Tuesday

Leading Coal Industry Law Firm Withheld Evidence of Black Lung Disease

A miner’s struggle for benefits due to black lung disease spotlights aggressive tactics by a mining company law firm. Jackson Kelly recently was named by U.S. News & World Report as the nation’s top firm in mining law. But its actions are sometimes unethical, according to current and former judges, lawyers and state disciplinary officials. As a result, sick and dying miners have been denied benefits and affordable medical care. The firm, documents show, over the years has withheld unfavorable evidence and shaped the opinions of doctors reviewing miners’ medical claims by providing the physicians only what the lawyers wanted them to see. In a pending case involving a West Virginia miner named Gary Fox, Jackson Kelly was found to have withheld pathology reports from two doctors who concluded that Fox likely had black lung. The Center for Public Integrity

Consumer Reports withdraws its recommendation for Camry and two other Toyota vehicles. While Consumer Reports gave top rankings to Toyota’s luxury Lexus and the Toyota brand in its annual new-car reliability survey, the magazine said it will no longer recommend the Camry, Prius V or the RAV4 sport utility vehicle because they received “poor” ratings in a new crash test. Consumer Reports also dropped Volkswagen’s Audi A4 car from its recommended list due to a “poor” rating on the crash test, started in 2012 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The “small-overlap” crash test is designed to replicate what happens when only the front corner of a vehicle strikes an object, which often happens in collisions that kill or seriously hurt motorists. Consumer Reports, Reuters

No brand of helmet will keep a high school football player safe from the risk of a concussion. That was the conclusion of a study by Wisconsin researchers who tracked 1,332 high school football players from 36 schools during the 2012 season. When the researchers compared the rates and severity of concussions for each type of helmet, they found essentially no difference. The rate of concussions for players wearing Riddell helmets, the most popular brand in the study, was 9.5 percent, while the rate for players wearing Schutt helmets was 8.1 percent and the rate for players wearing Xenith helmets was 6.7 percent. Given the size of the study, the researchers said the differences were not statistically significant. Los Angeles Times, U.S. News & World Report

Worker advocates say sandblasting persists at jeans factories even though the technique is linked to fatal lung disease. Three years ago, when Levi Strauss announced a ban on sandblasting, labor advocates hoped the move by the top-selling jeans maker would help end the practice, which gives denim a bleached or distressed look. But even as other retailers joined Levi Strauss in proclaiming bans, sandblasting persists in plants that make the companies’ clothes in China, India, Pakistan, Egypt and Bangladesh, according to research by labor organizations and other worker advocates. Levi Strauss says its suppliers have removed sandblasting equipment from their factories. But counterfeiting, outsourcing and vast factories that make jeans for dozens of brands under one roof make it difficult to track jeans from production to the shopping mall. Bay Area News Group

Two Ohio manufacturers accused of job safety violations. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration accused Napoleon Spring Works, a manufacturer of garage door parts, of 16 violations. That included one willful violation, the agency’s most serious offense. OSHA said the company’s plant in Archbold, Ohio, exposed workers to amputation hazards. The agency proposed $147,600 in penalties. Separately, OSHA accused Formed Fiber Technologies, an auto fabric manufacturer, of 11 violations at its Sidney, Ohio, plant, including three repeat violations. The agency, which proposed $115,000 in fines, said the company exposed workers to amputation, crushing and other hazards. It put the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which is intended to put recalcitrant employer under tighter scrutiny. OSHA (Archbold), The Blade (Toledo)OSHA (Sidney)

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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