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Pittsburgh Wrongful Death Law Blog

Ice skate sellers sued in Pennsylvania federal court

When a Pennsylvania consumer is harmed by a product, responsibility for the injury and associated losses may lay with the manufacturer. Other parties along the chain of production also may be liable for defective or dangerous products including a distributor, marketer or retailer.

An unsafe product lawsuit was filed recently in a Philadelphia County federal court over a pair of ice skates. The plaintiff claimed she was injured because one of the ice skates she purchased from National Sporting Goods Corp. and Fingerhut, a subsidiary of Bluestem Brands Inc., had missing parts.

Death benefits for dependents of Pennsylvania police officers

Families of Pennsylvania police officers understand the risks loved ones take while on the job. The knowledge does not lessen the suffering for survivors when a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty. When a wage earner dies, grief and financial concerns frequently exist side by side.

Deceased officers' spouses and minor children may qualify for benefits through several state and federal government programs. Workers' compensation programs pay death benefits that help pay funeral costs. Families also receive partial replacement for income lost due to a wage earner's death.

Mesothelioma: Between asbestos exposure and diagnoses

Most Pennsylvania patients diagnosed with this rare form of cancer are older people. That's because symptoms are not recognizable as mesothelioma until the asbestos-related disease is well advanced. The cancer remains undetectable up to 50 years after a person has been exposed to asbestos.

Victims of asbestos diseases have inhaled or swallowed small mineral fibers that become attached to and trapped in a person's body. The fibers become caught in the linings or mesothelium of the lungs, abdomen, heart or chest cavity eventually producing cancerous tumors. Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 new mesothelioma cases are diagnosed annually in the United States.

Pennsylvania wrongful death and survival action claims

Pennsylvania liability claims are filed by parties seeking damages due to personal injuries or a person's death. Pittsburgh wrongful death actions against negligent defendants are for the benefit of spouses, parents or children of the deceased. Survival actions address a decedent's losses and, therefore, losses to an estate and beneficiaries.

These claims may be filed simultaneously by a personal representative of the decedent's estate. However, any damages are divided between family members and the estate. Of course, family members also may benefit from any award to the estate.

Pennsylvania dangerous product case targets flooring company

The purchase a Pennsylvania couple made from a Wilkes-Barre Lumber Liquidators store was supposed to ease their daughter's asthma symptoms. According to a recently-filed class action lawsuit, installation of the laminate flooring instead provoked the girl's condition. The 7-year-old's health worsened and developed into pneumonia.

The girl's parents alleged the flooring distributor sold them flooring containing toxic formaldehyde levels. The complaint stated the parents chose that particular flooring because they believed the product was safe. The label stated the product had passed emissions tests, but the dangerous products lawsuit claimed the defendant mislabeled the flooring.

Hard Rhino distributors accused of selling dangerous product

The makers of dietary supplements must register their companies with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Supplement manufacturers, distributors, advertisers and retailers are also obligated to be truthful and transparent in advertising, instructions and labeling. FDA approval is required for food and drug products sold to Pittsburgh consumers, but government approval is not mandatory for dietary supplements.

A powdered caffeine supplement, sold online as Hard Rhino, has been blamed for the separate deaths of two students. An 18-year-old student in a neighboring state died last spring after ingesting Hard Rhino, days before graduating high school. A recently-filed wrongful death lawsuit accuses online retailer Amazon and multiple Hard Rhino distributors of selling a dangerous product.

Asbestos exposure and disease: Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a worsening medical condition. The lung disease is not a cancer. However, Pennsylvania patients diagnosed with asbestosis are up to 10 times more likely to develop lung cancer than individuals without the disease, according to the Mesothelioma Center.

Asbestosis is among a group of diseases linked to asbestos exposure. The small fibers contained in the mineral settle in the lungs and cause scar tissue that, over time, hardens and causes breathing difficulties.

What is the status of Risperdal product liability lawsuits?

Doctors sometimes prescribe "off-label" drugs to Allegheny County patients. Off-label medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but not for the specific purposes physicians prescribe them. The practice is not illegal but can be harmful to consumers, when drug manufacturers mislead doctors about risks.

In February 2015, a court ruled against Risperdal manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the $2.5 million product liability judgment over the off-label use of the antipsychotic drug was the first of about 1,200 similar cases to go to trial -- the majority is concentrated in Philadelphia.

What is the job fatality rate among Pennsylvania workers?

Federal agencies, including the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, are involved in informing Allegheny County employers and employees about workplace safety rules. Regulators at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration attempt to enforce these rules through job site inspections and work-related accident investigations.

Efforts made by federal agencies are weakened by a lack of power, including a hobbled workforce. OSHA is considerably understaffed to monitor safety practices for the 130 million workers in the agency's jurisdiction. Even when inspectors find violations, government fines often aren't enough to compel employers to change approaches to worker safety.

How long do I have to file a Pennsylvania wrongful death claim?

At first glance, it may seem intrusive for attorneys to advise grieving families to seek legal advice immediately after the accidental death of a loved one. There are several good reasons to act in a timely manner. Those reasons are beneficial to survivors.

Many fatal accidents in Pittsburgh are caused by someone else's negligence. Plaintiffs must prove this point in court. The strength of physical evidence and witness statements weakens as time passes after an accident – evidence that can be vital to a family's financial recovery.

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