A few years ago, hoverboards drew a lot of attention from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Formally known as self-balancing electric scooters, hoverboards became an instant success because they combined practical mobility and enjoyment. But that success was not without some setbacks. When news stories in 2015 linked hoverboards to fires (which we wrote about here), the same popularity that drove sales also attracted public and government scrutiny.
In a surprise statement on Tuesday, Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that she had withdrawn her nominations for the permanent chair and for another term. Unless another nominee is confirmed in the interim, her term will end on October 26, 2019. What happens in the interim will shape the agency’s course well into the next decade. Continue Reading Buerkle Withdraws: CPSC’s Future Gets Hazier
UPDATED 7/17/2019: Six of the seven bills listed below – all of the product-specific bills – are now on their way to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. The House Energy & Commerce Committee and its Subcommittee on Consumer Protection & Commerce have both reported the bills favorably. The Subcommittee amended five of the bills, as noted below.
The committees did not consider the Fast Track recall bill. However, leadership from both parties committed to further collaboration and to moving the issue forward, recognizing the need to help the CPSC and companies execute recalls faster.
All of the votes in both committees were bipartisan. With a divided Congress, maintaining consensus will likely be essential to the bills’ chances in the Senate. Because of the need for consensus, CPSC-regulated companies and industries have a valuable opportunity for meaningful congressional engagement. Members usually respond to the concerns of the job-creators in their districts, and the drive for bipartisanship on these bills will only make members more receptive.
The U.S. House Consumer Protection & Commerce Subcommittee will hold a legislative markup session on Thursday for several bills related to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This session follows the subcommittee’s April CPSC oversight hearing, which focused on the big picture, asking whether or not the CPSC is fulfilling its mission. Continue Reading UPDATE: U.S. House to Discuss CPSC Issues, including Fast Track, Furniture Flammability, Crib Bumpers, and Infant Sleepers
We have recently written about the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) mistaken disclosure of sensitive information and the CPSC’s current data-protection processes and their limits. In the weeks and months ahead, we anticipate a determined challenge to those limited but vital protections. Here, we make the case for why CPSC stakeholders who appreciate their value should prepare to defend them. Continue Reading The CPSC and Consumer Product Information: Why Do Accuracy and Fairness Matter?
Many manufacturers were affected by the CPSC’s improper disclosure of a mountain of sensitive information, including both company data and consumers’ personally identifying information. While the full repercussions are not yet clear, the disclosure creates the risk that third parties will misunderstand and mischaracterize the information.
This incident also presents an opportunity for companies and CPSC observers to reexamine the processes that are intended to prevent unfair disclosures. The CPSC is often asked to disclose sensitive information, and typically companies can weigh in when the CPSC responds to these requests. But are companies really afforded meaningful opportunity to comment? Continue Reading CPSC Data Breach: Requirements for Handling Sensitive Information
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