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Law Firm News Archives | Farah & Farah

Farah & Farah – Our Community Service Matters

By Farah & Farah on January 28, 2017

Once in a while we like to do a little bragging about what we feel is our commitment to give back to NE Florida, our home for more than 30 years.

New Year’s Eve and the July 4th holiday we picked up the tab for more than 750 cab rides to make the city of Jacksonville safe from drivers who may have overindulged.   We don’t judge, we just help you get home safely. 

Farah & Farah has given away dozens of free bicycle helmets to make sure your kids have properly fitted and fastened head gear that meets the federal safety standards. 

We conducted two giveaways this year at the August 3, 2016 Downtown Art Walk and August 9th at Chick-Fil-A on Roosevelt Rd.  Learn more at: www.keepjaxsafe.org.

Farah & Farah was honored to provide Christmas gifts to three seniors who were our representatives before the Jacksonville Bar Association this year. They had signed up on the Santa Wish List and Farah & Farah provided and delivered gifts that were included on their individual wish lists.



I’m a Star Foundation is a local non-profit organization that serves as a leadership and mentoring boot camp for students grades 6 through 12. The students are enrolled in Duval County Public Schools and I’m a Star empowers them to graduate high school and realize their potential.

Betty Burney is the founder of the foundation and the local woman is a motivational speaker and education consultant who has been a community leader for nearly 30 years in Jacksonville. Farah & Farah is proud to support I’m a Star Foundation and has supported many local efforts by the generous Ms. Burney throughout the years. 

Jacksonville Area Legal Aid (JALA) helps those in need of legal assistance but have no money for a lawyer. Elderly individuals who have been taken advantage of by the unscrupulous, help in family matters when there is no budget to hire an attorney, or for those who are losing their homes, or for the disabled, these are some areas that JALA helps. https://www.jaxlegalaid.org/

We support JALA because we believe everyone must have access to the legal system, not just those who have enough money to get through the courtroom doors.   

It’s a fundamental and an American right.

At Farah & Farah we take our community involvement very seriously.  We feel we are indebted to our community because it supports all of our employees in the office and allows us to support our families.

It’s our moral obligation for us to give back to the community.  That is truly the way we feel and we are honored to do so.

Posted in: Law Firm News

Scammers and Gift Cards

By Farah & Farah on January 28, 2017

The holidays might have brought you many gifts you wanted, and some you didn’t.

For consumers who don’t want to buy the wrong gift, a prepaid card linked to your favorite retailer, say Target or Amazon, might be loaded with a limited amount of cash. The recipient is supposed to use it like a debit card.

Most Americans have given or received gift cards. But consumers beware – there are pitfalls to these cards.

First- if you lose the card, generally you are out of luck, depending on the terms of the contract.

Then there the problem of gift cards that sit unused. It’s called “spillage” and that is something the retailer counts on.  Spillage accounts for an estimated $1 billion in unused dollars every year, resulting in a gift to the retailer, reports Barron’s.

Watch for fees that may apply to a gift card sold by a financial institution. The card can have an activation or inactivity fee that degrades their value.

If you have an unwanted gift card you can trade it for one you do want. eBay’s CardCash app will allow a $100 Walmart gift card to be traded for a $93 eBay gift card.

Beware of the latest scam involving the iTunes gift cards.

An iTunes card purchased at CVS, might result in a call asking the recipient to put cash on the card to pay taxes or help someone in need. 

The scammer might say they have a CP2000 letter that requests a tax payment be made to the Internal Revenue System (IRS).   

CVS says never provide your PIN number to someone you don’t know. 

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has recently issued a warning to taxpayers about people who call you claiming to be from the IRS or Treasury Department and urging you to use that gift card to pay your tax bill. 

The warning says “The IRS WILL NOT contact you by phone with threats for non-payment of tax liability.”

The IRS will never require an iTunes or Amazon gift card or credit card for tax payment.  It’s a scam also seen on Green Dot Prepaid Cards, Money Pak Prepaid, Reloadit Prepaid, among others.

If you receive a call from the IRS allegedly to settle a tax bill, the government warning says just hang up. 

Dozens of consumers have been scammed this way, at one point to a tune of 150 reports a week. In October, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted dozens of alleged scammers based in the U.S. and five call centers in India. 

Prepare to be especially vigilant during the upcoming tax filing season.

Posted in: Law Firm News

In the Market for a Used Car? Buyer Beware

By Farah & Farah on January 28, 2017

If you listen to the advertisements, a used car is practically like a new one, just cheaper.


We all know that can’t be true.

Some used cars are the subject of recall notices, but if you are on a used car lot, do not assume that a certified used car has had all of the recall items fixed.   

In December, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which regulates advertising, issued a decision that essentially allows big used-car chains and General Motors to lie to the public when it comes to used automobiles.

They can tell consumers the used car has been safety inspected and repaired, offering assurances that the consumer is buying a quality car, even if there are outstanding recall items that have not been fixed. 

The burden falls on the consumer to look up online using their VIN# to see if the vehicle is facing any safety recalls.  See the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration database here.

The used car dealer chains affected are CarMax, Asbury Automotive Group and the West-Herr Automotive Group. 

The New York Times reports the dealers are only required to advise buyers that recall notices might be outstanding and how to find out if your car has a recall notice.  The dealers themselves do not have to make the repairs.

This might not be so problematic if we hadn’t heard about recent cases where automakers hid crucial safety information from car owners.

Can you say General Motors, in its failure to let consumers know about a deadly ignition switch?  How about Volkswagen and how it misled about pollution controls? Honda is on the list of automobile bad boys as well with its failure to let anyone know about safety problems for more than ten years.

Exploding airbags are responsible for 11 deaths, 180 injuries, and 42 million recalled affected vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Delia Robles of Riverside, California was on an errand when she got into a fender bender last September in her 2001 Honda Civic. It had recently been purchased by her son for $2,100 and had been sold three times before at auto auctions.

He didn’t know it had a defective airbag. The collision didn’t kill Ms. Robles, 50, but the metal parts that exploded from the Honda’s faulty airbag did. 

There were more than 20 notices sent out by Honda on that particular model warnings its driver-airbag could explode. It was never fixed.

Lobbyists for the used-car industry have been successful in weakening any effort in Congress to toughen laws for used cars, which amounted to 38 million auto sales in the U.S. last year.

The decision is a compromise that resulted from a settlement over General Motors advertising claims. It will be in effect for 20 years.

Interestingly, the move puts two federal agencies at odds – the F.T.C. and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the nation’s automobile safety agency.

It has called for used-car dealers to fix outstanding recall items before selling a vehicle.

Posted in: Law Firm News

Farah & Farah December 2016 Newsletter

By Farah & Farah on December 12, 2016

Toy Truck Explodes in Bed of Real Truck, Leads to Recall

It’s a toy that is supposed to bring thrills and joy to a child, not flames and injury.

The rideable Tonka Mighty Wheels Ride-On dump truck exploded in the back of a real pickup truck when a Washington State couple, Roxsane and Delmond Harden of Bellingham, brought the gift home to their grandson in November.

As a result, Toys “R” Us has pulled the 12-volt truck from its shelves, reports Consumerist. The truck’s lead acid battery produces hydrogen, which is highly flammable, however it’s unusual that it catches fire. 

The couple purchased the gift on Black Friday and was driving home when they noticed 20 foot flames igniting in the back of their truck. The inferno was caught on cell phone camera and broadcast on the Seattle television stations. The truck’s owner posted a video on YouTube to show the back of the truck completely charred and its bed interior melted. 

A fire truck and two troopers helped extinguish the blaze.

Toys “R” Us has apologized and refunded the cost of the truck.  The small toy truck, that is. No word yet on whether they will also step up and reimburse the couple for their real truck.

Manufacturer, Dynacraft will try and determine the cause of the fire but believes this is an isolated incident.

“The fact that their Tonka Truck is still featured in a video for the company shows it’s not taking the isolated incident too seriously,” said Eddie Farah of Farah & Farah.

Those company assurances are not enough to stop an investigation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the federal agency that oversees the safety of consumer products. The Hardens will meet with representatives from the CPSC to recount their experience and to stress that this dangerous product should not be sold to families.

The Tonka Mighty Wheels truck no doubt will make the annual “Trouble in Toyland” report, put out by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).  For 31 years, the consumer group has identified unsafe toys that have led to more than 150 recalls. It also helps educate the public about the potential hazards in toys.

In all, 44 different toys made the list for 2016.     

Consumers can shop for toys by checking Toy Safety Tips here. The Trouble in Toyland 2016 report is here.    

It is illegal to resell any of these products so be sure that you don’t buy them at garage sales or second-hand stores or even online.  Many contain lead paint, or parts that can be ingested by small children presenting a choking hazard.  Many of the products are imported from China and elsewhere.  ###

How to Deter Porch Pirates

The Grinch may be visiting your home early this holiday season.

About 23 million Americans had their holiday packages stolen from their homes last year when they were delivered to the front door and no one was home. 

This holiday season has the potential to be a bonanza for porch pirates with online shoppers spending $5.27 billion between Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.   Cyber Monday brought another $3 billion, according to Adobe Digital Insights. All of these online sales are very good news for thieves.

What can you do?  Turn to technology to turn away the porch pirates.

Package Guard is a disc that is connected to your home Wi-Fi and sends you an alert when a delivery is placed on it. If that package is lifted from the motion detecting plate without you first disarming it, an extremely loud alarm will sound.   

Security cameras, such as Ring, provide a little peace of mind. Also check out Nest, Blink or Kuna. These are high definition home security cameras that stream and record video and send you an alert when someone approaches your door. Some even come with a two-way intercom system.  You might consider pointing one camera to the street so it can record a license place. 

Lockboxes are going high tech. The Landport looks like a locker and sits on your front porch. Pricy at $499, the steel box is bolted to the floor and relies on a unique code to open. Place the code in the “special instructions” or “Notification Preferences” box when you order online from Amazon.

iBin is another porch box, though more expensive.

Another option is to have the package delivered to a different location such as a UPS Store or a FedEx location. 

Amazon Locker resembles a post office box and a package delivered there must be picked up in three days.  Amazon Lockers are now found in a dozen major US cities, some in 7-11 stores, and can be opened 24 hours.

Slice is an app that tracks packages and sends you email alerts and works with UPS, USPS and FedEx. Parcel is another app that delivers tracking information for USPS, FedEx and OnTrac, so you know when you need to get home.

Also you can request a signature for delivery. 

Or simply arrange with a neighbor to bring in the package.  Don’t know one?  In true technology fashion, Nextdoor is a website that connects you to people on your street.

You might find a power washer that way or learn about any porch pirate activity in your neighborhood. And you might actually get to know a neighbor. ###

Transvaginal Mesh Deaths

Unless you have been injured by a medical device or drug, you may not know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a system that is supposed to monitor adverse events, as they are called.

For medical devices, the information can be entered into the MAUDE database (Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience), but it does not invite the public with a user-friendly experience.

If an attorney or doctor knows about MAUDE, or MedWatch, another FDA reporting registry, he or she may report an adverse event on behalf of the client/ patient. 

But lately we’ve learned that the FDA allows device makers to withhold hundreds of reports of faulty medical devices, and instead allows the device maker to issue one retrospective summary.

The way medical devices are approved, unlike drugs, without premarket approval or any requirement for clinical trials, should undergo an entire overhaul, said the Institute of Medicine in a 2011 report, but it simply hasn’t happened.

Madris Tomes used to work at the FDA. Now she has established Device Events, an online news source where she calculates the numbers being entered into the FDA and reports them in a way everyone can understand.

For example, Essure permanent birth control device, has generated 303 reports of fetal deaths or injuries. The FDA now requires a black box warning label for Essure, the strongest warning concerning serious or life-threatening risks, but it remains on the market.

Transvaginal mesh also remains on the market, despite the numbers.

With more than 25,000 adverse event reports from law offices, 23,000 reports from doctors and over 1,000 from hospitals, Tomes found 1,299 deaths associated with the use of transvaginal mesh or slings. The reports also include mesh that is used for hernia repair. 

The FDA itself reported that between 2008 and 2011, there were seven deaths association with pelvic organ prolapse (POP) repair. More than 3,979 reports of injury death and malfunction associated with all gynecological surgical mesh products were reported from 2005 to 2010.

In 2011, the FDA Obstetrics and Gynecology Devices Advisory Committee reported three of the deaths were due to the placement of the POP mesh, generally a larger piece of polypropylene (PP) used to shore up descending or dropping pelvic organs. 

Tomis says the death reports are likely low because deaths can be reported as injuries or a product malfunction.   It is also unclear how many deaths are related to the use of POP mesh or mesh to treat incontinence, a smaller piece of PP mesh.

There are more than 95,000 defective product lawsuits consolidated in one federal court in Charleston WV and thousands more in state courts and in countries around the world. No one is calculating how many of those women pass on as they wait for the protracted litigation to be resolved.

Without someone closely watching the post-approval use of a medical device, and an increase in post-market surveillance funding, you have more chance of receiving a consumer recall notice on a faulty car part than on your implantable medical device. 

Posted in: Law Firm News

Farah and Farah November 2016 Newsletter

By Farah & Farah on November 28, 2016

Florida Tops Nation in Motorcycle Deaths in 2015

The news is not good if you ride a motorcycle in Florida – deaths from motorcycle accidents are at an all-time high and Florida leads the nation in those fatalities.

The statistics are sobering.  There were 5,010 motorcyclist fatalities in 2015, which represents the worst death toll in seven years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Governors Highway Safety Association in its 2015 report says the number of motorcyclist fatalities ranged from 3 in the District of Columbia to 550 in Florida. Florida was one of 31 states that experienced an increase in motorcyclist fatalities. Sixteen states had decreases.


Eddie Farah, of Farah & Farah says the number one reason for the increase is the repeal of Florida’s mandatory helmet laws.

”Back in the late 1970s, there were 47 states that mandated motorcyclists wear helmets. But the “personal freedom” movement by bike rider groups went after those mandates. By 2012 that mandated helmet law was reduced to just 19 states.’

“Florida repealed its law in 2000. Anyone riding a motorcycle, 21 or older, with at least $10,000 in medical insurance no longer had to wear a helmet. We are now seeing the results of that change.”

Your chance of being injured on a motorcycle is 26 times higher than in a car or truck, according to NHTSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. You increase your risks of dying in one of those crashed by 37 percent if you don’t wear a helmet, according to NHTSA.

Riding a motorcycle is risky business. Not only are you exposed to direct contact by oncoming vehicles, but without a helmet you increase your chances of traumatic head injury in a collision. Speeding, and the use of alcohol and/or drugs all contribute to fatal outcomes.

Chuck Farah adds, “We are also seeing people wearing cheap, fashionable motorcycle helmets that in no way conform to federal safety standards and therefore do not protect riders from traumatic brain injury.”

Gas prices were down in 2015 an average of 28% meaning more vehicles of all kinds have taken to the road.

When a motorist speeds, consumes drugs or alcohol or is distracted, the risk of injury and death on the road increases for both motorists and motorcyclists.

It remains to be seen what 2016 statistics will yield, but gas prices are still low and the weather is mild, the lax motorcycle helmet law is still in place and drivers are still driving distracted behind the wheel, perhaps more than ever!

Driving is serious business.  Imagine the 550 lives that could have been saved and the families that could be spared the loss of a loved one if we all took more seriously our time on the road?  ##

Big Rigs – Big Speed

You’ve heard of the black box recorder found on airplanes. Investigators will recover a black box recorder to decipher the conditions that might have led to a crash.

But did you know there are electronics on board a big rig that can also limit the speed that a heavy truck can travel on our highways?

But they only work if they are switched on. 

The problem is, often they are not.   

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) plans to mandate speed limiter technology on new big rigs, but it remains uncertain if those mandates should apply to heavy trucks already on the road. 

Limiters do just what they suggest, they limit the speed limit of the big rig from 60 to 70 mph or points in between. NHTSA says at 68 mph, at least 100 lives a year could be saved.

The public can comment on the speed limiter proposal until November 7.

This would mean new vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds, including a multipurpose vehicle such as a school bus or bus, would be equipped with a speed limiting device. The actual speed limit of the highway will be set by this final rule.

The federal register is seeking comments on the proposal from the Department of Transportation.

Statistics show us that speed is a factor in more than 1,000 fatalities every year where trucks and busses in excess of 13 tons are involved, according to FARS or the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System. 

Excess speeding in 2015 is blamed for at least 9,557 deaths in cars and trucks in the U.S. 

Limiting the speed of these heavy vehicles would reduce the severity of crashes, reduce fatalities and injuries and save more than $1 billion a year in the cost of fuel.

The question might be why are these speed limiters not switched on if the technology is available? 

Well it is, in some instances.

One major carrier, Schneider National Inc. from Green Bay, Wisconsin, installed the devices twenty years ago and set them at 65 mph.

Two Canadian provinces, Ontario and Quebec, limit large commercial trucks to 65 mph. 

In Germany, Ford debuted its “Intelligent Speed Limited” that allows a maximum speed to be set on the S-Max minivan which is sold in Europe. That technology is not available in the United States. 

The trucking industry is divided and not surprisingly financial incentive is the reason. 

The American Trucking Association (ATA) supports the speed limiters but independent truckers, who compete in getting a delivery to its destination faster, are not in favor.

Drivers are safer when everyone travels at relatively same speed, argues the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association,
but ultimately, they argue, the safest truck is driven by a well-trained driver who can vary his speed depending on conditions of the road.

The fact that the proposal may only apply to new trucks is outrageous, says Steve Owings of the advocacy group, Road Safe America.  The group wants the speed limiters extended to all trucks on the road.  ###

Fraudulent Credit Cards from Wells Fargo- What Should a Consumer do?

There are two million Wells Fargo customers who were subjected to fraudulent accounts opened in their names, whether a bank account or credit card.

It was all part of the Wells Fargo scandal that broke in September. 

Well Fargo employees say they were pressured to meet unrealistic sales expectations. The inquiry goes as far back as 2008, but there is no word on how long this has been going on.

As a result, 5,300 employees have been fired and the CEO of Wells Fargo, John Stumpf, 63 decided to retire early. That after Sen. Elizabeth Warren publicly chastised the CEO, who remains under investigation.

He reportedly returned much of his 2016 salary of more than $19 million and his bonus and $41 million in stock awards. 

Wells Fargo says it’s returned $2.6 million in fees to its customers, and paid a fine of $185 million imposed by regulators, but is that enough?

First, if you are a customer of Wells Fargo, check your accounts with the bank and check whether any credit cards have been opened in your name.  You might not know it because part of the fraud was to have the credit or even a debit card sent to the bank, not your home.

Go to a local Wells Fargo branch and review the accounts that have your name and social security on them. This can also be done online if you’ve set up online banking. 

Look for any transactions on those accounts or fees you are being charged.  If you find them, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) should be alerted at 855-411-2372. 

If you have a private student loan from Wells Fargo, check it carefully for any illegal fees or incorrect entries on credit reports, for which the bank was fined $3.6 million by the CFPB.

Review your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, which you can get for free once a year. Check out AnnualCreditReport.com.   

Wait before you close any credit card. To do so many negatively impact your credit score

Credit cards opened over time show a cardholder is responsible, says VP of Customer Operations at Equifax Diane Moogalian to Consumer Affairs.

Generally those who have a lower credit utilization rate have a higher credit score. In other words, if you don’t need credit you are judged favorably. Keep your score under 30%, says CreditKarma.

The Wells Fargo policy now is to let you know if an account or credit card is opened in your name.  The sales quota system will end at the end of 2016.

On the other hand, you could use this as an excuse to shop for another bank.  Check out Depositaccounts.com to compare lower fees or higher interest rates.

Posted in: Law Firm News

Our 2016 Farah & Farah Scholarship Winner!

By Farah & Farah on October 12, 2016

grad-scholarshipThe results are in! We’ve chosen our winner for the 2016 Farah & Farah Scholarship! After reviewing many great essays from a major melting pot of young minds, the decision for a winner wasn’t easy.

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Posted in: Law Firm News

The 2016 Farah & Farah Scholarship Finalists Announced!

By on September 28, 2016

graduationThis year at Farah & Farah, we have decided to give back to the great minds of the future and hold a scholarship of our own. These great minds are heading off to college and we want to help in any way we can. After reviewing dozens of applications and essays, we’re proud to announce our finalists for the Farah & Farah 2016 scholarship! Our finalists are:

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Posted in: Law Firm News

Farah & Farah September 2016 Newsletter

By Farah & Farah on September 5, 2016

Zika Virus Tracked in Florida is Moving Outside of Miami

Nationwide about 3,000 people have been diagnosed with the Zika virus, most of those cases contracted while traveling to South and Central America. 

The Zika infection in someone who is not pregnant can create a mild flu-like reaction, fever, rash and joint pain or can be asymptomatic

Zika in pregnant women is a different story.  Babies born with microcephaly, or partially formed heads, are reported to have problems swallowing and with vision, hearing and brain damage. Some babies do not live very long. 

Florida is receiving the brunt of Zika cases where 84 pregnant women have tested positive for the virus.

In August, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced free Zika virus testing for all pregnant women. The problem is so many women responded that test results are backlogged and Florida forbids abortions after 24 weeks, foreclosing that option for some infected women. 

Zika is tracked daily by the state. Duval has eight cases of travel-related Zika, while St. Johns County has four cases.   Miami-Dade reports 194 cases, with 58 cases from bites from local mosquitos. Orange County reports 70 cases, while Broward County has 107, both are travel-related cases.  Cases have been reported as far north as Tallahassee and the Panhandle.

Eight individuals who live outside of Florida have contracted Zika with the infections reportedly occurring with a 1.5 square mile zone of South Beach on Miami Beach.   

In August, Gov. Rick Scott declared Miami Beach a Zika zone while the Wynwood neighborhood, just north of downtown Miami reported the first local mosquito bites to carry the virus.

One infected person from New York, one from Texas and another from Taiwan have had their Zika infections linked back to Florida. 

But those individuals will not appear in the Florida total.

The Miami Herald reports there are some concerns about the accuracy of state reporting because the state numbers do not include anyone who is not a resident of Florida, in other words, under-reporting the actual number of identified cases.  That is particularly egregious to tourists, says an expert in infectious disease.

It raises the question of whether a Zika case should be reported in the state where the person lives, or where the exposure occurs.   

Meanwhile, Miamians have been protesting the aerial spraying of insecticide, naled.

The European Union banned naled in 2012 over concerns for the safety of human and aquatic life.  In South Carolina, commercial honey bee farmers report the naled spraying killed their bees.

As a precaution, all Florida residents should drain areas of standing water which could include garbage cans, a bird bath or pool cover, to minimize mosquito breeding grounds. The Zika virus is carried primarily by an infected Aedes Aegypti mosquito. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, Thomas Frieden, recently announced the government is out of money to fight the Zika virus and warned the country is “about to see a bunch of kids born with microcephaly” in the coming months.    ###

Sources:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/13/us/zika-test-delays-florida-pregnant.html,  http://www.businessinsider.com/floridians-worried-about-zika-and-the-insecticide-used-to-combat-it-2016-9,  https://www.cdc.gov/zika/,   http://www.miamiherald.com/news/health-care/article66790817.html

EpiPen Scandal – Big Pharma, Big Greed

The CEO of the Mylan Pharmaceuticals has become the latest poster woman for corporate greed. 

It’s the kind of publicity that no one wants.

The fierce consumer backlash is directed at Heather Bresch since her company, Mylan jumped the price of its lifesaving EpiPen from $124 in 2009 to now over $600.  That’s a 400 percent jump in just seven years. Bresch says it’s not the company’s fault.  Blame the healthcare supply chain system, she says. Bresch calls it “broken” and in need of an overhaul.   

Congress isn’t buying that.   An investigation by the House Oversight Committee has been launched into Mylan and Mylan must produce documents about the 15 price hikes EpiPen has undergone since 2008.

Fortunately her dad, West Virginia U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, is not on that committee.

At least her bank account is not broken. Ms. Bresch personally took in nearly $19 million in compensation last year. CNN reports over three years, Bresch has made $54 million.

She likes to remind us hers is a for-profit corporation. No kidding. 

The furor might not be so loud if EpiPen was not a life-saver. It delivers a much-needed jolt of epinephrine to quiet an anaphylactic reaction to an allergen.

After the EpiPen scandal came to light, the company crafted a plan.  It would offer coupons to bring down the price of EpiPen to those who might rely on it to save their life. The company offered $300 coupons to users as opposed to cutting its profit margin, which went from 9 percent to 55% by 2014.

So customers, who rely on the emergency fix in case of an allergic episode, can clip coupons.

The company reports only about four percent of prescription users actually pay full price out of pocket. 

Price gouging has become new profitable predator in the Big Pharma field and the perpetrators are shameless.

Gilead Sciences, maker of Solvaldi, a hepatitis C drug, was investigated when the price of one pill rose to $1,000. A senate investigation said the company put profitability above patients and taxpayers pick up the bill through Medicare and Medicaid.

Then there is drug maker, Martin Shkreli, who joins Bresch in the Big Pharma Hall of Shame. 

He is the smug-faced 30-year-old who took to the airwaves to defend his company raising the price of AIDS medication, Daraprim, 5,000% in one day last year from $13.50 to $750 per pill! His company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, said the hike was for research and was fair.   

Consumers didn’t think so. Public backlash caused Shkreli to drop the price for a single pill to $375, still out of the reach of most consumers.  

Not surprisingly, Shkreli has injected himself into the debate over EiPen defending the price increase by Mylan Pharmaceuticals.  ##

Driverless Cars – Cool Technology But Are They Safe? 

What is the number one cause of death behind the wheel? 

According to government statistics, the answer, in the majority of cases, is the driver. So it makes sense, if you reduce human error, you will cut down on car crashes. 

That’s the theory behind autonomous vehicles, a generic name for driverless, self-driving or robotic vehicles.  This evolving technology is designed to detect the vehicle’s environment and react to a variety of conditions on the road. 

The forecast is that manufacturers will be filling the demand for robotic cars in major cities around the world.  Tesla, Ford, Toyota, GM, BMW, Delphi, Volkswagen and NuTonomy are all planning to offer self-driving vehicles within five years.

Even if you are not planning to purchase one, chances are that you will soon be driving next to a driverless vehicle. So, are they safe?   

Tesla has been in the news recently for two fatal crashes and a number of accidents involving autonomous vehicles. 

A Florida driver was involved in a fatal crash in May of this year when his Tesla hit a tractor-trailer that crossed its path. Because the big truck was backlit against a bright sky, apparently the camera in the car didn’t detect it, and neither did the driver. 

In Montana, a driver said his Tesla veered to the right and didn’t slow down after hitting barriers alongside the road. He survived. In that case,

Tesla blamed the driver and insists the safety benefits outweigh the risk, but the driver accuses Tesla of a cover-up.

Regardless of who or what is to blame, it’s fair to say Tesla is not entirely road ready.

Tesla now says it has incorporated six times as many information points per object as before. Improvements to autopilot now require a driver to keep his hands on the steering wheel for long periods of time and will send out reminders when he doesn’t. 

Still to be worked out – the rules of the road.  When an autonomous vehicle is programmed to obey the law, how can it know when to break the law to avoid a bicyclist, a branch or a pedestrian? 

Humans have judgment.  In an extreme situation they can choose the best of some bad alternatives on the road and they can make that decision quickly. 

One consumer group, Consumer Watchdog, warns these vehicles are being overhyped and there is not enough oversight, especially by NHTSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The group is concerned the agency is taking a cheerleader role in promoting the new technology rather than a watchdog role of carefully and critically assessing the safety of the technology. 

It certainly is not the first government office that sides with industry over consumer safety.

Sources: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/09/11/driverless-cars-equal-accidents-tellusatoday/90239510/;  http://www.theverge.com/2016/8/30/12700290/drive-ai-autonomous-car-human-robot-interface;   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_car   ; http://www.cnbc.com/2016/08/29/heres-what-the-future-looks-like-in-a-world-of-self-driving-cars-commentary.html;   http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/12/business/elon-musk-says-pending-tesla-updates-could-have-prevented-fatal-crash.html;  https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=tesla%20accidents%3F;  https://electrek.co/2016/07/22/tesla-autopilot-model-x-crash-montana-coverup/

Posted in: Law Firm News

Farah & Farah August 2016 Newsletter

By Farah & Farah on August 2, 2016

Hands-Free Technology is Not Risk Free

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out if you hold a phone in your hand while you’re driving and try to text a message, one letter at a time, you will be distracted.

It’s fair to say everyone who has done these activities while driving has experienced the total void of attention to driving. Fortunately, for most of us, we recover from these episodes and vow not to do that again.

That is, until the next time we do it again.

So it was welcome news when hands-free technology began to be integrated into our vehicles.  The theory was we could still multitask while behind the wheel, albeit safely.  Well those promises have not proven to be true. 

New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concludes there is a 27 second gap after using hands-free technology before a driver regains full attention to driving.   

The University of Utah conducted the study with AAA to look at a variety of hands-free technologies including voice-activated commands to talk or text, using a vehicle’s entertainment features to select music, and using smart phone technology like Google Now or Apple’s Siri.

Drivers lived in the Washington, D.C. area and 29 percent of 573 adults surveyed said they had used voice-activated technology while driving within the last six months.

Researchers found that what we perceive to be a ten second task actually took 27 seconds!   That means you can travel three football fields at 25 mph before you have your focus back on the road. 

Certain vehicles also had more user-friendly technology that streamlined the tasks. 

The 2015 Mazda 6 was the worst performer with a cognitive distraction rate of 4.6 out of 6. The best scoring technology was the Chevy Equinox which scored 2.4 on the distraction scale. 

By comparison, listening to the radio scores a 1.2 on the distraction scale. 

The National Safety Council finds 28% of 1.6 million car crashes every year are caused by talking on the phone or texting.   

The bottom line- if you want to make sure you don’t miss a stop light or hit a pedestrian or other vehicles, put aside the technology while you are driving, no matter what promises it makes to be free from distraction. #

Sources:  http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-aaa-distracted-driving-20151022-story.html;  http://abcnews.go.com/US/hands-free-tech-distract-drivers-27-seconds-study/story?id=34637995;  https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/study-hands-free-devices-distract-drivers-for-27seconds-after-use/2015/10/21/8fc67032-781b-11e5-a958-d889faf561dc_story.html;  http://www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/distracted-driving.aspx?var=mnd

Keep Our City Safe – School Bus Safety as We Head Back to School

August marks the month that most of our local kids head back to school so it’s a very good time to review school bus safety. 

In Duval County, busses are provided for any student who lives more than 1.5 miles from their school.  Anything less than that is considered safe to walk, although most of us can appreciate that our city was not built with foot traffic or bicyclists in mind. 

So stay alert. Put those cell phones away when you share the road with kids trying to go to or come home from school. 

“Imagine hitting and killing a child because you got a text message you just had to read right then.  No message is that important that it can’t wait,” says Eddie Farah of Farah & Farah.

Distracted driving might also distract you from the rules of the road.

When a school bus is stopping, its side stop sign and red lights will let you know it’s coming to a halt.  That means if you are going in the same direction, either behind or alongside the bus, you must stop too so children can unload or cross the street to get on the bus. 

It doesn’t matter if you are three lanes away from the bus and turning left. If you are going in the same direction, you must stop. 

Be mindful that children will be running to catch up with that bus so it is not a time to speed away even when the sign is withdrawn. 

Please be especially careful along blind streets or curves that can obscure a stopped school bus. 

In a divided highway, those traveling in the opposite direction or on the other side of a median, are not required to stop. But if you see a school bus on the other side of the street, assume children are in the area. You can bet that children will do the unexpected.

On a rainy or foggy day, reduce your speed by 10 mph. That is good advice for any time of the day.

Children need to be at their bus stop at least ten minutes before the scheduled arrival time and stay away from the street. 

If you miss your school bus, do not chase it. The bus is not authorized to stop anywhere except designated bus stops. #

Sources:  http://www.duvalschools.org/Domain/4424;  http://www.duvalschools.org/page/9209

Drowning in Above Ground Pools is an Unrecognized Danger

You have to wonder how much we really care about the safety of our children when you hear that the U.S. lags other countries in mandated safety requirements concerning above ground pools.

By now you have probably heard that Florida leads the nation in drowning deaths of children age five and under. Pool owners are supposed to create a barrier to access to the pool, either through a screened in area or a fence or a pool cover. This applies to private pools, public pools and municipal pools.

Little has been said about the dangers of above ground pools.  These are pools that can be erected seasonal or temporarily. They generally cost much less than an in-ground pool which makes them attractive to many consumers.

But the same safety considerations enacted by law apply to above ground pools.

Enacted by the Legislature, the Preston de Ibern/McKenzie Merriman Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act (Florida Statute 515.21;  515.29;  515.37;  515.27) is intended to protect children from above ground pool dangers.

It requires that whether above ground or in-ground, the pool be equipped with a pool barrier whether a safety cover, exit alarms on all doors and windows that provide access to the pool and self-latching doors with the release no lower than 54 inches from the floor.    

There cannot be any permanent structure that allows for climbing into the pool which may include the pump and equipment, which is often placed alongside the pool.  In that case, the above ground pool must have a barrier fence or one of the other pool safety features to keep children out. 

Any barrier on the ground needs to be at least 48 inches high to stop access by little ones to the pool. If the pool is above ground that might meet the mandate of a barrier but there must be no ladder that provides access to the water. 

The industry has known for 20 years that A-frame ladders left in place have been the unintended entry method into above ground pools.  The A-frame ladders are typically sold in the U.S. with an above ground pool along with instructions the ladder should be removed when the pool is not in use. Because they are heavy and clumsy, the ladder is often left in place. 

And that’s the problem with U.S. regulations.  Two manufacturers produce about 90 percent of the above ground pools sold around the world.  The industry knows an alternative ladder design can save lives. But the U.S. does not require an alternative design. France does. So does Australia and Canada.

A flip up ladder swings up to about five feet in the air making accessibility difficult.   Another design, required in France, requires that the steps to the ladder be removed so the ladder cannot be used.

Do Europeans and Canadians care more about their children’s safety than Americans?  Certainly a slight increase in the cost of an above ground pool would be tolerated by consumers to save even one American child’s life.

Posted in: Law Firm News

Keepjaxsafe.org Partners With Stuff the Bus

By on August 1, 2016

Farah & Farah continues its drive to keep Jacksonville safe by partnering with First Coast News and the United Way of Northeast Florida on their “Stuff the Bus” campaign. Tragically, thousands of Florida children start their school year, each year, without the supplies necessary to achieve a quality education. That’s why the Stuff the Bus campaign is encouraging Jacksonville area citizens with means to donate school supplies for children who are in need. This year, the local law firm of Farah & Farah added some incentive for people to donate school supplies by giving away free bicycle helmets to children of families that make donations to Stuff the Bus.

Read the rest »

Posted in: Law Firm News

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The attorneys of Farah & Farah in Jacksonville, Florida have experience with personal injury, medical malpractice, product liability, workers’ compensation, social security, injury and negligence lawsuits, family law and criminal defense. Eddie Farah and our team of Jacksonville attorneys are proud to represent working people and families throughout the country.

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