Lumber Liquidators is one of largest retailers of both wood and laminate flooring in North America.  In fact, there is more than 100 million square feet of the company’s laminate flooring alone sold and installed in American homes every year.  In a startling recent report on CBS’ “60 Minutes”, the news show claims Lumber Liquidators has been selling laminate flooring that contains levels of formaldehyde in excess of regulatory standards.

The flooring at issue is Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring made in China.  (American-made laminates sold at Lumber Liquidators had acceptable levels of the formaldehyde.) Independent test performed by CBS News indicated the flooring failed to meet health and safety standards due to the high levels of formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde is a colorless and flammable chemical, and is a common ingredient in the glue used in laminate flooring. During and after installation, it is released as a gas that causes burning eyes, nose and throat irritation, coughing, headaches, dizziness, joint pain and nausea. At long-term exposure, formaldehyde is listed as a known cause of cancer in humans by both the federal government and the State of California.

On the program, Dr. Philip Landrigan, a physician at New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, said that long-term exposure to formaldehyde from the Lumber Liquidators flooring increases the risk for chronic respiratory irritation, reduced lung function and asthma. Dr. Bernard Goldstein, a physician, toxicologist and former dean of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health stated that this is especially true in children. “For flooring I’d be more concerned about acute health effects, particularly for infants crawling over the floor.  Children breathe in more air relative to their small body sizes than do adults. When they work hard, as they do when they crawl or run, they will have maximal respiratory uptake of anything gassing off the floor. Pets too,” he added.

“For its report “60 Minutes” reporters went undercover to factories in China that produce laminate flooring for Lumber Liquidators that the company says is “CARB 2″ compliant, meaning it complies with California standards (and soon to be federal standards). Managers in these Chinese facilities acknowledged that inventory being produced for Lumber Liquidators was being labeled “CARB 2″ compliant, even though everyone in the facility was aware of the fact it was not.

According to the non-profit organization Global Community Monitor (“GCM”), the Lumber Liquidators flooring from Chinese factories emit toxic gas in excess of 100 times the regulatory standards.  “The levels of formaldehyde our tests found in Lumber Liquidators’ laminate flooring are astounding and alarming,” said Denny Larson, executive director of GCM. “It’s unconscionable that Lumber Liquidators would sell this product to customers to install in their homes without informing families of the potential health risks involved, especially since they make a point of bragging about how environmentally safe it is.”

Some homeowners who bought the Chinese laminate from Lumber Liquidators have already taken action.  The first class action lawsuit, in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, alleges that “Lumber Liquidators manufactures, sells, and distributes Chinese Flooring that emits and off-gasses excessive levels of formaldehyde.” The plaintiffs charge the flooring company with violating the Lacey Act and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act as well as with unjust enrichment, breach of warranties, and violating business laws. “Unfortunately, one of the primary reasons Lumber Liquidators has grown so quickly and its profits have surged has been through the company’s misrepresentations about formaldehyde levels of its products and through its sourcing of cheap (and illegal) lumber from China,” the plaintiffs claim.

If you have experienced a problem with laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators we would welcome a chance to speak with you. Contact the experienced attorneys at Suthers Law Firm online or call us on our toll free number, 1-800-320-2384, to set up a FREE consultation.

Almost one-third of the nursing homes in the United States will be getting lower scores on the Government’s Quality Scale as a result of tougher standards being utilized for rating purposes. The Government’s Nursing Home Compare website is a five-star quality ratings program used by more than one million consumers to assess the quality of care being provided at nursing homes across the United States. Lawyers, like John Suthers, who have been representing victims of abuse and neglect in nursing homes for years, have urged the Government to implement changes in the way nursing homes are evaluated. Some of the changes being implemented include measures of the nursing homes’ use of any psychotic drugs. Such drugs can place older adults, especially those with dementia and Alzheimer’s, at an increased risk for suffering injuries. The new evaluation measures being implemented also involve a more refined method to evaluate a nursing home for adequate staffing, which is one of the most important factors in providing good, quality care.

In excess of one million people used the Nursing Home Compare website in 2014 to check on a nursing home’s ratings. Some nursing homes who receive good scores use that information in touting their facilities. The five-star rating system is not an exact science, and there is no substitute for going to the facility, observing the conditions there, and asking the right questions of management. For more information about questions to ask, go to the Nursing Home Resource Center page at the Suthers Law Firm website, The new rating system, at least, raises the bar in order for nursing homes to receive a higher rating. Those of us who have been suing nursing homes for neglecting residents have been concerned for a long time that the ratings were over-inflated, so we applaud the implementation of stronger measures.

There were several findings resulting from implementing the new rating standards. The average overall rating for all U.S. nursing homes decreased from 3.4 stars to 3.1 stars. The biggest drop in specific areas of performance came in the category for quality of care, where the average score dropped from 4.1 stars to 3.3 stars. Alarmingly, almost 20% of nursing homes received the lowest possible score on the newly implemented measure for using anti-psychotic drugs. The new rating system penalized nursing homes who used such drugs on residents unless the drugs were indicated for specific conditions, such as schizophrenia, Huntington’s disease, or Tourette’s syndrome. There are other quality measures that consumers should review, including the prevalence of pressure sore development and the number of falls resulting in injuries, as these remain the most common problems we see in nursing home residents.

If you would like to know the rating for a local nursing home, go to If you have a friend or loved one whom you believe has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, contact the attorneys at Suthers Law Firm,

The Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety has issued its 2014 report, ranking the top causes of serious, workplace injuries. The report is based upon workers’ compensation claims data from year 2012 and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among the leading causes of workplace injuries were:

• Overexertion • Falls • Being struck by an object or equipment • Roadway incidents involving vehicles • Being caught in or compressed by equipment or objects • Repetitive motions involving small or micro tasks
When an employee suffers a workplace injury that causes him or her to miss a certain number of days of work, the employee is entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim. Virtually all states have a workers’ compensation award schedule that limits the employee’s recovery to a portion of the employee’s wages for a specific number of weeks. Additionally, the employee may be entitled to a lump sum payment to compensate the employee for any permanent impairment resulting from the injury. Because workers’ compensation benefits are limited by law, the injured employee is rarely made whole.

Employees and attorneys sometime overlook potential claims against third-parties, whose negligence played a role in the workplace injury. While an injured employee cannot sue his employer, there is generally no prohibition against suing a third-party whose negligence played a role in the employee’s workplace injury. There are a number of examples of such third-party claims. Consider the case of a construction employee who was working on the ground at the jobsite when a crane operator for another company negligently lowered a boom that struck and killed the employee who was on the ground. We were able to sue the company who employed the crane operator and recovered damages that were not limited by any workers’ compensation award schedule. Likewise, consider the case of an employee driving a company vehicle as part of his work duties who was injured in an automobile collision caused the negligence of the other driver. We were able to sue the negligent driver and recover damages that were greater than the benefits the employee would have received had he filed a workers’ compensation claim against his own employer. There are also many examples of cases involving employees who were injured due to defective equipment that was being utilized by their employers. In those cases, there may be potential product liability claims against the manufacturers of the defective equipment in which the damages awards would not be limited by any workers’ compensation award schedule.

Workplace injuries can have significant consequences on the victims. Benefits to which the victims are entitled under workers’ compensation are often inadequate and do not completely compensate the victim for his or her injuries and losses. When a person is injured on the job, it is important that the employee and attorney investigate thoroughly whether the negligence of a third-party caused or contributed to the cause of the injury. That may present the opportunity to file a lawsuit against the negligent third-party, and recover damages that are not limited by the workers’ compensation award schedule.

A series of reports were published recently, substantiating low levels of care at nursing homes across the United States. An investigation was conducted by the Center for Public Integrity in an effort to quantify the level of care at nursing homes and determine the reason for poor care. Nursing homes are required by state and federal regulations to meet certain minimum levels of staffing in order to meet the needs of their patients. The Center for Public Integrity’s investigation determined that greater than 80% of nursing homes reported staffing levels that were higher than what they really were. The investigation also found that 25% of nursing homes nationwide reported staffing levels that were at least two times as high as their actual levels.

Savannah, Georgia attorney John E. Suthers was one of the first attorneys in the United States to sue a nursing home and hold it accountable for neglecting a resident. “Many of us who represent victims of abuse and neglect by nursing homes have been saying for years that the underlying cause of almost all problems in nursing homes can be traced to staffing. It’s either a case of inadequate staffing or inadequately trained staff or both. The Center’s study just confirms what we have been preaching for years,” said Suthers.

In conducting the investigation, the Center for Public Integrity compared numbers that nursing homes had reported to the Government website known as Nursing Home Compare with the numbers submitted in Medicare cost reports, which are detailed reports that nursing homes are required by law to provide and which set out the number of hours paid to staff and the number of residents. By reporting artificially inflated numbers that are posted on the Nursing Home Compare website, the public can be misled when trying to investigate the quality of care rendered at a facility. “You have families relying on inaccurate reports who unknowingly place their loved ones in dangerous facilities,” Suthers said.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare” is the federal statute that was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. Part of that law sought to change the way nursing homes report staffing levels. Rather than nursing homes self-reporting the numbers, the law requires them to submit actual payroll records, which would reflect the type of staff working and the hours they actually worked. The new reporting requirements were supposed to go into effect by March 2012. Regrettably, they have not yet taken effect.

In the meantime, Suthers says, “It’s just common sense that the more staffing you can have in the nursing home, the better the chances of a patient receiving good quality care.” Many nursing home residents need constant care to perform some of their most basic activities of daily living, such as dressing, eating, ambulating and toileting. Bedridden residents can require additional attention, since they need to be turned and repositioned at least every two hours to avoid developing pressure sores. “By increasing the level of staffing and the training of staff, many of the injuries and illnesses that occur in nursing homes could be avoided,” said Suthers.

Data shows that in more than one in five nursing homes in the United States, antipsychotics are administered to a significant percentage of residents, despite the fact that they do not have psychosis or related condition that warrants their use. Antipsychotic drugs, which are intended to treat severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, can leave people in a stupor. Both the FDA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services say it’s not appropriate in most cases for patients suffering from dementia to be prescribed antipsychotics. The FDA has given these drugs black-box warnings, the agency’s most serious medication alert, about potentially fatal side effects when antipsychotics are taken by patients with dementia, saying they can increase the risk of heart failure, infections and death.

Federal law has long prohibited the use of antipsychotics and other psychoactive drugs for the convenience of staff, a practice known as “chemical restraint.” The Nursing Home Reform Act, passed more than 27 years ago, gave residents the right to be free from “chemical restraints.” The law also says that nursing home residents should only receive antipsychotics if the drugs are medically necessary. However, in 2012, despite the law being on the book for almost three decades, the government finally started a campaign laying out new stricter guidelines and harsher penalties for the overuse of antipsychotics to urge nursing homes to cut back on their use of these drugs that are so dangerous for patients with severe illnesses. Unfortunately, according to a recent report by NPR, it appears these new regulations have had little success curtailing the practice, largely because they are rarely enforced.

The penalties for giving residents unnecessary medication can range from a “plan of correction,” to civil fines, to being kicked out of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. However, the NPR report found that when penalties are actually assessed the harshest penalties are almost never used when nursing home residents are given unnecessary drugs of any kind. As a result, antipsychotics continue to be overused in nursing homes across the country.

Not surprisingly, industry experts say there is a clear link between the rate of antipsychotic use in a nursing home and its staffing level. Homes that most often used these drugs for conditions not recommended by the FDA had fewer registered nurses, who direct care, and nurses’ aides, who provide most of the hands-on care. According to the recent report, the government rarely punishes these nursing homes that choose not to follow the guidelines, and when they do enforce the rules it is normally a nominal monetary penalty to the offending nursing home. This fact makes for an easy business decision for many nursing home administrators and owners – it is far cheaper to simply pay the fine and provide less resident care. Thus, the only ones actually being penalized under the “stricter” regulations are nursing home residents.

There is no question that the use of antipsychotic medications to control nursing home residents is extremely dangerous. The FDA estimates roughly 15,000 nursing home residents die every year from complications related to antipsychotics. Consequently, if you believe a family member or a loved one in a nursing home is being given unnecessary antipsychotic medications, you should immediately ask for a list of all medications that are being administered to the resident and the doses given daily. If you have a complaint about how a family member has been treated in a nursing home, you should report it to the appropriate state agency. For more information on nursing home abuse and neglect, please visit our “Nursing Home Resource Center” at the website of the Suthers Law Firm,

Today, many families entrusting a skilled nursing facility with the care of a loved one may be shocked to find out the low number of registered nurses and other medical professionals that are actually providing care inside nursing homes at any given time. The controlling federal law intended at one time to improve the country’s nursing homes, the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, actually requires only one registered nurse on-site eight hours a day, regardless of the size of the facility.

Additionally, often times, advocates and experts believe that the data is skewed by nursing homes to make it look as if there are a greater number of medical staff available at all times in their home due to government data relying on self-reporting by the owners of the nursing homes. Data on the publicly available Nursing Home Compare website, which is promoted and operated by the government for comparison shopping, reflects staffing levels self-reported by nursing homes during a two-week period before annual federal inspections. Advocates say many homes work hard to prepare for those visits, and, as a result, critics say, those staffing levels may be artificially inflated. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for overseeing nursing homes, has since 2001 discussed the problem of the inaccuracy of self-reported data. Unfortunately, these self-reported staffing levels are a crucial metric in the federal government’s broader quality rating of nursing homes on their Nursing home Compare website, which is heavily relied on by the public.

The discrepancies between the inflated numbers and the actual numbers can lead family members to believe their loved ones are receiving one level of care, when they may be receiving much less. This is troublesome as close to 100 peer-reviewed, academic studies have shown that the amount of care, particularly that provided by registered nurses, is most strongly connected with residents’ quality of care. Lower levels of care are associated with a higher likelihood of injury, abuse, neglect and even death.

Recently representatives in Congress have taken steps to alleviate some of these problems, including, Jane Schakowsky of Illinois, who introduced a bill in the House to combat the problem. The Bill would require that a direct-care registered nurse (not an administrator) be present 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in all the nearly 16,000 nursing home that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. Additionally, there is another bill being proposed by Congress that would reform the self-reporting requirements. However, it is unclear at this point if these measures will do anything to alleviate this very serious problem facing some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens.

The Suthers Law Firm, which practices throughout the States of Georgia and South Carolina, regularly represents victims who have been abused or neglected and their families in cases against nursing homes and assisted living facilities. If you believe a family member has suffered a serious injury or died as a result of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, you should contact the experienced, nursing home litigation attorneys at Suthers Law Firm. For more information on nursing home abuse and neglect, see the page entitled “Nursing Home Resource Center” at the website of the Suthers Law Firm,

Eleven major automobile manufacturers have issued recalls on more than 7.8 million cars equipped with defective airbags manufactured by Takata Corporation. There have been reports of the airbags exploding and shooting metal shrapnel at passengers in the cars. Complaints that were filed recently indicate that Takata has known about this serious safety hazard for longer than 10 years. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is now opening an investigation into Takata’s defective airbags. Several United States Senators have recently called upon the U.S. Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation as a result of recent reports that Takata erased the results of tests that indicated the existence of defects in the airbags. Thus far, complaints and/or lawsuits filed against Takata claim that Takata’s defective airbags are responsible for the deaths of 4 individuals and injuries to 139 individuals.

The recall is focused on geographic areas with high humidity, since the alleged defect is thought to be triggered by exposure to excessive moisture. The following is a list of the manufacturers and models recalled involving Takata airbags:

2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

2003 – 2008 Dodge Ram 1500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Ram 2500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 3500
2006 – 2008 Dodge Ram 4500
2008 – Dodge Ram 5500
2005 – 2008 Dodge Durango
2005 – 2008 Dodge Dakota
2005 – 2008 Chrysler 300
2007 – 2008 Chrysler Aspen

2004 – Ranger 2005 – 2006 GT
2005 – 2007 Mustang
General Motors
2003 – 2005 Pontiac Vibe
2005 – Saab 9-2X
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
2006 – Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL
2005 – Acura RL
2002 – 2005 Lexus SC
2003 – 2007 Mazda 6
2006 – 2007 MazdaSpeed 6
2004 – 2008 Mazda RX-8
2004 – 2005 MPV
2004 – B-Series Truck
2004 – 2005 Lancer
2006 – 2007 Raider

2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2004 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2006 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2004 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 – 2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45
2006 Infiniti M35 and M45
2003 – 2005 Baja
2003 – 2005 Legacy
2003 – 2005 Outback
2004 – 2005 Impreza
2002 – 2005 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2005 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2005 Toyota Tundra
Suthers Law Firm is handling wrongful death and personal injury cases involving defective Takata airbags. Given the large number of cars equipped with airbags manufactured by Takata, we believe that there are many more victims who have been harmed by these defective products.

A recent study by the Columbia University School of Nursing reported that the rate of infections in nursing homes is increasing. Regrettably, the trend will likely continue unless and until better care and hygiene practices are implemented.

The author of the study, Carolyn Herzig, stated, “Infections are a leading cause of deaths and complications for nursing home residents…We found a significant increase in infection rates across the board.” Data submitted by nursing homes to the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) between 2006 and 2010 was analyzed by the author and her team. The data revealed increasing rates of urinary tract infections, pneumonia, wound infections, and septicemia, also known as blood poisoning. Septicemia is a serious, life-threatening infection that can worsen quickly. It arises from other infections throughout the body, often when such infections are either untreated, improperly treated, or treated too late. The Columbia University study also found increased rates of drug-resistant bacterial infections like methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA. Of the above-referenced infections, urinary tract infections and pneumonia were the most common in nursing homes.

One of the more common types of cases that we see in our nursing home litigation practice are decubitus ulcer (pressure sore) cases. These wounds develop when the nursing home staff fails to turn and reposition a resident to relive pressure on a bony area, such as the sacrum, hips or heels. When a pressure sore occurs in the sacral area, it often becomes infected, especially if the nursing home resident is incontinent of bowel or bladder. If the wound infection is untreated or treated too late, the resident can develop septicemia (sepsis), which can, in turn, lead to death. That is why early intervention, proper treatment and proper hygiene practices are so important.

There are a number of steps that can and should be taken in an effort to reduce a nursing home resident’s risk of infection. Nursing homes can reduce the risk of a resident developing urinary tract infections by reducing the use of urinary catheters. Rather than using a catheter, they can establish a toileting schedule to increase the number of assisted trips to the toilet by a resident who requires assistance with toileting. Another simple step that would reduce the risk of both urinary tract and wound infections is to increase the diaper changes for residents who are incontinent. We often hear complaints from family members of residents about the resident remaining in soiled or wet diapers for hours at a time before a staff member comes to the room to change the diaper. When this type of neglect occurs, the family should not hesitate to report their concerns to the Director of Nursing and Administrator at the nursing home.
Proper hand hygiene is another simple step that would help prevent infections that can be spread through the air or through contact with contaminated surfaces. Hand sanitizer dispensers and hand-washing stations should be readily available throughout the nursing home. If you don’t see these when visiting a nursing home, it may be an indication that the nursing home lacks adequate hygiene and infection control programs.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it will make data public on eight hospital-acquired conditions in the near future. This data can be found on the CMS website. The data will include mistakes that occur in hospitals, such as foreign objects being left in patients following surgery and the wrong type of blood being given to patients. These and other so-called “hospital-acquired conditions” can be life-threatening.

This data was mysteriously removed from the CMS website recently, which led to criticism by several consumer organizations that publish safety ratings for hospitals. There has been mounting pressure on government officials and hospitals to be more transparent about safety, so that patients considering certain types of surgeries can make more informed choices about the hospital where the surgery will be performed. For example, a patient who chooses to have an elective surgery, such as a hip replacement or knee replacement, can investigate the infection rates at the hospitals they are considering. This is important information because infections can lead to more serious conditions, such as sepsis or septic shock, which can be deadly.

Not surprisingly, many hospital officials around the country opposed this release of information reflecting hospital mistakes. The hospitals contend that some incidents, such as foreign objects being left in patients after surgery, do not happen enough for the information to be reliable. However, a USA Today report in 2013 concluded that foreign objects were retained after surgery as often as 6,000 times a year, which was far greater than the government had estimated. The retention of foreign objects after surgery can lead to infections and other complications that can, in turn, lead to additional surgeries.

Thankfully, CMS has seen the light and reversed its previous decision to stop publicly reporting these hospital mistakes, many of which can be life-altering if not life-threatening. While the data is not expected to be made public until late 2014, it is a positive step toward enabling patients to be better informed.

Metal-on-Metal.jpgThe first MDL bellwether trial began this week against DePuy Orthopaedics in connection with their Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip replacement product. This trial is the first of more than 6,000 cases filed across the country that have been consolidated in U.S. District Court in Dallas, Texas.

The Plaintiff in the case, Kathleen Herlihy-Paoli, aged 58, had two Pinnacle hips implanted in 2009 and soon began to complain of pain from the devices. Blood tests before her 2011 revision surgeries found the implants had released dangerous levels of cobalt and chromium into her bloodstream. Doctors found Mrs. Paoli’s cobalt blood serum levels were 85 times higher than normal, and an MRI also showed the presence of a sizable pseudotumor growing around her left hip implant.

In her Complaint, Ms. Herily-Paoli alleges that DePuy “knew, or should have known, of reports that metal-on-metal implants, such as the Pinnacle, generated unusually high amounts of metal debris over time due to unusual, premature or increased wear and tear,” and that the debris “can spread throughout the surrounding bone and tissue and cause serious complications and damage.” Further, the Plaintiff says DePuy officials misled patients and their doctors about the safety of the artificial hips, and sponsored a nationwide satellite telecast to orthopedic doctors to push the advantages of the Pinnacle device when they were already aware of the dangers of the product.

Ultimately, the jury in this first trial will be asked to determine whether the Plaintiff has provided sufficient evidence to meet the legal standards with regard to her claims of product defect, fraud, misrepresentation, and infliction of emotional distress. Moreover, if jurors find DePuy recklessly endangered the Plaintiff’s life, then they could be exposed to tremendous punitive damages.

The Suthers Law Firm continues to investigate and file lawsuits for patients suffering from problems caused by metal-on-metal hip implants. Contact the experienced product liability attorneys at the Suthers Law Firm online or call us on our toll free number, 1-800-320-2384, to set up a FREE consultation if you have experienced complications from a hip implant from one of the following manufacturers:

• DePuy • Stryker • Biomet • Wright • Zimmer
The attorneys at the Suthers Law Firm can quickly determine if your hip implant has been subject to recall, certified for multidistrict litigation or subject to FDA complaints or investigation. If it is determined that you have a valid hip implant case, your case will be handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no attorney’s fee unless there is a recovery on your behalf.