Friday, January 29, 2010

Study: Banning Phone Use by Drivers Did Not Reduce Crashes

A new study by the The Highway Loss Data Institute shows that traffic collisions did not drop in three states (New York, Connecticut, California)and the District of Columbia after they banned drivers from using handheld cellphones. Read more.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

1 in 5 Nursing Homes Rank Poorly

"One in five of the nation's 15,700 nursing homes have consistently received poor ratings for overall quality, a USA TODAY analysis of new government data finds."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Obesity Surge Linked to Increased Use of Psych Meds

In an op-ed in the Boston Globe Paula J. Caplan, a clinical and research psychologist at Harvard University, wrote that an "overlooked" primary cause of "America's obesity epidemic" is the increased use of psychiatric medicines, as many of them "cause weight gain -- often of the rapid and massive sort." Caplan suggests that this link is not well known possibly due to the power of the pharmaceutical industry or clinicians not knowing other treatments. Caplan argues against listing obesity as a mental illness, as it can be caused by "physical problems that are often undiagnosed." Caplan also says that doctors should "explore other non-drug ways to treat emotional problems."

Man Trapped in Haiti Uses iPhone App to Treat Injuries

Story here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Latest Toyota Recall for Stuck Accelerators

Toyota has recalled 2.3 million cars and trucks to try to fix the problem of cars suddenly speeding out of control. This recall is in addition to the 4.3 million vehicles recently recalled for a floor mat problem that could cause the accelerator to stick. Read more.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Why Should Website Sponsors be Immune from Cyberharassment?

In Imposing Tort Liability on Websites for Cyberharassment, Prof. Nancy Kim argues that the immunity enjoyed by website sponsors as publishers should not mean that they have no obligation whatsoever for the activity on their websites. Website sponsors, the entities that own the domain name and control the activity on a website, have a proprietary interest in their websites and therefore should be subject to the same standard of conduct as other proprietors.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Do-It-Yourself Repair Books Recalled

It's not often we hear of a book recall. "Oxmoor House is recalling nearly 1 million home improvement books because of errors that could lead do-it-yourselfers to make risky mistakes while installing or repairing their electrical wiring. The errors in diagrams and wiring instructions could cause people to be shocked or create a fire hazard.... The 951,000 recalled books have nine different titles, including "Lowe's Complete Home Improvement and Repair" and "Sunset You Can Build - Wiring." The books have been widely sold at home improvement and book stores nationwide for years, and in some cases for more than three decades.

Fatal School Bus Crash Revives Seat Belt Debate

A weekend school bus crash that killed a 16-year-old student and injured more than a dozen others has prompted one lawmaker to propose legislation that would require new school buses to have seat belts and, possibly, to retrofit their fleets of older buses. The General Assembly will consider the bill after the 2010 session convenes Feb. 3. The legislature's transportation committee "has debated the seat belt issue several times since 1989, most recently in March 2006. But its members have never endorsed the idea for the full General Assembly's vote, unsure about the cost ramifications and the conflicting testimony they heard about whether seat belts on buses could do more harm than good." Read more.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Fountain Drinks May Contain Fecal Matter

The Los Angeles Times "Booster Shots" blog reported that Hollins University researchers discovered that fountain drinks may contain measurable amounts of fecal matter. In fact, after analyzing "90 beverages from 30 soda fountains in Virginia," investigators discovered that "more than 11%...contained Escherichia coli and over 17% contained Chryseobacterium meningosepticum." According to the paper in the International Journal of Food Microbiology, "other opportunistic pathogenic microorganisms isolated from the beverages included species of Klebsiella, Staphylococcus, Stenotrophomonas, Candida, and Serratia."

Interestingly, however, "ice and tap water from the machines didn't test positive for any bacteria," according to the New York Daily News. "So far, the source of the bacteria is unknown," but the study authors say the bacteria may be "actually establishing themselves on the lining of the plastic tubing." Although "there were no reported outbreaks of food-borne illness related in the Roanoke area at the time of the study," there is still concern. "Since a less dangerous form of E. coli was found in the soda machines, it's possible that the machines could host more virulent strains of E. coli," and "if the machines can harbor bacteria, they may also harbor viruses." Yikes.

Children's Jewelry Found to Have High Levels of Toxic Cadmium

From the AP: recent lab tests have shown "eye-popping levels" of cadmium in children's jewelry. The metal, which has been linked to cancer and weakened kidneys, "is particularly dangerous for children, because growing bodies readily absorb substances, and cadmium accumulates in the kidneys for decades." Recent research has also determined that children exposed to cadmium "were more likely to report learning disabilities," and that it "lowers IQ even more than lead."

Friday, January 8, 2010

How Was the 2nd Amendment Interpreted When the 14th Was Enacted?

An interesting article by Clayton et al provides a detailed analysis of the public meaning of the “right to keep and bear arms” during the period leading up to enactment of the Fourteenth Amendment. It analyzes 19th century scholarly commentary and case law; popular understandings of the Second Amendment as the militia declined in importance and the fight over abolition of slavery expanded; Civil War era claims about the meaning of the Second Amendment; the right to arms during the period of Reconstruction and the Black Codes; and the debate and enactment of the 14th Amendment, as it relates to the constitutional right to arms. The authors conclude that “the discussion and discord over the right to arms in this context reveals that people all along the political spectrum held a decidedly individual rights understanding. Those who supported the Fourteenth Amendment frequently articulated that the freedmen, now citizens, enjoyed the same right to keep and bear arms as others. Freedmen themselves claimed and embraced the individual right. Even those who were committed to stripping blacks of their new status considered the individual right to arms an attribute of citizenship.”

The description of the right from an 1872 school textbook illustrates the point:

15. What are the rights which are secured to every individual by the Constitutions and laws of the United States? . . .

K. The right to keep and bear arms.

Every individual throughout the nation has the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. ... (This right is not allowed by governments that are afraid of the people.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

An Idea Worth Emulating

The New York Times reported "The recession has swelled the number of people showing up in New York State courts who cannot afford lawyers to 2.1 million annually, often turning eviction, foreclosure, debt collection and other civil cases into lopsided battles that raise questions about the fairness of the legal system. In response, the state court system is beginning an unusual new program this week to try to fill the gap with volunteer retired lawyers, hoping partly to attract Baby Boomer lawyers who may be ready to slow down but are not keen on full-time golf." Officials" changed the state's rules this week to add a new category of lawyer, 'attorney emeritus,' that will free lawyers of some burdens of full-time practice, like paying for malpractice insurance, while channeling them to dozens of legal programs around the state that represent low-income people without charge."

Product-defect Verdicts Rose in '09

Bloomberg News reports: "The top five product-defect verdicts rose 52 percent in total value last year to $620 million as juror attitudes on companies soured amid the recession and rising unemployment, according to data compiled by Bloomberg." Plaintiffs' attorney Tobias Millrood, "winner of a $34 million verdict against Pfizer," said, "It's a reflection of the fact that Main Street is hurting." Notwithstanding "the 2009 results, both plaintiffs and defendant companies are increasingly willing to take product liability cases to trial, said John Beisner, a lawyer who defends corporations in such suits."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Former Nursing Home CEO Pleads Guilty

The Courant reported that Raymond Termini, former CEO of the bankrupt Haven Healthcare nursing home chain, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions. "Termini used a $6 million loan that was supposed to reduce debt and up to $2 million for sprinklers at the nursing homes instead to buy real estate and other purposes, prosecutors said." Termini is a defendant in two of our pending wrongful death suits, and is also being sued in several other matters stemming from his involvement in the Haven homes.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Read Our January Newsletter

Stories about food safety, chemical exposures, medical devices, and much more. Link here.

CT Chiro Board Considers Warning of Stroke Risk

The AP reports that "Connecticut's State Board of Chiropractic Examiners is considering whether to require chiropractors to warn their patients about a possible risk of stroke from neck manipulation." The board will hold a a two-day hearing Tuesday and Wednesday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. "The hearing comes after a group of patients tried to urge the General Assembly to pass legislation that makes the public more aware of stroke risk. Many chiropractors, however, oppose such a move. They claim they're being unfairly singled out, and they discount the alleged link between stroke and chiropractic manipulation. This week's hearing is being watched closely by advocates and chiropractors from around the country because it's believed that a required stroke warning would be a first in the nation."