January 2008

RC2 Brands, maker of Thomas the Tank Engine, has agreed to a $30million settlement in a lawsuit filed by parents who purchased lead tainted Thomas toys, according to a story on CNN.  Last June the company recalled one and a half million Thomas products, due to high levels of lead paint.  Small doses of lead can cause brain damage in children, a large dose could kill a child.  The settlement requires RC2 Brands to offer consumers a combination of cash refunds, replacement toys, plus a “bonus toy”.  The settlement also requires the company to implement better quality control standards to prevent toys containing lead paint from reaching the marketplace again.


The CSPC has recalled a popular children’s board game, Cranium Cadoo.  The dice included with the game, which was manufactured in China, were found to contain unacceptable levels of lead paint.  Games with lot numbers 2007195 through 2007244 are the only ones included in the recall at this point.  The game is packaged in a square cardboard box with an orange background, with the seven digit lot number printed under the plastic tray on the bottom half of the box.  The games were sold at Fred Meyer, Kmart, Shopko, Wal-Mart and other retailers between October 2007 through January 2008 for about $20. 

In a press release issued today, the FDA has declared that over the counter cough and cold drugs are not safe or effective for children below 2 years of age.  The types of cough and cold remedies the release applies to include over the counter decongestants, expectorants, antihistamines, and cough suppressants.  The following is a quote from the release:

 “The FDA strongly recommends to parents and caregivers that OTC cough and cold medicines not be used for children younger than 2,” said Charles Ganley, M.D., director of the FDA’s Office of Nonprescription Products. “These medicines, which treat symptoms and not the underlying condition, have not been shown to be safe or effective in children under 2.” 

In addition, the FDA has an ongoing study into the use of these OTC remedies on children in the 2 to 11 year old range.  No recommendations have been made thus far, but the FDA plans to issue a report when the study is complete.  The following is a list of recommendations in regarding to this age group: 

  • Follow the dosing directions on the label of any OTC medication,
  • Understand that these drugs will NOT cure or shorten the duration of the common cold,
  • Check the “Drug Facts” label to learn what active ingredients are in the products because many OTC cough and cold products contain multiple active ingredients, and
  • Only use measuring spoons or cups that come with the medicine or those made specially for measuring drugs.

This page is the official Public Health Advisory issued by the FDA on the topic.  And this page contains CNN’s coverage of the story.

Article in Biloxi Sun Herald about Texas Mutual, a workers comp insurance company at the forefront of the tort reform movement in Texas.  One of the rallying cries of tort reformers is that most injured people falsify their claims: they aren’t injured, they aren’t injured as severly as they claim, they were injured by someone else.  The “blame game” list goes on and on.  In fact, Texas Mutual has an entry on their website titled “Fighting Fraud“.  The inference being that there are many, many fraudulent claims.

A judge has found that Texas Mutual knowingly and intentionally manipulated a medical record to gain an unfar advantage in a lawsuit.  The plaintiff’s attorney in the case, Mike Doyle, stated “Texas Mutual not only falsified the original medical record, but, after being caught, secretly solicited from a doctor yet another altered document which an official of Dallas County Hospital District later confirmed under oath was not a genuine record of the Hospital District.”  The court punished Texas Mutual by ordering the company to pay $30,000 in sanctions.

A quote from the Texas Mutual website: “We pursue injured workers who fake an injury, misrepresent information, or collect benefits to which they aren’t entitled.”  Litigators will be able to make some hay out of the information Texas Mutual misrepresented for years to come.  On their website Texas Mutual has an archive of fraud investigation files.  I wonder if this case will make the archive.  Looks like the reformers need some reform.


Story on Yahoo News regarding the Dana bankruptcy.  Dana manufactured asbestos containing products, including Victor gaskets.  The company went into bankruptcy in 2006.  Dana claims to have $240 million in cash and assets to cover future asbestos liabilities. 

The company made an agreement with a group of over 7,000 asbestos victims to settle their claims for $2,000,000.  A group representing tens of thousands of asbestos victims has filed an objection to Dana’s proposed bankruptcy plan, arguing that the company has not set aside enough to cover its asbestos liabilities.