Judge OKs $40 million class-action settlement over Skechers shoes

By Arthur Elk

At Elk & Elk, we’ve been investigating cases involving toning shoes, including Skechers, and false advertising claims made about what the shoes can do. Millions of Americans purchased the shoes, believing that wearing the shoes would firm and sculpt their muscles. Not only were those claims not true, but some customers also suffered injuries as a result of wearing the shoes.

Earlier this week, a federal judge approved a $40 million class-action settlement between Skechers USA Inc. and consumers who bought the company’s toning shoes. The ads made unfounded claims that the footwear would help people lose weight and strengthen muscles.

Those with approved claims will be able to get up to $80 per pair of Shape-Ups, $84 per pair of Resistance Runner shoes; up to $54 per pair of Podded Sole Shoes; and $40 per pair of Tone-Ups.

The deal covers more than 520,000 claims and more than 70 lawsuits from across the country. The lawsuits were consolidated in federal court in Louisville.

The lawsuits were spurred by Skechers’ ads featuring celebrity endorsers such as Kim Kardashian and Brooke Burke. The ads claim that the shoes could increase “muscle activation” by up to 85 percent for posture-related muscles and 71 percent for one of the muscles in the buttocks.

At one time, toning shoes were the fastest-growing segment in the fitness shoe industry, with billions of dollars annually in sales. That means millions of Americans were the victims of shoe companies’ false and misleading advertising, promising quick and easy results that they could not provide. Even worse, many people reported injuries, including broken bones, as the result of wearing toning shoes.

If you or someone you know has injuries consistent with the use of toning shoes, contact Elk & Elk so we can begin work on your case immediately. Just call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. You can also schedule a free consultation by contacting us online.

Manufacturer of surgical robot warns device may cause internal burns

Intuitive Surgical, maker of the daVinci Surgical Robot System, has released an “urgent medical device notification” alerting hospitals that the device could potentially cause internal burns to patients during surgical procedures.

The notification, sent on May 8, warns that micro-cracks may develop in the da Vinci’s Monopolar Curved Scissors, creating links that may “create a pathway for electrosurgical energy to leak to tissue during use and potentially cause thermal injury.” The company said it would notify customers as soon as scissors “without the potential for micro-cracks are available for replacement.”Picture 020

Intuitive is facing a lawsuit in Washington, alleging the medical device maker failed to properly train surgeon Scott Bildsten, who performed a robotic prostate removal on Fred Taylor, who allegedly died as a result of the surgery four years later. The lawsuit, the first da Vinci lawsuit to go to court, alleges that errors made during the surgery resulted in injury to the victim, including stroke, kidney failure and infection, that later resulted in his death. Dozens of other lawsuits are also pending, alleging injuries caused by the robot.

As we reported last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking a closer look at the daVinci after a spike in reported problems. At least five deaths since early last year have been attributed to the device. More than 300,000 robotic surgeries were performed in 2012.

Medical devices should be used to make procedures easier and safer. When they injure patients, steps need to be taken to make sure the device is pulled off the market before more injuries or deaths occur.

The medical device injury lawyers of Elk & Elk are actively investigating cases involving the da Vinci Surgical Robot System. Injuries reported include:

  • Burns and/or tears of the intestines
  • Punctured blood vessels or ureters
  • Severe bowel injuries
  • Vaginal cuff dehiscence
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Death

If you or a loved one have been injured by the device, you need an experienced attorney fighting for your rights. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our free, no-obligation online consultation form.

Lawn mower accidents and injuries to children are preventable

As spring and summer bring warmer weather and the grass begins to grow more quickly, our neighborhoods are filled with the sounds of buzzing lawn mowers. Unfortunately, this common task of mowing the lawn can cause significant injury or death for tens of thousands of people across the nation. It’s especially important for parents to be aware of their child’s safety around lawn mowers.

Already this year, there have been several cases of children seriously injured in mowing accidents:

  • A 2-year-old girl in Florida lost both her feet when her father backed over her with a riding mower.
  • A 4-year-old boy in Tennessee had severe cuts on his arms and legs after a lawn mower ran over him.
  • A 2-year-old Maryland boy was in critical condition after a lawn mower he was riding with his grandfather overturned into a creek.
  • An 18-month-old boy in Washington lost a leg when his grandfather backed over him with a riding mower.

In 2011, 3,780 kids ages 14 or under were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments for lawn mower injuries, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. When visits to doctors’ offices and clinics are included, more than 17,000 children and teens are treated for lawn mower injuries each year.

Most children injured by lawnmowers are age 6 or younger. Forty percent of all lawn mower injuries involving children are caused by falling or jumping from a mower. Another 40 percent are caused by sliding under or being backed over a mower. Almost all accidents occur while a parent or relative is riding the lawnmower.

These injuries can be life-changing for children, but in most cases, they are totally preventable.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following tips to protect children from lawn mower injuries:

  • Don’t allow children under 12 to operate a push mower, or those under 16 to drive a riding mower
  • Do not let children ride as passengers on mowers
  • Keep children off the lawn while you are mowing
  • Pick up debris in the yard before mowing. Flying sticks, stones or toys can cause injury
  • Do not pull or ride a mower backward unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to mow backwards, carefully look for children behind you

A lawn mower is a valuable tool for any homeowner, but can also be a dangerous weapon. Always be aware of your surroundings when you are mowing and be especially aware of children.

Deadly crashes caused by drivers on cellphones underreported

It should come as no surprise that cellphones are very distracting for drivers, and the consequences can be deadly. It’s also no surprise that the number of fatal cellphone-involved crashes are grossly underreported.

The National Safety Council analyzed data from 180 fatal crashes that took place between 2009 and 2011 that resulted in one or more deaths. Using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, the council determined that there was strong evidence that the driver had been using a cellphone at the time of the accident.

In 2011, the FARS identified only 52 percent of the crashes as cellphone-related. In 2010, it was 35 percent, and in 2009, only 8 percent.

Even in fatal accidents where the driver admitted using a cellphone, only half of the 2011 crashes were coded as involving a cellphone.

The database shows more than 32,000 traffic deaths overall in 2011, but only 385 are listed as involving cellphones. The NSC said that the underreporting makes it appear that distracted driving is less of a problem than it really is, making it more difficult to pass stricter laws.

The FARS database is the most reliable source of traffic crash statistics, but it is only as reliable as the people who report the accident information. The NSC found vast discrepancies in how states coded cellphone-related crashes. In Tennessee for example, there were 71 fatal crashes involving cellphones in 2010 and 93 in2011. However, New York, which has a significantly larger population, reported 10 such crashes in 2010 and one in 2011.

Other problems in getting an accurate number of cellphone-related accidents include driver reluctance to admit the behavior, lack of witnesses and the death of the driver.

Although other groups put the number significantly lower, the NSC estimates that 25 percent of all accidents involve cellphone use.

The exact number of accidents caused by cellphone use is unimportant. What’s important is that you pay attention to the road when behind the wheel. Don’t make a deadly mistake.



City of San Francisco sues Monster for targeting young people

In the ongoing debate over the safety of caffeine additives, the city attorney of San Francisco is suing Monster Beverage for marketing its energy drinks to children.

Dennis Herrera said this week that Monster is the “industry’s worst offender” in regards to the extent to which it targets youth and children. He points to the company’s “Monster Army” website, which uses children as young as 6 years old. The company also sponsors many youth sports tournaments.c518LOGO MONSTER

In his lawsuit, Herrera says that Monster promotes excessive consumption of its products by telling consumers to “pound down” or “chug down” the drinks.

The lawsuit also notes that labels on Monster’s cans say people should drink no more than three 16-ounce cans a day. That is nearly five times the maximum daily caffeine limit recommended for children by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Herrera didn’t fire the first shot in this battle. His lawsuit comes after Monster sued him last week over his demands that it reduce the caffeine levels in its drinks and stop marketing to minors.

On Monday, Herrera noted that his office had been working with Monster in “good faith to negotiate voluntary changes” when the company abruptly filed its lawsuit.

Herrera is not the only official looking into the burgeoning energy drink industry. New York’s attorney general has subpoenaed energy drink makers to ask them about how the drinks are made and marketed. Democratic Sens. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut have repeatedly asked the FDA to investigate the safety of the drinks for children.

Monster has been in the spotlight since October, when the parents of 14-year-old Anais Fournier of Hagerstown, Md., sued the company after their daughter went into cardiac arrest after drinking two of popular energy drinks in 24 hours. The company denied its drink’s role in the girl’s death, with company lawyer Daniel Callahan saying that physicians hired to review the girl’s case determined she died from natural causes, brought on by pre-existing heart conditions.

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released the results of an investigation which revealed that since 2009, five people have died and one had a non-fatal heart attack after drinking Monster Energy. One can contains about 240 milligrams of caffeine.

Pediatricians wrote this February in Pediatrics in Review that consuming energy drinks can cause insomnia, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, anxiety and obesity.

If you are the parent of a teen or young adult, please make sure they know the truth about these drinks. Let them know that energy drinks are not just another fun, safe drink like pop or coffee.

At Elk & Elk, we are very concerned about dangerous products and want everyone to be aware when a new safety issue arises. To find out more about us, visit our website.