GSP Trade Benefits Restored to Burma Enabling Duty-Free Entry for Qualifying Goods

International flagsOn September 14, 2016 the President issued a proclamation ending a U.S. government suspension issued in 1989 and restoring trade benefits to Burma, plus new trade benefits not previously granted, under the Generalized System of Preferences (“GSP”). The GSP is a duty reduction measure, which provides cost savings and applies to goods covered under thousands of individual tariff provisions. In short, the GSP permits duty-free entry for qualifying goods.

The restored benefits and new benefits for qualifying goods become effective November 13, 2016.

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Revised Cuba Rules Allow Medical Collaboration and Ease Some Trade

Flag of CubaThe U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) recently announced additional rule amendments intended to continue improving relations between the United States and Cuba by allowing even greater commerce and humanitarian efforts between the two countries. These new OFAC  and BIS  rules take effect today.  The new amendments build on previous amendments which Husch Blackwell LLP’s Technology Manufacturing & Transportation Industry Insider blog summarized here, here, and here.

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Air Safety: Catch 22

On March 5, 2015 Delta Flight 1086, an MD-80 en route from Atlanta to New York, skidded off Runway 13 at LaGuardia airport, coming to rest on a dike alongside the runway with its nose hanging over the waters of Flushing Bay. Delta 108629 of the 127 passengers and crew on board sustained minor injuries and the aircraft was substantially damaged. Both cockpit crew were highly experienced MD-80 pilots with thousands of hours logged in the aircraft, and the captain had made many landings at LaGuardia under winter conditions.

How did this accident happen?

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President Obama Issues Executive Order Lifting Burma Sanctions

flagsOn October 7, 2016, President Obama signed Executive Order 13742, terminating sanctions on more than 200 Burmese businesses and individuals. The Order eliminates prior restrictions on business with Burmese banks, permits the import of Burmese jadeite and rubies, and allows investment reporting through the State Department’s Responsible Investment Reporting Requirements to be made on a voluntary basis. Burma will now receive duty-free treatment on more than 5,000 products exported to the United States.

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Product Liability Monitor – October 7, 2016

Product Liability Monitor

October 7, 2016
New Developments
The Duty to Warn in New York
By Dan Jaffe

New York’s highest court recently held in two asbestos cases (Dummit v. A. W. Chesterton and Suttner v. A. W. Chesterton) that a manufacturer of valves had a duty to warn of the hazards arising from the use of its valves with asbestos-bearing gaskets and packing materials which it neither manufactured nor distributed. Both cases involved valves manufactured by Crane Company. Crane’s valves did not contain asbestos or other hazardous materials, but they could not practically function in a high-pressure, high-heat environment without asbestos-containing gaskets, insulation and packing. [Continue Reading]

Federal Guidelines for Autonomous Vehicles
By Mark Pratzel

On September 20, 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) issued the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy, first Federal policy on automated vehicles. Focused on “highly automated vehicles” (HAV), the guidelines show that the Federal government sees automated car technology as a safer alternative to cars driven by humans. “We envision in the future, you can take your hands off the wheel, and your commute becomes restful or productive instead of frustrating and exhausting,” said Jeffrey Zients, director of the National Economic Council, noting that automated vehicles “will save time, money and lives.” [Continue Reading]

What Is A Reasonable Alternative Design?
By Alan Hoffman

At the heart of the concept of defective product design embodied in the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Product Liability is the availability of a reasonable alternative design which could have reduced or avoided a risk of harm. However, a product may be defective, even if no reasonable alternative design exists, if it fails to provide reasonable instructions or warnings of a foreseeable risk of harm. A recent decision of the Massachusetts Appeals Court illustrates the application of these principles. [Continue Reading]

Editor of the Month
Mark Pratzel Mark Pratzeldefends clients in matters involving construction, toxic tort, product liability, premises liability and personal injury law. Representing clients in the manufacturing, technology and chemical industries, he concentrates his practice in cases alleging industrial explosions and exposure to asbestos. Mark also represents a variety of corporate clients in a broad range of litigation matters involving contracts, regulatory issues and product literature.
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Product Liability Monitor Archive
September 2016

The SEC Revisits Sustainability: Will Sustainability Reporting Become Mandatory for Publicly-Traded U.S. Corporations?

environmentThe United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) is reviewing sustainability. On April 13, 2016 the SEC issued a “Concept Release” seeking public comments on 340 topics relating to business and financial disclosure requirements for publicly-traded companies under Regulation S-K. See 81 Fed. Reg. 23916 (April 22, 2016) (“CR”). Several topics addressed the disclosure of company information relating to sustainability and public policy issues. Such issues, including climate change, resource scarcity, corporate social responsibility (“CSR”), and good corporate citizenship, are often referred to generically as environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) concerns.  C.R., p. 206. The concepts of CSR and ESG overlap greatly if not entirely, and precise definitions of these terms are lacking. In this article, the terms “sustainability” and “ESG” will be used interchangeably in the context of corporate reporting. Many of the largest companies in the U.S. voluntarily publish annual sustainability reports and/or website ESG content. At issue is to what extent ESG reporting by publicly-traded companies should be required by SEC regulations.

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Ways and Means Trade Enforcement Hearing Pushes CBP to Meet Deadlines

North America MapOn Tuesday, September 27, 2016, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade held a hearing on “Effective Enforcement of U.S. Trade Laws.” Trade Subcommittee members evaluated U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) efforts to comply with the provisions and deadlines outlined in the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (PL 114-125). CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske briefed the Committee on the agency’s progress in meeting its legislative obligations.

Commissioner Kerlikowske acknowledged CBP’s delinquency on a number of statutory deadlines, but assured Committee members that the agency has been working diligently to fulfill its obligations. In addition to shifting staff priorities, the CBP Office of Trade collected all legal deadlines and triaged assignments to provide priority attention to the most urgent matters. Commissioner Kerlikowske concluded that the CBP was “well on the way” to implementing the majority of its requirements by the end of the calendar year.

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Toxic Tort Monitor – October 5, 2016

Toxic Tort Monitor

October 5, 2016
New Developments
Illinois Supreme Court finds Six Person Jury Demand Unconstitutional
By Jen Dlugosz

On June 1, 2015, Public Act 1132 (the “Act”) became effective. The Act reduced the size of civil juries in Illinois to 6 persons from 12 persons, thus litigants demanding a jury after June 1, 2015 could no longer demand a 12-person jury. The Act also increased the amount paid per day to jurors. Last month, the Illinois Supreme Court found the Act unconstitutional. [Continue Reading]

Arizona Court of Appeals Rejects Take-Home Asbestos Exposure Claim
By David Dean

An Arizona court of appeals recently held that no duty was owed to a family member who contracted mesothelioma due to alleged take-home exposure. In Quiroz v. Alcoa, Inc., et al., No. 1 CA-CV 15-0083 (2016), the Arizona Court of Appeals was asked to decide whether an employer owes a duty of care to the family member of an employee who contracts mesothelioma due to asbestos brought home on the employee’s work clothing. Noting that the question was a matter of first impression in Arizona, the Court held that no duty was owed, and affirmed summary judgment for the employer. [Continue Reading]

Third Circuit Finds Corporate Defendants in Asbestos Lawsuit Waived Personal Jurisdiction Defense
By Jenna Marie Stupar

On August 18, the Third Circuit reversed a ruling in the District Court of Pennsylvania that dismissed an asbestos suit against corporate defendants the Matson Navigation Company, Inc. (“Matson”) and American President Line, Ltd. (“American”) for lack of personal jurisdiction. [Continue Reading]

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November 10-11, 2016
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Asbestos Practice
Companies face increasingly well‐coordinated attacks in jurisdictions across the country. These assaults are becoming more complex and costly as plaintiffs’ counsel pursue novel theories and claims to keep asbestos litigation thriving. Husch Blackwell’s team has experience in numerous jurisdictions throughout 37 states. Our attorneys can help you navigate the intricate web of plaintiffs’ firms, changing laws, evolving science and anti-defendant courts. [More information]
Toxic Tort Monitor Archive
September 2016

5 Key Points When Licensing Your Software

computer keyboardLast month this blog posted an article here outlining 5 Key Points when Purchasing Software. This article focuses on key points for the other side, the seller of the software, typically a developer or licensor. Although the seller/licensor typically provides its own form license, sometimes a purchaser will suggest using a different form or change the terms of the licensor’s agreement. Below are five important points to look out for, from the perspective of the licensor.

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