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On the Road, Again

Posted August 4, 2015 - James R. Gregory, Trial Attorney

According to figures published by the United States Department of Transportation, miles driven on American roads are surging, recovering rapidly from a 2009 low. While this phenomenon can certainly be interpreted as good news in terms of the overall economy as well as fuel prices, it also signals an increase in traffic accidents and injuries.

Historically, when driving increases, not only the number but the severity of automobile crashes increase as well. This results from an upswing in the number of people driving on unfamiliar roads at highway speeds. Insurers are feeling the pinch from this phenomenon, due to a rising number of claims as well as the rising costs of repairing today’s complex vehicles. Allstate, for example, recently reported a 38% drop in revenue this quarter, compared to Q2 last year, and its stock prices dropped as a result.

We would like to remind you to take extra care when you hit the open road this summer, and keep your family safe, happy and healthy.

* * UPDATE * *

In response to the loss of revenue suffered by Allstate and reported above, the company will be holding out their good hands for a rate increase, along with instituting cost cutting measures and potentially selling customer data in an effort to make ends meet.

Pharmacist’s Blunder Leads to Lawsuit

Posted July 31, 2015 - James R. Gregory, Trial Attorney

According to an article in this week’s Oregonian, a Washington woman has filed suit in Multnomah County against Fred Meyer for a serious mistake in filling her prescription. The lawsuit alleges that Anna Bell went to the Burlingame location of Freddy’s to pick up fertility pills. What she got instead was a powerful anti-depressant called Clomipramine, an older compound with a long list of adverse side effects.

Ms. Bell is seeking just over a half million dollars in damages, including past and future medical expenses, lost income, and life impact damages.

The error appears to flow from a similarity in spelling between clomipramine and the correct drug clomiphene, and comes on the heels of a 2012 survey of “chain” pharmacy employees which intimated that large retailers such as Fred Meyer have created a work environment inviting such problems.

Is Uber Putting Profits Before Safety?

Posted July 24, 2015 - James R. Gregory, Trial Attorney

Ride-sharing pioneer Uber, a recent entrant to the Portland car-for-hire market, has posted a website urging people to “Save Uber Oregon!” The site encourages Uber supporters to “tell the state leaders to stop holding Oregon back” and oppose two house bills “that would end ride sharing in Oregon.”

Strangely absent from Uber’s plea are any details about the contents of HB 2995 and HB 2237, which would require the company to provide modest insurance coverage to drivers while they are logged onto the Uber service and seeking passengers. Uber maintains it should provide coverage only while its drivers are carrying its customers, which creates a dangerous gap in protection – personal auto insurance would likely deny payment for accidents during this “interim” period, because actively seeking paid fares is a commercial activity.

The legislature is attempting to force Uber to provide coverage of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per incident, which is a meager sum indeed compared to the $500,000 minimum mandated for traditional cab companies.

State Farm Patent Application Reveals Plans to “Share” Customer Info

Posted July 21, 2015 - James R. Gregory, Trial Attorney

Insurance behemoth State Farm have tipped their hand about future plans to harvest customer data. According to documents received by the United States Patent Office (where 184 State Farm applications are currently being processed), the carrier plans to acquire data from vehicle on-board sensors (such as GPS location and video feeds for cars so equipped), and “share” that data with marketing partners.

State Farm’s privacy statement provides for the following: “We share information about you with companies that perform marketing or other services for us or with whom we have joint marketing agreements. These agreements allow us to provide a broader selection of insurance and financial products to you.”

State Farm has declined comment on the seemingly inevitable implementation of this system. Somewhere, George Orwell is wincing.

As Uber Grows in Portland, Bay Area Lawsuit Settled

Posted July 15, 2015 - James R. Gregory, Trial Attorney

Uber, described by wikipedia as an “international transportation network company,” has settled a wrongful death suit filed against it stemming from a fatal accident in San Francisco. The accident occurred when Syed Muzaffar, 57, of Union City California struck three people crossing the street near the civic center. Although Muzaffar wasn’t carrying any passengers at the time of the incident, the family of the six year old victim alleged that he was logged on to Uber’s ride hailing system. The Uber smart phone app, they said, caused Muzaffar’s inattention and thereby contributed to the accident.

The announcement comes on the heels of Portland, Oregon’s decision to allow Uber to operate in the city for a trial period.

Potential customers should be aware that Uber may not currently be subject to the same rules regarding insurance and vehicle safety that are in place for traditional cab companies.

Continental Tire Recall

Posted July 14, 2015 - James R. Gregory, Trial Attorney

Continental Tire of North America has announced a recall of its Extra Load ContiProContact passenger car tire. A manufacturing defect has been identified in a run of around 3800 tires, sold at retail outlets in the first part of 2015. The defect causes vibration, bulging, and potentially tread separation.

Tires manufactured in the sixth week of 2015, and sized 205/65R15, will be replaced by the company free of charge. You can read about tire date stamps at Tirerack.com.

Portland Police Seek Leads on Hit & Run

Posted July 7, 2015 - James R. Gregory, Trial Attorney

Portland Police Bureau have released a video depicting a hit and run accident which resulted in serious injury to a pedestrian over the weekend.

Marlene Popps, 60, was struck by a speeding car as she walked near the intersection of 60th and Holgate in southeast Portland. The incident occurred at around 10 PM on July 4th, and the police have no suspects at this time.

Anyone with helpful information is urged to contact the Portland Police Bureau, or submit a tip through the Crime Stoppers website. Crime Stoppers allows users to submit tips anonymously, and they are offering a reward on this case.

* * UPDATE * *

Ms. Popps succumbed to her injures on July 21st. Her family have our deepest sympathies.

Another BMW Recall Looming?

Posted July 1, 2015 - James R. Gregory, Trial Attorney

A new design flaw has surfaced in wide range of cars from the Munich based automaker, potentially affecting a quarter million vehicles. According to a class action lawsuit filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, clogged sunroof drains can introduce water into the trunks of certain models, where it accumulates and damages critical electronic control units housed beneath the spare tire. When those control units fail, the engine can shut down without warning. The suit further alleges that the company has been aware of the potential for water damage to these components for years, but has failed to take appropriate steps to warn consumers.

Defects such as these have plagued BMW of late, leading to recalls of 700,000 vehicles in just five years. During that time, BMW production has averaged just over 1.3 million units per year. In 2010, 130,000 cars were recalled due to fuel pump failures causing sudden engine shutdown, and 569,000 more in 2013 due to wiring faults. It is unknown whether the defect will result in yet another recall, and BMW will not comment due to the matter being in litigation.

Affected models include X3 (2003-2010), X5 (2004-2010), and 5 series (2004-2010) vehicles.

Faulty Air Bags Trigger Historic Recall

Posted June 25, 2015 - James R. Gregory, Trial Attorney

Japan’s Takata Corporation, facing mounting pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has acknowledged a design defect in air bag components present in 34 million vehicles. The defective part, the “air bag inflator,” uses a chemical reaction to rapidly produce the nitrogen gas which inflates air bags during deployment. Faulty inflators rupture when activated, sending metal shrapnel tearing through the vehicle’s interior. So far, ten deaths have been linked to the Takata product.

Takata - Love & Safety

The recall currently underway will be the largest and most complex in U.S. history. Consumers should use the SaferCar.gov VIN Lookup Tool to ascertain whether their car will be affected by the recall. Please note the warning on the website: the recall database is not yet complete, so check back often to make sure your vehicle isn’t on the list.

Bottled Water Recalled for E. coli

Posted June 24, 2015 - James R. Gregory, Trial Attorney

Shaw’s  Natural Spring Water sold in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont is being recalled for E.coli. There were no illnesses reported at the time of this recall, but customers who have purchased this water should not drink it as E. coli can cause serious, sometimes life-threatening, illness.

The contaminated water was bottled by Niagara Bottling and sold under the Shaw’s brand name at a number of retail stores, including Acadia, Acme, Big Y, Best Yet, 7-11, Niagara, Nature’s Place, Pricerite, Superchill, Morning Fresh, Shaws, Shoprite, Western Beef Blue and Wegman’s. The recalled products have “Best By” dates of 08DEC2016 through 16DEC2016 (December 8, 2016 through December 16, 2016).

E. coli bacteria were found in the water supply on June 10, 2015, indicating that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste.

Young children, pregnant women, seniors and those with compromised immunes systems are at highest risk for infections from E. coli. Symptoms of an infection include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms.