Legal decision-makers are used to seeing other departments employ analytics to understand their customers and be more successful. Many legal departments use software or processes to control costs, but these have little to do with the ultimate outcome of particular cases or investigations. It is past time for those same tools to be put to work in improving and predicting legal outcomes.
Continue Reading Using Analytics to Solve Product Liability Problems

It might be hard to call the many recent reports of record fines from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) “news”, so routine have they recently become.  In 2014 alone, NHTSA issued more than $126 million in civil penalties, exceeding the total amount collected by the agency during its forty-three year history.  As NHTSA trumpets its “success” and regulators are calling on Congress to increase maximum fines  dramatically, one wonders when those civil penalties cross the line into criminal territory.

The Supreme Court laid out a seven-factor test for determining whether statutory penalties are civil or criminal in Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144 (1963).  That case involved a dual Mexican-U.S. citizen who left the United States to avoid World War II military service.  The Court held that depriving him of his citizenship as a penalty for leaving the country constituted a criminal penalty that could not be imposed absent constitutional safeguards.
Continue Reading When do Civil Fines by NHTSA or the CPSC Become Criminal?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has made it clear time and time again that product manufacturers may not make product design changes for safety reasons, without considering whether those changes need to be reported to the CPSC.  Failing to comply can lead to millions of dollars in fines.

Under Section 15 of the Consumer Product Safety Act, product manufacturers and importers must report substantial product hazards to the CPSC.  The CPSC tends to view design changes responding to injury reports as proof that the company “knows” the product had a safety issue.  If the company does not immediately report the underlying injury situation to CPSC, it faces severe fines.
Continue Reading Concealed Design Changes Once Again Result in Heavy CPSC Fine