Regulatory & Compliance

Over the last few months, you may have seen more e-scooters on the streets as people have felt safer returning to schools and to the office, and have been gathering more frequently with family and friends. E-scooters have many potential benefits: they help alleviate traffic and city congestion by getting gas-powered vehicles off the streets for short trips; they allow people without personal vehicles to work and to access resources beyond their typical geographical limitations; and, amidst environmental concerns, they have become a transportation alternative that reduces air pollution and noise exposure.
Continue Reading Rising Regulations as E-Scooters Continue to Hit the Streets

Plaintiffs are filing an increasing number of lawsuits against companies alleging that their websites violate Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because the sites are not accessible to visually impaired customers. But these lawsuits assume an answer to an unresolved question: does Title III apply to websites? Title III applies to “places of public accommodation” and prohibits discrimination on the basis of an individual’s disability. Yet neither the statute nor the accompanying regulations state that websites are places of public accommodation, leaving courts (or Congress) to determine whether websites are required to comply with Title III.
Continue Reading ADA Website Litigation: Eleventh Circuit Holds Website is Not Subject to Title III

Since 2019, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have warned companies that make or sell cannabidiol (CBD) products that it is illegal to label and advertise that their products prevent, treat, or cure human disease without FDA approval or competent and reliable scientific evidence to support their claims. Both agencies have issued warning letters to makers and sellers of CBD products.

Our Cannabis Industry Team, which has been following key legislative and regulatory developments impacting industry retailers, takes a close look at who does what. The FTC’s and the FDA’s authority to regulate CBD products overlaps, but there are differences in the agencies’ enforcement powers and how they are using them.
Continue Reading The FTC’s Operation CBDeceit, A Piece of the CBD Regulatory Pie

U.S. companies have been inundated with lawsuits in the past several years alleging that their websites do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and various state laws, including the California Unruh Act. Plaintiffs claim that the websites do not meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) created by the nonprofit World Wide Web Consortium because visually impaired consumers allegedly cannot access the sites using screen-reader software. While it is difficult to determine with precision the number of cases that have been filed, they have increased 75 percent from just over 2,000 reported cases in 2018 to approximately 3,500 in 2020 – and the numbers are steadily rising. The cases target all manner of business across a wide range of industries.
Continue Reading ADA Website Litigation Continues to Proliferate in 2021

After a very difficult 2020, rapid vaccine development has sparked optimism among the public and in the business community. But as we wrote last week, there’s a long road ahead while infections remain high. Today we look at considerations for a new transition period – vaccines becoming more widely available, but before the country achieves herd immunity.
Continue Reading How Companies Can Approach Wider Availability of COVID-19 Vaccines in the Coming Months

As COVID-19 cases have spiked across the country, many businesses have adjusted certain operations with an eye on customer and employee safety, as well as to ensure compliance with recent changes to government orders. Some businesses have faced challenges that they have not seen since last spring. Over the summer, we explained some ways companies could prepare for a potential winter resurgence of the virus. Today we consider how companies may wish to proceed as average daily death totals in the U.S. remain high.
Continue Reading Business Considerations in Light of Increases in COVID-19 Cases

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

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

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

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