Do you have CSST Piping installed in your home?

If you have Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST) installed in your home you may be at risk for fire damages caused from lighting. You may be eligible to file a claim against the manufacturer for related costs and further damages. Click this link: Langston CSST Piping Contact Form for a free case evaluation. Do not wait, the time to act may expire!

Fire Marshal, Family Blame Fatal Fire on CSST

A Lubbock fire marshal is joining a North Texas family in blaming corrugated stainless steel tubing for a fatal fire and explosion that claimed the life of their son.

Brennen Teel was visiting friends Ross and Meg Rushing in Aug., 2012, when a clap of thunder was heard over their Lubbock home. Moments later, the burglar alarm sounded and the Rushing’s couldn’t turn it off.

Brennen and Ross went to get a ladder from the garage to disable the security system.

“That’s when the explosion happened,” said Ross Rushing. “Honestly, I thought I was dead immediately.”

Meg grabbed the children and headed for the door. Ross climbed out from under the buckled garage door, but he couldn’t find Brennen in the thick black smoke.

Firefighters would later find Brennen’s body in the garage. They believe he opened the drop down attic staircase, not knowing the attic was on fire. Oxygen rushed in, causing a backdraft explosion.

“I would not wish this on anybody. Anybody. This has been a nightmare,” said Ken Teel, Brennen’s father.

Garett Nelson, the Lubbock Fire Marshal, determined the fire started with the yellow corrugated stainless steel tubing in the attic. CSST are flexible tubes used to pipe gas to furnaces and appliances in many newer homes.

At least six companies make yellow CSST in the United States and it’s approved by The National Fire Protection Association, which writes the building codes for gas piping.

Nelson doesn’t believe a fire such as this would have occurred if the home hadn’t been constructed with CSST.

“I think it would be very safe to say, no, not the same way,” Nelson said.

Nelson believes lightning hit the chimney cap, traveled into the attic, jumped or arced onto the CSST and punctured tiny holes in the thin walls of the tubes that released and ignited the gas, creating mini blow torches.

“Now we’ve got flame jets coming out of those pipes, so it very quickly involved the entire attic,” said Nelson.

Believing the CSST contributed to a death, the City of Lubbock issued a moratorium that bans contractors from installing the tubing.

“This needs to end with Brennen Teel. That needs to be the last fire death that is created because of a bad product,” said Nelson.

The company that made the CSST in the Rushing’s home said their product is not to blame.

Titeflex declined an on camera interview but in a statement William A. Brewer III, a lawyer representing the company said, “Naturally, we are deeply saddened by the accident. However, we believe the claims advanced against our client are without merit.” (Read the entire statement here.)

The company’s experts believe the fire and explosion were caused by lightning damage to electrical wiring which ignited foam insulation in the attic. Insulation they will argue was improperly installed. A claim the insulation company denies.

“They do that in every case. That’s their defense, their modus operandi is blame someone else, blame anybody, blame the plumber, blame the electrician,” said Ted Lyon, the Teel family attorney.

Experts Lyon consulted with have no doubt the fire started with the CSST, including expert Mark Goodson who is an engineer and a scientific adviser to the state fire marshal’s office.

Goodson has personally investigated more than 200 CSST cases and has testified against CSST manufacturers in other fires.

For more than a decade he’s looked at cases where fire departments across the country have reported holes in CSST after lightning storms.

In his lab he punched a hole in a piece of CSST similar in size to holes he’s seen in actual fires to show NBC 5 Investigates what the jet of flame from a hole in CSST can look like.

Goodson said the fire can continue to burn from the pipes, like a blow torch, until the gas is cut off. Meanwhile, the fire can grow faster due to the constant supply of flammable gas.

“That’s what distinguishes them from many other types of fires, is the blow torch effect, and how fast the fire develops,” said Goodson.

The CSST industry claims fires are unlikely to happen if the CSST is properly connected or “bonded” to the electrical grounding system in the house.

The National Fire Protection Association’s committee on the issue of CSST safety recently said bonding and grounding CSST provides “a reasonable level of safety,” but the agency has not made a final decision on use of the product in future versions of the building code. In 2010 NFPA warned manufacturers they might prohibit CSST in the future if manufacturers couldn’t show bonding and grounding reduces the risk.

A recent industry supported study by the Gas Technology Institute found bonding and grounding CSST will reduce the risk of damage during, “…nearby lightning strikes.”

But when it comes to lightning that hits the house directly, the study found bonding and grounding, “does have limits” and “ … a direct lightning strike may carry enough charge to cause damage …”
Bob Torbin, one of the men who pioneered CSST, recently spoke to firefighters in Dallas. The company he works for is not involved in the Lubbock case.

He declined to be interviewed on camera but argues CSST is no more of a risk than many other things that can spark a fire if a home takes a direct hit by lightning.

“There’s nothing in your house that’s lightning proof,” said Torbin.

Some fire investigators said the difference between CSST and other things in the home that can spark a fire is that CSST carries flammable gas that can continue to feed a fire.

“So they’re assuming if it’s a direct strike, all bets are off, they know that,” said Nelson. “There are direct strikes. It’s not like they don’t happen.”

Critics of CSST argue the walls of the tubing are simply too thin, much thinner than the old black iron pipe that was used to supply gas in homes for decades.

“I will state that in almost 30 years of looking at fires I have never seen black pipe fail from lightning,” said Goodson.

CSST manufacturers said their product is safer than black iron pipe — which has more joints that can leak causing explosions. Black pipe is not flexible and can crack in an earthquake or tornado or when a home foundation shifts.

Meanwhile, the Teels insist they’ll continue to speak out and won’t settle their lawsuit unless Titeflex agrees to changes.

“We have a voice now. Brennen’s story is not over just because he’s gone,” said Becky Teel, Brennen’s mother.

“The bottom line is we expect them to take the product off the market. That’s minimum,” said Ken Teel.

They’re frustrated that Titleflex now makes a new black-coated CSST called “flashshield” that’s advertised as more being more lightning resistant. But the company still sells the old yellow version as well.

“So they made something safer. But they continued to leave the other on the market,” Becky Teel said.

Titeflex insists yellow CSST is still safe. Brewer, the company’s attorney said, “We have complete faith in this product.”

Brewer believes the Lubbock Fire Marshal reviewed only studies commissioned by the Teel’s attorneys in determining to issue a moratorium on the use of CSST.

“Many may find that to be questionable, if not irresponsible. Many national regulatory bodies and fire safety agencies have found CSST, when properly installed, to be safe and effective,” Brewer said.

Fire Marshal Nelson responded, telling NBC 5 Investigates, “To say that all we considered was one side of the information is pretty disingenuous.”

Nelson said he has also read independent research trying to make the best decision for his community. He said he based his initial decision on the fact that a death occurred and that his department had seen other fires involving CSST. Nelson said he’s given the manufacturer opportunities to present him more information but has not received any so far.

More than a year after the fire in Lubbock, Brennen Teel’s parents want him to know their fight for answers isn’t over.

“After the explosion, we never found his cellphone. That number’s still alive. I text him often, fill him in on where we are,” said Ken Teel.




New child safety seat regulations take effect in 2014 – are you ready?

New child safety seat regulations take effect in 2014 – are you ready?

In early 2014, a new amendment to a law stating that the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) Restraint System should not be used when the combined weight of the child and car seat is more than 65 pounds will go into effect. LATCH systems have been required in cars since 2001, and have been effective in preventing injury to children, but the strength of the anchors cannot be guaranteed when the 65-pound limit has been exceeded by the joint weight of the car seat and child.

LATCH-equipped vehicles have at least two sets of small bars, called anchors, located in the back seat where the seat cushions meet. LATCH-equipped Child Restraint Systems (CRSs) have a lower set of attachments that fasten to these vehicle lower anchors. Most forward-facing CRSs also have a top strap (upper tether) that attaches to a top or upper anchor in the vehicle. Together, they make up the LATCH system. LATCH was designed to make child seats safer and easier to install.

But usually weighing between 15 to 33 pounds, some child seats are heavy enough on their own to prevent children as light as 32 pounds from using the LATCH system. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that until the age of 8, children should remain in harness (including 5 point harness or booster with seatbelt), prompting car seat manufacturers to begin developing child seats with higher weight limits.

The current anchor requirements have been criticized by Joseph Colella, one of the five child-safety advocates who petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to complete the rule change. He and other advocates have found that the lower anchor weight requirements are based on older model child seats and the recommendations of how long children should be in child seats are outdated.

Another advocate of amending the law was the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which sought the rule change after studies found that weight limits did not take into account how much the child seats weigh.

However, usage and awareness of the LATCH system is already low. A study performed by Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization that has become an authority on unintentional childhood injury prevention, discovered that most people are using the lower anchors only around 30 percent of the time. The top tether straps, designed to prevent head injuries among children, were also only used in about 30 percent of vehicles.

“Disconnecting tethers when their use is needed … could lead to a tragedy,” Stephanie Tombrello of advocacy group SafetyBeltSafe told USA Today.

To ensure you are meeting current guidelines with child seat regulations, first weigh your child, then weigh the child safety seat, then add the two weights together. If the weight of the child and child seat together exceeds 65 pounds, start using a seat belt restraint instead of the LATCH system until you find an updated child seat supporting the combined weight.

“While LATCH makes it easier to properly install car seats in vehicles, it’s important for parents and caregivers to know that securing a child seat with a seat belt is equally as safe — and that they have the flexibility to use either system,” says Transportation Department spokeswoman Lynda Tran.

The NHTSA reports child safety seats, or child restraint systems (CRS) are the most effective way to protect babies and young children in the event of an automobile accident. Statistics show that when child safety seats are properly installed and used, they reduce the chance of serious injury or death in a vehicle crash by as much as 71 percent. But these restraints cannot work if they are not installed properly. Sadly, three out of every four child restraints are not properly used.

Every year, thousands of children are tragically injured or killed in automobile crashes. For children ages 3-6, and 8-14, it is the leading cause of death. It is impossible to overstate the toll this takes on families. All 50 states and the District of Columbia and our territories have laws requiring the use of safety seats, booster seats and seat belts for children traveling in motor vehicles.

USA Today

Appeals court affirms BP Oil Spill Settlement agreement

Appeals court affirms BP Oil Spill Settlement agreement

On Friday, Jan. 10, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed federal Judge Carl Barbier’s ruling approving the multi-billion dollar settlement agreement between BP Plc and businesses and individuals financially harmed by the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“This ruling is a victory for the people of the Gulf Coast, who may now continue with their efforts to restore their lives and livelihoods following the 2010 BP oil spill,” said Beasley Allen lawyer Rhon Jones, who is serving on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for the ongoing oil spill litigation. “The settlement agreement – which BP itself helped craft and approved – lays out transparent, objective formulas to compensate the victims of the spill. For BP to come behind it at this point, simply because it is costing them more than they expected, is unconscionable. We’re pleased the Court has upheld Judge Barbier’s decision on behalf of the Plaintiffs.”

For the past several months, BP’s lawyers have been attempting to void the agreement, saying its terms had been “misinterpreted,” forcing them to pay “bogus” or inflated claims by businesses. BP has been trying to undo the uncapped settlement agreement since it became apparent that the cost of resolving outstanding claims would exceed its original estimation of $7.8 billion. By October, BP’s estimate for anticipated payments under the uncapped settlement had grown to $9.2 billion, and the company expected the total to go even higher.

BP took the issue to the U.S. 5th District Court of Appeals in November, after Judge Barbier denied the company’s attempts to block payments. In December, two of the judges on the three-judge panel intervened, ordering Judge Barbier to block any and all claims payments to businesses whose “injuries are not traceable to the spill.” The order brought claims payments to a screeching stop.

However, Judge Barbier, who is overseeing oil-spill litigation in New Orleans, rejected BP’s protests that damage claims should not be paid to businesses that can’t prove their losses were directly caused by the 2010 disaster. He said that BP cannot assume a new position on the causation of damages and reverse a settlement agreement that it once deemed “more than fair,” even if abiding by it led to payouts significantly higher than the company’s original projections.

Associated Press
Reuters / The Times-Picayune

Endo Health offers $54.5 million to settle some vaginal mesh cases

Endo Health offers $54.5 million to settle some vaginal mesh cases

(Reuters) – A unit of Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc said it has agreed to pay $54.5 million to settle some of the thousands of lawsuits in North America that it is facing over injury claims stemming from the use of transvaginal surgical mesh products.

Endo unit American Medical Systems Inc announced the settlement in a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday. The company did not disclose how many cases would be resolved by the agreement, in which the company did not admit any liability or fault.

AMS estimated its potential liability as of March 31 from all current and future vaginal mesh cases to be at least $160 million, according to another SEC filing. Settlement details were not disclosed.

AMS is one of several companies facing thousands of lawsuits over transvaginal mesh devices in U.S. state and federal courts, as well as Canada. The devices are designed to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.

Market data submitted to the FDA showed that in 2010, approximately 300,000 women underwent surgery for pelvic organ prolapse, and roughly one in three of those used mesh. That same year, about 260,000 women underwent surgery for stress urinary incontinence, 80 percent of which involved transvaginal mesh.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuits have alleged a variety of injuries stemming from the devices, including chronic pain and incontinence.

In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notified transvaginal mesh manufacturers about reports of potential complications stemming from the devices. In 2012, the agency ordered AMS and other transvaginal device makers to conduct post-market safety studies and monitor the rate at which adverse events were reported.

AMS said it has been hit with thousands of lawsuits since 2008 and expects the number to climb, according to a regulatory filing from May. As of April 26, there were approximately 7,700 mesh cases pending against AMS, Endo and certain subsidiaries,  an SEC filing said.

A spokesman for Endo did not immediately return a request for comment Friday.

Shares in Endo were down .32 percent or 12 cents to $37.38 in late afternoon trade.

NaturaLyte and GranuFlo

FMC says U.S. wrongful death lawsuits to be consolidated

Reuters | Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:57am EST

Dec 13 (Reuters) – Fresenius Medical Care , the world’s largest dialysis group, said a group of plaintiffs in the United States had moved to consolidate wrongful death lawsuits against the company over its NaturaLyte and GranuFlo products.

The suits generally allege that the two products carried inadequate labeling and warnings, causing harm to patients, FMC said, adding that it considered the suits to be without merit and was vigorously defending against them.

The company’s chief executive Ben Lipps said in a statement that FMC’s actions related to the products were appropriate and responsible.

“Both products are safe and effective and were reviewed and cleared by the Food and Drug Administration several years ago,” he said.

“I am confident of our position on this medical issue,” he said.

FMC’s North American subsidiary received a subpoena from the Massachusetts district attorney on Dec. 7 requesting documents in the case and was cooperating fully, the company said.

Transvaginal Mesh Injuries

Transvaginal meshes have been shown to cause numerous injuries, including:
– Infections
– Internal bleeding
– Nerve damage
– Perforation of other organs and blood vessels
– Erosion of the vaginal mesh
– Problems/pain urinating
– Return of the condition treated (incontinence or pelvic recurrence)
– Pain during sexual intercourse

Thousands of women have already brought lawsuits against TVM companies for their vaginal mesh injuries. One woman recovered more than $11 million, including $7.76 million in punitive damages, after her transvaginal mesh eroded and caused her to undergo 18 surgeries to repair the damage.
If you have been injured by your transvaginal mesh, you can and should hold your TVM company accountable. Contact Rebecca at Langston & Langston PLLC.