Manufacturers are used to defending strict product liability actions when plaintiffs claim that their products are defective. But in the opioid litigation, plaintiffs have filed something else: more than 2,500 public nuisance cases so far. Continue Reading Trending in Tort Law: Transforming Product Liability Claims into Public Nuisance Actions

“Hello.  This is an automated call from Acme Manufacturing. Our records indicate that you purchased Product X between December 2019 and January 2020. We wanted to let you know that we are recalling Product X because of a potential fire risk. Please call us or visit our website for important information on how to participate in this recall.”

When companies recall products, they do so to protect consumers.  In fact, various federal laws, including the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), and National Highway and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA), encourage (and may require) recalls. And the agencies that enforce these statutes would likely approve of the hypothetical automated call above, because direct notification is the best way to motivate consumer responses to recalls.[1]

But automated calls to protect consumers can run into a problem: the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Continue Reading Clash of Consumer Protection Goals: Does the Text of the TCPA Frustrate the Purposes of the CPSA?

When plaintiffs sue companies alleging that their websites do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), courts start by answering two threshold legal questions. Does the ADA apply to websites? And if it does, which websites does it apply to? At least seven federal circuit courts have answered these questions and have reached three different conclusions. Until recently, California courts had provided little guidance. But on September 3, 2019, the Second Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal decided Thurston v. Midvale Corporation (Case No. B291631). Thurston clarifies that commercial websites with a “nexus” to a physical location are subject to the ADA. Continue Reading California Court of Appeal Aligns with Ninth Circuit on ADA Website Accessibility Standards

As we wrote last year when the U.S. House of Representatives was debating a series of bills on narrow issues related to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a broader push to reform the agency was likely to come in late 2019 or early 2020. Now, at least one shoe of that overhaul has dropped. Continue Reading Taking the Safety Off: Legislation Would Eliminate Failsafe Against Inaccurate CPSC Disclosures

In an uncommon move, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on Wednesday issued a unilateral press release warning consumers of the need to anchor a particular brand and model of dressers. In its release, the CPSC wrote that it “intends to continue pressing the case for a recall with” the manufacturer. Continue Reading Going Old School: CPSC Issues Rare Safety Warning on Dressers

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling from last summer may have changed the trajectory of a high-profile pending commercial speech case. In National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, the Court modified the traditional commercial speech tests, perhaps placing a greater burden on the government when it seeks to regulate commercial speech. Becerra could influence the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision in Cigar Association of America v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration as to whether FDA-mandated cigar health warnings violate the First Amendment. If cigar regulations are found to violate the First Amendment, it could lead to a new wave of litigation. Continue Reading You Can’t Make Me Say It: Does <em>Becerra</em> Make it Harder for the Government to Require Product Health Warnings?

As 2020 dawns – and with it jokes about perfect vision – the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is feeling its way through a foggy vision of its future, but there are a few signs in view for CPSC-regulated companies.

The CPSC’s future, of course, hinges on what its leadership will look like, and that is an open question. The five-member CPSC is down one commissioner and without a permanent chairman. Democrat Bob Adler is the acting chair, but he may find his ability to drive official agency actions limited by a 2-2 party split: Adler is joined by fellow Democrat and former chair Elliot Kaye opposite Republicans Peter Feldman and Dana Baiocco. Continue Reading 2020 CPSC Outlook: A Busy Year Is Unlikely

Entities regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) should have greater confidence in sharing confidential business information with the agency following a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year that addressed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s duty to disclose information in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Continue Reading Private Eyes: When is Company Information Shared with the CPSC Confidential?

Environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are pursuing litigation against EPA to force companies that have never intentionally used asbestos in a product to file reports linking their products to asbestos. Manufacturing and chemical companies should keep an eye on Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization v. Wheeler – currently pending in California federal court – where the NGOs seek to dramatically increase companies’ obligations to disclose that their products contain asbestos – even where it is just present as an impurity. Continue Reading District Court Decision on EPA Reporting Could Affect Asbestos Litigation

It has been two years since the U.S. Supreme Court decided Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court (BMS). In BMS, the Court held that state courts lacked personal jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants relating to state-law mass tort claims that had no connection to the forum state. We have followed this decision closely on the blog here and here. Continue Reading On the Road Again: Does <em>Bristol-Myers Squibb</em> Limit Courts’ Jurisdiction Over Claims by Out-of-State Class Members?