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Year: 2010

Alcohol and Energy Drinks: An Unrecognized Danger

What if there was a way to feel intoxicated and wide-awake at the same time? What if a drinker could party until dawn without feeling the fatigue brought on by alcohol consumption? Would this be enticing for young drinkers? Would this help perpetuate the belief that they are ten feet tall and bulletproof? That is the expectation many drinkers have from mixing alcohol with the 250 or more energy drink brands currently sold and consumed in the United States.

The potential danger associated with the consumption of energy drinks has been widely reported in the popular press and in scientific papers in recent years. The contention held by some scientists is that the ingredients in these drinks, including Taurine and other stimulants, can be hazardous. These risks, as significant as they seem to be, may actually pale in comparison to the physical and emotional risks posed by mixing energy drinks with alcohol.

Mixing energy drinks with alcohol has become a popular and common occurrence. Young drinkers use energy drinks in anticipation of reducing the depressant effects of alcohol and allowing them to party longer (Marczinski & Fillmore, 2006). When mixed together, these beverages are commonly referred to as “Vodka Bulls,” “Red Bombs,” “Jager Bombs” (Jagermeister and Red Bull), and other similar names. The popular press reports that 90% ninety percent of young adult drinkers under age twenty-five consume energy drinks. More that 25% combine alcohol with energy drinks (FDA News Release, 2009) and approximately 78% had consumed energy drinks with alcohol in the past month (Thombs, O’Mara, Tsukamoto, Rossheim, Weiler, Merves, & Goldberger, 2009). Drinkers of alcohol mixed with energy drinks report that they feel more alert, more coordinated, and generally more sober than other drinkers do. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Young drinkers use energy drinks in two different ways. Some drinkers pre-load with energy drinks alone consuming three, four, or even five energy drinks before their night of partying. Their intent in doing so is to stave off the fatigue and other depressive effects of the alcohol they will consume later. These drinkers believe they can party longer by amping up their system. Other drinkers use energy drinks as an alcohol mixer in the traditional sense hoping that the ingestion of caffeine and other stimulants along with alcohol will reduce or reverse the depressant effects of the alcohol as they drink.

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Tire Safety

Tire failures, blowouts and de-treads are foreseeable and preventable events. Manufacturers know that tire treads will wear with proper use and at some point, tires will fail if not serviced properly and replaced after their intended period of use has expired. However, until very recently, consumers were provided little or no information about tire expiration. Even now, many people are unaware that this is a critical part of tire safety.

When researching the issue of tire safety, it is easy to find information about such issues as tire pressure, how to check for tread wear, when to balance and rotate tires, and even information about appropriate tire size for various vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) even publishes a helpful brochure about tire safety, titled “Tire Safety: Everything Rides on It.(copy then paste in your browser: http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/tiresafety/ridesonit/images/one.pdf)

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Infant Car Seats Recalled by Britax Due to Laceration and Choking Hazards

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.

Name of Product: Chaperone Infant car seats

Units: About 23,000

Importer: Britax Child Safety Inc., of Charlotte, N.C.

Hazard: The harness chest clip can break and pose a laceration hazard. Due to its small size it also poses a choking hazard.

Incidents/Injuries: The firm has received four reports of the chest clip breaking. Injuries from three reports included minor lacerations and scratches to arms and a finger; and one report involved an infant placing the clip in his mouth.

Description: This recall involves Chaperone infant car seats with model numbers E9L95P2 (Red Mill), E9L95P3, E9L95P5 (Cowmooflage), E9L69N9 (Moonstone) manufactured between April 2009 and May 2010. The white serial label with the seat’s serial number, model number, and manufacture date can be found on the underside of the car seat.

Sold at: Mass and independent retailers nationwide and on the Britax website from June 2009 to October 2010 for about $230.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately contact Britax for a free repair kit, which includes a replacement chest clip. Registered owners have been directly contacted by Britax. This product was also recalled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Recall Notice: http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/results.cfm?rcl_id=10C006000&searchtype=quicksearch&summary=true&refurl=rss

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Britax at (888) 427-4829 anytime, or visit the firm’s website at www.britax.com

Picture of Recalled Infant Car Seat

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DePuy Replacement Implants Recalled

Two Hip Replacement Implants Recalled

About 1 in 8 people with ASR components has needed corrective surgery within five years.

DePuy Orthopaedics, a division of Johnson & Johnson, has announced that it is recalling two types of hip implants because of higher-than-expected early failure rates.

The recall affects the ASR XL Acetabular System, which is used for total hip replacements, and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System, which is used in a newer kind of bone-conserving procedure.

The total hip replacement system was FDA approved and has been used in patients in the United States.

The hip resurfacing system has not been approved for use in this country, but according to company spokeswoman Lorie Gawreluk, some patients in the U.S. have gotten the implants through a clinical trial.

Also, people who have traveled outside of the U.S. for hip resurfacing or hip replacement procedures may have been fitted with ASR components.

A combined total of about 93,000 of the devices have been implanted worldwide.

DePuy said that it was issuing the voluntary recall after new data from a British joint replacement registry showed about 1 in 8, or around 12 percent, of those who received the implants needed corrective procedures, called revision surgeries, within five years.

That failure rate appears to be about twice the industry average, says Kevin J. Bozic, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon and vice chairman of orthopaedics at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center, who has studied revision rates in hip replacement.

“It was a design failure that frankly wasn’t picked up until they were implanted in thousands of patients,” Dr. Bozic says.

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Consumers pay more while insurances companies sue

By Alex Winslow, Texas Watch — In Texas we like being No. 1. Call us chauvinists or parochial or just downright proud, but when it comes to comparing us with the rest of the union, we darned sure want to be at the top of the list. Well, maybe not every time.

We’ve been paying among the highest homeowners insurance rates in the nation for as long as anyone can remember. A dubious distinction for sure, especially when you consider the games insurance companies are playing to deny or underpay claims and the lack of protection available in most insurance policies.

Some industry apologists want us to believe that insurance customers are better off with a system that allows insurance companies to raise rates whenever they want without getting approval from the insurance commissioner beforehand, keeps consumers in the dark about what is covered in their insurance policies, and lets insurance companies use insurance scores, data mining, and pattern recognition software instead of legitimate risk-based factors when deciding whom to cover and how much to charge.

This is hogwash. If we’ve learned anything over the last couple of years, it is that we can’t simply sit by and hope that complex financial institutions like AIG, State Farm and other insurance companies do the right thing.

The fact is that our current system of insurance regulation favors powerful insurance companies and their lobbyists over consumers and homeowners. Take State Farm. The state’s largest homeowners insurance company has tied the Texas Department of Insurance up in court for seven years over a rate that the department has found unfairly excessive. All this time, State Farm’s customers have been forced to pay a rate that state regulators believe is too high. State Farm owes its policyholders upward of $1 billion, according to the state’s public insurance counsel. Yet the company hasn’t repaid a dime because Texas has a backward system that allows insurance companies to raise rates first and justify them later.

Doesn’t it just make more sense to require insurance companies to justify their rates before they go into effect, not after? That way Texans know they are getting a fair deal.

Instead of being the state where insurance companies can raise their rates while slashing coverage, wouldn’t we all rather be known as the state with the most balanced insurance market? A state that holds fairness for insurance customers just as high as industry profits? Despite what industry lobbyists say, we can have both. Insurance companies are not charities and have every right to make a profit, but not by shortchanging their customers.

Politicians in Austin have promised to help homeowners for years now, but most of the so-called reforms they’ve passed simply benefited the insurance industry without actually lowering rates for consumers. With higher premiums, larger deductibles and expanded exclusions, Texans are paying more and more for their homeowners insurance and getting less and less in return. Why? Because insurance lobbyists have manipulated the market using all three branches of state government. They’ve succeeded in creating a loosey-goosey regulatory system by lying to the Legislature and manipulating the Insurance Department, not to mention the assist they’ve gotten from their cronies on the Texas Supreme Court who have sided with insurance interests 83.6 percent of the time.

The insurance industry’s “trust us” message just rings hollow. We’ve tried it that way; now we need to do it the right way. Maybe then we can truly lead the nation by guaranteeing real insurance protection that all Texans can afford. That would be something all Texans can really be proud of.

N. Alex Winslow is executive director of Texas Watch, a statewide citizen advocacy organization.

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Representing Victims And Families
since 1982

Our attorneys are happy to accommodate difficult schedules. We can meet you in the early morning or late afternoon hours.

We can even schedule appointments on the weekends. We are also available to meet you at home or in the hospital if you do not have transportation, or if your injury doesn’t allow you to travel.

What We Offer Clients And Their Loved Ones:

Initial consultations on personal injury cases are always free.
You do not pay us unless we win your case on personal injury cases.
We`re available to answer your legal questions.
We can be an advocate for your loved ones.
Help provide families with resources and advice.
Resolve automobile property damage claims.
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Representing Victims And Families
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You do not pay us unless we win your case on personal injury cases.
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Toyota to Recall 1.53 Million Cars for Fluid Leak

Toyota Motor Corp.’s recall of 1.53 million cars and light trucks worldwide for a flaw linked to brake-fluid leaks boosts the company’s tally of U.S. vehicles requiring repairs to more than 5 million this year.

Toyota said today it will fix 740,000 vehicles in the U.S. and 599,029 in Japan with rubber seals at risk of allowing leaks. U.S. models affected include Avalon sedans, Highlander sport-utility vehicles and Lexus GS 300, IS 250 and IS 350 luxury cars. The Toyota City, Japan-based company has announced recalls covering 5.4 million U.S. autos this year.

“They seem to know they must be very open about this to restore customer confidence,” said Ian Fletcher, an analyst at IHS Automotive in London. “They can’t afford anymore to have the massive political trial they had in the U.S.”

The announcement comes as Toyota, the world’s biggest carmaker, works to regain market share and customers’ trust after recalling more than 10 million autos globally in the past year, including about 8 million for defects linked to unintended acceleration. To catch defects earlier, Toyota has slowed its vehicle-development process, added engineers in the U.S. and Japan and assigned teams to scrutinize parts designs and suppliers’ operations.

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Fatal car crashes involving teen drivers drop

Fatal car crashes involving teen drivers fell by about a third over five years, according to a new federal report that partly credits the drop to tougher state limits on younger drivers.

The number of deaths tied to these accidents fell dramatically from about 2,200 in 2004 to 1,400 in 2008, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

The CDC looked at fatal accidents with drivers who were 16 or 17. There were more than 9,600 such incidents during the five-year span and more than 11,000 people died in the crashes.

The rate of these fatal crashes has been declining since 1996. CDC officials credit a range of factors, including safer cars with airbags and highway improvements.

But experts say a chief reason is that most states have been getting tougher, curbing when teens can drive and when they can carry passengers.

“It’s not that teens are becoming safer,” said Russ Rader, spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an Arlington, Va.-based research group funded by auto insurance companies.

“It’s that state laws enacted in the last 15 years are taking teens out of the most hazardous driving situations,” such as driving at night or with other teens in the car, he said.

Graduated driver’s licensing programs, as they are called, began appearing in 1996 and now 49 states have them. Some are more restrictive than others, which may be one reason why death rates vary by state, Rader said.

The CDC found that Wyoming had the highest death rate, with about 60 traffic fatalities involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers per 100,000 people that age. New York and New Jersey, which have rigorous driving restrictions on teens, had the lowest rates, at about 10 per 100,000.

New Jersey and New York the most restrictive licensing programs — New Jersey essentially bans kids from driving until they are 17, and New York City prohibits teen driving until 18.

Wyoming has a graduated driver’s licensing program, but it’s somewhat lax. For example, younger teens are allowed to drive until 11 p.m., while other states force them off the roads starting at 9 p.m., Rader noted.

By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer

Associated Press writer Ben Neary in Cheyenne, Wyo., contributed to this report.

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Representing Victims And Families
since 1982

Our attorneys are happy to accommodate difficult schedules. We can meet you in the early morning or late afternoon hours.

We can even schedule appointments on the weekends. We are also available to meet you at home or in the hospital if you do not have transportation, or if your injury doesn’t allow you to travel.

What We Offer Clients And Their Loved Ones:

Initial consultations on personal injury cases are always free.
You do not pay us unless we win your case on personal injury cases.
We`re available to answer your legal questions.
We can be an advocate for your loved ones.
Help provide families with resources and advice.
Resolve automobile property damage claims.
Help you find a doctor, even if you don`t have insurance.
We can deal with the insurance companies.

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