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Stories by Myron Levin

Critics: Safety takes a back seat in Senate bill on driverless cars

Consumer advocates are attacking a bill heading for a vote soon in the U.S. Senate that would clear legal obstacles for the deployment of driverless cars — a proposal that, critics say, lacks safeguards needed to protect the public and largely would let vehicle manufacturers regulate themselves.... Read more»0

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Johnson & Johnson

$4.69 billion verdict in baby powder-ovarian cancer case

The legal assault on Johnson & Johnson and its signature baby powder reached new heights Thursday, as a Missouri jury found the company responsible for the ovarian cancers of 22 women, and ordered the drug giant to pay $4.69 billion in damages to the cancer victims or their survivors.... Read more»0

CarPlay, Android less distracting than built-in auto infotainment, still not safe

Automakers have packed many of their new models with distracting infotainment features that allow drivers not only to play music and get directions, but to talk, text and use social media while tooling down the road. Now new research has found that two popular smartphone-based systems –Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto – are somewhat simpler and safer to use than the built-in electronics.... Read more»0

Johnson & Johnson hit with $417M talc-ovarian cancer verdict

A Los Angeles jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay damages of $417 million to a 62-year-old woman who blamed her ovarian cancer on years of using the company’s baby powder for feminine hygiene.... Read more»0

Big companies in legal scrapes turn to science-for-hire giant Exponent

Exponent, Inc., is a publicly traded giant in litigation defense and regulatory science. It’s a go-to destination for major industries with liability problems – even as it is derided by critics as a hired gun whose findings are for sale. Among other facilities, the company has a 147-acre vehicle test track in Phoenix.... Read more»0

Highway agency takes hit over report on electronic billboard safety

Why did the billboard cross the road? It sounds like the opening line of a corny joke, but it’s actually a question raised by a baffling glitch in a Federal Highway Administration study on the safety of electronic billboards.... Read more»0

Talc-ovarian cancer link sparks growing legal battle

Talc powder might be a cause ovarian cancer–who knew? It turned out that some people did. Since the early 1980s, a slew of studies have found that women who regularly used talc powder for feminine hygiene had higher than average rates of ovarian cancer. Yet the evidence–which fell short of proving causation–was mostly confined to medical journals and has barely made a blip on the public radar.... Read more»0

Fear stifles wage abuse complaints

Violations often are concealed, and regulators hindered, because workers fear what will happen if they speak up.... Read more»0

Pay violations rampant in low-wage industries despite enforcement efforts

For workers stuck on the bottom rung, living on poverty wages is hard enough. But many also are victims of wage theft, a catch-all term for payroll abuses that cheat workers of income they are supposedly guaranteed by law. ... Read more»0

Legal battles smolder six decades after ‘the greatest health protection in cigarette history’

It’s hard to think of anything more reckless than adding a deadly carcinogen to a product that already causes cancer—and then bragging about the health benefits. That’s what Lorillard Tobacco did 60 years ago when it introduced Kent cigarettes, whose patented “Micronite” filter contained a particularly virulent form of asbestos. ... Read more»0

Power tool makers accused in lawsuit of thwarting adoption of finger-saving device

Leading power tool manufacturers have conspired for years to thwart adoption of a safety device that could prevent thousands of finger amputations and other disfiguring injuries in table saw accidents, according to a federal antitrust lawsuit filed by the developer of the safety technology.... Read more»0

Billboard industry touts discredited research on electronic sign safety

A Swedish study has found that drivers take long gazes at electronic billboards, possibly raising the risk of highway crashes. The new research has put the U.S. billboard industry into a defensive mode. In an effort to dismiss the findings, the industry’s top trade group quickly cited an unpublished U.S. government study to argue that the electronic displays pose no traffic safety hazard.... Read more»0

Fireplace makers to add screens to prevent severe toddler burns

To stave off regulation and lawsuits over severe burns to toddlers, manufacturers will provide protective screens as standard equipment with new gas fireplaces. The industry has revised its voluntary guidelines to call for the addition of mesh screens to be attached to new fireplaces. The aim is to prevent contact with the scorching glass fronts, which get hot enough to melt skin.... Read more»0

Fat-melting device a weighty matter for FDA

Doctors around the country are touting a fat-melting device called the LipoTron 3000, or Lipo-Ex, as a revolutionary way for people to slim down. But there's a problem: The LipoTron, which targets fat with radiofrequency waves, has never been cleared by the FDA, which would make it illegal to promote it for weight loss.... Read more»0

Feds leaving cities, states in dark on billboard safety

While battles flare nationwide over digital billboards, many state and local officials have hoped that a FHA study would clarify key traffic safety issues. Experts say long overdue results of the study were botched.... Read more»0

Wind industry accused of blowing off worker safety rule

Wind power is riding a strong breeze. In the last five years, generating capacity in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled. But in the scramble to expand clean energy and green jobs, the wind industry has fallen short on worker safety. ... Read more»0

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