NFL Legend Learns Tough Lesson in Florida’s Dog Bite Laws

Many of us in South Florida are dog lovers and own dogs. Yet most people are not fully aware of the consequences that owners face for victims of dog bites. This may not seem like a matter of top priority, but as we have learned from a recent story, everyone is subject to the law.

The Palm Beach Post reported on Thursday that the dog of former NFL player Joe Namath was sanctioned by a special magistrate and declared “dangerous.” According to the report, the Labrador retriever, Leo, will no longer be allowed to wander through the yard of Namath’s home in Tequesta without a leash or a muzzle, must be caged when they have guests, and is not allowed to be taken to public places. Namath will also face increased fees to license Leo and must notify animal control when he leaves the city or when the dog dies. Namath’s Weimaraner, Stella, was also set to be sanctioned, but charges were dropped when a witness for the case did not show up.


The sanction stemmed from incidents in which the Labrador charged at a UPS worker and bit a nurse. However, the Palm Beach Post noted that this was not the first incident. Officials from animal control noted that since 2007 the dogs were involved in four other attacks, including an attack in which a UPS worker was bitten on the calf in May 2007.

This story brings an important issue to light. How many dog owners actually know what penalties they are subject to if their dog attacks someone? Do victims know their rights if they are attacked by a dog? What if the dog is on a leash? Do you have a warning sign? Better yet, does it matter? Does the victim’s age matter?

Florida Statutes Section 767.04 states that dog owners are held strictly liable for any victim of a dog bite, meaning that it does not matter whether you, the owner, knew that the dog was vicious or that the dog never showed signs of bad behavior before. The dog owner is liable to all people in public places and to those that are legally allowed to be in a private place such as when a person is invited to a dog owner’s household or property. Dog owners must also keep in mind that cities have their own local ordinances which may come into play.
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Defective Chinese Products the Cause of Maclaren Stroller Recall

Recently, Chinese-manufactured products have been a topic of controversy, both for consumers in South Florida and in the rest of the U.S. We have seen defects in toys, toothpaste, drywall, and now, baby strollers.

According to CNN Money, the Connecticut-based stroller maker Maclaren has recalled 1 million umbrella strollers due to a product defect which can lacerate or even amputate a child’s fingertips. There have already been 12 amputations across the U.S. due to children getting their fingertips stuck in the side hinges of the strollers while it is being opened or closed.



China’s presence in the global market has grown over the years. Companies across the U.S. and Europe are setting up shop in China. Though these companies are keeping at pace with competition due to the cost advantages of manufacturing abroad, there have been dire consequences. Despite many factors such as rapid economic expansion and a lack of resources to keep up with such growth, it seems that differing standards in quality controls have been central to the many Chinese product recalls over the years.

China has responded to the growing concerns. In 2007, MSNBC reported that the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, which oversees Chinese-made products, set systems to address problems with quality control due to toxins found in products ranging from toys to toothpaste.

However, after two years, it seems that problems persist. CNN reported that the Florida Department of Health received over 150 complaints about levels of sulfur and sulfuric gases found in Chinese drywall.
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Former NFL Star Lawrence Taylor Involved in South Florida Hit-and-Run

The Miami Herald reported this week that NFL legend Lawrence Taylor was arrested on Sunday night for leaving the scene of an auto accident in Miami-Dade. The 50-year-old former New York Giants pass rusher was released around 9:57 p.m. on $500 bond.

The crash occurred around 6:30 p.m. on the Palmetto Expressway at Northwest 103rd Street when Taylor hit a 1984 Ford van, tearing off the front tire of his Cadillac Escalade and sending the van spinning in front of the Escalade. According to authorities, he drove about two miles on his axle before pulling off to the side of the road. Police spotted Taylor outside of his car on his cell phone. He told police that he thought he hit a guardrail.

Taylor is an NFL Hall of Famer, known for his power and tenacity as a linebacker for the New York Giants. He has considered by many as one of the greatest defensive players of all time and is no stranger to the limelight. Taylor has acted in films such as The Waterboy and Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday, and recently competed in the eight season of ABC’s popular dance show Dancing with the Stars. He owns a house in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

Though his successful career in the NFL was at times marred by admitted drug use and arrest for possession, Lt. James Durden of the Florida Highway Patrol said that Taylor showed no signs of impairment and was not given a sobriety test. Thankfully, no one was injured in the auto accident.

Ford’s New Seat Belt Technology Hopes Prevent Serious Injuries in Auto Accidents

South Florida drivers and motorists around the country can look forward to a new innovation in seat beat technology by Ford Motor Co. Ford will introduce a seat belt-mounted air bag in its 2011 Ford Explorer back seat and, according to Ford, will be the first automaker put this technology in mass production.

According to a recent article on Yahoo Auto, the air big fits in a pocket in the seat belt. The car sends a signal to release the bag, which inflates with cooler air and more safely as compared with front air bags. The air bags are particularly situated for the safety of children. A Ford engineer responsible for its development, which has been in the works for a decade, claims that the seat belt provides even distribution across the chest, providing less chance of injury and support to the head and neck.



The New York Times reported that along with the seat belt, Ford hopes to use this and other safety features to attract new customers. Ford also has developed MyKey, which allows parents to put restrictions on their teenage drivers, radar-enable cruise control and systems for hands-free mobile phone and audio operation.

However, Ford will have obstacles to overcome. In “Ford Defective Switch Recall to Add Over 4 Million Vehicles” we reported the automaker coming under fire due to a product defect in the cruise control switch of some of its vehicles. The New York Times also noted that a survey from Carmax showed that consumers rank safety fifth out of six factors they consider the most important when purchasing a vehicle. The Yahoo Auto report also noted that belt usage in the back seat is only at a 60 percent, while overall usage of seat belts is 83 percent.

Though Ford admits the technology is expensive, their hope is to make the seat belts available as an option particularly geared towards families with small children. The price may come down if the technology expands to Ford’s other vehicles. We hope that automakers continue to develop technology in driver safety to make cars safer for everyone.

Study: Bad Driving May be due to Genetics

Changing lanes without signaling, running red lights, driving too slow on I-95: those of us who drive every morning on the streets and highways of South Florida are familiar with these displays of bad driving. These are the very acts which lead to the many auto accidents we see every day on the way to work. However, a new study shows that the reason for such bad driving may partially lie in the variations of our genes.

According to the Sun Sentinel, a study from the University of California, Irvine, linked a gene variation among individuals, which gives them less of the brain protein related to memory retention, to performance levels in a driving simulation 20 percent worse than individuals with higher levels of the protein. However, the study noted that this was only one factor in bad driving, and that 1 in 3 people have the gene variant.


The study, led by Dr. Steven Cramer, put 19 volunteers, ages 18 to 30, in a driving simulation. The results showed that drivers with the gene variant which limits the level of secretion of the protein brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) performed worse on the simulation and were not able to retain as much information about the simulation as the volunteers with higher levels of BDNF.

Dr. Cramer hopes that the study could help victims of auto accidents who suffer memory loss or brain trauma. However, others are hesitant to attribute bad driving to genetics.

Outside forces, such as failing to comply with the rules of the road, alcohol/substance abuse, rush-hour traffic and distractions are still the predominant causes of auto accidents, especially in busy South Florida cities such as Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Hopefully, however, more studies such as Dr. Cramer’s will continue to explore the inherent factors and ultimately point us toward solutions so that we can promote safe driving.

More Red Light Cameras in South Florida: Preventing Auto Accidents or Raising Money?

In August, we posted “Red Light Cameras: A Violation of Florida Law?” where we discussed the city of Pembroke Pines and its decision to install red light cameras at intersections. As we stated in the post, more and more cities in South Florida will be following the trend which many feel will prevent auto accidents.

This week, CBS 12 News in West Palm Beach reported that city officials decided that red light cameras will be used to encourage safe driving and monitor the streets. Currently, there is a 90-day probation period where only a warning will be issued to drivers. After that, drivers will receive a $125 fine in the mail, which officials say the money will go towards traffic programs. The civil infraction will not add points to your license.


Much like in Pembroke Pines, there are drivers are on both sides of this issue. Peter Robbins, a public information officer with West Palm Beach, stated that accidents involving red light-running are the number one types of accidents in urban areas, and that studies show that the cameras help prevent those accidents.

Other drivers, however, see the cameras as an invasion of their privacy. They also question the legality of the cameras, saying that they are a violation of their constitutional rights and merely a way for cities to raise money. In “Red Light Cameras,” we discussed how traffic laws in Florida must be uniform across the state, that variations violate state law, and the legal concerns our governor had about using red light cameras. We also discussed how cities are getting around those concerns. Be that as it may, city officials, who are aware of the likelihood of a class action lawsuit, feel that the red light cameras will stand.

Gardasil’s Lead Researcher Question’s Ability of Vaccination to Reduce Risk of Cervical Cancer

Earlier this month, Dr. Diane Harper stirred up discussion with her remarks about Gardasil, a vaccine manufactured by major pharmaceutical company Merck used to prevent the human papilloma virus (HPV) at the 4th International Public Conference on Vaccination. According to a report by The Bulletin, Dr. Harper, who was the lead researcher for Gardasil and Cervarix and is the director of the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at the University of Missouri, stated that the drugs will do little to reduce the risk of cervical cancer. She went further to say that despite the fact that the drugs were recommended for young girls, there have been no clinical trials for girls under the age of 15.

What was surprising was that while Dr. Harper was speaking at the conference to promote the vaccine, many of her statements casted doubt on the utility of the drugs. According to Gardasil, there are four types of HPV. HPV 16 and 18 cause 70 percent of cervical cancer cases, while HPV 6 and 11 cause 90% of genital warts cases. While Gardasil has been promoted as an effective against HPV, Dr. Harper stated that 70 percent of all HPV cases treat themselves within a year, and 90% after two years. Only half of the remaining 10 percent develop into cervical cancer. Dr. Harper went further, stating that the incidence of cervical in the U.S. is very low, with four out of five women with cervical cancer living in developing countries. She also revealed that while Merck followed a group of girls under 16 years of age, it did not follow them long enough to draw conclusions as to the sufficiency of the presence of HPV antibodies.

The subject of vaccinations has been a hot topic lately, and in this case, one that South Florida women should be mindful of. The Bulletin article noted that since Gardasil’s inception in 2006, 15,037 girls reported adverse effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), including lupus, paralysis, brain inflammation, and blood clots. The Center for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) stated that there have been 44 reported deaths.

When considering taking a vaccine or any kind of medication, it is important that you always gather as much information as possible. Talk to your physician about your concerns and the possible side effects of taking certain vaccinations or medications and pay attention to reports and studies, both positive and negative, on these medications.

Pfizer’s Prempro Brings Attention to Pharmaceutical Reporting Issue

Pfizer, Inc. is under fire for a hormone-replacement drug produced by Wyerth, a company which it acquired earlier this year for $68 billion.

According to Daily Finance, a jury awarded a Philadelphia woman $3.75 million in compensatory damages and an undisclosed sum of punitive damages, finding a link between Pempro, a hormone drug taken for menopause treatment, and her breast cancer. The jury also found that Wyeth hid evidence of Pempro’s potential cancer risk. The woman took Pempro for five years before being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. Daily Finance stated that there are 9,000 more lawsuits pending across the U.S., with about 1,500 in Philadelphia alone.


Stories such as this raises concerns for South Floridians and other consumers around the country. Can we trust that pharmaceutical companies will do business responsibly and ethically with the care and safety of its customers in mind without negligently putting a defective and potentially harmful product on the market? Booster Shots, from the Los Angeles Times’ Health Section, reported on French researches who conducted a study on 133 clinical trials which were published throughout 2006 in major medical journals. Besides finding that 55 percent of the studies were funded by for-profit companies, about 11% of the studies did not report on the adverse effects of their trials.

The researchers also found that some of the reporting was distorted. For example, 36 of the studies did not distinguish between severe and mild side effects. Sixteen studies only included the most severe side effects, while 17 reported only common side effects and another 63 did not report on withdrawals of volunteers from the studies. So while the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials was amended back in 2001 to emphasize the importance of reporting all adverse effects and events, the French researchers concluded that from their study, more needs to be done to rectify these inadequesies. Booster Shots noted an editorial accompanying the study by Dr. John Ioannidis of the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece, who saw the under-reporting by the companies as their intent on “silencing the evidence” of the potential harm.
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