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Proud to have St. Thomas alum Mat Mendoza as a part of the Martin Law Firm team. Check out this St. Thomas article featuring Mr. Mendoza:

Risk of Cancer with use of Gynecologic Device:

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Medical Device Safety Communication for “Laparoscopic Uterine Power Morcellation” in hysterectomy and myomectomy proce­dures. Laparoscopic power morcellators are used in procedures to treat and/or remove uterine fibroids and for hysterectomy procedures. Morcellation is the process of dividing tissue into small fragments and the removal of that tissue through a small incision site.

Some women who undergo a hysterec­tomy or myomectomy for the treatment of fibroids are found to have metastatic leiomyosarcoma cancer, a form of uterine cancer, after pathology is complete. If a laparoscopic power morcellator is used during this procedure in a woman who has unde­tected uterine cancer, there is a risk that the procedure will spread the cancerous tissue within the abdominal and pelvic area, promoting the cancer and impacting the chance of long-term survival.

Since the FDA first warned about the potential for power morcellators to spread uterine cancer, several women have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers. In July, Johnson and Johnson withdrew three of its morcellators from the market. Source: FDA Safety Communication issued 04/17/14 (

Recall Alert for Those with Small Children:

Evenflo has recalled more than 202,000 rear-facing infant seats because the buckles can become diffi­cult to unlatch. The recall affects Embrace 35/9999 models with an AmSafe QT1 buckle. Documents posted by U.S. safety regulators say that if the buckles don’t release easily, it may be difficult to get your child out of the seat in an emergency.

The recall comes after an investigation by NHTSA. It should be noted that not all Embrace 35 models are covered by the recall. For those under the recall, the company will provide replacement buckles if requested by customers. Affected model numbers include 30711365, 31511040, 31511323, 31511400, 3151198, 3151953, 31521138, 46811205, 46811237, 48111200, 48111215, 48111215A, 48111218, 48111234, 48111235, 48111235A, 48111462, 48411391, 48411391D, 48411392, 48411504, 48411504D, 52911307A, 52921040, 55311138, 55311238, and 55311292.

The seats were made at various times from December 2011 through May of 2013. Source:

No Punitive Damages Allowed In Maritime Lawsuit
The Fifth Circuit has ruled in a split en banc decision that survivors of a worker killed in a barge-mounted drilling rig acci­dent cannot collect punitive damages under general maritime law. The majority, in reversing an earlier panel decision, ruled that it doesn’t matter if the claim is for personal injury or wrongful death. In a 9-6 decision, the appeals court’s majority cited and relied on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1990 decision in Miles v. Apex Marine Corp., which limits a seaman’s recovery to pecuniary losses where liability is predi­cated on the Jones Act or unseaworthiness. The majority opinion said punitive damages are by definition “non- pecuniary losses,” and thus are not recoverable.
Estis Well Service LLC had asked the appeals court to grant an en banc rehearing on the earlier ruling that the heirs of Skye Sonnier, the decedent, could assert claims for punitive damages in personal injury or wrongful death cases alleging unseaworthiness under general maritime law. The 30-year-old worker, Sonnier, was killed in 2011 when a derrick toppled over on barge in Louisiana. Other workers injured in the accident have also sued, seeking compensa­tory and punitive damages.
The Plaintiffs contended the Miles deci­sion only applies to wrongful death claims. But the majority rejected that argument, finding there is “no meaningful distinction” between a wrongful death action and a per­sonal injury action in such cases. U.S. Circuit Judge W. Eugene Davis wrote for the majority, saying:
On the subject of recoverable damages in a wrongful death case under the Jones Act and the general maritime law, [Congress] has limited the survivor’s recovery to pecuniary losses. Appellants have suggested no reason this holding and analysis would not apply equally to the plain­tiffs asserting claims for per­sonal injury.
The majority said, based on Miles and other Supreme Court and circuit authority, that pecuniary losses are designed to com­pensate an injured person or his survivors, whereas punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer rather than compen­sate the victim. That, according to the majority opinion, automatically rendered them non-pecuniary and therefore excluded under the Jones Act. The law, for­mally known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, protects American workers injured at sea.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2009 in a case, Atlantic Sounding v. Townsend, that punitive damages are available for arbitrary and capricious denial of maintenance and cure. That, according to the court, was because this remedy had been available prior to the passage of the Jones Act in 1920. But the plaintiffs failed to convince the Fifth Circuit majority that it meant they could recover punitive damages based on “a claim of unseaworthiness.” In a concur­ring opinion, Judge Edith Brown Clement said despite the Townsend ruling that puni­tive damages are available in maintenance and cure cases, the court cannot “blithely assume that because they are available in a wholly different type of maritime action that pre-dates the Magna Carta,” that they are available now.
Judge Clement wrote that: “If Miles v. Apex Marine Corp. stands for anything, it at the very least signals that all damages are not automatically available in all maritime cases.” Judge Stephen A. Higginson, joined by five other members of the court, dis­sented from the majority opinion, saying that punitive damages should be available in all cases. Judge Higginson said Congress did disallow punitive damages for the Jones Act, but that conclusion should not be binding with regards to an unrelated unseaworthiness claim. The dissenting judges also stated that the Miles decision is limited to wrongful death claims and that personal injury claimants should be allowed to recover broader damages. Judge Higginson wrote in the dissent:
Like maintenance and cure, unseaworthiness was established as a general maritime claim before the passage of the Jones Act, punitive damages were available under general maritime law, and the Jones Act does not address unseaworthiness or limit its remedies.
The Plaintiff plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the en banc deci­sion. It was alleged by the Plaintiff that the accident occurred as the result of “count­less” safety violations and a barge that was in such “deplorable” condition that the employer cut it up and sold it for scrap immediately after the incident. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will accept this case and reversing the 5th Circuit ruling on puni­tive damages.

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Too many consumers call my office about injuries and infections. Always go to reputable nail salons.

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GM Flawed Ignition Switch Cases Get An Extension:

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Think twice about what you eat:

Ford Recalls 850,000 Sedans and SUVs for Restraint System Issues:

Ford Motor Co. has recalled nearly 850,000 2013-2014 C-Max, Fusion, Escape and Lincoln MKZ vehicles in North America because of a problem with the electric module that controls the cars' deployable restraint system. This can cause air bags to not properly deploy during a collision. The affected vehicles' restraints control modules - which manage the deployments of air bags, seat-belt pretensioners, side curtains and more - have a potential defect that causes short circuiting to occur. This leads to the systems not properly functioning in the event of a crash and increases the risk of injury.

The safety recall covers approximately 745,000 vehicles in the U.S., 82,000 in Canada, and 20,000 in Mexico, according to the statement. The recall includes certain 2013-2014 C-MAX vehicles built at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant between January 19, 2012 to November 21, 2013; certain 2013-2014 Escape vehicles built at its Louisville Assembly Plant from October 5, 2011 to November 1, 2013; and certain 2013-2014 Fusion vehicles built at Ford's Hermosillo Assembly Plant between February 3, 2012 to August 24, 2013, as well as certain 2013-2014 Lincoln MKZ vehicles built at the same plant from April 25, 2012 to September 30, 2013, the statement said.

According to a statement by Ford, the short-circuiting potentially causes the air bag warning indicator to illuminate and the deployable restraint systems to not properly function. It also could affect the function of other systems that use data from the restraints control module, such as stability control, the statement said. Ford dealers are instructed to replace the restraints control module at no cost to the customer.

You may recall that in May, the automaker recalled more than 594,000 of its 2013 and 2014 Escape and C-MAX vehicles because of a software defect that delays air bag deployment during rollover crashes. In addition, 582,000 Escapes with flawed door latches were recalled. The defect in the May recall was traced to the vehicles' restraints control module originating in Mexico. The part provides sensor information used to deploy side-curtain airbags, but malfunctioned because of a software error, according to a May report. Ford said in a letter to NHTSA that an assembly misalignment caused the door-handle issues.
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