at risk. This is especially true when it comes to medications that affect the mind.

Our Attorneys Can Help

If you or a loved one have taken Abilify and found that you experienced an increased amount of impulsive behaviors, and those behaviors had a negative impact on your life, or if a loved one lost their life due to the side effects of compulsive gambling brought on by the use of Abilify, we at Meinhart, Smith and Manning want to hear your story. No one who is seeking help for a medical disorder should be dragged into an even bigger problem just as they are trying to get the help they need. To set up a FREE consultation to discuss your case, contact us today.

Posted in Dangerous Drug Information

Product Recall Roundup 2015

Most people want to believe that the products they use on a daily basis are safe. But the fact is, some defective and even dangerous products make their way into the marketplace. As a result, private citizens can be injured, sickened or even killed.

A number of federal laws aim to protect American consumers from defective and dangerous products. When defective products are discovered, they often are subject to recall — either on a mandatory basis as ordered by government regulators or on a voluntary basis initiated by the manufacturer. In 2015, a number of products were recalled. If you have suffered harm from any of these products, contact our qualified product liability attorneys to discuss your legal options.

GoGo squeeZ Applesauce Pouches


The maker of popular applesauce pouches, GoGo squeeZ, voluntarily recalled some of its products after discovering mold developing in some pouches due to a problem with production. The company asserted that the mold is a type that forms on fruit and is not a risk to people’s health. However, the company’s CEO also acknowledged that mold is “gross and unpleasant to look at or taste.”

Products subject to the recall include individual cartons and pouches made in the United States with best-before dates of 6/30/2016 and 7/26/2016. Consumers should check all of the company’s products carefully before consuming them, however. The company did not disclose how many pouches were included in the recall.

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

Kraft Macaroni RecallIn March 2015, Kraft voluntarily implemented a recall of more than 240,000 cases of its Macaroni & Cheese dinner because some might contain small shards of metal. The recalled products include 7.25-ounce boxes of original-flavor mac and cheese; the best-by dates are in September and October 2015, and the code “C2” appears just under the date on each box.

The recalled dinners were sold in these configurations:

  • Original flavor, single 7.25-ounce box.
  • Five pack of shrink-wrapped 7.25-ounce boxes in the original flavor.
  • Four-pack of shrink-wrapped 7.25-ounce boxes in the original flavor.
  • Three pack of 7.25-ounce boxes in original flavor.

Consumers may receive a refund or exchange of recalled products in stores. No injuries due to the recalled products have been reported so far.

Takata Air Bags

Takata Airbag RecallA massive recall of air bags supplied by the Japanese company Takata has affected millions of U.S. vehicles from almost two dozen different brands. The recall relates to defective inflators and propellent devices that could send metal fragments flying into car occupants in a crash. As many as 34 million vehicles in the United States potentially are affected, and an additional 7 million air bags have been subject to the recall globally.

When the recall was announced in 2013 it applied to only six auto makers, but Takata’s acknowledgement that it did not know what cars included the defective inflators — along with a recall by Toyota — spurred more car manufacturers to issue their own recalls. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also ordered more recalls in areas with high humidity, including Hawaii, Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Although Toyota reported that the recalled products have caused no injuries or deaths in its vehicles, the New York Times noted late in 2015 that at least 139 injuries involving all auto makers had been reported. At least two deaths and 30 injuries have occurred in Honda vehicles.

Sabra Hummus

Sabra Hummus recallIn April 2015, Sabra Dipping Co., based in Virginia, issued a national recall for 30,000 cases of its Classic Hummus due to the presence of listeria bacteria — which can be deadly — in some samples. Michigan inspectors found the possible listeria contamination during routine inspections in March at a Port Huron Kroger store.

After the state tested samples, Michigan officials alerted Virginia inspectors and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The recall affects only certain SKU numbers of the Classic Hummus. Listeria can sicken healthy individuals with symptoms like severe headaches, nausea, abdominal pain and high fevers. In young children and in frail or elderly people, however, the bacteria can cause fatal infections, and it can result in miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.

Nylabone Puppy Treats

Nylabone-Puppy-Starter-Kit-recallThe FDA recalled Nylabone Puppy Starter Kits due to possible salmonella contamination after the company’s routine testing found salmonella in one kit. Salmonella can inflict cats, dogs and humans with serious symptoms. In puppies, signs of salmonella infection can include lethargy, dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea, fever and shock.

The recalled Nylabones are in 1.69-ounce packages made specifically for puppies and were distributed around the country as well as in Canada. Recalled packages have an expiration date of 3/22/18; if you have a recalled package, return it to the store where you bought it for a refund.

If You’ve Been Harmed by a Defective Product, You Have Options

Have you become sick or been injured by a defective product? If so, you need advice from an experienced product liability attorney to ensure that you receive the compensation to which you’re entitled. For a free consultation, contact the attorneys at Meinhart, Smith & Manning, PLLC.

Posted in Personal Injury Cases

Viagra May Put You at Risk of Melanoma

Viagra Risk of MelanomaMen who use the erectile dysfunction drug sildenafil, commercially known as Viagra, have a significantly higher chance of developing deadly skin cancer than men who don’t use the drug, according to a recent study.

The study, published in 2014 in JAMA Internal Medicine, found an 84-percent greater chance of developing melanoma over a 10-year period among men who take Viagra. The connection between the drug and melanoma warrants further investigation of the issue, experts note. In the meantime, men who use Viagra should exercise caution when spending time outdoors. Men who have developed melanoma should ensure that they fully understand the latest research and get the best possible treatment.

What Did the Study Find?

The study began in 2000, when almost 26,000 men joined the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study through the Harvard School of Public Health. At that time, researchers conducted interviews with the men about their sexual health, including their use of Viagra. They also questioned participants about time spent in the sun and any genetic risk for skin cancer, including a history of moles along with eye and hair color.

Researchers tracked the men for the next decade to record any occurrences of skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma. In all, researchers noted 580 cases of squamous cell carcinoma, 3,030 cases of basal cell carcinoma and 142 cases of melanoma. The men who reported using Viagra had a risk factor nearly double for developing melanoma. The drug did not appear to be linked to the other two types of skin cancers that were monitored, and researchers didn’t find evidence that erectile dysfunction on its own increased the risk of developing melanoma.

Researchers say the study only shows a correlation between melanoma and Viagra and doesn’t prove that the drug causes the disease. To understand causality, more research is needed, they note.

Researchers did not suggest that Viagra is a dangerous drug or that men stop taking it for treatment of erectile problems, noted Dr. Abrar Qureshi, a study co-author. But he advised that men who take the medication and are at high risk for melanoma consult with their doctors before continuing the medication.

Does Viagra Increase Risk of Melanoma?

Viagra impacts the same genetic pathway that provides a means by which skin cancer can become more invasive, Qureshi said, adding that the men who took Viagra did not show a higher risk of the less-dangerous forms of skin cancer.

The researchers also noted that the risk of melanoma that correlates with taking Viagra is small, and many factors play a role in a man’s risk of developing melanoma. Age and total exposure to ultraviolet radiation are among the most predictive factors in development of the disease.

Should men who take Viagra be worried? Researchers say there is no definitive answer without further investigation, because the connection between melanoma and Viagra could be a simple coincidence. Replication of the study results is necessary before health professionals would begin warning men.

Protect Yourself from Melanoma

Melanoma is less common than other types of skin cancer but is more serious. It appears as a flat mole with an uneven shape; the mole can be brown, black or several colors. Melanoma typically appears as a new growth on the skin, but it also can form in an existing mark or mole. The disease can impact the skin exclusively or can spread to bones and organs.

To reduce the risk of melanoma, experts advise protecting skin against excessive sun exposure by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen liberally during outdoors time, staying in the shade, avoiding indoor tanning and wearing a hat, sunglasses and clothing that covers arms and legs. In addition, anyone at risk should see a health care professional for regular skin examinations to catch any signs of melanoma or other skin cancers early, when they can still respond to treatment.

Older men have a higher chance of developing melanoma and of dying from the disease. In 2014, experts estimated that 76,000 U.S. residents would develop melanoma, and 10,000 would die because of it.

Consult with an Experienced Dangerous Medicines Attorney

If you have suffered from health problems that you believe are the result of a dangerous medicine, you should consult with our qualified attorneys. You may be entitled to compensation, including the costs of your medical treatment, time lost from work, and pain and suffering. For a free personal consultation, contact Meinhart Smith & Manning PLLC at (877) 776-1219.

Posted in Dangerous Drug Information

Tech company Aims to Fight Distracted Driving Accidents

Text NinjaA start-up company thinks it has a solution to one of the worst problems we face on the road today — accidents caused by distracted drivers. This brand new, five-person Chicago company, called TextNinja, has created an app that combines technology, psychology, and gaming rewards to stop people from texting while they drive.

A Computer Game That Can Save Lives

It might sound unlikely that a computer game could save lives on the road, but there is a compelling idea behind the TextNinja app.  The app is based on the idea that many drivers know full well they shouldn’t text while driving, and these drivers intend to do the right thing, but then they get tempted by their phones.  Despite all their best intentions, they just can’t resist reaching for their phones when they hear the signal that a text has come in.

The problem is extremely serious.  In Kentucky, an astonishing 30 percent of road accidents where people were injured were caused by distracted drivers. Surprisingly, that’s even more than the number of injury-producing accidents that were caused by alcohol.  In 2014, distracted driving contributed to 20 deaths and more than 9,000 injuries on the road in Kentucky alone.

TextNinja uses a multi-pronged approach to shore up users’ willpower. First, the app removes the temptation to look at texts by turning off the sound of incoming texts. Users can also optionally have an automatic reply sent out saying they can’t answer the text at that moment because they are driving.  The gaming aspect of the app rewards users with levels and “ninja belts” that increase the more that users stay off their phones while driving.  People can also choose to compete for rewards with their friends.

The beauty of this system is that it is aimed at people who are already aware they shouldn’t be using their phones while driving. It doesn’t require lecturing people about things they already know. Instead, it gets at the psychological factors that underlie much of the unsafe driving behavior that has become so common.

Risky Behavior Caused by Fear of Missing Out

TextNinja says that what drives people to pick up their phones when they know they shouldn’t is the fear of missing out.  This malady is so common, not only in driving but in life, in general, especially among young people, that it now has its own popular acronym, FOMO.  What if the text that has just come in, a FOMO sufferer may wonder, is a life changing opportunity that must be grasped immediately before it slips away.

Logic doesn’t help.  In reality, most texts are not very important and don’t need to be dealt with right away.  But the fear that puts the “F” into FOMO can override logic and common sense.  It can compel people to do things they know they shouldn’t.  As a result, they may invent excuses, telling themselves it can’t hurt to just glance at the phone for a second.  Before they know it, they may have gotten absorbed in the text messge and be at risk of causing an accident.

By providing psychological rewards in the form of gaming points, the app turns the addictive power of smartphones on its head and uses it for a good cause.  The FOMO-driven smartphone addiction — the inability to resist looking at or responding to a text even when people promise themselves they won’t — is what causes so much distracted driving in the first place, and the app counteracts that bad behavior with what will hopefully be equally addictive game rewards. In time, the repeated good behavior will become a habit — and a safer driver will be born.

The TextNinja app has just been launched, so it’s too early to say whether it will have a significant effect in saving lives.  The idea sounds like a good one, and anything that might help reduce distracted driving accidents will be very welcome on our roads.  For now, though, distracted driving accidents are unfortunately all too common. If you have been injured in a vehicle accident, and you need an experienced accident lawyer to help you get all the compensation you deserve, the attorneys at Meinhart, Smith & Manning would be glad to set up a free consultation to discuss your options.

Posted in Car Accident Information

2015 Meinhart Smith & Manning PLLC Scholarship Winner Inspired by Past Personal Tragedies

Alex TurnerOften, past events have a profound impact on future plans, even when those events don’t necessarily seem all that tragic at the time. So is the case with this year’s winner of the Meinhart Smith & Manning PLLC Scholarship, Alexander Turner, who is determined to turn the misfortune of family members into a driving force to pursue legal justice for all.

Motivated by Tragedy

Turner, who hails from Africa but has deep family roots in Brazil, experienced his first brush with personal injury as a high schooler when his cousin was accidentally electrocuted. His cousin, who resided in Brazil, was playing soccer when he touched a live, exposed electrical wire. It was later learned that the wire has been tampered with by neighbors who were using it to steal electricity. Later, tragedy struck again when his elderly Brazilian grandmother was struck by a motorcycle. Though she survived, she had a difficult and long recovery and was compensated only for the loss of her glasses which had been destroyed during the accident.

These events ignited a fire in Turner who became determined to fight for those who have been personally injured by negligence, especially those who cannot afford to seek legal counsel. This desire to assist those in need was further reinforced when he visited New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. As he helped to rebuild houses and clean up the streets, Turner noticed the drastic difference between socioeconomic levels in the New Orleans area. You see, nearly all of the areas that were destroyed were of lower economic status. Those with higher incomes had built homes that were out of harm’s way or of better construction. Thus, they were relatively unaffected by the storm or flooding.  A Gallup poll conducted six weeks following Katrina’s devastation provides proof that the poor and African-American residents of New Orleans were more likely o suffer from the effects of hurricane Katrina than those in other economic or racial groups. That is when Turner began to understand the plight of marginalized people, those who are too poor to seek recompense for the wrongs done against them.

Turner graduated as the valedictorian of East High School in Iowa before heading to college and earning a degree Political Science. He has received numerous distinguished honors for his academic and extracurricular efforts. Some of these honors include participating in the Fox Leadership Program in Rodin College House and acting as the news director for UTV 13 at the University of Pennsylvania, which is the oldest college TV station in the world.

Turner will begin his legal studies at Drake University Law School in Des Moines with a commitment to their public interest and poverty law internships and programs. He is determined to become a successful public interest attorney by utilizing every learning opportunity available to him. In addition, he has a strong interest in learning about trial law and the civil justice system. Following graduation in 2018, Turner hopes to begin work as either a public defender, a prosecutor or in legal aid. He will have abundant job opportunities available to him once obtaining his Juris Doctor, given that the demand for lawyers is expected to rise by 10 percent by the year 2022.

The $1,000 Meinhart Smith & Manning PLLC Scholarship was created to help offset the cost of pursuing a legal degree for students who have been personally affected by past personal injury cases. These events include misfortunes such as medical malpractice, automobile accidents, and other personal injury accidents. It is the belief of Meinhart Smith & Manning that these deep personal experiences fuel a passion for seeking justice in the personal injury field, and the firm wants to support qualified students in their pursuit of justice for others.

Congratulations Alex and Good Luck!

Posted in Firm News

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