Thomas Law Offices - Louisville Personal Injury Lawyers

General Motors to Pay $900 Million Settlement for Faulty Ignition Switch Charges

General Motors has reached a 900-million-dollar settlement with the U.S. Justice Department settling charges that the company failed to obey federal laws requiring prompt disclosure of safety problems.  The company manufactured faulty ignition switches that were linked to more than 120 deaths, numerous injuries, and massive recalls of affected vehicles.  The ignition switch defect caused small cars to turn off suddenly, cutting off the engine power and disabling the airbags.

The penalty fees are a result, not from the company’s manufacturing of a defective product, but of their delay in reporting the problem to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for more than a decade.  The issue was publicly disclosed in early 2014, after which GM created and funded an independently administered fund to examine incident reports and offer settlements to victims.  The fund has approved settlement offers for families of 124 victims who were killed and 275 who were injured.  GM is expected to pay as much as 575 million dollars in private settlements in addition to the 900 million dollars to the Justice Department.

The investigation did not find any one employee at General Motors responsible for the defect, concluding that the problems stemmed from a collective failure at the automaker.  Investigators found that engineers, attorneys, and mid-level corporate executives had neglected to grasp the significance of the matter or simply failed to follow federal guidelines for reporting serious defects.  Following the release of an internal investigation report, GM fired 15 employees linked to the negligence.

The General Motors settlement is widely being compared to the 1.2 billion dollar settlement Toyota paid for covering up defects that caused unintended acceleration in its vehicles.  General Motors is required to pay a dollar amount that is substantially lower than what Toyota paid and for a defect that caused greater harm to its consumers.  General Motors has been cooperative with the proceedings, potentially resulting in this lower settlement.

Automobile makers have a responsibility to report known defects to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration within five days of learning of a problem.  Consumers should be able to trust that manufacturers are producing safe products.  The U.S. Justice Department aims to hold companies who violate safety regulations responsible for their wrongdoing.  If you wish to learn more about your rights for driving a safely manufactured vehicle, contact Thomas Law Offices for more information.

American Senior Communities LLC Fires CEO after FBI Search

According to Louisville’s Business First, American Senior Communities, a nursing home operator with more than 100 facilities, fired its CEO three days after the FBI raided his home and the corporation’s offices.  In contradicting statements the company now says the investigation has nothing to do with its facilities, but said in a statement on the day of the raid the FBI was conducting a “cost review.”  The company currently has plans to build a nursing home of more than 100,000 square feet in Louisville, Kentucky.

ASC is not without a history of fraud.  In 2010, the company reportedly paid the federal government a fine of some $376,000 as the result of its hiring practices.  According to the Indianapolis Star, the company was accused of hiring staff members who where ineligible to care for seniors under federal law because of criminal convictions or loss of their professional licenses.

Our seniors deserve better.  We will be anxiously watching the developments at American Senior Communities.

Nursing Home Five-Star Quality Rating: Your Tool for Finding the Right Care for Your Loved One

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has recently created the Five-Star Quality Rating System to assess the level of care given at nursing home facilities, allowing consumers, caregivers, and their families to quickly compare options and choose the right home for their loved ones.  Each nursing home is given a quality rating between 1 and 5 stars.  Nursing homes who receive 5 stars are considered to have much above average quality of care and those with 1 star are considered to have quality much below average.

The Nursing Home Compare Web site features one overall 5-star rating for each nursing home, and a separate rating for health inspections, staffing, and quality measures.  The health inspection rating considers information collected from on-site surveys at each location in the last three years. These Life Safety Code (LSC) surveys and Standard surveys are not announced to the facilities and can occur on any day of the week and at any time in a 24 hour period.  The CMS regional office determines a facility’s eligibility to participate in the Medicare or Medicaid program and receive payment based on these on-site survey results and their compliance with the requirements in 42 CFR Part 483, Subpart B.

The staffing rating reflects the number of hours of care provided on average to each resident each day by the nursing staff, taking into consideration the differences in the levels of residents’ care need in each nursing home.  Nursing homes with residents who have more severe needs would be expected to have more nursing staff than a nursing home where the resident needs were not as high.

The quality measure rating contains eleven different physical and clinical measures for nursing home residents to assess how well nursing homes are caring for their residents’ physical and clinical needs.  More than twelve million assessments of the conditions of nursing home residents are used in the Five-Star rating system, allowing the system to be a thorough evaluation and reliable resource for consumers and caregivers.

Every nursing home facility resident has the right to receive proper care.  If you feel that your loved one is a resident in a nursing home facility that has not been properly evaluated by CMS and the Five-Star Quality Rating System, contact Thomas Law Offices for more information.

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Injuries Caused by Laundry Detergent Pods on the Rise

Single-use liquid laundry detergent packets, commonly referred to as “pods”, were introduced to the U.S. market in 2010. They’re convenient to use since each pod contains enough highly-concentrated detergent to wash an average load of laundry. Nothing needs to be measured out, and the surrounding material dissolves in water. Despite the convenience of these pods, they’re potentially dangerous. Due to their small size, spongy texture, and bright, multi-colored appearance, children can be prone to thinking they are candy. Serious health complications and even death can result from exposure to these pods.

According to an alert issued by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, over 11,000 calls were made to poison control centers around the nation regarding children and even adults who placed the pods in their mouths and/or were otherwise exposed in 2014. This number is significantly higher than in past years. From the period of January 1, 2015 to July 31, 2015, there have already been over 7,000 calls made. This information suggests that the general public needs to be made more aware of how dangerous the pods can be.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, at least seven adults and children have died from biting into the pods and ingesting the liquid inside. Since the detergent is more concentrated in these pods than when found in standard bottles of detergent, the pods are extremely dangerous when bitten directly into. Exposure of the liquid to the eyes and skin can also be problematic. The most common symptoms of laundry detergent exposure include vomiting, choking, coughing, nausea, drowsiness, lethargy, and eye/skin irritation.

The rising concern of laundry detergent poisoning has caused lawmakers in Washington D.C. to take action. In February 2015, the U.S. House and Senate passed multiple bills directing the Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish and enforce safety standards for liquid detergent pods. Legislation specifically noted that the product’s manufacturers should apply better warning labels, change the composition of the product to make consequences of exposure less severe, and change the color and design of the pods to make them less attractive to young children who may mistake them for candy.

Two of the most popular brands of laundry detergent pods are Sun Products Corp.’s All Mighty Pacs and Procter & Gamble’s Tide Laundry Pods. While both manufacturers have changed their product containers to be more opaque to discourage children from seeing the brightly colored pods from outside the packaging, most of the above safety standards have not been addressed. Both manufacturers currently have multiple lawsuits pending regarding cases where children and adults have died and/or been severely injured from exposure to the pods.

With these open lawsuits, litigators and family members alike hope to let laundry detergent pod manufacturers know that drastic changes need to be made. Harsher warning labels should be placed on the product. The pods themselves could be made less dangerous; they could be made larger, for example, and contain a diluted solution that makes the detergent not quite so concentrated. Finally, the pods need to be redesigned and recolored. Potentially dangerous substances shouldn’t look like something found in a novelty candy store.

These lawsuits also draw attention to the multiple cases of injury and death. When the general public is aware of such cases, they become more aware of the potential dangers of these products. Families are more likely to place these products out of reach of children or buy another type of detergent instead. More public attention also helps ensure the manufacturers will make changes to the products in order to make them safer.

If you or anyone you know has experienced an injury related to single-load laundry detergent pods, now is the perfect time to help spread awareness and make sure the product manufacturers do what’s right. Children’s lives should not be put at risk. Your family deserves to be compensated. Thomas Law Offices is currently offering assistance to anyone who may have been affected by this. Feel free to contact us anytime with questions or concerns.

Attorney General Candidate Andy Beshear Releases Plan to Protect Kentucky Seniors

The attorneys and staff at Thomas Law Offices spend a great deal of time working to protect Kentucky seniors who have suffered personal injuries as the result of nursing home fraud, neglect and abuse.  Which is why I applaud Attorney General Candidate Andy Beshear for recently publishing his six point plan to realign the priorities of the office of the Attorney General to make this worthy goal an even greater priority.  The Office of the Attorney General under the leadership of Attorney General Conway has done a great job of protecting seniors for the last eight years.  A Beshear administration will go even further by forming an office dedicated to seniors.  He would open an new office of investigators with a specific focus on senior related fraud and abuse, open a senior protection hotline and work  to coordinate non-profits with the same mission.

Read more about Beshear’s plan here:

For more information on what Attorney General Conway and his team already do to protect seniors visit:








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