Little Tikes Toy Recall

Toy safety continues to be an alarming problem with serious potential consequences to children.  Now the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission is reporting that Little Tikes a series of toys that come with small parts that present a choking hazard.  Here’s the full press release from the CPSC:

Name of Product: Little Tikes® Workshop and Tool Sets

Units: More than 1.7 million additional units (about 1.6 million toy workshop sets and trucks with the same toy nails were recalled in August 2009)

Manufacturer: Little Tikes, of Hudson, Ohio

Hazard: The recalled workshop and tool sets have oversized, plastic toy nails that can pose a choking hazard to young children.

Incidents/Injuries: The firm has reported two additional incidents, occurring prior to the August 2009 recall, of children who choked when the toy nail became lodged in their throat. Both children were treated in a hospital and made a full recovery.

Description: This recall involves the toy nails sold as part of 11 additional models of Little Tikes® Workshop and tool sets listed below. The toy
nails are oversized, plastic, and about 3 1/4 inches long by 1 1/4 inch in diameter. The nails are either red or blue and have a large round head; below the nail head there is a plastic ridge, slightly smaller than the nail head and about 1 inch in diameter. The model number may be found on some of the products.

Sold by: Mass merchandise retailers nationwide from 1990 through 2004 for between $25 and $100.

Manufactured in: United States and China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately take the toy nails away from young children and contact the firm for free replacement toy nails.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Little Tikes at (800) 321-0183 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s website at

Picture of plastic toy nails
Model # Name Picture Sold
4491 Workshop Picture of Workshop 1994 – 1995
4601 Deluxe Workshop Picture of Deluxe Workshop 1996 – 1999
0827 Carry Along Workshop Picture of Carry Along Workshop 1997 – 1998
4765 Revv ‘n Roar Mechanics Workshop Picture of Revv 'n Roar Mechanics Workshop 1997 – 1999
0627 Carry Along Tool Caddy Picture of Carry Along Tool Caddy 1996 – 2002
4174 Home Center Workshop Picture of Home Center  Workshop 2001 – 2002
4789 Workbench Picture of Workbench 1997 – 1998
4071 Little Tikes Workshop Picture of Little Tikes  Workshop 1990 – 1994
0014 Kohl’s Workshop Tool Set No image available 2000
4497 Menard’s Home Center Workshop Picture of Menard's Home Center Workshop 2003 – 2004
4201 Action Power Workshop Picture of Action Power Workshop 2002 – 2004


Please feel free to contact me if you have a personal injury or wrongful death or products liability matter involving children’s products that you would like to discuss.  I’ll be happy to see if I can give you a hand.


Deadly Cantaloupe Poisoning

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control warns consumers of a deadly food poisoning outbreak involving cantaloupes:

“Health officials say as many as 16 people have died from possible listeria illnesses traced to Colorado cantaloupes, the deadliest food outbreak in more than a decade.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that 72 illnesses, including 13 deaths, are linked to the tainted fruit. State and local officials say they are investigating three additional deaths that may be connected.

The death toll released by the CDC Tuesday – including newly confirmed deaths in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas – surpassed the number of deaths linked to an outbreak of salmonella in peanuts almost three years ago. Nine people died in that outbreak.

The CDC said Tuesday that they have confirmed two deaths in Texas and one death each in in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Last week the CDC reported two deaths in Colorado, four deaths in New Mexico, one in Oklahoma and one in Maryland.

New Mexico officials said Tuesday they are investigating a fifth death, while health authorities in Kansas and Wyoming said they too are investigating additional deaths possibly linked to the tainted fruit.

Listeria is more deadly than well-known pathogens like salmonella and E. coli, though those outbreaks generally cause many more illnesses. Twenty-one people died in an outbreak of listeria poisoning in 1998 traced to contaminated hot dogs and possibly deli meats made by Bil Mar Foods, a subsidiary of Sara Lee Corp. Another large listeria outbreak in 1985 killed 52 people and was linked to Mexican-style soft cheese.

Listeria generally only sickens the elderly, pregnant women and others with compromised immune systems. The CDC said the median age of those sickened is 78 and that one in five who contract the disease can die.

Dr. Robert Tauxe of the CDC says the number of illnesses and deaths will probably grow in coming weeks because the symptoms of listeria don’t always show up right away. It can take four weeks or more for a person to fall ill after eating food contaminated with listeria.

“That long incubation period is a real problem,” Tauxe said. “People who ate a contaminated food two weeks ago or even a week ago could still be falling sick weeks later.”

CDC reported the 72 illnesses and deaths in 18 states. Cases of listeria were reported in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The most illnesses were reported in Colorado, which has seen 15 sickened. Fourteen illnesses were reported in Texas, 10 in New Mexico and eight in Oklahoma.

The outbreak has been traced to Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo., which recalled the tainted cantaloupes earlier this month. The Food and Drug Administration said state health officials had found listeria in cantaloupes taken from grocery stores in the state and from a victim’s home that were grown at Jensen Farms. Matching strains of the disease were found on equipment and cantaloupe samples at Jensen Farms’ packing facility in Granada, Colo.

FDA, which investigates the cause of foodborne outbreaks, has not released any additional details on how the contamination may have happened. The agency says its investigation is ongoing.

The Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes from Jensen Farms were shipped from July 29 through Sept. 10 to Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.

The recalled cantaloupe may be labeled “Colorado Grown,” `’Distributed by Frontera Produce,” `’” or “Sweet Rocky Fords.” Not all of the recalled cantaloupes are labeled with a sticker, the FDA said.

Unlike many pathogens, listeria bacteria can grow at room temperatures and even refrigerator temperatures. The FDA and CDC recommend anyone who may have one of the contaminated cantaloupes throw it out immediately and clean and sanitize any surfaces it may have touched.

While most healthy adults can consume listeria with no ill effects, it can kill the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. It is also dangerous to pregnant women because it easily passes through to the fetus. Dr. Tauxe of the CDC said the type of listeria linked to the cantaloupes is not one that is commonly associated with pregnancy-associated illnesses, however. State and federal health authorities have not definitively linked any miscarriages, stillbirths or infant illnesses to the current outbreak.

Symptoms of listeria include fever and muscle aches, often with other gastrointestinal symptoms. Victims often become incapacitated and unable to speak.”


Please feel free to contact me if you have a personal injury or wrongful death or products liability matter involving food poisoning that you would like to discuss.  I’ll be happy to see if I can give you a hand.

John Deere Tractor Dangers

I previously wrote about safety during yardwork.  Now the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission has announed the recall of several John Deere lawn tractor models:

John Deere X300, X300R and X304 series tractors

Manufacturer of Tractors: Deere & Company, of Moline, Ill.

Manufacturer of Engines: Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA of Grand Rapids,

Hazard: The cooling fan (A) installed on top of the front mounted Kawasaki engine in the lawn tractor can break. If the cooling fan is not
operational, the engine can overheat causing the surrounding plastic to melt, creating the risk of fire and serious injury.

Incidents/Injuries: There have been 163 reported failures, including 83 reports of engine melting or engine fires and one report of a minor burn injury following a fan failure fire.

Description: This recall involves John Deere X300, X300R and X304 Select Series™ Lawn Tractors with Kawasaki FS541V engines manufactured between September 20, 2010 and July 21, 2011 within the following serial number ranges listed below. The model number is on both sides of the tractor hood, and the serial number can be found on the machine frame near the front right tire.

1M0X300B++M180001 thru 1M0X300B++M180600
1M0X300C++M180001 thru
1M0X300E++M180001 thru
1M0X300F++M180001 thru
1M0X300G++M180001 thru
1M0X300H++M180001 thru
1M0X300J++M180001 thru
1M0X304A++M180001 thru
1M0X304B++M180001 thru
1M0X304C++M180001 thru 1M0X304C++M180054

Sold at: Nationwide at John Deere dealers in the U.S. from September 2010 to August 2011 for between about $3,000 and $4,000.

Manufactured in: United States

Remedy: Customers should stop using the mowers immediately and contact a John Deere dealer to make arrangements to have the engine cooling fan replaced. All registered owners of the recalled mowers will be directly notified by John Deere.


D100 Lawn Tractors

Manufacturer: Deere & Company of Moline, Ill.

Hazard: Hardware used to hold the brake assembly to the transmission housing can break. This can cause the brakes to fail, posing an injury hazard due to loss of control.

Incidents/Injuries: None

Description: The recalled lawn tractors are green with yellow seats and mower decks. Model D100 tractors are included in this recall. The model number is located on both sides of the tractor’s hood. Tractors with the serial numbers below are included in this recall. Serial numbers are located under the right rear fender.

  • 1GXD100A…BB051247 thru 1GXD100A…BB053312
  • 1GXD100E…BB114388 thru 1GXD100E…BB139599

Sold at: John Deere dealers, Lowe’s, and Home Depot stores nationwide, except California, from October 2010 through September 2011 for about $1,500.

Manufactured in: United States

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled lawn tractors and contact the company for a free hardware inspection and repair.


D100, D110, D120, D130 Tractors

Manufacturer: Deere & Company of Moline, Ill.

Hazard: Hardware used to hold the mower blade brake assemblies on the mower decks can break. This can cause the mower blades to spin longer than normal after the operator turns off the power, posing a laceration hazard.

Incidents/Injuries: None

Description: The recalled lawn tractors are green, with yellow seats and mower decks. Model numbers D100, D110, D120, and D130, all with a 42-inch Edge™ Cutting System mower deck, are included in this recall. The model number is located on both sides of the tractor’s hood. Lawn tractors with the serial numbers listed below are included in the recall. The serial number is located under the right rear fender.

Model Serial Numbers
D100 1GXD100A…BB050246 thru 1GXD100A…BB051508
thru 1GXD100E…BB114387
D110 1GXD110A…BB051350 thru 1GXD110A…BB054905
thru 1GXD110C…BB010413
1GXD110E…AB106157 thru
1GXD110E…BB106358 thru 1GXD110E…BB115481
D120 1GXD120A…BB101040 thru 1GXD120A…BB101642
thru 1GXD120C…BB010035
1GXD120E…BB101959 thru
D130 1GXD130A…BB050470 thru

Sold at: John Deere dealers, Lowe’s, and Home Depot stores nationwide from December 2010 through September 2011 for between $1,500 and $2,000.

Manufactured in: United States

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled lawn tractors and contact the company for a free hardware inspection and repair.


Please feel free to contact me if you have a personal injury or wrongful death or products liability matter involving a humidifier that you would like to discuss.  I’ll be happy to see if I can give you a hand.

CPSC Completes Problem Drywall Study

I previously wrote about issues caused by Chinese drywall.  The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission has been studying and analyzing various health risks associated with drywall in homes.  This week it finished its study.  Here’s what the CPSC had to report:

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today released updated remediation (pdf) guidance for homeowners with problem drywall. The guidance calls for the replacement of all: problem drywall; smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms; electrical distribution components, including receptacles, switches and circuit breakers, but not
necessarily wiring; and fusible-type fire sprinkler heads.

The updated remediation guidance is based on studies just completed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on potential long term corrosion effects of problem drywall on select gas components (pdf), fire sprinkler heads (pdf) and smoke alarms (pdf).

CPSC and HUD staffs believe these final studies that resulted in an update of the remediation guidance, along with previously-issued identification guidance (pdf), will enable homeowners to comprehensively remediate those homes containing problem drywall with potentially lower costs than by following the previous remediation guidance.

Key Findings

The key finding is that none of the studies performed at NIST on smoke alarms, fire sprinkler heads, or gas service piping found corrosion associated with problem drywall that provided evidence of a substantial product safety hazard, as defined by the Consumer Product Safety Act. Corrosion of gas service piping was uniform and minimal compared to the thickness of pipes. Some smoke alarms and fire sprinkler heads showed small changes in performance due to accelerated corrosion, but these changes were generally within accepted industry

As a result, CPSC and HUD no longer recommend the removal of gas service piping in homes with problem drywall. This change may reduce the cost of remediation for many homes. In addition, the agencies no longer recommend that glass bulb fire sprinkler heads be replaced in homes. However, the agencies recommend that both glass bulb sprinkler heads and gas distribution piping in affected homes be inspected and tested as part of the remediation to make sure they are working properly; any test failures should be corrected according to all applicable building codes.

The agencies do recommend the replacement of all fusible-type fire sprinkler heads, because one fusible-type sprinkler head sample that had been exposed to accelerated corrosion did not activate when tested. The agencies note that this type of sprinkler head is generally found in commercial, rather than residential, applications and that the sole failure could not be causally linked to the problem drywall.

In addition, CPSC staff continues to recommend that homeowners replace smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms as part of remediation.

Exhaustive Investigation

CPSC’s investigation into problem drywall to help affected homeowners began in early 2009 and involved significant agency resources. CPSC’s investigation of problem drywall has been driven by sound science and has involved HUD, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as members of the Federal Interagency Task Force on
Problem Drywall.

CPSC and HUD met with deeply-impacted homeowners, responded to correspondence, and kept members of Congress informed about our progress during this time period.

CPSC developed contracts to research and test problem drywall, visited Chinese mines and manufacturers, hosted a public website to keep the public informed about new developments, and devoted thousands of staff hours and millions of dollars to these activities.

As part of the effort to determine if there were any health or safety effects associated with problem drywall, the agency contracted with several
highly-respected technical organizations, including Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Environmental Health & Engineering Inc. (EH&E), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), NIST, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

LBNL used specially-built chambers to measure chemical emissions from drywall samples. In the second phase of its work, which is being released today, LBNL (pdf) evaluated the effects of different temperature and humidity conditions, as well as the effects of time
and coatings of paint or plaster, on the emissions. A prior LBNL (pdf) study found considerably higher hydrogen sulfide emission rates from some, but not all, Chinese drywall samples compared to North American samples. The current LBNL study found that increases in temperature and humidity corresponded with increased emission rates of the most reactive sulfur gases, that emissions were significantly reduced over time (compared with its prior testing), and that coating the problem drywall samples did not result in differences in emissions
compared to uncoated samples.

EH&E conducted CPSC’s 51-home study (pdf) on emissions and corrosion in problem drywall homes. The studies identified
elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide in problem drywall homes. The studies also showed a strong association between the presence of hydrogen sulfide and metal corrosion in the problem drywall homes.

SNL exposed smoke alarms, electrical components, gas piping, and sprinkler heads to concentrated levels of gases representative of problem drywall emissions, to simulate decades of exposure. SNL analyzed the effects of corrosion on the electrical components and found no degradation in performance and no acute safety events during testing.

NIST analyzed the type and depth of corrosion resulting from the simulated aging, as well as other samples taken from homes with problem drywall, and evaluated whether the corrosion would impact the proper functioning of smoke alarms, gas distribution piping, and fire sprinklers.

Another study being released today, that was conducted by the USGS (pdf), found no evidence of microbiological activity or a microbiological source of sulfur-gas emissions from gypsum rock or problem drywall, including samples taken from affected homes.

As part of the investigation, CPSC requested that CDC consider undertaking a comprehensive study of any possible long-term health effects. In February 2011, CDC indicated that the best scientific evidence available at that time did not support undertaking a long-term health study.

Concluding Our Investigation

To date, CPSC has received 3,905 reports from residents of 42 states and the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico, who believe their health symptoms or the corrosion of certain metal components in their homes are related to problem drywall. CPSC believes there may be as many as 6,300 U.S. homes with problem drywall.

CPSC has been focused on providing answers and guidance for homeowners based on its scientific work, and other federal agencies have worked to provide relief to homeowners. For example, based on information provided by CPSC, the IRS allows certain impacted taxpayers whose homes meet the CPSC’s problem drywall identification criteria to treat damages from corrosive drywall as a casualty loss, and provides a “safe harbor” formula for determining the amount of the loss. In addition, HUD advised its Federal Housing Administration-approved mortgage lenders that they may offer forbearance for borrowers confronted with the sudden effects of damaging drywall in their homes.

Going forward, CPSC staff continues to work with voluntary standards organizations to develop improved standards for drywall to prevent this type of problem from reemerging. The standard setting body ASTM International Inc. is also moving to require that all drywall sheets are marked with the manufacturer’s name or a unique identification code, the manufacture date, and the source materials.

As the federal investigation into problem drywall concludes, CPSC staff believes that the extensive research and testing have been successful in
defining the scope of the problem drywall issue, in producing identification and remediation protocols, and in providing homeowners with all the assistance possible within the agency’s jurisdiction and appropriated funds authority. The agency will continue to provide information to and work with members of Congress and agency partners to support policy options that may be beneficial to impacted homeowners.

For additional findings from the Interagency Drywall Task Force’s investigation, visit


Under Iowa law, a consumer who has bought a home that contains toxic drywall has the right to bring a legal claim based on various legal theories against any company that manufactured, distributed, supplied, or used toxic drywall. This includes the builder of the home who used toxic drywall during the construction process.  If you need assistance with this or any other personal injury or wrongful death, product liability, or construction law  issues, please give me a call and I’ll be happy to see if I can help you.

Fire Danger Prompts LG Humidifier Recall

New information today from the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission regarding a serious fire danger risk from LG humidifiers:

“LG Electronics Tianjin Appliance Co., in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), is urging consumers to check if they have recalled Goldstar or Comfort-Aire dehumidifiers. The firm is re-announcing the recall of about 98,000 of the dangerous dehumidifiers that pose a serious fire and burn hazard, and are believed to be responsible for more than one million dollars in property damage.

The power connector for the dehumidifier’s compressor can short circuit, posing fire and burn hazards to consumers and their property.  The dehumidifiers were first recalled in December 2009 following eleven incidents, including four significant fires. Since that time, the company has
received sixteen additional incident reports of arcing, smoke and fire associated with the dehumidifiers, including nine significant fires. No injuries have been reported. Fires are reported to have caused more than $1 million in property damage including:

  • $500,000 in damage to a home in Gibsonia, Pa.
  • $200,000 in damage to a home in New Brighton, Minn.
  • $183,000 in damage to a home in Hudson, Mass.
  • $192,000 in damage to a home in Valparaiso, Ind.
  • $139,000 in damage to a home in Salem, Ohio
  • $129,000 in damage to a home in Brielle, N.J.
  • $ 95,000 in damage to a home in Philadelphia, Pa.

Because of the severity of the risks, CPSC and LG Electronics are concerned with the lack of consumer response to the recall. Only two percent of the 98,000 consumers who purchased these units have received a free repair, which means that consumers and their property remain at serious risk.

Anyone who has the recalled dehumidifiers is strongly encouraged to immediately stop using them, unplug them, and contact LG Electronics for the free repair.

The recall involves the 30 pint portable dehumidifiers sold under the Goldstar and Comfort-Aire brands. The dehumidifiers are white with a red
shut-off button, controls for fan speed and humidity control, and a front-loading water bucket. “Goldstar” or “Comfort-Aire” is printed on the
front. Model and serial number ranges included in this recall are listed in the table below. The model and serial numbers are located on the interior of the dehumidifier, and can be seen when the water bucket is removed.

Brand Model No. Serial Number Range Sold at
Goldstar GHD30Y7 611TAxx00001 through 08400
611TAxx08401 through
612TAxx00001 through 20400
612TAxx21001 through 30600
Home Depot
Goldstar DH305Y7 612TAxx00001 through 00600
701TAxx00001 through
702TAxx00001 through 03000
Comfort-Aire BHD-301-C 611TA000001 through 001697
612TA000001 through
701TA000001 through 000578
710TA000001 through 000599
Various retailers, including Ace
Hardware, Do It Best and
Orgill Inc.

The recalled dehumidifiers were sold at The Home Depot, Walmart, Ace Hardware, Do It Best, Orgill Inc., and other retailers nationwide from January 2007 through June 2008 for between $140 and $150. They were manufactured in China.

For additional information about the recall and for the location of an authorized service center for the repair, contact LG toll free at (877) 220-0479 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, and between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. CT on Saturday, or visit the firm’s website at


Please feel free to contact me if you have a personal injury or wrongful death or products liability matter involving a humidifier that you would like to discuss.  I’ll be happy to see if I can give you a hand.

Iowa Supreme Court Rules That You Can Be Fired For Suing Your Employer For Personal Injuries

I’ve previously discussed Iowa’s at-will employment rule.  Per that law, employees who are not working under an employment contract are considered “at-will employees.”  An at-will employee can fired at any time without warning for any lawful reason or for no reason at all.  But in rare instances the firing of an at-will employee may be illegal and give rise to a claim for wrongful termination.  I summarized wrongful termination law in an earlier post.

Last week the Iowa Supreme Court issued a new wrongful termination decision in Nathan Berry v. Liberty Holdings, Inc.  Mr. Berry’s employer, Liberty Holdings, fired him after he filed and settled a personal injury claim against a company that was also owned by Liberty Holding’s owner.  Mr. Berry claimed that Liberty Holdings wrongfully terminated him in retaliation for making the personal injury claim.

The Iowa Supreme Court concluded that Mr. Berry’s termination did not implicate any public policy concerns, at least any that he raised.  Liberty Holdings thus had the right to fire him in retaliation for pursuing the personal injury claim.  The court did state though that there may be other laws and statutes, not asserted by Mr. Berry, that may protect the right to sue your employer for personal injuries without fear of retaliation.  The court left that question for another day.

The Berry decision could be somewhat confusing because there are certainly instances when an employer cannot fire you for making a claim against it, for example civil rights and discrimination claims, workers’ compensation claims, unemployment benefits claims, FMLA claims, and wage and overtime claims.  The distinction to remember is that such employment claims are usually specifically created by a state or federal statute.  Some of those statutes explicitly state that retaliation is prohibited and some even go so far as to expressly allow a claim for retaliation or wrongful termination if an employer violates the anti-retaliation provisions.  But other claims, like personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits, perhaps arising from a construction defect, car accident, motorcycle crash, or defective product, are not created by statute and those, at least for now, probably do not come with a protection against retaliation.

I can help you with any employment law or labor law questions that you might have.  Please feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation about employment law or labor law.

Judge Okays Discrimination Class Action Suit Against State

In an earlier post I discussed a state court judge’s consideration of a new U.S. Supreme Court decision’s impact on a long-pending class action lawsuit against the State of Iowa.

The ruling, written by Judge Robert Blink, noted an agreement between the parties that severed many of the discrimination claims so they could be tried with after the upcoming bench trial.  Per the parties’ agreement, the trial this month should focus  on statistics concerning the hiring rate for blacks by the state.

“Their protestations not withstanding, defendants seem to be backpedaling from their agreement to the class certification and seem to seek to decertify the class on the eve of trial,” Blink wrote.

Here’s a link to the Des Moines Register story about Judge Blink’s decision:

I can help you with any employment law or labor law questions that you might have.  Please feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation about employment law or labor law.