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On April 17, 2021, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a warning to owners and prospective buyers of the Peloton Tread+, Peloton’s interactive treadmill. After being alerted to 39 injury incidents and one child’s death related to the Peloton Tread+’s uncovered rear base, the CPSC posted a full statement which states, “[t]he Commission has found that the public health and safety requires this notice to warn the public quickly of the hazard.” Within this statement, the CPSC released a graphic video showing two young children playing on and near the treadmill. One child, holding a ball at the uncovered rear base, has his arms pulled in after the treadmill’s belt catches them. With the motor still running, he is quickly taken under the treadmill. The child’s body, stopping the belt, causes the still-running motor to over-compensate energy with the traction and the treadmill lifts, shifts, and eventually covers the child, with only his lower legs visible. In this instance, the child was lucky to have survived. At least one child was not as lucky, and our thoughts are with this child’s grieving family.

The CPSC also states that at least one incident occurred while an adult was using the treadmill and a child was caught and pulled under the machine by the belt. Whether in use for its intended purpose or not, this product is a danger to children and pets. The CPSC released updated guidelines for those who continue to use the Tread+ stating children under 16 should not use the machine, it should be kept in a locked room to ensure pets and children cannot enter, and that, while not in use, the machine should be unplugged and store the safety key away from the device and out of reach of children. Peloton, in their statement shared by the CPSC, believes the CPSC warning to be “inaccurate and misleading”. They warn that children under 16 should not use the product and that children, pets, and objects must be kept away from the Tread+ at all times.

Peloton has experienced a large increase in sales over the last year, referencing COVID-19 in large part. In Peloton’s Fourth Quarter of Fiscal Year 2020 shareholder letter, fourth quarter revenue was $607.1 million, a year-over-year growth of 172%. The Tread+ has been sold since 2018 and still does not have a cover on the rear base, the cause of these injuries. As Peloton’s profits increase, injuries caused by their Tread+ do as well. The experienced product liability attorneys at The Simon Law Firm, P.C. have a deep understanding of the pain families feel when a loved one’s injury could have been prevented. They are prepared and eager to fight for those who are silenced by large companies.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a Peloton Tread+ Treadmill, please contact us today.

Originally published on Missouri Lawyers Media. Attorneys for The Simon Law Firm in St. Louis were looking for novel ways to market the firm when they settled on a new-to-them medium: the podcast.

While podcasting itself is not new, increasing numbers of law firms are turning to it as a means to highlight their expertise, dispense practical tips on practicing law and share their work with the public.

In the past year alone, The Simon Law Firm has created three different podcasts, each with a unique focus and format. Its newest podcast — “Results Don’t Lie,” which launched March 30th — represents a fresh approach to the genre.

It features attorneys Johnny Simon and Tim Cronin, who through the course of five to six episodes in a season tell the story of one of their high-profile civil cases from start to finish. Cronin said the pair chose to start the series with Koon v. Walden because it was a highly publicized case with immediate impact.

In that case, the two attorneys represented plaintiff Brian Koon, who sued his doctor, Henry Walden, and Walden’s employer, Saint Louis University, in St. Louis Circuit Court in 2014, alleging that Walden overprescribed him opioids.

The case resulted in a $17.6 million jury verdict against SLU and Walden in 2016. The Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District upheld the verdict.

Cronin said the case had a direct effect on setting the standard for punitive damages in medical malpractice cases, as well as a wider impact in terms of combatting the opioid epidemic.

“That verdict started to put pressure, more than anything else had, on the actual doctors who were prescribing the pills,” he said.

When Cronin and Simon decided to produce their own podcast, their firm already had launched two others with the help of a marketing and production company.

In April 2020, firm founder John Simon and St. Louis attorney Erich Vieth debuted “The Jury is Out,” which focuses on trial practice. Two months later, women attorneys at the firm launched “Heels in the Courtroom,” which highlights skills women attorneys need to be successful in their practices.

Cronin said he and Johnny Simon began the production process for “Results Don’t Lie” by sitting down and discussing the case with a representative of the marketing and production company. The company then put the story together in a narrative, serialized format. Cronin said he believes they’ve taken a new approach to lawyer podcasts in “Results Don’t Lie.”

“I don’t listen to a lot of podcasts, but I haven’t heard of one about civil cases like this,” he said, adding that he and Simon tried to treat the civil case in the same vein as a true-crime story.

As of press time, the firm had released four of the season’s five episodes. The podcast, like all of the firm’s podcasts, is found on the firm’s website and through other popular podcast apps.

‘A powerful way to reach people’

Already, the firm has realized the potential reach of podcasts.

Amy Collignon Gunn, who helped to lead the firm’s effort to incorporate podcasts, plays a key role in “Heels in the Courtroom.” She said that women-centric podcast, which totals 20 episodes, has been downloaded about 10,000 times.

The podcast also has drawn positive feedback from listeners, Gunn said, adding that she and its other participants are gratified to learn that listeners may have been helped by their advice and perspectives.

“I’ve learned that this is a very powerful way to reach people and advocate for our causes,” she said.

“Heels in the Courtroom” is unique in that most podcasts focused on women attorneys are set up in an interview format, Gunn said. In contrast, it offers a conversational format, with the firm’s attorneys discussing their experiences.

The podcast cycles between episodes focused on hard and soft skills, Gunn said.

Other law firms that are considering podcasts should do their homework first to determine what they can bring to the space that is unique, she said. It’s also worth considering why it would be a good idea for the firm, and whether the firm can maintain the effort, she said.

“Technically, I think anybody can do this, but before you do this, you have to have the commitment to do it consistently and you have to do something you can keep fresh,” she said.

The internet is an ever-changing landscape that we, as consumers, must navigate day to day. In a world where little is certain, many find solace within this labyrinth by watching cute animal videos, catching up on no-audience sports matches, or video chatting with relatives. Similarly, we rely on social media to bring us interaction and entertainment; more so now given social distancing requirements. Though social media is mainly used in innocent, enjoyable ways, there are those who utilize social media to carry out some of the greatest evils of our time, including sex trafficking.

On September 4, 2020, Thomas J. Bowles, of St. Charles County, Missouri, was indicted on two charges of sex trafficking, two charges of child enticement, and one charge of failing to register as a sex offender, arising from his interactions with two girls, both underaged, from 2016 to 2020. These heinous crimes were aided and abetted by Mr. Bowles’s use of social media. Mr. Bowles used the Kik social media app to, “recruit, entice, transport, provide, obtain, maintain, patronize and solicit” the two girls, according to this St. Louis Post-Dispatch article. 

As the criminal justice system begins churning to serve justice to the victims of Mr. Bowles, at The Simon Law Firm, we ask ourselves: what, if anything, is being done to prophylactically monitor and prevent these types of interactions from occurring in the first place? We believe the civil justice system can be a part of the solution, holding companies who fail to enact modern policies and procedures to recognize and report these heinous transactions, and ensuring that victims of their negligence receive compensation to obtain the treatment they need. 

This, in part, can be done with help from the “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017”.[i] This Act seeks to alter so-called immunities granted to social media platforms that allow traffickers to commit human and sex trafficking under Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934. The immunities granted by Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 have allowed companies to act in good faith to moderate their platforms to ensure protection from objectionable content. Many social media companies, instead of adapting their policies to confront this grave evil, have relied on the protections they believe are afforded by this act.

Social Media companies, powerful companies that obtain the data of private citizens and undertake to moderate social activity online, shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the evils of human trafficking. Instead, it should enact proper policies and procedures and technology to notice, and react to, potential improper and criminal use of their platforms. 

At The Simon Law Firm, P.C., we believe those who profit and aid human traffickers, whether it be hotels or social media platforms, should be held accountable for their actions. If you are a victim, we understand your predicament. We will work tirelessly to ensure you get the help you desperately need, listen confidentially to your story, and work to ensure you are properly compensated for the wrongs perpetrated against you. If you, a loved one, a friend, or a neighbor has been the victim of human trafficking, or sex trafficking, please contact the attorneys at The Simon Law Firm, P.C. for a completely confidential evaluation.

— Tyler H. Shah, Paralegal

[i] Public Law 115-164, Signed into law April 11, 2018

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