Obama Administration Focusing on Distracted Driving, Flying Laws

By now, all of us have heard of and are following the story of the Northwest Airline pilots who earlier this month overshot their arrival to Minneapolis by 150 miles. The pilots notified investigators that they were distracted because they were using their laptops to organize crew schedules.

In a recent Sun Sentinel article, it reported that in light of the Northwest fiasco, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated that the Obama administration will now expand its efforts in distracted driving to flying. According to LaHood, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt is considering whether a uniform ban on use of electronic devices such as laptops during flight is in order.


As the article noted, lawmakers have expressed interest in tackling the issue of distracted driving. In September, LaHood held a summit on distracted driving, inviting researchers, regulators and other experts.

So what does this mean for South Florida drivers? We have already felt the effects of the push for banning electronic devices, as we noted in “South Florida City Bans Texting while Driving” and the Cell Phone Use section of our blog. With the White House concerned about the issue, we will likely see many changes which may have a dramatic effect on the litigation of auto accidents and aviation accidents in South Florida.

At the other side of the issue, however, is the concern for a driver’s autonomy and personal freedom while on the road. Our post entitled “Does Cell Phone Use Cause Florida Accidents?” recognized that this is a position which many people take on the electronic device issue.

Ultimately, we hope that as more developments in cell phone usage unfold, the determining factor in future legislation will be to maintain the safety of both drivers and pedestrians.

Recall of Clothing Retailer’s Products Increases with Reports of More Deaths

Earlier in April, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that clothing retailer Blair recalled over 160,000 of their Chenille robes due to a flammability hazard. The robes were allegedly responsible for the deaths of six women.

In a new development, WalletPop.com reported last week that Blair is expanding the recall to 138,000 robes, tops and jackets after a total of nine women have died from wearing the products.


So far, a majority of the deaths occurred to women while they were cooking. The CPSC attributes the malfunction due to the products’ failure to meet federal safety standards.

The CPSC also stated that the robes were manufactured by A-One Textile and Towel of Pakistan. The Los Angeles Times reported that the robes in the initial recall were labeled “100% Cotton, RN 81700, Made in Pakistan,” with the label item numbers 3093111, 3093112, 3093113, 3093114, 3093115 and 3093116, and were sold between January 2003 and March 2009.

The addition to the recall presently includes items which were sold between 2000 and 2007. A list of the defective products can be found on the CPSC’s report from October 22. If you own any of these products, you should stop wearing them immediately. Blair is offering a full refund or a $50 gift card.

If you would like more information about the product recall, you can visit Blair’s website, or e-mail Blair at blairproductrecall@blair.com.

Dog Attacks Miami-Dade Boy

A boy in the Miami-Dade county was injured after being attacked by a dog on Thursday, October 22. According to WFOR-Channel 4, the 10-year-old was attacked when he approached a Husky mix which was chained near its owner on Southwest 120th Court.

The South Florida boy was bitten on his side and on his arm, according to the Sun Sentinel. Thankfully, he was listed in good condition after being taken to Miami Children’s Hospital. The attack is under investigation.

Dog bite injuries occur frequently in South Florida. According to the Florida Department of Health, there were 18 fatal dog bites between 1999 and 2007. That same year, there were 638 hospitalizations due to non-fatal dog bites. Also, there were 16,890 emergency department visits due to dog bite injuries.

Though both owners and innocent bystanders take precautions to prevent injury, accidents do happen. Our law firm is qualified to handle dog bite cases. If you or someone you know has been injured from a dog bite, contact us at our offices with your questions and concerns.

Product Recall Announced for Baby Food Sold at Toys R Us

In the wake of recalls of defective automobiles over the past two months, a company has announced the recall of a much different product: baby food. According to the Miami Herald, California-based company Plum Organics announced the recall of its carrot and apple portable baby food because there are concerns that some of the products may be contaminated with botulism.

The product can be found at Toys R Us stores throughout the country. South Floridian parents should be cautious about this latest product recall. Toys R Us has several locations throughout the Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties, and botulism is a serious condition. According to WrongDiagnosis.com, there were 154 cases of botulism reported in 1999, with 23 being food-borne, and 92 infant cases. Symptoms of botulism include dry mouth and throat, blurred vision, typical symptoms of food poisoning, vomiting, and many others. Complications can lead to paralysis and death.



The Miami Herald and AOL News reported that the products believed to be affected come in 4.22 ounce pouches, with a UPC code 890180001221 and a “best by” date of May 21, 2010. So far, there have been no reports of illness or injury from the defective product.

If your family or someone you know is affected by this recall please call our office regarding any of your questions or concerns.

Weston Boy on Bicycle Strcuk by Automobile

A 10-year old boy was struck by a van on Tuesday, October 20, in Weston, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The Sun Sentinel reported that the boy was riding his bicycle when a van hit him on the 4400 block of Foxtail Lane.

Apparently, the bicycle accident occurred when the boy was crossing the street when he rode into the path of the van. He was taken to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in South Florida, where he was treated for non-life threatening head injuries. It is important to note that the victim was not wearing a helmet.

We’ve noted in several previous postings that riding a bicycle can be a very dangerous activity in South Florida and that drivers need to be more cautious to avoid accidents with bicyclists. However, the wearing of a helmet is a basic safety measure that should never be overlooked, especially in the case of children. According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, riders who don’t wear helmets are 14 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash then those who wear helmets, and head injuries account for over 60 percent of bicycle-related deaths. Anywhere from 45 to 88 percent of a bicyclist’s brain injuries can be prevented by wearing a helmet.

Parents need to be especially careful when their children go riding and insist that their children always wear a helmet. Another safety precaution that would help to decrease the number of bicyclists injured would be to avoid areas of heavy traffic to minimize the risk of injury.

Our firm specializes in and has been handling accident cases for over 19 years, Therefore, if you or your loved one have been injured in an accident, please contact our office. We are here to answer any of your your questions and concerns.

Concern Grows as South Florida Bicyclist Struck by Automobile Dies

On Saturday, October 17, a bicyclist was struck from behind by a pickup truck in Boca Raton near Palmetto Park Road and Shorewind Drive. Police identified the bicyclist as Elizabeth Victoria Stewart of Tamarac, Florida, according to the Sun Sentinel. She was pronounced dead at Delray Medical Center.

This tragedy adds to the growing list of bicycle injuries and fatalities from auto accidents, and to the concern many South Florida residents have about the general safety of bicyclists. The Sun Sentinel noted numerous bicycle fatalities like this which have occurred in Palm Beach County this year, including: a Pompano Beach man killed in a hit-and-run crash in September, a 17-year-old hit during rush hour in Boynton Beach in March, and a 12-year-old hit by an SUV in West Palm Beach in April.


Eight cyclists were killed in Palm Beach County last year, and 333 were injured, while 336 were injured in 2007. Palm Beach County has a higher fatality rate than Miami-Dade and Broward, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Bicycle advocates are very concerned and calling for more safety programs to prevent injuries and fatalities. Based on the statistics, it seems that bicycle safety is a legitimate concern and more needs to be done to ensure the rights and the safety of our citizens.

Wrongful Death Suit Filed by Sister of Everglades Crash Victim

Last month, our posting “Plane Crash in South Florida Everglades Claims Family” described the tragic story of a South Florida family and their friend who died when their plane crashed in the Everglades. On Friday, October 16, the Sun Sentinel reported that Nanci Hirschorn is bringing a wrongful death suit against the Fort Lauderdale aviation company who serviced the plane.

Earlier in October, the Miami Herald reported that the pilot and owner of the Piper aircraft, Bruce Barber, radioed that the engine had caught fire and that there was smoke in the cockpit. Barber declined advice of air traffic control who told Barber to land in Pahokee, as the smoke was apparently dissipating. However, Barber later radioed that the plane was on fire, and disappeared from radar at about 3,000 feet.


Hirschorn, sister of one of the passengers of the plane, Phillip Marsh, has filed suit against Schmidt Aviation Inc., claiming that the company failed to maintain a cracked valve, which caused the engine to catch fire. The valve cracked previously on three occasions.

Ford Defective Switch Recall To Add Over 4 Million Vehicles

Last week, Ford Motor Company announced its biggest recall in historry due to a product defect which covered about 14.3 million vehicles. The Sun Sentinel has reported that Ford will add 4.5 million more vehicles to the list.

The recall came when Ford found a defect in the cruise control deactivation switch, manufactured by Texas instruments . According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the switch can leak hydraulic fluid and can overheat, creating the risk of fire even if the ignition is turned off or the car is parked.


Ford anticipates recalling about 1.1 million of its Windstar minivans from 1992-2003, according to CNN. The other 3.4 million vehicles from the Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury lines with the same switches will be recalled due to a risk of fire.

CNN also reported that the following models as those included in the added list of vehicles: 1995-2003 Windstars, 2000-2003 Excursion diesels, 1993-1997 and 1999-2003 F-Super Duty diesels, 1992-2003 Econolines, 1995-2002 Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers, 1995-1997 and 2001-2003 Rangers and 1994 F35 motorhomes.

Ford will being notifying owners by the end of the month about the recall, and also warns that drivers who own Windstar minivans from the years 1992-2003 should park their vehicles outdoors.
Read more “Ford Defective Switch Recall To Add Over 4 Million Vehicles”

South Florida Woman Dies After Receiving Liposuction at Weston Spa

Broward Medical Examiners confirmed that on Friday, October 13, Rohie Kah-Orukotan, a nurse and mother of three, died after spending two weeks in a coma after receiving liposuction at a spa in Weston, Florida.

According to the Sun Sentinel, the Miramar woman was pronounced brain-dead at some point after having a liposuction procedure on September 25 at Weston Medspa by Dr. Omar J. Brito-Marin. So far, the Florida Department of Health and the Broward Sheriff’s Office have not released the results of their investigation. The toxicology reports are also still pending, according to investigators.


While the spa does not have a license to perform a full liposuction, they may perform a scaled down version of the procedure. Dr. Brito-Marin’s attorney stated that although the doctor was not aware of licensing issues, he only performed basic liposuction and followed all requirements under appropriate standard of care for this type of office surgery.

Our previous posting “Parents Sue for Wrongful Death of Teen While under General Anesthesia” discussed the risks involved with undergoing elective surgery. We noted how one study showed that almost one fourth percent of office-based surgeries result in death. According to a National Practitioner Data Bank Report in 2006, 73.3 percent of the NPDB reports concerned medical malpractice payments, with physicians being responsible for 235,942 of the reports, well above dentists and other types of practitioners.

The facts of this instance have yet to be determined, as officials are awaiting toxicology results and continue their investigation. However, cases such as these have become more prevalet due to the types of elective procedures now being conducted on an outpatient basis. It is up to the patient to investigate all of the qualifications of their physicians and of the facilities to ensure that they are properly licensed and qualified to perform these elective procedures.

$1.5 million Awarded in Lawsuit Against South Florida Contractor

A Palm Beach County parks worker was awarded $1.5 million from Master Contractors after an incident six years ago when a picnic pavilion roof fell on her. Mary Washington of Delray Beach was cleaning the pavilion at Caloosa Park in Boynton Beach when the ceiling collapsed, causing the worker injuries to her back, rendering her unable to continue as a maintenance worker.

According to the Palm Beach Post, testimony revealed that the pavilion was not properly inspected because the contractor did not get all of the required permits. The trial lasted about two weeks and the jury took about an hour and a half to render a verdict for Washington. She was awarded for lost wages and medical expenses, as well as $250,000 for pain and suffering.


The jury also determined that the county was 20 percent at fault for the incident. However, the county will not have to pay damages to Washington since they were not named in the lawsuit.

Incidents such as these are quite disturbing, considering that so many children visit these parks every year. Palm Beach County has over 50 parks. According to Safe Kids USA, three out of four playground accidents occur in public parks, with 150,000 children visiting the emergency room every year for injuries involving playground equipment. With these dangers already in mind, visitors should not have to worry about structural failures in the parks as well. Our counties and the companies which they hire to construct or oversee our parks must do so in a responsible manner, following all safety laws and regulations.