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December 2016
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Osler “Pete” Peterson
617-969-1500 – Newton
508-359-9190 – Medfield
Dear Subscriber,In keeping with the December spirit of reflection, we reviewed a year’s worth of headlines for a list of the top safety and justice stories from 2016. Progress was made, but there are still many challenges ahead. Thanks for supporting civil justice!

Information that makes us safer
These newsletters are based on a simple idea – the more each one of us knows, the better off each us will be. Each newsletter focuses on a topic that relates to the health, wellness, and safety of each of us, our families, and our friends. I hope that you will find the information both interesting and informative, and that each month you can take away at least some nugget, that can make you or your family more secure.

Remember, the safer you remain, the less likely is that you will need the courts, as legal claims are generally only needed when proper safety measures were missing.

Pete

U.S. Civil Justice: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

2016 Top Safety and Justice Stories

It was a busy year for those who fight for the health, safety and legal rights of all Americans. Here are some of the top stories we were watching in 2016:

Forced Arbitration Two St. Jude Medical defibrillators recalled due to battery defects.

1> Faulty Medical Devices: Recalls Double
According the the FDA, medical device recalls doubled from 2003 to 2012, and new data shows that the numbers keep climbing. While the FDA approves medical devices before release, they do not do any testing and instead rely on the manufacturers to provide accurate and comprehensive testing data.

Two examples of faulty medical devices now on the market include the Essure birth control coil and the St. Jude defibrillator. The FDA has received over 10,000 complaints from women suffering painful side effects due to the Essure birth control device. Countless lawsuits against Essure’s manufacturer, Bayer, have sprung up across the country. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) has since introduced a bill to pull Essure off the market. Meanwhile, more than 400,000 defibrillation devices made by St. Jude medical were the subject of a recent recall due to a faulty battery. To learn more about medical device recalls, click here.

2> Forced Arbitration: Sign a Contract, Lose Your Rights
There’s always a holiday gift year that’s a dud. Maybe you’ve received an ugly sweater three times too big, or a candle that smells so terrible it gives you a headache. Unfortunately, many corporations are now giving you those ugly sweaters (and forcing you to wear them), hiding “forced arbitration” clauses in consumer and employment contracts.

This loophole prohibits Americans from taking companies to court and instead forces them into secretive arbitrations, which are typically stacked in favor of the company. An investigation by The New York Times has focused renewed scrutiny on the harm caused by forced arbitrations in claims of medical malpractice, sexual harassment, hate crimes, discrimination, theft, fraud, elder abuse and wrongful death. You can join others in petitioning Congress to ban forced arbitration right here.

Exploding AirbagLead found in the Flint water supply has poisoned thousands, including 27,000 children.

3> Flint, Michigan: Lead In Water Sickens Thousands
Residents of Flint, Michigan were exposed to dangerous levels of lead in their drinking water ever since a decision was made to switch the source of the city water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a young pediatrician known affectionately in Flint as Dr. Mona, discovered the problem when she noted an increase in the symptoms of lead poisoning in her young patients. Knowing that it was her moral and ethical duty to share her discovery with the public as soon as possible, Dr. Mona held a press conference. Michigan officials and lawmakers denounced her findings at first, only to relent when Dr. Mona wouldn’t back down. Dr. Mona continues to lead the recovery efforts today.

Nursing Home AbuseHead injuries in the NFL are down 25 percent since the concussion lawsuit.

4> Concussions and Brain Disease: NFL Settles Lawsuit
If you’re a movie fan, you probably saw the film Concussion, starring Will Smith. This movie is based on the true story of Dr. Bennet Omalu and his discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in NFL football players. CTE is a disease of the brain tissue and is caused by repetitive brain trauma. CTE is associated with dementia, aggression, memory loss and depression.

Subsequent research has prompted athletic organizations to make concussion prevention and recovery a priority. This includes many “When in Doubt, Sit Them Out” laws, which mandate that any youth athlete suspected of suffering a concussion be cleared by a medical professional before returning to practice or competition. Earlier this year an appeals court upheld a settlement by the NFL with former players, setting aside almost $1 billion for medical care due to repeated head trauma. Since this lawsuit, head injuries have decreased for NFL athletes.

5> Asbestos: Still a Widespread Hazard
Asbestos may seem like a thing of the past, but any building built in the United States before 1981 is presumed to contain asbestos. And in fact, asbestos-related diseases still kill about 15,000 Americans a year. Even though asbestos is known to be extremely dangerous, the substance has not been banned in the United States. President Obama recently signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, a bipartisan bill that strengthens ways to regulate and restrict chemical substances. Because of this bill, the EPA can officially work to ban asbestos in the U.S.

SamsungOver 1 million Samsung Galaxy 7 phones have been recalled due to defective and explosive batteries.

6> Exploding Devices: Faulty Lithium-Ion Batteries
From e-cigarettes to hoverboards to smartphones, reports continue of everyday devices posing an unsafe explosion hazard. The culprit is lithium-ion batteries, which include unstable and flammable liquids. When improperly made devices include these batteries, the liquid can overheat and burst through the battery, igniting the device itself. These explosions have caused burns as well as property damage from subsequent fires. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently issued a recall of all one million Samsung Galaxy 7 phones, including replacement models thought to fix the problem.

7> Prescription Drug Addiction: A National Epidemic
Prescription opiate deaths have quadrupled since 1999, killing an estimated 165,000 Americans. During the same time period, profits recorded by the drug companies that manufacture prescription painkillers have also skyrocketed. Meanwhile, a coalition of opioid manufactueres and their lobbyists have fought legislative measures introduced to stem the tide of overdose deaths.

8> Dangerous Toys: Still On Store Shelves
Nearly 260,000 kids visit emergency rooms each year for toy-related injuries, according to the CPSC. And sadly, 11 children under the age of 12 died while playing with toys in 2014. The most common injuries include poisoning, choking, ingesting magnets or falling from riding toys. While regulators, safety advocates and the parents of injured children have succeeded in ridding store shelves of many unsafe toys, too many still get through. Learn more.

What Concerns You the Most?

Browse the 2016 top safety and justice issues, and then tell us which one keeps you up at night. You could win an iPod shuffle for participating.

Add your thoughts here

Forced Arbitration: The Threat Continues

Forced arbitration continues to threaten the safety and legal rights of all Americans. Tia shares her story of sexual harassment and Circuit City.

Listen now

You Should Know is a copyrighted publication of Voice2News, LLC, and is made possible by the attorney shown above. This newsletter is intended for the interest of past and present clients and other friends of this lawyer. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice. If you no longer wish to receive these emails, click here to unsubscribe from this newsletter, and your request will be honored immediately. You may also submit your request in writing to: Steven L. Miller, Editor, 4907 Woodland Ave., Des Moines, IA 50312. Be sure to include your email address.
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