9/11 Survivors Battle PTSD and Cancer 15 Years Later

The 9/11 terrorist attacks marked the second deadliest day on U.S. soil—second only to the Civil War’s Battle of Antietam. However, unlike some battles and acts of terror, we are still counting the casualties of 9/11 to this day.

The traumatic scenes and the dust cloud that encompassed Lower Manhattan are still affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of survivors. While the mental health issues this group faces have been known for a while, we are only now beginning to understand the long-term effects of the toxic dust. 

400,000 Were in the World Trade Center Disaster Area

WTC_disaster_area
World Trade Center Disaster Area

Overall, it’s estimated that 400,000 were in Lower Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001. This group includes workers who fled the towers; rescue workers; passerby who got caught in the cloud; and the people who lived, worked, or went to school in Lower Manhattan.

Out of 400,000, only 75,000 have enrolled in the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program, making it hard to track the full extent of the health complications suffered by survivors.

Health professionals worry that many in this group aren’t coming forward because they weren’t part of the rescue mission or in the towers. However, the deadly dust and the psychologically traumatic events did not discriminate between first responder or passerby: Anyone in the area could face health complications.

As of July 2016, independent reports estimated that 1,140 survivors had died from 9/11 complications.

12,000 Suffered From Mental Health Issues

Rescue workers, cleanup workers, and those who were near Ground Zero and watched the events unfold suffer from a host of mental health issues, including PTSD, depression, memory loss, panic attacks, and substance abuse.

To date:

Passerby suffered the highest rates of PTSD symptoms.

Mental health experts argue that non-emergency workers suffered more from PTSD because they weren’t necessarily trained to cope with disasters. In fact, the WTC Health Registry discovered that passerby suffered the highest rates of PTSD symptoms of any other group affected by the attacks (23.2%).

What makes the events of September 11th particularly hard to recover from are the towers’ noticeable absence.

In an article for the New York Times, Charles Figley, professor of disaster mental health at Tulane University, explained how for many, the towers were part of the fabric of daily life, near where people lived, worked, and went to school.

You go into a combat zone and then you leave. You don’t leave home. You return all the time,” said Professor Figley.

9/11 Cancer Diagnoses Triple

In addition to carrying traumatizing memories with them, survivors and rescue workers also carry the deadly dust that was released into Lower Manhattan for months afterwards. The dust (largely made up of pulverized concrete and building materials) coated passerby and the insides of homes and offices nearby when the towers collapsed.

Dr. Michael Crane described the dust as a “witch’s brew.”

Dr. Michael Crane, director of the World Trade Center Health Program’s lead clinical center at Mount Sinai, described the dust as a “witch’s brew”: “What we do know is that it had all kinds of god-awful things in it. Burning jet fuel. Plastics, metal, fiberglass, asbestos. It was thick, terrible stuff.”

Studies show that the dust had high pH levels of 10 and 11 (7.4 is considered healthy). Even worse, ongoing fires at the site of Ground Zero continued to release toxic fumes in the air for months.

New Yorkers, however, were told the air and dust were safe. It was recommended that landlords and building owners professionally clean their properties, but it was never enforced.

The EPA was later criticized (and sued) for endangering the public’s health. Former EPA Director Christine Todd Whitman only formally apologized this year for misinforming the public.

As of June 30, 2016, 9/11 has been linked to 70 types of cancer, and 5,400 cancer diagnoses. This is already triple the number of cancer diagnoses since January 2014.

These numbers, however, only reflect the patients who have enrolled in the federal health program, and are just the earliest wave of cancer diagnoses. Since it can take cancer 15 to 20 years to show symptoms, we are only seeing the first incidents.

Dust Inhalation Caused More Damage Than Years of Smoking

Particle from the World Trade Center dust
Particle from the World Trade Center dust

Immediately after the attacks, New Yorkers filled hospitals with difficulty breathing. The dust took such a toll on lungs that it gave birth to a deadly cough: the “World Trade Center cough” (WTC cough). The persistent cough is accompanied by breathlessness, wheezing, and often acid reflux and nasal congestion.

Since emergency workers were exposed to the dust for longer periods of time, they are particularly susceptible to WTC cough and other health complications. In 2004, researchers discovered that lungs of first responders were more damaged than longtime smokers. CT scans revealed dark spots where air was trapped in the lungs. Using a scale of 0 to 24 (with 24 being the worst) to rate the severity of the problem, researchers put a typical smoker’s lung somewhere between 0 and 4 and a 9/11 rescue worker at 10.55.

Since the attacks, it’s estimated that more than 32,000 in the disaster area have been diagnosed with asthma, COPD, and WTC cough. For many, survivors will have these chronic conditions for life.

Legal Options for 9/11 Victims and Survivors

Just this year, Congress pledged their support for 9/11 victims by amending the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, allowing victims and their families to sue Saudi Arabia for their alleged involvement in the terrorist attacks. If you have questions about your eligibility for a lawsuit, contact ClassAction.com today. We’ll answer your questions and provide you with a free, no-obligation legal review.  

Mesothelioma Fatalities Climb as EPA Readies to Finally Ban Asbestos

The cancer-causing side effects of asbestos exposure are well known, but less known is that the mineral is still used and imported in the U.S.

Asbestos is a carcinogenic mineral that was commonly used in building materials (insulation, roof shingles, cement, etc.) for its durability and fire retardant properties. Cosmetic companies also used asbestos-laced talcum for its powder-like consistency.

Once research showed that asbestos caused cancer in the 1970s, its use sharply declined and it was restricted. However, the U.S. is still allowed to import asbestos and some products that have historically used the chemical are allowed to continue to do so.  

Despite 10,000 pages of evidence showing the hazardous effects of the chemical, the asbestos industry shot down the proposed ban.

In 1989, the EPA attempted to ban asbestos. Despite 10,000 pages of evidence showing the hazardous effects of the chemical, the asbestos industry shot down the proposed ban in a federal appeals court.

Congress Pressures EPA to Review Asbestos

The failed ban is a symptom of an overly complex system that leaves the EPA at times powerless. Since the agency’s creation 40 years ago, only five chemicals have been banned and just a small percentage of the 62,000 chemicals on the market have been reviewed.

“The system was so complex, it was so burdensome, that our country hasn’t even been able to uphold a ban on asbestos, a known carcinogen.”

Calling for reform, Congress passed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act this June, which amends the 40-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act. Under this amendment, the EPA will have more control over regulation of dangerous chemicals.

Said President Obama upon signing the amendment, “The system was so complex, it was so burdensome, that our country hasn’t even been able to uphold a ban on asbestos, a known carcinogen. I think a lot of Americans would be shocked by all of that.”

The EPA is scheduled to announce the first 10 chemicals for review in December. Since Congress singled out asbestos when creating this act, many hope it will be the EPA’s priority.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.) wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to consider asbestos as a priority chemical: “To build confidence in the agency’s ability to deliver meaningful results for our children and families, EPA must consider all forms of asbestos in this initial list of chemicals it acts on.”

Asbestos Exposure Can Lead to Mesothelioma Decades Later

Asbestos inhalation can severely damage the lungs, resulting in diseases like mesotheliomaa fatal form of canceryears or even decades after exposure.

Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive form of cancer. 10,000 Americans die from the disease every year. Though asbestos exposure can result in a host of medical conditions, mesothelioma is only caused by exposure to asbestos.

Hold Them Accountable

When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they stick inside the lungs for years. With each inhalation and exhalation, these fibers create abrasions that can eventually develop into cancerous tumors.

Who is at Risk?

Anyone who is exposed to asbestos is at risk of developing mesothelioma. However, those who were regularly in direct contact with asbestos materials are even more at risk. These groups include:

  • Construction workers
  • Railroad workers
  • Shipyard workers
  • Veterans (especially from the U.S. Navy)
  • Mechanics
  • Miners
  • First responders

9/11 Rescue Workers Are Twice As Likely to Develop Mesothelioma

When the twin towers collapsed on September 1, 2001, the building materials released 2,000 tons of asbestos fibers into the air, creating a toxic dust that coated the Financial District.

While cleaning up the disaster zone and searching for bodies, first responders inhaled lethal amounts of asbestos, often with inadequate protection. It is estimated that 41,000 people in total were exposed to asbestos after the disaster.

15 years later, this population is still suffering from the attacks. A 2013 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study found that 9/11 first responders are twice as likely to develop mesothelioma. Since the disease can take decades to develop, the long-term effects of 9/11 are only now starting to show.

Veterans Account for 30% of Mesothelioma Deaths

Damage Control 1st Class William Minniefield collects samples of lagging taken from several different spaces on the ship to see if there are traces of asbestos aboard.
Collecting samples to see if there are traces of asbestos aboard.

Between the 1930s and 1970s, virtually every U.S. Naval ship contained several tons of asbestos, mostly in the ships’ insulation, pipes, and doors.

Now, veterans and Naval shipyard workers are paying the price. Though veterans only make up 8% of the U.S. population, they make up 30% of mesothelioma deaths.

In April of this year, a federal jury in Arizona awarded $17 million in damages to the family of the late George Coulbourn. Mr. Coulbourn worked at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia, where he contracted mesothelioma.

In December of 2014, the family of a former Naval shipfitter received a similar verdict in their favor, totaling $20 million. The family sued the U.S. Navy’s boiler manufacturers for using asbestos in their materials.

Talcum-Based Products Used Asbestos Until the 1970s

Asbestos was also commonly found in Talcum-based products, like baby powder, shave talc, etc. prior to the 1970s. However, many mesothelioma diagnoses are just now being discovered.

In October, Los Angeles-based Philip Depoian received an $18 million verdict in his favor for developing mesothelioma from the talc-based products his father’s barber shop used. Last year, Judith Winkel, also from California, won $13 million in a lawsuit against Colgate-Palmolive for using asbestos in their talc powder, causing her to develop mesothelioma decades later.

What Are My Legal Rights?

If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation. Many companies knew for decades that any exposure to asbestos was dangerous, yet they continued to endanger the health of workers and consumers.

Contact ClassAction.com today for a free, no-obligation legal review. Our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for hundreds of mesothelioma victims across the United States.

Takata Airbags Claim 11th Victim; 300k Deadly Hondas Remain on Road

A 50-year-old woman killed in a California car crash is the eleventh U.S. victim of exploding Takata airbags, which have now claimed at least 16 lives worldwide.

The victim died driving a 2001 Honda Civic that federal regulators warned in June has airbag inflators with a 50% chance of rupturing during a crash. Despite the warning, less than five percent of the most dangerous Honda vehicles have been repaired.

ClassAction.com urges drivers to check the status of their airbags and to make needed repairs as soon as possible. We also encourage you to get in touch with us and report possible injuries related to a defective Takata airbag.

Hold Takata Accountable

Riverside County Woman Is Latest Casualty

Delia Robles of Riverside County in Southern California was reportedly driving to get a flu shot when she was involved in a fender-bender with a pickup truck.

The victim’s son, who is considering a Takata lawsuit, told a local news station his mother was driving 25 mph at the time of the crash.

“My mom was a very safe driver,” he said. “Seat belt was on, always.”

Ms. Robles’ death is the latest in a string of deadly crashes that has sparked the largest auto recall in U.S. history. Eleven U.S. deaths and 16 deaths worldwide, in addition to hundreds of injuries, are blamed on Takata airbags. The airbags can deploy with excessive force, blowing apart the metal inflator housing and sending ragged shrapnel into occupants’ faces and necks.

Long-term exposure to heat and humidity destabilizes the airbag propellant ammonium nitrate, a volatile chemical also used in military-grade explosives. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) placed California in “Recall Zone A,” the most vulnerable region.

Honda at Center of Takata Controversy

Thirteen automakers are part of the massive Takata recall, but none has been implicated more severely than Honda.

Of the eleven U.S. deaths linked to Takata airbags, ten have occurred in Hondas. Nine of the eleven deaths have occurred in a small subset of 2001-2003 Honda and Acura vehicles, including the 2001 Honda Civic in which Ms. Robles was killed.

Of the eleven U.S. deaths linked to Takata airbags, ten have occurred in Hondas.

A June 2016 NHTSA safety bulletin reported that 313,000 older Honda and Acura cars have defective airbag inflators that are up to 50% likely to rupture in a crash. NHTSA instructed owners to stop driving them and immediately get repairs.

Four months later, however, just 13,000 (less than 5%) of the specified Honda and Acura cars have been repaired, according to The Detroit News.

Honda says Ms. Robles’ car was included in multiple recalls over the last several years and that it mailed at least 20 recall notices to the car’s registered owners.

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) blames Honda for not performing recall repairs quickly enough.

“No responsible automaker should be so slow in repairing defective vehicles where there’s up to a 50 percent chance a driver could be killed or seriously injured if an airbag deploys,” Senator Nelson said.

Honda has the highest overall airbag repair rate of any automaker, at over 45 percent. The worst repair rate belongs to General Motors (0.17%).

Honda says it has parts ready to repair all defective airbags, and that if there is a wait for the replacement part, dealers will offer a loaner or rental car free of charge.

Automakers Have Trouble Tracking Down Owners

Low recall repair completion rates plague the auto industry as a whole. A Forbes report notes that 45 million vehicles recalled from 2013 to 2015 have yet to be brought in for covered repairs.

Used cars such as Ms. Robles’ Honda Civic often slip through the recall cracks.

Part of the problem has to do with the difficulty of tracking down owners in a highly mobile society, especially the owners of older vehicles that have changed hands repeatedly. Used cars under recall bought at new-car dealerships are typically required to be repaired, but not cars bought from used-car dealers.

The New York Times reports that Ms. Robles’ Civic was sold three times at auction before her son purchased it from an acquaintance.

The NHTSA is now considering a rule requiring recall notices to be delivered through email and text messaging. The agency does not have the authority to order recalled vehicles off the road.

To find out whether your vehicle is recalled for any issue, visit safercar.gov and input a VIN number.

For answers or advice about Takata airbags, please contact ClassAction.com.

Former FBI Investigator Lee Walters on What’s Next for 9/11 Lawsuits

With the passage of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA)—allowing victims of terror to sue the foreign governments responsible—came a tidal wave of questions and predictions about what could happen if Americans filed lawsuits against Saudi Arabia for 9/11.

To better understand the potential implications of the bill and the ins and outs of investigating foreign governments, we spoke with Lee Walters, a legal investigator for Morgan & Morgan’s Whistleblower team. Working alongside qui tam attorneys and government prosecutors, his experience developing evidence and extracting details from witnesses helps whistleblowers recover taxpayer money.

Previously, Lee was a Supervisory Special Agent for the FBI, making him uniquely qualified to comment on and tackle complex investigations like those associated with JASTA. Throughout his 24 years with the agency, he investigated healthcare and bank fraud, public corruption, and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

JASTA allows civilians to sue foreign governments for acts of terrorism that occur on U.S. soil. Is there any precedent for cases like these?

Lee_Headshot
Lee Walters

Yes, there is. One example is the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 by agents working on behalf of Libya. Bruce Smith, a Pan Am pilot who lost his wife on the flight, filed suit against the country of Libya under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, was initially dismissed on the grounds that Libya was a sovereign state and had immunity under federal law. After lobbying Congress to change the law, the lawsuit was allowed to go forward and the country of Libya ultimately paid a $2.7 billion settlement to the victims of this terrorist act.

How is investigating a foreign government different than any other defendant?

Investigating a foreign government can be tricky for an investigator as it can be challenging to get access to the kinds of evidence normally sought. A foreign government can put up roadblocks to an investigator looking for evidence such as banking information, electronic communications, and internal written documentation.

The key to success in these investigations, as is the case with any investigation, is developing relationships with individuals who can provide access to the information sought.

Do you think Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the U.S. will affect legal proceedings in any way?

I don’t. JASTA does not specifically mention Saudi Arabia anywhere in the law. And, soon after the president’s veto was overridden with overwhelming bipartisan support, Congress agreed to a $1.15 billion sale of arms to Saudi Arabia as a show of goodwill.

“[Saudi Arabia] will need to cooperate, to some degree, in any lawsuits that are brought under JASTA.”

Politically, Saudi Arabia has to speak out; but, to maintain the kind of relationship with the U.S. necessary for the continuation of the monarchy, they will need to cooperate, to some degree, in any lawsuits that are brought under JASTA.

Is there enough declassified information to form a case against Saudi Arabia?

I think the 28 pages released by the House Intelligence Committee in July of this year regarding Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the 9/11 attacks is pretty damning and a great start.

The report found that Omar al-Bayoumi, who some in the report theorized was a Saudi intelligence officer, received large sums of money from the Saudi government and provided substantial support to two of the hijackers while they were living in San Diego.

It also identified two Saudi citizens, Mohammed al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan al-Shalawi, as conducting a dry run for the 9/11 attack in 1999 on a flight from Phoenix to Washington, D.C., which ultimately made an emergency landing after al-Qudhaeein twice tried to enter the cockpit. Both men told the FBI the Saudi embassy in D.C paid for their flights.

This is just one piece of declassified information that is available and I suspect more will be forthcoming.

Hold Them Accountable

Is the U.S. government likely to cooperate during the discovery process for the 9/11 lawsuits? Do these cases hinge on the government’s participation?

I think the government will cooperate to an extent. I say this because both political parties were behind JASTA and no one in either party wants to be seen as soft on terrorism.

The U.S. government, of course, is not going to release methods and techniques as part of the discovery process, but can release information that is redacted enough to protect that information while revealing the types of information necessary to prevail in a civil lawsuit.

These cases will not totally hinge on the government’s participation, but it will make the chance of success much greater if the government does participate. Information can be developed that does not require the government’s participation, but the quality of that information will lie on the ability of an investigator to develop relationships with human sources that have access.

How do you think JASTA will affect future litigation?

Opponents of JASTA argued that the law would provoke retaliatory lawsuits against U.S. citizens by other countries, which remains to be seen.

“The passing of JASTA allows for some legal recourse and ultimately closure.”

I think JASTA provides a framework for aggressive law firms, such as Morgan & Morgan, to work on behalf of the many victims of state sponsored terrorism, which is a problem that doesn’t appear to have an end in sight. I imagine there is nothing worse than losing a loved one to an act of state sponsored terrorism and feeling like you have no recourse. Fortunately the passing of JASTA allows for some legal recourse and ultimately closure.

A Timeline of Monsanto’s Roundup Controversy

Monsanto is no stranger to controversy. This is the company that brought us Agent Orange, an herbicide deployed during the Vietnam War that wound up traumatizing both the Vietnamese and our own troops. (Monsanto would later reach a $180 million settlement with Vietnam vets over diseases like leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, and respiratory cancer.)

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In 1974, four years after the U.S. stopped using Agent Orange, Monsanto introduced Roundup (glyphosate)—another powerful herbicide that quickly became a mainstay on most American farms.

But like Agent Orange, Roundup would be linked to cancer. This herbicide, too, could wind up costing the company millions due to lawsuits.

1996

monsanto-info_large

Monsanto patents and releases Roundup-Ready seeds, which are genetically modified to withstand the ubiquitous Roundup herbicide. (These seeds/crops are known as GMCs: genetically modified crops.) This allows farmers to kill weeds (in the short term, at least) without also dooming their own crops.

Over the next 20 years, Roundup-Ready crops will come to dominate their respective markets, eventually reaching a 90% share.

Thanks to the Roundup-Ready patent and relevant legal protections—and Monsanto’s aggressive acquisitions of its competitors—some argue that Monsanto has a monopoly on the biotech industry. (Without question, it is the largest biotech company in the world.)

2009

The Oscar-nominated documentary Food, Inc. is released on June 12. The film shows Monsanto in a harsh light, portraying the company as mobilizing an army of attorneys to bully farmers into using their Roundup-Ready soybeans—and suing those who won’t cooperate.

Importantly, the film emphasizes that the Roundup-Ready seeds are “terminating” seeds. That means farmers can’t replant them; instead, they must go back to Monsanto to buy more seeds whenever they run out.

Food, Inc. inflicts so much damage on Monsanto’s reputation that the company creates several pages on its website just to respond to the charges lobbed in the film.

2013

Entropy—a peer-reviewed scientific journal based in Switzerland—publishes a study that concludes

glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.

According to the study, one of the consequences of this negative impact is cancer.

Hold Monsanto Accountable

2015

In March, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, or IARC (part of the World Health Organization, or WHO) assesses the potential cancer-causing (carcinogenic) effects of glyphosate (Roundup). It determines that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

That fall, plaintiffs file the first of at least 25 lawsuits against Monsanto over Roundup’s allegedly cancer-causing effects. Many plaintiffs, like Yolanda Mendoza, just sprayed Roundup on their yard every week.

Ms. Mendoza, a mother of three, contracted Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2013. (After intensive chemotherapy, her cancer is currently in remission.)

“What everyone has in common is that they all used Roundup and they all have non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”

Her attorney Robin L. Greenwald tells CBS News, “Some people are landscapers, some people are migrant farm workers, some people are farmers. What everyone has in common is that they all used Roundup and they all have non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”

For the year, Monsanto rakes in $4.75 billion in herbicide sales.

2016

In April, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOME) publishes a study that concludes that herbicides like glyphosate are “associated with a high risk of cutaneous melanoma” (skin cancer), “in particular among those exposed to occupational sun exposure.”

In September, pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG announces it will buy Monsanto for $66 billion, raising serious concerns about rising prices for farmers. (This is the second massive merger of the year after the Dow-DuPont deal.)

Later that month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finds trace amounts of Roundup in various oatmeals, cereals, and baby foods.

The next month, federal judges consolidate 21 Monsanto Roundup lawsuits into a multi-district litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of California.

TODAY

If you or a loved one contracted cancer after using Roundup, please contact us today to explore your legal options. Our firm is one of the most successful consumer protection firms in the country, with more than 300 attorneys and a support staff of 1,500. We have a history of standing up to bullies and have never represented a large corporation—that’s why our motto is “For the People.”

We may be able to help you get relief for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses. Don’t wait; these lawsuits are time-sensitive, and you may be owed compensation.

5 FAQs About the New 9/11 Lawsuits

1. What is JASTA?

 The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, allows victims of terrorist acts committed on American soil to file lawsuits against foreign governments who helped carry out the attacks. It creates an exemption to the foreign sovereign immunity that typically protects countries in these kinds of incidents.

Senator John Cornyn (R – TX) introduced the bill in September 2015. A year later, President Obama vetoed the bill, citing national security and diplomatic concerns. But days later, he was overridden by Congress via a 97-to-1 vote in the Senate and a 348-to-77 vote in the House.

JASTA was enacted on September 28, 2016. People who suffered physical, financial, or property damage as a result of the 9/11 attacks can now seek relief from foreign governments that they feel played a role in the attacks.

Stephanie DeSimone—the wife of Navy Commander Patrick Dunn, who died at the Pentagon on September 11—filed a 9/11 lawsuit against Saudi Arabia shortly after JASTA’s passing.

2. Why did Obama try to veto JASTA?

The main reason Obama vetoed JASTA (only to be overridden by Congress) is because the law could open up the U.S. to litigation over its military actions abroad (drone strikes, civilian casualties, etc.). Even if the U.S. was not convicted of wrongdoing, Obama argued, the evidence it would have to supply in the discovery phase of trial could jeopardize national security.

In his statement to Congress, President Obama said, “Enacting [this legislation] into law… would neither protect Americans from terrorist attacks nor improve the effectiveness of our response to such attacks.”

Of course, the point of the law is not protection or retaliation but relief for victims of 9/11 and accountability for its perpetrators.

Hold Them Accountable

3. Did the Saudi government play a role in 9/11?

Maybe. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi citizens (the other four were from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Lebanon).

Though the 9/11 Commission Report “found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization,” it also noted, “Saudi Arabia has long been considered the primary source of al Qaeda funding.” Al Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden, of course, claimed responsibility for orchestrating the 9/11 attacks.

Also of note: Saudi Arabia spent more than $3 million dollars to lobby against JASTA, which also raised some eyebrows. If they don’t bear any responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, why did they try so hard to kill the bill?

As Senator Charles Schumer (D – NY) put it, “If the Saudis did nothing wrong, they should not fear this legislation.”

4. Who qualifies for a 9/11 lawsuit?

Anyone who suffered physical, financial, or property damage from the 9/11 attacks is now eligible to seek redress from foreign governments like Saudi Arabia’s, assuming they can prove liability on the part of that government.

Importantly, eligible parties may have filed domestic 9/11-related lawsuits in the past. For example, a potential client may have been denied redress in an earlier case because he was working at the time of his or her injury and awarded worker’s compensation. Whether a past lawsuit was successful has no bearing on the new 9/11 lawsuits that will be filed against foreign governments.

Qualifying parties may include:

  • Business owners in Lower Manhattan/the Financial District
  • First responders (police, firefighters, etc.) on 9/11
  • Spouses and family members of 9/11 casualties
  • People working in the Pentagon or at Ground Zero on 9/11
  • Cleanup workers at the attack sites

5. What types of relief do people seek in a 9/11 lawsuit?

Depending on the circumstances of the case, plaintiffs may seek relief in a 9/11 lawsuit for the following:

  • Property damage
  • Loss of business/wages
  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Funeral expenses
  • Punitive damages
  • Attorney fees

Our attorneys have extensive experience with complex litigation. As one of the largest consumer protection firms in the country—with 300+ attorneys and a support staff of more than 1,500—we are one of the few with the resources to take on a foreign government like Saudi Arabia. To date, we have won $2 billion for 200,000 clients.

If you or a loved one suffered losses as a result of these horrific attacks, the Saudi government may be partially to blame, and you could be owed compensation. For a free, no-obligation case review, contact us today or call 888-522-5237.

Jury Hammers R.J. Reynolds with $6.4M Verdict for Family of Emphysema Victim

Last week, a jury in Florida found R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company partially to blame for the death of John Price, a 74-year-old man who died in 2010 from emphysema.

ClassAction.com attorneys filed the lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Price’s family. They claimed that R.J. Reynolds, which produces brands like Camel and Lucky Strike, was guilty of hiding the dangers of smoking throughout most of the 20th century, making the company liable for Mr. Price’s nicotine addiction and eventual death.

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Tobacco Industry Denied Health Risks for 25 Years

Reynolds_Building_WS_2Research published as early as the 1950s showed that cigarettes were a leading cause of lung disease. Starting in 1965, tobacco companies were required to print Surgeon General’s warnings on cigarette packs.

But despite this knowledge, the tobacco industry publicly denied that smoking cigarettes was a health risk up until the 1990s.

Throughout the 20th century, smoking was marketed as a leisurely activity by tobacco companies who glossed over the extremely addictive nature of its primary ingredient, nicotine. They went so far as to group the habit-forming effects of smoking with chocolate consumption or online shopping, though clearly neither of these vices has the same deadly effects as tobacco.

“The web of deceit was massive and well-funded and extraordinarily planned,” said ClassAction.com attorney Keith Mitnik.

John Price Was “Ideal Customer” for R.J. Reynolds

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes blockages of the airways, resulting in diseases like asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Eight out of 10 COPD-related deaths are caused by smoking.

Those who start smoking when their lungs are still developing—like Mr. Price—are even more at risk of developing COPD-related diseases later on.

Mr. Price’s death is a tragic example of how addicting nicotine can be. He started smoking as a teen and continued for more than 30 years, smoking an average of three packs a day before eventually succumbing to emphysema.

“John Price was not some rogue smoker… He is precisely what it was all about for [R.J. Reynolds].”

“John Price was not some rogue smoker,” said Mitnik in his closing remarks. “He is precisely what it was all about for [R.J. Reynolds]. Someone that would smoke all day long, because that’s where the money comes from.”

“They say, ‘We’re changed’… It’s new faces but the same problem. They still have an iron grip on nicotine addiction.”

Lawsuits Pile Up After Engle Decision

Florida has a long history of big wins against Big Tobacco. In 1994, a class action lawsuit (Engle v. Liggett Group Inc.) found tobacco companies guilty of hiding the dangerous side effects of smoking for most of the 20th century, resulting in a $145 billion verdict. Though the verdict was decertified in 2006, individuals can still use the jury’s findings in court if they demonstrate a link between nicotine addiction and a smoking-related disease.

Mr. Price’s case was just one of three Engle progeny lawsuits filed against R.J. Reynolds within a week.

Mr. Price’s case was just one of three Engle progeny lawsuits filed against R.J. Reynolds within a week. The company paid $3 million to the widow of Julius Smith, who died from emphysema. R.J. Reynolds was also hit with a $9.1 million verdict alongside Philip Morris for the death of Dennis Oshinsky, who passed away from lung cancer.

File A Lawsuit

Mr. Mitnik, who also obtained a $90.8 million verdict against R.J. Reynolds in 2010, has lost faith in the company’s capacity to change.

“They acknowledge it’s addictive,” he said. “But that’s it and then it’s all sugar-coated, downplayed. Anything but acknowledging openly that’s the problem.”

ClassAction.com Attorneys File First Lawsuit Against Mosaic Over Florida Sinkhole

On September 22, 2016, three Lithia, Florida residents (Nicholas Bohn, Natasha McCormick, and Eric Weckman) filed a class action lawsuit against Mosaic Fertilizer over the massive sinkhole that recently appeared in the area, leaking radioactive water into the Floridan Aquifer.

The complaint—filed by ClassAction.com attorneys in partnership with New York-based firm Weitz & Luxenberg—seeks relief for water treatment and monitoring as well as property damage, and alleges that Mosaic “recklessly and negligently managed, operated and stored toxic radioactive wastewater produced from Defendants’ New Wales Facility.”

View the Mosaic Complaint

The plaintiffs also argue that Mosaic violated Florida’s Pollutant Discharge Prevention and Control Act and is likewise liable for an abnormally dangerous activity, nuisance, negligence, and gross negligence.

The plaintiffs brought the class action lawsuit on behalf of anyone similarly situated and affected by the Mosaic sinkhole, noting that roughly 5,000 people live within five miles of the sinkhole “who obtain their water from private wells and are impacted by the sinkhole.”

If you have been similarly impacted by the Mosaic sinkhole, contact us today. You may qualify for a lawsuit.

What Took Mosaic So Long to Come Clean?

On August 27, 2016, a 300-foot-deep sinkhole appeared at the Mosaic Fertilizer phosphate mine in Mulberry, Florida.

Nearly three weeks later, on September 15, Mosaic notified the public through its website. The massive sinkhole has since made headlines after leaking 215 million gallons of potentially radioactive water into the Floridan Aquifer—Florida’s main source of drinking water.

So why on earth didn’t Mosaic alert residents sooner? Why wait three weeks to break the story, while families drink and swim in this potentially toxic water?

Because they could.

Mosaic Was Not Legally Obligated to Disclose Leak

According to the Tampa Bay Times, a 2005 state law requires only that companies report contaminations to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) within ten days of learning about them. The DEP then has 30 days to notify residents who could be affected.

This is a stark change from 1994, the last time a sinkhole of this nature formed at the same site. Then, the public learned of the incident almost immediately and could respond accordingly—by testing their water, for example, or pursuing legal action.

In his apology for the three-week delay, Mosaic’s Senior Vice President of Phosphates Walt Precourt failed to explain why Mosaic felt Polk County residents didn’t deserve to learn of the leak sooner. Mr. Precourt said simply:

“I regret and apologize for not providing information sooner. We immediately took steps to remove as much water from the leaking process pond as possible and are now operating a recovery well to remove the rest of the water from the aquifer.”

Given Mosaic’s checkered past, the delay may come as no surprise.

Mosaic Has History of Questionable Ethics

In October 2015, the EPA reached a settlement with Mosaic over 60 billion pounds of toxic waste pollution. According to the EPA, Mosaic’s violations included the following:

  • Failure to make hazardous waste determinations for scrubber effluents, fluorosilicic acid-production wastes, product spills and leaks, and wastes from cleaning pipes and tanks;
  • Treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous wastes without a permit or interim status;
  • Failure to perform land disposal determinations and to meet land disposal restrictions for hazardous wastes;
  • Failure to provide adequate financial assurance for closure, long-term care, and third-party liability; and
  • Failure to comply with record-keeping requirements

Under the settlement terms, Mosaic paid $1.8 billion and agreed to reduce and more safely store toxic waste at eight of its facilities—including the New Wales site where the new sinkhole appeared.

Sinkhole2_Blog_720x405

Mosaic agreed to “install advanced engineering controls that will mitigate future impacts from its phosphyogypsum stack systems” (such as the one where the Mulberry sinkhole formed).

Mosaic also “agreed to implement an estimated $1.2 million environmental project in Florida to mitigate and prevent certain potential environmental impacts associated with an orphaned industrial property located in Mulberry, Florida.”

Leak Will Cost Mosaic Upwards of $50 Million

A Mosaic executive says fixing the leak will cost $20-50 million. But that’s just a drop in the bucket to the largest fertilizer company in the world, one that generated $11.1 billion in revenue in 2012.

Instead of paying tens of millions of dollars to clean up its toxic messes, or paying billions of dollars in EPA penalties, why doesn’t Mosaic overhaul its operations to prevent these hazardous accidents in the first place?

Many of Mosaic’s EPA settlement terms from last year involved not just safety (e.g., preventing radioactive waste from leaking into Florida’s water supply) but transparency. The idea was not only to reduce toxic waste, but to be upfront in the event of a leak or spill so that agencies and residents could take the appropriate steps.

Hold Mosaic Accountable

By keeping Floridians in the dark for three weeks about a potentially harmful leak, Mosaic has violated the spirit of that settlement if not the actual terms. It has also further eroded any remaining trust residents had in the company and the process of phosphate mining as a whole.

It will take more than free water bottles to regain that trust.

Takata Airbag Victim: Stephanie Erdman

Stephanie Erdman’s life was changed forever on September 1, 2013. That’s when a car suddenly swerved in front of her 2002 Honda Civic, causing Erdman’s car to collide with the other driver’s.

When her Takata airbag deployed, metal shrapnel shot through the airbag and embedded itself in Erdman’s right eye and neck.

“I was instantly blinded on my right side. And then I felt gushing blood.”

“I was instantly blinded on my right side,” she testified during a November 2014 Senate hearing on Takata airbag defects. “And then I felt gushing blood. It was terrifying. I thought I was going to bleed out.”

Hold Takata Accountable

Erdman Is First Lieutenant in U.S. Air Force

The accident occurred along Highway 98 outside of Destin, Florida. Erdman, a first lieutenant in the United States Air Force, was traveling from nearby Eglin Air Force Base, where she was stationed at the time.

Erdman came to Florida by way of Bexar County, Texas. She is a graduate of the University of Texas system as well as an ROTC graduate. Eglin was one of her first duty stations as a member of the Air Force. There she worked as a compliance and testing officer in the Air Force Testing and Evaluations Command.

Erdman bought her 2002 Civic from a Honda dealership in Bexar County. She was on her way to the grocery store when her Takata airbags exploded on that fateful September afternoon.

Stephanie Erdman gives a statement on Takata airbags to the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee

No Warning About Airbag Defect

Stephanie Erdman’s Civic had characteristics that made it particularly vulnerable to a Takata airbag explosion, but she was completely unaware of the risk. In fact, Erdman had no idea that Takata had even issued a recall.

“They never told me about the recall,” she said. “They never performed the recall repair on my vehicle. And they never warned me about what might happen if my air bag deployed.”

“They never told me about the recall. They never performed the recall repair on my vehicle.”

The vehicle was owned and operated in two states—Texas and Florida—that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) considers to be in “Zone A,” or high heat and humidity areas.

Moisture and temperature are blamed for degrading the Takata airbag propellant ammonium nitrate, leading to overly forceful deployments that tear the metal airbag housing and spray shrapnel into the cabin.

Long-term exposure to the high heat and humidity typical of Zone A is associated with a higher risk of Takata airbag failure, which is why the NHTSA prioritized the Takata recall for this region.

Erdman’s vehicle also belonged to a subset of Honda and Acura vehicles with Takata inflators that are up to 50% likely to rupture during deployment.

Dealership Repeatedly Failed to Replace Airbags

Erdman couldn’t possibly have known at the time of her September 2013 accident that the airbag in her Civic had a 50/50 chance of a rupture, as the NHTSA did not announce this finding until June 2016.

Yet as Erdman explained to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, she took her Civic to the dealership for service three times  after the dealership received the recall notice for her car. They never replaced the airbags.

Erdman did eventually receive notification directly from Honda about the defective Takata airbag. A message was left on her phone on September 4, 2013—three days after her accident.

Hold Takata Accountable

Erdman Feels Lucky to Be Alive

Since her accident, Stephanie Erdman has undergone multiple surgeries and physical therapy.

“My vision will never be the same,” she told the Senate Committee. “I will never be the same.”

Despite the physical and mental scars, Erdman acknowledges that things could have been a lot worse. The gruesome pictures of her post-accident injuries show Erdman with a piece of metal embedded in her bloodied face. People wonder how she survived the accident. KBB-infographic

“I was one of the lucky ones,” she told CBS News.

Others have not been so lucky. At least 14 people have been killed and more than 150 injured by exploding Takata airbags. These tragic incidents have spawned numerous Takata airbag lawsuits.

Erdman recognized the “many people, along with their families and friends, who have suffered because of these deadly airbags” during her Senate testimony.

In her closing thoughts to the Committee, Erdman, holding back tears, asked that the committee “do everything in its power to make sure that each and every vehicle affected by this defect is made safe.”

Three years after Stephanei Erdman’s airbag nearly killed her, only slightly more than half of recalled Takata airbags have been repaired.

5 FAQs About the Mosaic Sinkhole

1. What is the Mosaic sinkhole and how did it form?

The Mosaic sinkhole is a massive 45-foot-wide sinkhole that recently formed at the Mosaic fertilizer plant in Mulberry, Florida.

The hole was first discovered on August 27, 2016, but Mosaic did not alert the public until September 16—nearly three weeks later. (We don’t yet know whether Mosaic alerted authorities more promptly.)

Two hundred and fifteen million gallons of radioactive wastewater have drained into the sinkhole, and into the Floridan aquifer system. Mosaic admits that the contaminants have reached the aquifer.

2. What is phosphogypsum?

Phosphogypsum is a waste product formed in the production of fertilizer from phosphate ore. (Florida produces 90% of the United States’ phosphate for fertilizers.) Although gypsum is a widely used material in construction, phosphogypsum is not used but rather stored indefinitely due to its radioactivity.

The process of phosphate mining is controversial due to its environmental implications.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of phosphogypsum in 1989. Since then, the agency “requires that phosphogypsum be stored in above-ground stacks, which are designed to keep emissions of radon and other radionuclides in line with acceptable risk practices.”

According to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), phosphate mining also releases radon into the air, which can cause cancer.

3. How does the sinkhole affect Floridians?

It has contaminated the Floridan Aquifer used by millions of Floridians for drinking water.

The aquifer system is an underground network of porous rocks through which water passes. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “The Floridan aquifer system is the primary source of water for nearly 10 million people and supports agriculture, industry, and tourism throughout most of the region.”

“The Floridan aquifer system is the primary source of water for nearly 10 million people and supports agriculture, industry, and tourism throughout most of the region.”

The Weather Channel reports that the Floridan Aquifer is “the principal source of groundwater for much of the state, and the cities of Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Gainesville, Orlando, Daytona Beach, Tampa, and St. Petersburg all rely on it.”

Additionally, according to environmental attorney Frank Petosa, water that escapes from the aquifers creates springs that are used for recreational activities like swimming and snorkeling.

The contaminants from the Mosaic sinkhole will likely include natural radionuclides like uranium and radium (as per the EPA’s page on phosphoygypsum stacks).

4. Has this happened before?

Yes. In 1994, a 185-foot-deep sinkhole formed below an 80-million-ton pile of radioactive waste at this same facility. (See Slide 4 in this National Geographic article for a jarring photo and more details on the 1994 sinkhole.)

It is no wonder, then, that environmentalist groups like the Center for Biological Diversity have long called for an end to phosphate mining. Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the CBD, states:

“Enough is enough. Mosaic wants to mine an additional 50,000 acres of Florida’s beautiful, biodiverse lands, but this incident makes clear it can’t even handle the radioactive waste it currently generates. We must come together and demand that our counties, our state and our federal government reject further expansion of this dangerous industry.”

In response to the Mosaic sinkhole, protestors gathered outside of Mulberry City Hall aiming to hold the industrial company accountable. Many expressed grave concern over how water contamination could affect their health and the health of their families.

5. What should I do if I live in the affected area?

If you live in Hillsborough or Polk County and own land or a well in one of those counties, you should call 888-987-1307 to determine the best course of action.

Morgan & Morgan is one of the nation’s leading plaintiffs-only law firms. In addition to filing legal proceedings against Mosaic, the firm’s ClassAction.com attorneys will continue to monitor the environmental impact of the sinkhole, as well as any possible health risks posed by the water’s contaminants.

You may also want to read more on this issue via the following sources: 

EPA: National Emission Standards for Radon Emissions from Phosphogypsum Stacks
Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute (FIPR): Phosphogypsum and the EPA Ban
Statement from Center for Biological Diversity on Sinkhole at Radioactive Strip Mine in Central Florida
WFLA: “Contaminated well concerns prompt protests after Mosaic sinkhole incident
The Weather Channel: “Sinkhole Leaks More Than 200 Million Gallons of Contaminated Water into Florida Aquifer”

5 FAQs About the Calumet Lead Crisis

1. Which parts of East Chicago have been affected by the Calumet lead crisis? How broad is the contaminated area?

The contamination site encompasses the Calumet neighborhood of East Chicago. If you live outside of that neighborhood—in Whiting, for example—we haven’t been made aware of any environmental issues as yet.

However, there are 39 other areas in Indiana that have been tainted by hazardous waste and therefore designated “Superfund” sites by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). You can find a list of these locations here.

2. What should I do if I live in Calumet?

If you live in the West Calumet Housing Complex, you must relocate by November 30, 2016. The complex and Carrie Gosch Elementary School comprise Zone 1 of the EPA’s cleanup efforts.

If you live in another part of Calumet, the EPA is now testing the soil and determining the best course of action. The Times of Northwest Indiana reports: “EPA has started to release soil sampling results to residents in zone 3, the eastern part of the neighborhood. EPA will begin cleanup at the most contaminated properties this fall, and work is expected to continue next spring.”

You should also receive free blood testing at the East Chicago Health Department or at Carrie Gosch to determine the lead levels in your blood and your children’s. According to Jennifer O’Malley, director of public affairs for the Indiana State Department of Health, anything above 5 micrograms per deciliter (5 μg/dL) is considered elevated.

Calumet Toxic Soil Infographic

(Infographic sources listed at bottom of page.)

3. Who is most vulnerable to lead poisoning?

“Children age six and under and pregnant women are the most vulnerable populations because of the way the brain develops,” Ms. O’Malley tells the Public News Service. “The brain actually starts developing in the womb, so we are most concerned about those younger children and pregnant women.”

4. How can I reduce my children’s exposure to lead?

Dr. Richard Troast, PhD—founder of Troast Environmental Consulting—offers the following advice for curbing the risk of lead poisoning:

Shortening the period of exposure may reduce the toxic effects. This can be accomplished by removing lead sources within the household. Lead paint can be removed, lead dust removed through intensive cleaning, and lead in soil through the use of ground cover to minimize the release of the dirt and lead into the home. Parents can move into lead-free residences. Generally, homes built after the ban of lead based paints [in 1978] will be safer than homes built prior. However, when in doubt, there are commercial certified contractors available to test the home.

Additionally, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) advises the following:

  • Don’t let children play in dirt or mulch
  • Wash children’s toys regularly
  • Wash children’s hands after they play outside
  • Remove shoes before entering homes
  • In Superfund sites like West Calumet Housing Complex, do not disturb mulch or dig/garden in yards

5. What can I do if a family member has an elevated level of lead in his or her blood?

See Question #4 for ways to reduce present and future lead exposure.

The Mayo Clinic states, “A level of 5 mcg/dL or higher indicates your child may have unsafe levels of lead in their blood and should have their blood tested periodically. If levels become too high—generally 45 mcg/dL or higher—your child should be treated.”

Cases in which the lead level is 45 μg/dL or higher may require intravenous drug treatment like ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA).

ClassAction will continue to investigate this crisis and keep you informed as news breaks. If you have been personally affected by the Calumet soil crisis, please feel free to share your story in the Comments section below this article.

Infographic sources/further reading:

Northwest Indiana Times: “Timeline: History of the USS Lead Superfund Site in E.C.”
Chicago Tribune: “East Chicago residents fleeing lead contamination find few housing options”
NPR: “East Chicago Residents Search for Answers About Their Health”
Northwest Indiana Times: “EPA to begin cleanup in East Chicago”

Samsung Galaxy Owners Swap One Exploding Phone for Another

Is Samsung taking its exploding battery crisis as seriously as it should?

It’s a fair question after the South Korean electronics maker failed to issue an official CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) recall of the phone despite 70 reports of the Galaxy Note 7 catching fire.

Samsung has also offered the Galaxy S7 Edge as a replacement for the Note, even though an exploding S7 Edge recently caused severe burns to a California construction worker, blew up in a UK teacher’s hand, and caught fire while charging in a Korean man’s room.

Samsung has told its customers that “your safety is our top priority,” but the company’s actions tell a different story.

Hold Samsung Accountable

Note 7 Recall Falls Short of CPSC Guidelines

Samsung, reacting to 35 reports of the Galaxy Note 7 bursting into flames while charging, announced on Friday, September 2 that it had stopped Note 7 sales and would issue replacements for Note 7s already purchased.

The number of explosive Note incidents has since doubled to 70.

The move by Samsung was widely hailed as a “recall,” but as Consumer Reports pointed out, it was not an official recall. An official recall would have involved the Consumer Product Safety Commission and made it illegal to continue selling the Note 7.

CPSC recall protocol mandates that the company take immediate and comprehensive action to notify consumers who own the defective product. This would require Samsung to contact all affected consumers directly, which it has failed to do.

The CPSC expects a manufacturer to issue an official recall if the product in question “contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard” or “creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death.”

A phone that can unexpectedly burst into flames seems to meet both of these criteria.

The CPSC announced on September 9 that it was working with Samsung to formally announce a Note 7 recall. In the meantime, though, many owners of the fire-prone phones may not be getting the message.

What’s worse: the Note 7 is not the only Samsung model with battery issues.

Galaxy S7 Edge Causes 3rd Degree Burns

As part of its Product Exchange Program, Samsung is offering all Galaxy Note 7 owners a replacement phone free of charge. Incredibly, one of the replacement options is a Galaxy S7 Edge—a device with its own explosive tendencies.

ClassAction.com attorneys recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of Daniel Ramirez, a California man who was working in Ohio when his S7 Edge caught fire in his pocket, causing second and third degree burns to large portions of his lower body. Mr. Ramirez has since undergone multiple skin grafts and will require extensive physical therapy moving forward.

Earlier this week, a 30-year-old UK woman named Sarah Crockett experienced a similar (though less physically scarring) shock when her own S7 Edge became overheated and started smoking in a crowded cafe. The incident was caught on CCTV, refuting Samsung’s claims that Ms. Crockett must have been charging her phone when it caught fire.

Like Mr. Ramirez’s phone—and a Korean man’s whose S7 Edge caught fire while charging—Ms. Crockett’s phone was charred beyond recognition.

In response to Ms. Crockett’s story, a Samsung spokesperson said, “There are no known safety issues with Galaxy S7 devices.”

The company is trying to downplay the battery issue and make it seem unique to the Note, but recent events suggest otherwise.

Hold Samsung Accountable

Could the S7 Edge Have Same Flawed Battery?

While Samsung has sold just two million Galaxy Note 7s, it sold 13.3 million Galaxy S7 Edges in the first half of 2016 alone. This, coupled with the Note-for-Edge exchange, makes it extremely likely that many more instances of flaming Edges will arise in the coming weeks and months.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Daniel Ramirez’s Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

The S7 Edge is one of the best reviewed Android phones of all time, and as of August 2016 it was the most popular phone in the world.

It is not only one of the phones for which consumers can swap out their Notes, but the subject of many promotional giveaways (here and here, for example).

Unfortunately, the Note has received all the attention for its battery defects while the Edge (among other models) has flown under the radar. And without an official statement from Samsung concerning the S7 Edge, consumers may lack crucial information about the device.

ClassAction has reached out to Samsung to determine whether its Samsung SDI subsidiary, which makes the battery blamed for Galaxy Note 7 fires, also makes the S7 Edge battery.

Samsung has not responded to our calls and has refused to comment on the Daniel Ramirez lawsuit.

Samsung Has Lost $26 Billion and Counting

In most instances of a battery that catches fire, Samsung has just offered a free replacement phone to the affected party.

A quick Google or Reddit search turns up several phone fires involving the Galaxy S series. In the bulk of these cases, Samsung blamed user error or a faulty/off-brand charger and simply replaced the phone to avoid costly litigation. samsungshares

But now, with the Note 7 and S7 Edge stories gaining traction and these explosive videos going viral, the true scope of this issue is coming into focus—and it is frightening.

As more and more consumers come forward and file lawsuits, Samsung may be forced to acknowledge its design and manufacturing flaws. In time, Samsung may even have to issue official recalls of the Note 7, the S7 Edge, and other models.

Samsung has already lost $26 billion in value as a result of its volatile batteries. But the way things are going, that could be the tip of the iceberg.

Report a Galaxy Phone Fire

ClassAction.com will continue to bring consumers the latest breaking news about the Galaxy Note 7, the Galaxy S7 Edge, and any other Samsung phones that catch fire.

If your phone burned you, caught fire, or exploded, please contact us immediately to explore your legal options and hold Samsung accountable.

Report a Galaxy Fire

Man Sues Samsung After Exploding Galaxy S7 Edge Causes 3rd Degree Burns

(WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES)

 

Daniel Ramirez was working construction at a bookstore in Ohio when his Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge caught fire in his pocket, causing him second and third degree burns.

The May 30th incident occurred three months prior to Samsung’s recent announcement that it is recalling 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 phones due to a battery flaw that can result in fires.

ClassAction.com attorneys have filed a product liability lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Ramirez against Samsung–the first lawsuit to be filed over a Galaxy smartphone battery fire.

 

Mr Ramirez's pants
Mr Ramirez’s pants
3rd degree burns Galaxy Edge
Mr Ramirez’s leg after surgery

Although Samsung has yet to recall the S7 Edge, ClassAction.com is calling on the company to address the safety of S7 Edge batteries in light of the terrible injuries caused by at least one of their phones.

We are also encouraging anyone whose Samsung smartphone caught fire and caused burns to submit a free case review.

View The Samsung Complaint

Battery Fires Prompt Recall, FAA Advisory

Samsung recalled its flagship smartphone, the Galaxy Note 7, on Friday, September 2 in ten countries, including the United States, just two weeks after the product launched.

On Thursday, September 8, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly advised passengers not to use, charge, or even stow Galaxy Note 7 phones on domestic flights. Airlines in Australia and Singapore have gone a step further, forbidding passengers from using or charging the phones inflight.

An internal investigation by Samsung prompted by dozens of consumer complaints about phones catching fire revealed a battery flaw that affects an estimated 1 in 42,000 units.

“Came home from work, put [the Note 7] to charge a little bit before I had class. Went to put it on my waist and it caught fire.”

“There was a tiny problem in the manufacturing process, so it was very difficult to figure out,” Koh Dong-in, president of Samsung’s mobile business, told reporters at a press conference.

Although no injuries have been reported in conjunction with Note 7 battery fires, close calls have been posted on social media.

A 34-year old South Korean teacher shared her story and an image of her burned phone on a popular online forum, according to the Associated Press, saying, “If the exploded phone had burned near my head, I would not have been able to write this post.” Her charred phone allegedly filled the room with chemical smoke.

Korea’s Yonhap News reported that within the first week of the Note 7 launching there were five claims of the devices exploding while charging.

In the United States, Note 7 owner Ariel Gonzalez shared a YouTube video of his scorched and melted phone, warning other users to “Be careful out there.” Gonzalez says he “Came home from work, put [the Note 7] to charge a little bit before I had class. Went to put it on my waist and it caught fire.”

Daniel Ramirez Injury Should Prompt Closer Look at S7 Edge

While Galaxy Note 7 owners have been fortunate to escape serious injury from battery fires, S7 Edge owner Daniel Ramirez was not so lucky.

A native of Tracy, California, Ramirez purchased his Galaxy S7 Edge at a Best Buy store in Modesto, California, on March 11, 2016. He was in Akron, Ohio for a construction project as part of his work for National Property Solutions Group (NPSG).

According to a lawsuit complaint filed by ClassAction.com attorneys, Ramirez placed his S7 Edge in his right front pocket on the morning of May 30, 2016 as he began work. Shortly thereafter he noticed his phone whistling, screeching, and vibrating, as well as smoke coming from his pocket.

As he reached into his pocket to remove the phone Ramirez suffered burns to his right hand. Without warning the S7 Edge exploded and caught fire while still in his pants pocket, causing his boxer shorts and pants to melt to his leg, leaving him with second and third degree burns. He suffered severe and permanent burn injuries to his groin, legs, and lower back that required a significant skin graft surgery and will necessitate extensive physical therapy moving forward.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Mr Ramirez has undergone multiple skin grafts
Mr Ramirez has undergone multiple skin grafts

Only subtle design differences separate the recalled Galaxy Note 7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. The website Android Authority reports that the Galaxy Note 7 has a 3,500 mAh battery, compared to the 3,600 mAh battery used in the S7 Edge.

Samsung says that its SDI subsidiary makes the defective Note 7 battery. ClassAction.com has reached out to Samsung in an attempt to confirm whether the S7 Edge’s larger battery is also made by Samsung SDI.

Lithium ion batteries such as those used in Galaxy phones have been the subject of controversy in recent years. The ubiquitous power supplies–which provide juice to everything from laptops and phones to cars and planes–have been implicated in fire and explosion events involving Dell notebooks, Boeing passenger jets, Tesla cars, hoverboards, and electronic cigarettes.

Free Case Review

ClassAction.com Calls for Damages Amidst Samsung Galaxy Recall

Samsung has said that, as part of the Galaxy Note 7 recall, owners may swap their defective phone for a Samsung Galaxy S7 or Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. But the injuries to Ramirez suggest that this is akin to swapping one exploding phone for another.

ClassAction.com expects Samsung to address the safety of its S7 Edge batteries in the coming days as news of Mr. Ramirez’s horrific injuries circulates. In particular, we would like to know whether the manufacturing problem blamed for Note 7 battery fires also affects S7 Edge smartphones. If it does, an expanded Galaxy recall should be issued immediately to prevent further consumer harm.

To report a Samsung Galaxy that caught fire, and to learn your legal options, please submit a case review form.

Airbags Turn Fender-Benders into Deadly Crashes

When rescue personnel arrived at the scene of a minor California car accident in 2013, they thought that the driver had been shot in the face.

The following year, police responding to a Florida fender-bender were convinced that the driver’s neck wounds were the result of a stabbing.

In both cases, the source of the gruesome injuries turned out to be not an assailant, but a defective Takata airbag.

“Regardless of how or why your crash happened, Takata and the automobile company are at fault for a defective and deadly airbag.”

ClassAction.com wants to remind drivers that even if they were at fault for an accident, Takata is ultimately responsible for defective airbags that spray metal shrapnel into the cabin when they explode.

“Airbags are intended to save lives—not threaten them,” said Andrew Parker Felix, a Morgan & Morgan products liability attorney who has successfully handled a number of defective Takata airbag cases across the country. “Regardless of how or why your crash happened, Takata and the automobile company are at fault for a defective and deadly airbag that causes cuts or slices from metal shrapnel to the car’s occupants.”

Hold Takata Accountable

Not the Typical Injuries You See From an Airbag

A 51-year-old Orlando woman suffered deeps cuts on her neck that, according to the crash report, “were not consistent with crash injuries.”

No windows were broken in the vehicle that might have caused sharp glass to cut her. It was only after cross-referencing similar crash reports and hitting on the Takata link that investigators concluded the slice wound to her trachea had been caused by metal airbag shrapnel. The Takata airbag had exploded with such force out of the steering column that its shards also sliced off the turn signal lever.

“It’s not the typical injuries you see from an airbag,” said Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jan Garavaglia. “It’s the internal parts of the airbag tearing through that caused the injuries.”

Takata airbags are far from typical. Blamed for 14 deaths and hundreds of injuries, Takata airbags are the only airbags that use the volatile chemical ammonium nitrate. The chemical propellant can destabilize in the presence of heat and humidity, leading to forceful airbag deployments that rip open the metal inflator housing, sending shrapnel into the faces, necks, and chests of passengers.

“Even in low-impact crashes, the Takata airbag defect is causing lethal injuries to drivers and passengers,” said products liability attorney Andrew Parker Felix.

Some Drivers Blinded by Shrapnel

Airbag injuries, while not uncommon, usually take the form of blunt trauma as the airbags deploy with such force that they cause bruises, abrasions, sprains, fractures, and concussions.

Takata airbag injuries are categorically different. Victims have reported deep facial or body lacerations that require stitches, as well as scarring to the upper body, arms and legs. Drivers have lost their vision from jagged pieces of metal shrapnel. Shrapnel from a Takata airbag became so deeply embedded in one woman’s breast that it wasn’t discovered until four months later after causing an infection. And the metal shards have even caused death by severed arteries. One woman bled to death in front of her children after airbag shrapnel struck her neck and chest.

Stephanie Erdman was blinded in her right eye by Takata airbag shrapnel

Such injuries are more consistent with the battlefield than the roadway. Takata, however, used ammonium nitrate in its airbags, which is also used to make military explosives and homemade bombs, like the one used in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Which begs the question: What is a chemical nearly as powerful as dynamite doing in tens of millions of vehicles?

NYT: Takata Manipulated Data and Cut Corners to Save Money

An investigation by the New York Times reveals that Takata introduced ammonium nitrate to its airbag inflators as a way to save on production costs.

“When we lit it off, it totally destroyed the fixture. It turned it into shrapnel.”

A handful of manufacturers that includes Takata and Swedish-American Autoliv controls the worldwide automotive airbag market. When Takata in the late 1990s hit on a new inflator design that was up to 30 percent cheaper compared to Autoliv’s inflator, Autoliv scientists were tasked with studying the Takata design. Their tests of an ammonium nitrate inflator proved explosive.

“When we lit it off, it totally destroyed the fixture,” one of the scientists told the Times. “It turned it into shrapnel.”

Heat and humidity destabilize ammonium nitrate and make it even more volatile. An airtight inflator is one possible workaround to this problem, but the Times, citing a former Takata engineer, says Takata manipulated test data that showed leaky inflators in order to get the defective airbags to market. The engineer reportedly confronted Takata about the phony results in 2001 and was subsequently fired. Takata first announced the airbag fault in 2013.

You May Have a Case Even if the Accident Was Your Fault

Even if the accident was completely your fault, this does not excuse Takata and automakers from using a defective, dangerous, and explosive airbag design.

Andrew Felix stresses that he’s negotiated settlements for a number of clients injured by Takata airbags who were at fault for their crash.

“If you didn’t pursue a lawsuit because you were texting, intoxicated, asleep behind the wheel, or any other reason having to do with your own fault, you may still be able to bring a claim for the defective Takata airbag,” Felix said.

To find out whether you have a case, contact ClassAction.com for a no-cost, no-obligation case review.

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Takata Airbag Crashes: 2001-2003 Hondas, Acuras Pose Critical Risk

In May 2004 a Takata airbag inflator ruptured in a 2002 Honda Accord in Alabama, sending out metal fragments that injured the driver.

There’s a 50% chance that the airbag inflators in these vehicles will rupture during a crash, putting passengers at risk of serious, potentially fatal injuries.

At the time, Honda and Takata told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that the rupture was an anomaly. More than 12 years later, with Takata and Honda at the center of the largest recall in U.S. history, the exploding airbag incident from 2004 has proven to be anything but anomalous.

To date, defective Takata airbags have been blamed for 10 deaths and more than 150 injuries in the United States. Of the 10 U.S. deaths linked to shrapnel-spraying Takata airbags, 9 have occurred in Hondas. And 8 out of the 10 deaths have occurred in a small subset of 2001-2003 Honda and Acura vehicles. Those vehicles are:

  • 2001-2002 Honda Civic
  • 2001-2002 Honda Accord
  • 2002-2003 Acura TL
  • 2002 Honda CR-V
  • 2002 Honda Odyssey
  • 2003 Acura CL
  • 2003 Honda Pilot

There is a 50% chance that the airbag inflators in these vehicles will rupture during a crash, putting passengers at risk of serious, potentially fatal injuries.

NHTSA is urging owners of these Honda and Acura vehicles to not drive them unless they’re going straight to a dealer for airbag repairs.

If you own one of the vehicles listed above and the airbag deployed for any reason, resulting in cuts or lacerations from airbag shrapnel, you may have a case against Takata and Honda. To learn more, schedule a free case review with ClassAction.com.

Hold Takata Accountable

Takata-Equipped Hondas Still on the Road, Still Causing Deadly Injuries

Honda is the automaker most affected by the Takata recall. Of the fourteen auto manufacturers that have recalled about 28 million inflators in 24 million vehicles, Honda has recalled approximately 12 million inflators in 8.5 million Honda and Acura vehicles.

To its credit, Honda has (as of August 12, 2016) repaired nearly 40% of its vehicles with recalled airbags—better than any other automaker. It has also made a strong effort to notify all affected owners of the recall, using email, social media, phone calls, and targeted advertising in addition to mailed notifications.

But not all customers are getting the message. On March 31, 2016 a Fort Bend County, Texas teenager was killed in a 2002 Honda Civic after running into the car in front of her, triggering a Takata airbag explosion that sent a metal fragment into the side of her neck.

Sheriff’s Deputy Danny Beckworth, who investigated the deadly accident, described the crash as moderate and said it wouldn’t have caused any serious injuries if not for the Takata airbag.

“It’s a crash that we work with every day that everybody walks away from,” Beckworth said.

According to Honda, the 2002 Civic had been recalled numerous times since 2011. The company said recall notices were sent to registered owners, including the current owner, a member of the victim’s family, but repairs were never performed. The family has filed a Takata airbag lawsuit.

Senator Bill Nelson of Florida said in a statement the young woman’s death “shows that the current recall efforts are just not getting the job done. Takata and the automakers have to step up their efforts to locate, notify, and fix every impacted car as soon as possible—before anyone else dies.”

Nearly two months to the day after the deadly Texas crash, NHTSA issued a safety bulletin addressing the catastrophic failure rate of Takata airbags in certain model-year 2001-2003 Honda and Acura vehicles.

According to NHTSA, a manufacturing defect in the airbag inflators of these cars creates a 50% chance of an inflator rupture during a crash. The vehicles in question were recalled between 2008 and 2011 but NHTSA reported on June 30 that repairs still had not been made to 313,000 vehicles with this dangerous defect.

The chances of a Takata airbag rupture are particularly high in Florida, Texas, Southern California, and other high humidity areas. Humidity can degrade and destabilize the chemical propellant ammonium nitrate (which creates a small explosion that fills air bags in a crash), leading to an excessively forceful explosion that can blow apart the metal airbag inflator and send shrapnel at occupants.

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