Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al. v. Devries, 139 S. Ct. 986 (2019), a maritime tort law case in which plaintiffs alleged that asbestos exposure during their Navy service caused them to develop cancer. The Supreme Court held that, in the maritime context, a manufacturer has a duty to warn not only of the manufacturer’s own products, but also of third-party products that are later added to the manufacturer’s product. Continue Reading The Rule of Requirement: Supreme Court Adopts New Standard for Manufacturer’s Duty to Warn in Maritime Law

Parties engaged in multidistrict litigation (MDL) face a crucial decision: which case or cases should be tried first? For both plaintiffs and defendants, bellwethers — the first trial or trials from the similar cases making up the MDL — can determine how the rest of the cases proceed. One current headlining case — the prescription opioid MDL pending before Judge Polster in federal district court in Ohio — shows both how hard it is to select bellwethers and why bellwethers matter. Continue Reading Selecting Cases for Early Trials in Multidistrict Litigation: Which Way Will the Bellwethers Go?

We have written extensively on this blog about personal jurisdiction and how the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California changed the rules regarding specific jurisdiction. Continue Reading Home Is Where the Forum State Legislates It Is: Pennsylvania Courts Find “Consent” to General Jurisdiction When Companies Register to Do Business There

Reportedly, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is notifying companies of what could be considered a data breach, an unauthorized release of confidential information that did not go through the procedures of 15 U.S.C. § 2055” – known colloquially as “6(b),” because they are found in Section 6(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA). Continue Reading CPSC Unauthorized Disclosure Notifications: What to Do

When California enacted SB 327 last year, it became the first state to regulate Internet of Things (IoT) devices, which refer to physical devices that are connected to the internet. Beginning next January, the new law will require manufacturers of IoT devices sold in California to implement reasonable security features that protect the software, data, and information contained within them. While the law regulates only the minimum security standards for IoT devices, its definition of a “connected device” (i.e., an IoT device) may impact product liability claims because “connected devices” are physical objects and not technology. SB 327’s definition suggests that manufacturers of the software in IoT devices may not be held strictly liable for software defects, because the law aligns with and reinforces the view of most courts that software is not a product, but a service. Continue Reading Product Liability in the Internet of Things

Just over 50 years ago, Congress passed the Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Act, with the intent to make it more efficient for parties to litigate factually similar but geographically dispersed complex cases. While the statute today is virtually unchanged from the original version, what has changed is the number of cases in MDLs. Ten years ago, MDLs represented only 15 percent of the civil caseload. By 2018, however, that number had more than tripled, and MDLs accounted for almost 47 percent of the total civil caseload in the United States.[1] Product liability MDLs alone make up almost 90 percent of pending MDLs.[2]

As the number of MDLs has grown, so has the focus on the MDL process and whether the process is working. One frequent criticism is that a significant percent – between 30-40 percent – of cases filed in any MDL turn out (often at the settlement stage) to be unsupportable.[3] Why is this the case? Likely in part because the MDL process does not have an effective mechanism to weed out non-meritorious cases early. This post addresses the meritless claim problem and analyzes some proposed solutions. Continue Reading Meritless Claims Create Inefficiencies in Multidistrict Litigation

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will hold a public hearing next month to solicit ways to improve www.saferproducts.gov, the agency’s public consumer product information database. Mandated by Congress and not meaningfully altered since its launch nearly eight years ago, the database provides a centralized location for consumers and stakeholders to report potential product-safety incidents and conduct searches for product-safety reports or recalls. Its current form was approved on a party-line commission vote after heated debate. Continue Reading Improving the CPSC Consumer Product Safety Database: Your Feedback Wanted

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been reopened for a week – possibly a third of the window between government shutdowns – and things seem to be quickly returning to normal. The agency has released messaging campaigns on both generator safety and TV anchoring, taking advantage of bitterly cold weather and what football fans hope will be a bitterly contested Super Bowl. But behind this appearance of normalcy, a key remaining question is how the agency will approach what must be a significant backlog of product reports. Continue Reading How the CPSC May Recover from Shutdown