Exploding Takata Airbag Recall Expanded to Historic Proportions

The ongoing saga involving defective “Takata” airbags has now reached epic proportions as the scope of the recall has been expanded to include 17 million vehicles in the U.S. and more than 36 million worldwide.

The announcement of the expanded recall was made on Tuesday, May 19, 2015, after which National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA) Administrator Mark Rosekind remarked that “This is probably the most complex consumer safety recall in U.S. history.”

urgent-thumb-264x262-56657The latest announcement is said to double the extent of the massive recalls made by BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota in 2014, and has sparked widespread confusion about what specific vehicles are impacted and how and when repairs will be made available to affected owners.

While the fact that a massive number of additional vehicles are being recalled has been made known, consumers are currently left not knowing if their vehicle has one of the defective airbags because the vehicle identification numbers (VIN) of the specific vehicles involved are not yet available.

Without the VIN, consumers cannot find out whether their car is part of the new recall.  So, what are consumers to do?  Here is the advice was given by Jack Gillis of the Consumer Federation of America author of The Car Book, published by the Center for Auto Safety:

  • Look for your vehicle’s identification number (VIN).  It can be found by looking at your dashboard from the outside of the driver’s side or on the outer edge of the driver’s door.  It should also be listed on your vehicle registration certificate.
  • Contact ANY dealer of your vehicle immediately to schedule a replacement appointment if your vehicle is part of the recall.  The sooner you make contact, the sooner you’ll get on the dealer’s list for repairs.
  • Ask for a ‘loaner vehicle’ while you await repairs to your vehicle.
  • If your vehicle is not currently listed, it could still be added to the list at a later date, so check back on a regular basis.

The latest news has reignited allegations that Takata has been hiding knowledge of the exploding airbag problem for years.  Heintz & Becker wants to be part of the solution to this problem and work to hold manufacturers responsible.  First and foremost, we urge you to seek any and all necessary repairs to ensure that your vehicle is safe to operate.

Second, if you or a member of your family is a victim of a defective Takata airbag, faulty GM ignition switch, or other vehicle defects we urge you to reach out to one of our attorneys and tell us your story.  You may be entitled to receive compensation and telling your story may result in others being spared the same suffering experienced by you and your family.

Source(s): ABC News, “US Listing of Cars Affected by Takata Airbag Recall Not Updated Yet”, posted May 20, 2015; Autoblog, “Takata changed airbag design in 2008”, posted May 21, 2015; Consumer Affairs, “The Takata airbag recall: What should you do?”, posted May 21, 2015

Healthcare Alert: Serious Concerns Raised About Quality of Medical Assistant Training Programs

We have good news and bad news to share with our readers about the quality of training being received by the Nurses and Medical Assistants we trust with our care.  The good news is that we have Florida’s top rated training programs right here in our area: University of Tampa, University of Central Florida and State College of Florida – Bradenton.  The bad news is that there are many training programs out there that are raising serious quality of care concerns.

caduceusFlorida’s “career colleges,” which are mostly for-profit, now account for about 60 percent of Florida’s healthcare graduates in fields such as nursing, ultrasound technology and medical assistance.  The Miami Herald has recently completed an investigation into Florida’s for-profit college industry and published a series of articles it called “Higher Ed Hustle” which included a piece titled “Raising Concerns About Quality” that contains allegations that dollars are being put ahead of quality instruction at certain medical training programs, citing instances of certain classes being taught by instructors who lacked bachelor’s degrees, and struggling and unprepared students being given inflated grades and being passed through the system.

As part of its investigation, the Miami Herald analyzed the results of over 12,000 Florida nursing graduates who took the RN exam in 2014.  What they found is that the passing rate varied with the type of school attended.  Public colleges performed the best, with an 84.4 percent RN passage rate. Nonprofit schools had a passing rate of 80.9 percent.  Trailing far behind were the for-profit colleges, with a mere 52 percent pass rate.

There’s been a boom in new nursing programs in recent years — from 175 in 2009 to 366 in 2014. The growth has consisted largely of for-profit nursing schools and has coincided with a drop in Florida’s RN passage rate from 88.4 percent in 2009 to 72.6 percent in 2014.  Florida’s passing rate now stands second to last among the 50 states.  Here are the numbers for the top scoring and lowest scoring schools that had at least 20 students take the 2014 NCLEX RN license exam published in the Miami Herald article:

TOP-SCORING SCHOOLS

Rank School Pass rate School type
1 University of Tampa 100% Nonprofit
2 University of Central Florida 98% Public
3 State College of Florida – Bradenton 96% Public
4 Florida Gulf Coast University – Fort Myers 96% Public
5 Santa Fe College – Gainesville 95% Public
6 Florida Keys Community College 94% Public
7 Valencia Community College – Orlando 94% Public
8 Jacksonville University 93% Nonprofit
9 Seminole State College of Florida – Altamonte Springs 93% Public
10 Keiser University – Miami 93% Nonprofit

LOWEST-SCORING SCHOOLS

Rank School Pass rate School type
1 Med-Life Institute – West Palm Beach 11% For-profit
2 Burnett International College – Boynton Beach 11% For-profit
3 Censa Miami Institute – Hialeah Gardens 11% For-profit
4 Dade Medical College – Hollywood 13% For-profit
5 Techni-Pro Institute – Boca Raton 14% For-profit
6 Hope College of Arts and Science – Pompano Beach 17% For-profit
7 Sigma College – Oakland Park 18% For-profit
8 Carleen Home Health School – Lauderhill 19% For-profit
9 Florida College of Health Science – Orlando 26% For-profit
10 Azure College – Miami Gardens 27% For-profit

It would be unfair to make presumptions about a particular Nurse or Medical Assistant simply based on where they went to school, but the unfortunate fact is that there are practicing Nurses and Medical Assistants who are not fit to do so.  Patients and their families need to be diligent in observing what is happening when they are in a medical setting.  Make sure you know and understand what is happening, what medications are being used and ask as many questions as you need to in order to be assured that all is in order.  If you are not comfortable – speak up immediately and request to see the supervising doctor or get another opinion.  The attorneys at Heintz & Becker represent victims of medical mistakes and their families.  If you or a family member has been injured we are available to consult with you about your case and rights to seek financial compensation.  Don’t delay in calling us: your time to take action is limited.

Source(s): MiamiHerald.com, “Higher-Ed Hustle”, posted April 2015

Alex Cooks Sr. Dies after Motorcycle Accident in Tampa

Tampa area restaurant owner and community favorite, Alex Cooks, 49, has died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash on Fletcher Avenue on Monday, June 8, 2015.  Cooks’ motorcycle struck another vehicle while Cooks, who was wearing a helmet, exited a supermarket parking lot into oncoming traffic.  As the news of the tragedy has spread, mourners have been leaving items at a growing memorial outside of Cooks’ Carrollwood restaurant and posting messages on Alex’s BBQ’s Facebook page.

As a child, Alex Cooks Sr. grew up without a bicycle.  As an adult, he found success in his restaurant, Alex’s Southern Style BBQ and satisfaction in helping to give away thousands of brand-new bicycles to Tampa area children every Christmas since 1999 through the foundation named Alex’s Xmas for Kids.  “Just knowing that there are kids waking up Christmas morning with nice new bicycles under the tree … that’s the most gratifying part,” Cooks once said.  A giver in life, Cooks will now be a giver in death, through the generosity of organ donation.

Cooks’ wife, Amee Cooks, says the family will continue to operate Alex’s Southern Style BBQ.  The Cooks family will also see to the continuation of Alex’s Xmas for Kids and requests that people donate to the charity in lieu of sending flowers.  Cooks’ son, Alex Cooks, Jr., plans on given back to the community too.  He will be sworn in as a Polk County deputy next week. He just wishes his father could be there for his swearing-in ceremony. “I know that he was excited for next Thursday. I feel like he left proud. So that makes me feel better.”

The accident attorneys at Heintz & Becker offer their sincere condolences to the Cooks family.  Tragic accidents like this happen far too often in our area, and, sadly, most of them are preventable.  We ask drivers to always look out for motorcycles, be courteous and share the road.  Your care just may prevent an accident like this from happening.

Source(s): myfoxtampabay.com, “Family, friends remember community hero, Alex Cooks”, posted June 10, 2015; TBO.com, “Carrollwood barbecue restaurant owner dies in motorcycle crash”, posted June 10, 2015; Carrollwood-Northdale Patch, “Motorcycle Crash Claims Community Leader’s Life”, posted June 10, 2015