With consumers attempting to navigate quarantine and “shelter-in-place” orders, businesses that sell basic necessities are facing overwhelming demand.

This new level of demand is placing stress on both businesses that sell basic necessities and their employees. Many businesses are experiencing increased overall customer service inquiries, call volume, and website orders. They are needing to meet increased consumer demand while making unprecedented provisions for their own employees’ health and well-being (which we have written about here and here).

Continue Reading Five Effective Ways Companies Can Communicate with Customers During COVID-19

Current thinking from public health experts is that COVID-19 will affect the American economy for several months. But during this period businesses still have responsibilities to their brands and obligations under law. And unlike during last year’s government shutdown, the pandemic has forced government agencies like the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to operate differently, but it hasn’t closed its doors. For that reason, businesses will still have legal obligations and face the possibility of CPSC enforcement efforts.

Here are three steps companies can take to protect their brands and reduce the risk of CPSC enforcement. Continue Reading COVID-19: Three Steps Companies Can Take to Reduce Risk of Regulatory Side Effects

Civil litigation is a highly deadline-driven activity – statutes of limitation, discovery responses, notices of appeal. The “use it by a date certain or lose it” nature of all of these deadlines pushes the wheels of justice forward, steadily, if sometimes slowly. Over the past 48 hours, in response to the novel coronavirus, state and federal courts across the country have applied the brakes to the judicial system – canceling appellate arguments, postponing jury trials, and pushing out deadlines, sometimes potentially for months. In the short-term, the orders provide welcome relief for firms and clients coping with office closures and directives in many parts of the country to shelter in place. But the relief in many cases may be incomplete – in some instances, courts lack the power to relieve parties from jurisdictional deadlines. As illustrative examples, here we look at a series of orders, all effective March 17, 2020, from a federal court in Chicago, and from state courts in Illinois, California, and New York. Continue Reading Blanket Deadline Extension Orders: Short-Term Relief and Jurisdictional Risks

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound derived from the hemp plant, a member of the cannabis family. Because CBD is also found in the marijuana plant (a cousin of hemp), its use fell into a legal gray area until recently.

In December 2018, however, Congress passed the Farm Bill and legalized hemp and hemp-derived products. CBD products since have skyrocketed in popularity, with analysts projecting that CBD will grow to a $16 billion industry in five years. CBD product manufacturers and retailers across America are working to meet the high demand for their goods. Continue Reading CBD Manufacturers and Retailers Face Action from the FDA and Consumer Litigants

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will hold its annual public hearing on the agency’s agenda and priorities (Priorities Hearing) on April 15 in Bethesda, Md. At a minimum, CPSC-regulated companies – particularly those who make or sell products that have been politically sensitive recently – should watch the hearing to get a sense of both the public pressures the agency may be facing and how the CPSC (especially the four sitting commissioners) feel about the issues of the day. Companies may also want to consider participating, either in person or in writing. Continue Reading CPSC Hearing Offers Companies Valuable Insights into Agency’s Priorities

As we speculated late last year, the White House has announced that President Trump intends to nominate Dr. Nancy Beck to both the open seat on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the chairmanship of the agency. If Dr. Beck is confirmed, the CPSC would be back to its full five-commissioner strength. Dr. Beck’s confirmation would also shift both the day-to-day management of the agency and its partisan balance, ending both current Acting Chair Bob Adler’s (D) tenure and its 2-2 party split. Continue Reading A New Face at the CPSC? White House to Nominate Dr. Nancy Beck as Chair

Frequently the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shares big news at the annual meeting of the International Consumer Product Health & Safety Organization (ICPHSO), the body that brings together all stakeholders in the product safety space, from consumer advocates to industry to regulators. A few years ago, then-Chairman Elliot Kaye shared his desire to see penalties in the “double-digit millions.” That statement preceded – by mere weeks – the announcement of a $15.45 million penalty against Gree Electric Appliances, Inc., the maximum penalty allowed by CPSC’s statutes. Continue Reading CPSC to Industry: Talk to Our Lawyers

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