Toy Makers and Retailers Still Liable for Dangerous Toys, Judge Rules

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A Los Angeles federal court judge ruled on December 9, 2008 that toymakers and retailers whose products contain lead and small parts dangerous to young children cannot escape liability just because they offered danger-free replacements. According to this Associated Press news report, U.S. District Court Judge Dale S. Fischer ruled that efforts made by toy manufacturers and retailers to issue voluntary recalls of dangerous and defective toys did not preclude plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit from seeking damages.

Judge Fischer said these companies will not be shielded from liability even if they recalled the toys and handed out lead-free replacements. Plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit included parents from San Diego, New York and Seattle who bought these toys, which were marketed and sold as safe, but later recalled because they contained excessive levels of lead. Most of these toys were made in China. Mattel recalled 20 million toys worldwide including a lot of famous brands because the surface paint on them contained too much lead. Excessive levels of lead cause serious brain damage in young children and have several long-term health effects.
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Defective Land Rover and Range Rover Vehicles Recalled

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Land Rover is recalling about 19,000 Land Rovers and Range Rovers from the 2003 to 2005 model years to fix faulty drive shafts. According to this news report on Consumeraffairs.com, the front differential coupling sleeve and the propeller shaft in these vehicles may be misaligned, causing excessive wear. Over a period of time, as the wear progresses, the driver may notice noise and vibration. Continuing to drive the vehicle after that point could result in a crash.

Owners of these recalled vehicles are asked to take them to dealers, who will install a revised design of the propeller shaft, the flange kit and heat shield kit. This recall begins on January 6, 2009. Owners with questions are asked to call Land Rover at 313-594-7688 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 1-888-327-4236. You may also visit NHTSA’s Web site at www.safercar.gov.
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Dad Fights to Get Defective Cribs Off the Market

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I came across this great story of a dad in New Jersey who fought for the recall of dangerous and defective cribs and may have saved children’s lives in the process. According to this Consumer Reports Safety Blog, Andrew Hartung and his wife, Carolyn, woke up one night to the shrieking of their 14-month-old daughter Abigail. The toddler had her fingers trapped in a gap between the crib’s top rails.

After freeing his daughter, Andrew Hartung inspected the crib and found the bolts at the corners of the crib had come loose, creating the gap. On closer inspection, he also discovered that the bolt holes had been drilled too closely to the edge causing the wood to split. Hartung immediately called Bassettbaby, the company that sold these “Made in China” cribs. Hartung feared that other babies may get injured or worse, killed, because of these defective products. But a company vice-president apparently told him that they had never gotten any complaints about their product and weren’t going to take any action.
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GM Recalls Saturn Vue SUVs for Defective Steering

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General Motors has issued a recall of about 2,100 Saturn Vue sport utility vehicles from the 2009 model year because of a problem with the steering linkage. According to this report on Consumeraffairs.com, GM officials said that some of these SUVs might have been built with an incorrect steering knuckle, which could cause the tie rod ball to pull out of the rod housing. This error could cause the affected wheel to turn out and skid.

In some of these recalled vehicles, both assemblies may be defective, which means that the driver would lose steering control of the vehicle. The recall is expected to begin on December 8, 2008. Dealers will inspect the steering knuckles and if necessary, replace both the knuckles and the rods. Owners who require more information are asked to call Saturn at 1-800-972-8876 or visit GM’s Web site at www.gmownercenter.com. If you own one of these vehicles, you may also want to call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at 1-888-327-4236 or visit www.safercar.gov, for more information.
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General Motors Recalls SUVs for Defective Seatbelts

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General Motors is recalling about 16,000 2009 models of its Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook vehicles because of a defective rear seat restraint system assembly. The defective seat restraint system assembly could result in seatbelt failure in the event of a crash. These sport utility vehicles may have been built with a safety belt buckle in the second or third row that is missing a rivet. In such cases, the buckle could separate from the mounting strap leaving the occupant unprotected during an auto accident. Our source for this blog is this news report on Consumeraffairs.com.

The recall began on November 26, 2008. If you own one of these SUVs, you should receive notification of this recall in the mail. Consumers are asked to take their vehicles in to dealers, who will inspect the seatbelt buckles and replace them if necessary. Those in need of more information are asked to contact Chevrolet at 1-800-630-2438 or visit the company’s Web site at www.gmownercenter.com. Consumers may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at 1-888-327-4236 or visit the federal agency’s Web site at www.safercar.gov.
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Target Recalls Dive Sticks for Impalement Hazard

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Target has recalled about 365,000 defective dive sticks because of an impalement hazard to children. According to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission alert, the dive sticks can remain in an upright position posing an impalement hazard to young children.

The recalled dive sticks were sold in a bundle of three in multiple colors: light blue, aqua green, fluorescent yellow, royal blue and red. The tag on the sticks reads “Dive Toys” or “Diving Game” and has a white small parts warning label in the upper right corner. These products were manufactured in China and sold exclusively at Target stores nationwide from April 2008 through August 2008 for about $1. Consumers who own these dive sticks are asked to immediately take them away from young children and return them to any Target store for a complete refund. Those in need of more information are asked to call Target toll-free at 1-800-440-0680 or visit the company’s Web site at www.target.com.
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