Category Archives: Emerging Products & Technology

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Spinning Out of Control? Fidget Spinner Regulation and Safety

A spinner toy being spun in hand.Children of all ages—and many adults—can’t keep their hands off fidget spinners, the best-selling toys of the spring and one of hottest new fad toys on the market. Schools in some states have banned them, while others find them helpful for children with attention-related difficulties. Predictably, fidget spinner manufacturers and distributors are feeling the heat … Continue Reading

Where Does Your Smartphone End and Your Car Begin?

GettyImages-514223022Consider the world today: Smartphone manufacturers have already introduced vehicle infotainment systems in automobiles. Vehicle safety technology may be next. A recent safety proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) raises intriguing questions about how our smartphones and automobiles may interface. The proposal may encourage smartphone manufacturers to add vehicle safety technology to their … Continue Reading

Truly Exonerated? NHTSA’s Tesla Autopilot Investigation

Palo Alto, California, USA - July 19, 2011: An interior look at a convertible Tesla Roadster electric sports car. The Roadster was designed in partnership with Lotus and debuted in 2008 and had a sticker price of around $100,000 dollars. Tesla plans to continue to sell the cars through 2012.When the fatal car crash involving a Tesla Model S sedan made headlines last fall, we posted about the accident and predicted that government authorities would classify the crash as being caused by driver error rather than an issue with the “Autopilot” system. Our prediction turned out to be correct.  The National Highway Traffic Safety … Continue Reading

Medical Device Manufacturers Face A Cybersecurity “Heartache”

Close up EKG monitor in icu roomMedical device manufacturers are now facing a new challenge: managing the cybersecurity of their products. On January 9, the FDA issued a Safety Communication setting out potential risks that could be caused by a cybersecurity vulnerability in certain St. Jude Medical cardiac devices. A growing number of devices – including St. Jude Medical’s implantable cardiac … Continue Reading

Tesla Crash: Don’t Slam the Brakes on Autopilot

Autonomous self-driving car future transportation concept imageAfter 130 million miles driven without a fatality, Tesla Autopilot’s perfect track record ended tragically on May 7 with the first fatal crash of a car using Autopilot. Given the infrequency of fatal crashes involving autonomous vehicles, why are commentators suggesting that the auto industry “put the brakes” on this technology? That’s unclear, especially with … Continue Reading

Researchers Turn Their Attention to Diacetyl in E-Cigarettes

iStock_000018595823_FullOn December 8, 2015, researchers at Harvard University announced that they had examined a small sample of flavored e-cigarette products and found that some contained diacetyl, a chemical suspected of causing respiratory illness. In the wake of this announcement, some news organizations reported that the Harvard paper established a “link” between e-cigarettes and bronchiolitis obliterans, … Continue Reading

Hacking Health Care: When Cybersecurity Can Mean Life or Death

Male hacker with mask stealing informationMillions of Americans rely on implantable medical devices to stay alive. These battery-operated devices communicate through wireless transmissions — and can be hacked like any other wireless device. For example, a wireless pacemaker regulates a person’s heartbeat and records the heart’s activity, and then transmits this information to doctors who can reprogram the pacemaker. The … Continue Reading

Schiff Hardin Partners Present on the Future of Mass Tort Litigation at Lloyd’s Old Library in London

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 9.48.02 AMTwo partners from Schiff Hardin LLP’s Product Liability & Mass Torts Practice Group spoke about the future of mass tort litigation in the United States at the Lloyd’s Old Library in London on October 20, 2015.  Paul A. Scrudato and Edward Casmere discussed the state of mass tort litigation and its future with a group … Continue Reading

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS): Fad Allergy, Debilitating Disease, or What?

Gsm Antenna TransmitterLess than 1% of the population suffers from the serious gluten allergy known as celiac disease. Yet every time this writer goes out to dinner at least one dining companion passes on bread and pasta, claiming a self-diagnosed “gluten sensitivity” that manifests as a collection of nondescript symptoms, the major one being “fatigue.” The odd … Continue Reading

Suffer From Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity? Better Call . . .

structure geometric of framework electricityFor those of you who are fans of Michael McKean of This is Spinal Tap (lead singer David St. Hubbins…remember?), you know that he has a recurring role as Saul Goodman’s brother Chuck, on AMC’s hit show Better Call Saul.  Chuck is an x-Big Law partner who is convinced he has electromagnetic sensitivity. So he says … Continue Reading

Regulators and Researchers Focus on Secondhand Exposure to E-Cigarette Emissions

No smoking electronic cigarette in the officeAs regulatory clouds continue to gather over the electronic cigarette industry, public health researchers have set their sights on the potential risks these products pose to non-users. A study published this month in conjunction with the FDA’s second public workshop on e-cigarettes claimed that bystanders may be exposed to aerosol particles smaller than 1,000 nanometers, … Continue Reading

FAA Clears Way for Commercial Drone Use

452954041The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has finally announced its proposed rules governing the commercial use of drones.  The proposed rules, which have been long-awaited by members of the emerging multi-billion dollar unmanned aerial vehicle industry, pave the way for the commercial use of drones in the United States.  The proposed rules, released on February 15, … Continue Reading

First FDA E-Cigarette Workshop Highlights Divisions in the Industry

186275589Researchers, academics, public health advocates, and other stakeholders in the e-cigarette industry participated in the FDA’s first public workshop on e-cigarettes over two days in December 2014.  The workshop on e-cigarettes and other vapor products (sometimes referred to as Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, or ENDS) suggested that ongoing efforts to regulate these devices are aligning … Continue Reading

Cancer Concerns, Proposed New Regulations Dog E-Cigarette Industry

488870773E-cigarettes continue to come under fire from numerous groups, as shown by several events in the last week. Scientists from Portland State University, in a January 22 letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, contend that e-cigarette use may carry a risk of cancer 5 to 15 times greater than the risk associated with … Continue Reading

NHTSA To Change Safety Rating Program

175017523On Thursday, January 22, 2015, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to change its safety ratings program for passenger vehicles by adding two automatic emergency braking systems to the agency’s recommended advanced safety features. NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program currently awards up to five stars to vehicles based … Continue Reading

North Dakota Issues New Standards for Bakken Oil

153718682North Dakota’s Industrial Commission (Commission) has issued an order tightening the conditioning and transportation standards for oil produced in the Bakken Petroleum System (Bakken, Three Forks, and Spanish Pool). Non-compliance with the new standards carry a penalty of up to $12,500 per day of violation.  The order is set to take effect April 1, 2015. … Continue Reading

Nanomaterials Fight Ozone-Depleting Greenhouse Gases

510104343Researchers have developed a small organic molecule that assembles into a porous structure and absorbs hydrocarbons and their derivatives, many of which are potent greenhouse gases.  The material is lightweight, as well as thermally and hydrolytically stable.  For anyone involved in the emission and capture of greenhouse gases, recent developments in nanotechnology, or just simply … Continue Reading

New York Court Upholds Local Zoning Ordinances Banning Fracking

509705315New York’s highest court has determined that towns could use local zoning ordinances to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking).  The decision, issued June 30, 2014, is an important development in the debate about how fracking activities can be effectively “regulated” at the local level.   The New York Court of Appeals determined that the ordinances banning fracking … Continue Reading

Driverless Cars and State Regulations: On The Road to Liability

482252425Driverless cars could soon become a reality on our streets and highways. The technology for autonomous vehicles is developing quickly and states are beginning to enact regulation in anticipation of the arrival of driverless cars. Several major companies are developing prototype autonomous vehicles including General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Google, Audi AG, Toyota Motor Company and Oxford University. The … Continue Reading

Vindicated Defendant Seeks Sanctions Against Plaintiff After Securing Dismissal of Lawsuit

469752653On October 10, 2014, a vindicated defendant continued its fight for sanctions against plaintiffs and their former attorneys in a lawsuit involving spray polyurethane foam, or SPF.  In Markey v. Lapolla Industries, Inc., plaintiffs claimed that they suffered respiratory and neurological injuries from SPF installed in their home.  This 2012 lawsuit sparked a series of cases … Continue Reading

Fracking Study Finds No Detectable Gas or Fluid Migration

178529316Conducted as part of the National Energy Technology Laboratory research for the Department of Energy, a new study has encouraging findings regarding the impact of hydraulic fracturing.  The study, conducted during hydraulic fracturing of wells in southwestern Pennsylvania, found no detectable migration of gas or aqueous fluids, and that the impact of hydraulic fracturing on … Continue Reading

Hydraulic Fracturing May Be Pathway to Future Mass Tort Liability

454352957A Yale-led study suggests that natural gas drilling activities could be associated with increased reports of dermal and upper respiratory symptoms in nearby communities.  The study, “Proximity to Natural Gas Wells and Reported Health Status: Results of a Household Survey in Washington County, Pennsylvania,” was published in Environmental Health Perspectives. Researchers affiliated with Yale University, … Continue Reading

Hydraulic Fracturing And Drinking Water

459617609According to a new study, hydrocarbon gas contamination in drinking water close to hydraulic fracturing activity is likely caused by breaches of well integrity from casing or cementing issues, and not from upward migration of gas from deep formations.  A study by researchers from five different universities, and published in the Proceedings of the National … Continue Reading
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