Regulatory & Compliance

With the disruptions wrought by COVID-19, companies are working hard just to keep pace with daily activities. But, as we wrote previously, companies still must meet their regulatory obligations – including obligations to report potential product hazards to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). That may require additional effort in the current environment.

Continue Reading COVID-19 or Not, CPSC Keeps Chugging Along

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

With uses ranging from transporting troops to increasing mobility for people with disabilities, off-road vehicles (ORVs) are being used by more people now than when the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) emerged in the 1960s. With increased demand comes increased discussion about how ORVs are regulated. And the answer is, it depends on where you live.
Continue Reading Motor Vehicles or High-Powered Toys: The Diverse Landscape of Off-Road Vehicle Regulation and Where it Might be Going

Over the past 10 years, the number of private Proposition 65 actions against businesses have nearly quadrupled from 604 in 2009 to 2,364 in 2018. Additional Prop 65 regulations on “safe harbor” warnings and online retailers took effect last August, clarifying the duties of online retailers regarding warnings, which may have caused a decrease in new Prop 65 actions against online retailers.

In light of the new rules and litigation trends, we examine which products are likely to face litigation and offer two ways companies might avoid liability, including by (1) considering the use of “safe harbor” warnings and (2) staying up to date with Prop 65 litigation and the regulations promulgated by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s (OEHHA) regulations.
Continue Reading California’s Prop 65 Amendments One Year Later: Litigation Trends and What to Look Out For

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.

Continue Reading Is Electric Scooter Safety Next on the Regulatory Menu?

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

Slack fill litigation can be frustrating for businesses – at times even infuriating. For companies yet to find themselves on the wrong side of a slack fill lawsuit, the claim often boils down to, “I thought there was more in the package even though the label said exactly what I was buying.” Slack fill claims have proliferated in recent years, driven in large part by how easy it has been for class action plaintiffs’ lawyers to plead a claim that will at least survive to the discovery phase – the expense of which causes many businesses to settle even frivolous cases. Yet in a rare breath of fresh air, Governor Jerry Brown recently signed California Assembly Bill 2632, which will amend California’s slack fill statutes to give companies a new tool for avoiding slack fill claims.
Continue Reading Three Slack Fill Regulatory Changes for Manufacturers to Watch