environment chemicalsOn August 30, 2016, after two years of rulemaking, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), the agency that administers California’s Proposition 65, adopted amendments to the Proposition 65 regulations that govern the “safe harbor” language deemed to be “clear and reasonable” and thus Proposition 65-compliant. The new standards provide consumers with more detailed information regarding potential chemical exposures.  The new standards go into effect August 30, 2018.  Until the effective date, warnings may use either the current warning language under existing 2008 regulations or the new warning language.  Products manufactured prior to the effective date will not be subject to the new requirements, and warnings set forth in court-ordered settlements or consent judgments prior to the effective date will continue to be deemed “clear and reasonable” for the exposures covered by those judgments.

Continue Reading Changes to California’s Proposition 65 Warning Requirements

Product Liability Monitor

November 8, 2016
New Developments
Does Talc Cause Cancer? Scientific Evidence in the Courtroom
By Alan Hoffman

This year juries returned verdicts totaling nearly $200 million in three Missouri cases claiming that ovarian cancers is caused by using talcum powder products. By contrast, in September a New Jersey Superior Court excluded expert opinions offered to support such claims and granted defense motions for summary judgment in two pending cases. What scientific evidence is there concerning the causal connection, or lack of it, between talc use and ovarian cancer? [Continue Reading]

Autonomous Vehicles and Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics
By Eric B. Krauss

The Three Laws of Robotics are not laws in the traditional sense. They are neither rules passed by a community to regulate its members nor scientific facts proven by observation to govern natural phenomena, but rather a work of literature, devised by science fiction author Isaac Asimov. These “laws” reflect common-sense maxims for human relationships: that people should not harm others; that they should obey the standards of their communities; and that people should not engage in self-destructive behavior.  The difference between humans and computers is that humans have free will, while computer behavior is governed by software and programming devised by humans.[Continue Reading]

Court Dismisses the Sandy Hook Shooting Suit
By Dan Jaffe

On October 14, 2016 Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis dismissed the Sandy Hook shooting victims’ suit against Remington Arms Company and Bushmaster Firearms International. Judge Bellis held that the plaintiffs’ claims are barred by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901, et seq. (PLCAA), and did not fall within any exception to immunity from liability set forth in the PLCAA. [Continue Reading]

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Product Liability Practice
Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]
Product Liability Monitor Archive
October 2016

Toxic Tort Monitor

September 2, 2016
New Developments
Toward a Defense of Mesothelioma Cases on Causation: Low Doses and Genetics
By Mark Zellmer

Today’s defendants in asbestos litigation often face plaintiffs’ claims that they have contracted mesothelioma from exposure to low or even doubtful doses of asbestos. If the mesothelioma looks to be spontaneous (idiopathic) or the result of an exposure so low that it will not cause the disease or the mesothelioma, genetics may provide the alternate explanation to satisfy the jury about why plaintiff or decedent has mesothelioma. [Continue Reading]

California Supreme Court Exercises Personal Jurisdiction Over Pharmaceutical Manufacturer
By Jen Dlugosz

This week the California Supreme Court ruled that Bristol-Myers Squibb (“BMS”) is subject to personal jurisdiction of the California courts on the basis of specific jurisdiction. See Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court (Anderson), S221038, slip op. (Cal. Aug. 29, 2016).  This decision upheld the Court of Appeals decision that found that BMS’s activities in California were “insufficient to subject it to general jurisdiction in the state but that, given the nature of the action and BMS’s activities in California,” California courts may properly exercise specific personal jurisdiction over BMS in this matter. [Continue Reading]

Editor of the Month
Mark Zellmer is a Mark ZellmerHusch Blackwell partner and handles asbestos litigation throughout the nation and acts as national counsel for various firm clients. Over the last several years, he has concentrated much of his litigation work, publishing and speaking on the subjects of the causation and epidemiology of mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. He has published and spoken extensively on the asbestos litigation, including concepts of asbestos medicine, the interplay of workers’ compensation and asbestos litigation in civil courts, application of OSHA to asbestos litigation and numerous other topics.
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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]
Upcoming Events
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November 10-11, 2016
New Orleans, LA

Mark Zellmer will be speaking at this DRI seminar; we hope to see you there!

Toys -462170281Update to the TMT Industry Insider article, “New Federal Safety Standard Proposed for Phthalates in Children’s Toys and Certain Child Care Articles,” which was posted on February 12, 2015. The deadline to submit comments on the proposed CPSC rule on phthalates has been extended to April 15, 2015.

If you would like to discuss the submission of comments on this rule or have a question about this article, please contact Brandan Mueller; Glennon Fogarty or Robert Stang.

On Sunday, March 1, 2015, CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes” ran a lengthy piece reported by Anderson Cooper regarding accusations that Lumber Liquidators imported laminated flooring products that did not meet the standards set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for levels of formaldehyde. The focus of the story was on Lumber Liquidators, but the issue is likely to affect almost every importer of flooring and other wood products from China.

During the segment, Cooper referenced various lawsuits that are pending against Lumber Liquidators alleging that the company failed to meet CARB standards in California for formaldehyde. Cooper interviewed the CEO of Lumber Liquidators, Robert Lynch. Lynch said the company has a good system in place and checks carefully to make sure that CARB standards are met.

After making this statement, Lynch was shown a video interview of the plant manager of a Chinese plant that manufactures products for Lumber Liquidators. In the video, the plant manager plainly states that the flooring did not meet CARB standards. The journalist narrating the video adds that visits made to two other plants that manufacture flooring for the company revealed that the company’s flooring failed to meet the standards.

Continue Reading Formaldehyde Issues Regarding Wood Products Put Companies at Risk

A new and more stringent federal safety standard for phthalates in children’s toys and certain child care articles was proposed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC” or “Commission”) on Dec. 30, 2014. See Consumer Product Safety Commission, Prohibition of Children’s Toys and Child Care Articles Containing Specified Phthalates, 79 Fed. Reg. 78324 (Dec. 30, 2014) (amending 16 C.F.R. § 1307). This proposed rule on phthalates (the “proposed rule”) would establish a new federal standard on the use of specified phthalates in children’s toys and child care articles and expand the list of permanently banned phthalates under current law.

Continue Reading New Federal Safety Standard Proposed for Phthalates in Children’s Toys and Certain Child Care Articles

Much like its classification of the UV rays from sunshine and “moonshine” (alcoholic beverages), the International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC) has now classified outdoor air as a human carcinogen. Continue Reading The Sun, the Moon, and the Air: How Much Deference Should a Court Give to Agency Classifications?