July 25, 2008
A company that sold the foam blamed for fueling a Rhode Island nightclub fire that killed 100 people has agreed to pay $6.3 million to settle lawsuits from survivors and victims’ relatives, according to court papers filed Thursday.
The agreement by Johnston-based American Foam Corp. brings total settlements offered in the case to roughly $153 million.
The newest tentative settlement also covers the estate of Aram DerManouelian, the company’s former president who has since died, and Barry Warner, a company salesman who lived near the club and suggested that club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian buy soundproofing foam to quell noise complaints from neighbors.
A phone message seeking comment from American Foam’s lawyer was not returned.
The Feb. 20, 2003, fire at The Station nightclub began when pyrotechnics for 1980s rock band Great White ignited the foam, which was used as soundproofing around the stage. The families alleged the company did not warn the nightclub owners that the foam was flammable.
Read Article Boston.com
The third report since 2004 on how California hospitals treat pneumonia confirmed that where patients go can mean the difference between living and dying.
Patients at the worst- performing hospitals were twice as likely to die as those at the best-ranked hospitals.
Los Angeles County is in better shape than most, with 20 of 92 hospitals surveyed that rated “better than expected” and four that rated “worse than expected.”
The report, released this week by the Office of Statewide Health, Planning and Development, looked at 30-day mortality rates for community- acquired pneumonia between January 2003 and November 2005. “Community-acquired” means that the bacteria, viruses, fungus or other organisms that cause pneumonia were contracted at home or at work as opposed to more deadly, drug-resistant strains acquired in nursing homes, jails and other institutional settings, including hospitals themselves.
Read Article The Los Angeles Times
The family vacation cruise that Janice Langbehn, her partner Lisa Marie Pond and three of their four children set out to take in February 2007 was designed to be a celebration of the lesbian couple’s 18 years together.
But when Pond suffered a massive stroke onboard before the ship left port and was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital, administrators refused to let Langbehn into the Pond’s hospital room. A social worker told them they were in an “anti-gay city and state.”
Langbehn filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday charging the Miami hospital with negligence and “anti-gay animus” in refusing to recognize her and the children as Pond’s family, even after a power of attorney was faxed to the hospital within an hour of their arrival.
Read Article Orlando Sentinel
Some companies would be permitted to skirt independent lab testing of children’s products in favor of their own in-house certification, thanks in large part to lobbying by the world’s biggest toymaker, the Tribune has found.
Toymaker Mattel Inc. argued to lawmakers that it should be allowed to use its own labs to conduct these certification tests, which were supposed to be a hallmark of Congress’ efforts to overhaul the nation’s product-safety system. The House and Senate added provisions permitting companies with sophisticated labs to avoid the independent testing requirement by winning federal approval for their in-house testing facilities.
Consumer advocates and some lawmakers worry that this creates a conflict of interest and could compromise safety.
Read Article Chicago Tribune
When Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire signed a law banning lead and chemicals known as phthalates from children’s products in April, Amy Tucker was thrilled. As president of Matter Group, a Seattle company that makes children’s games and stuffed animals out of recycled materials, Tucker’s products were already lead- and phthalate-free. But when other states began adopting their own restrictions, she became dismayed by the emerging patchwork of regulations.
“It puts manufacturers in the position of having 50 different sets of regulations to abide by,” she said, “and that can become very onerous for a company.”
In an attempt to avoid a repeat of last year’s wave of tainted-toy recalls, lawmakers in eight states have imposed restrictions on potentially toxic substances in children’s products such as lead, cadmium and phthalates. Phthalates, chemicals used to make plastics, have been linked to reproductive problems.
Children’s product manufacturers such as Hasbro and Mattel and toy retailers such as Toys R Us are echoing Tucker’s sentiments. They argue that having different state regulations on children’s products will keep safe toys off the market.
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