Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

NTSB report on O'Hare train accident reveals extent of damage

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its analysis of the recent tragic O'Hare Airport train derailment. Last week, we discussed the fact that the operator of the train had a history of fatigue-related mistakes on the job. According to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), that operator has been relieved of her position.

However, the NTSB indicates that operator error was not the only contributing factor to the collision. It turns out that a sensor designed to engage the train's automatic braking system was improperly positioned on the tracks. The agency determined that it was too close to the end of the line to prevent train accidents like the one that occurred a few weeks ago.

FDA is working to confirm its authority over E-cigarettes

When public understanding of a product’s risks only develops over time, it is practically impossible for consumers to make informed decisions about using a particular product during the early days of its manufacturing history. Unfortunately, public understanding of just how dangerous e-cigarettes truly are seems to be developing over time, much in the same way that understanding of mainstream cigarettes has developed.

When the tobacco industry first began manufacturing cigarettes on a large scale, the public was largely unaware of how dangerous this particular product is. Over time, physicians, safety experts and the public generally began to understand that smoking this product can lead to devastating and even fatal illnesses as well as injury.

Prevention of surgical foreign object 'never' events

Physicians and other health care providers are only human. As a result, these professionals are prone to human error and will almost certainly commit mistakes from time to time. Within the health care industry there is an understanding that some medical errors are occasionally acceptable, while others should never occur under any circumstances. These so-called "never events" are generally of such a negligent or reckless nature that they rise to the level of medical malpractice.

One never event that unfortunately occurs with relative frequency is that of retained foreign objects. When this event occurs, surgical sponges, towels and even metal tools are left inside the body of surgical patients after their surgical procedures have been concluded. When a patient suffers this kind of never event, the consequences can be very serious ranging from infection to tissue damage to even death.

G.M. recall raises painful questions for many families

According to the New York Times, during a meeting that took place at General Motors in mid-May of 2009, the company confirmed internally that a potentially fatal defect could be affecting the performance of hundreds of thousands of vehicles produced by G.M. However, despite this knowledge, G.M. denied for years that it possessed enough evidence of such a defect to confirm that one existed.

As a result of this profoundly unacceptable response by G.M., families all across the U.S. who have been affected by motor vehicle accidents involving defective G.M. models are now asking numerous painful questions. These families want to know if their collisions could have been prevented. They also want to know why G.M. refused to tell the truth until it was too late to prevent harm to so many Americans.

Operator of derailed O'Hare train had history of drowsy 'driving'

Last week, we wrote about the tragic train derailment which occurred during early morning hours at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. When the train accident occurred, dozens of passengers were injured after the train skipped the tracks, collided with a barrier, scaled a station platform and ultimately rode up an escalator. All of this destruction apparently occurred because the sleep-deprived train operator had fallen asleep before the train reached the end of the line.

As the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) began investigating this collision, the agency discovered that not only had the operator fallen asleep prior to this crash, she also admitted to dozing off multiple times in the past while on the job. Prior to last week’s crash, the operator had overshot a station while operating a train in early February after admitting to closing her eyes for a short time. She received only a written warning in regard to this incident.

Should physicians be tested for drug use in the name of safety?

Due to the nature of their professions, pilots, commercial truck drivers, ship captains, school bus drivers and a host of other individuals are required to submit to regular alcohol and drug testing as a matter of federal law. The underlying rationale of this requirement is quite simple and straightforward; if these professionals are impaired while on the job, they may hurt others as well as themselves.

It is this same rationale that is prompting many safety experts, federal regulators and patients to question whether physicians should be subjected to similar drug and alcohol testing.

Safety and competing interests color House hearing on FMCSA

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the federal agency most directly tasked with ensuring that large commercial vehicles remain safe on American roads and that trucking accident rates nationwide remain low. The FMCSA has taken a number of significant actions in order to achieve these ends in recent years. However, the trucking industry and the Governmental Accountability Office have recently called some of these efforts into question.

As a result of recent backlash, the head of the FMCSA was recently asked to testify before the House's Transportation Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. The subcommittee was particularly interested in hearing about the hours-of-service rules changes aimed at reducing accidents caused by driver fatigue that were fully implemented last summer. In addition, the subcommittee questioned the accuracy and the effectiveness of the FMCSA's Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.

O'Hare train accident stuns and injures passengers

Very early Monday morning, a Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line commuter train derailed as it was arriving at its destination. As it approached the end of the line at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, it jumped the tracks, scaled the platform and moved up an escalator. According to CNN, Chicago police reported Monday morning that 32 individuals were injured as a result of the wreck.

The media and safety regulators focus a great deal of attention on the issue of car accidents on American roads. These kinds of accidents are ubiquitous and thus deserve the attention of the media, the public and safety experts alike. However, it is also important to focus regulatory action and media attention on train accidents and other mass transit accidents.

FDA report: Class One recalls rose 900 percent over 10 years

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a report that will likely shock patients, physicians and safety experts alike. The agency released its “Medical Device Recall Report” after analyzing data related to Class One recalls of defective medical devices which occurred from 2003 to 2012. The data indicates that during this decade, the number of Class One recalls issued for defective and dangerous medical devices spiked by more than 900 percent.

Specifically, the number of Class One recalls issued by the FDA jumped from seven in 2003 up to 57 just nine years later. This trend is particularly upsetting given that a Class One recall is the most urgent classification of recalls that the FDA can possibly issue.

Family of inmate who 'baked to death' from hyperthermia receives justice

James Ingram died of hyperthermia on June 26, 2010, while imprisoned as an inmate of Menard Correctional Center in Chester, Illinois. Cavanagh Law Group represented the family of James Ingram in a Section 1983 lawsuit in Federal District Court in the Southern District of Illinois.

Ingram's Housing Conditions: hyperthermia in hot weather

Ingram was housed in a solid, closed-door cell made of three concrete walls and one metal door, measuring approximately six by nine feet. It had two permanently-closed windows; a food slot (also called a "chuckhole"), which generally remained closed and padlocked; and a metal panel at the bottom of the door with small holes for ventilation. This ventilation panel was the only place where air could enter the cell. There was also one, four inch vent inside the closed-door cell which allowed air to move into a tunnel behind the cell.

In June of 2010, there was no air conditioning in the building where Ingram resided. The staff knew that high temperatures could present a danger to inmates. Several defendants acknowledged that the summer weather in southern Illinois is often hot, that the temperature can be hot inside the cell house, hotter inside the cell house than outside, and hotter still in the closed-door cells than in the rest of the cell house. The warden, Defendant Rednour, testified that, "To the best of my knowledge, every employee at Menard is aware that high temperatures can present a danger in the cell houses if no further action is taken."

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