Department of Transportation

Product Liability Monitor

April 10, 2017
New Developments
I Like It, But Do I Trust It? Drivers Weigh In on Autonomous Vehicle Technology
By Shannon PetersThe American Automobile Association (AAA) recently released the results of a survey of American drivers which yielded an interesting conclusion:  Americans want autonomous vehicle (AV) technologies in their next vehicle, but they are not sold on fully self-driving cars.The AAA survey indicates that 75 percent of Americans would be afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle, and more than half would feel less safe sharing the roads with a self-driving car. Not surprisingly, younger generations are slightly less afraid of this developing technology than their older counterparts. [Continue Reading]
Walking the Lone Pine Trail
By Alan HoffmanLone Pine orders take their name from Lore v. Lone Pine Corp. They are most often entered in toxic tort litigation, requiring plaintiffs to provide some prima facie evidence to support causation or other claims based on expert opinion. Typically, such orders call for expert affidavits or other evidence supporting a claimed connection between the plaintiff’s condition and defendants’ products. [Continue Reading]
Due Process Limits on Personal Jurisdiction
By Dan JaffeIn recent years the United States Supreme Court has strengthened the due process protections for defendants against suits in states with which they have no meaningful contacts. In J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. NiCastro, the plaintiff sued the British manufacturer of a metal-shearing machine in New Jersey, where he was injured. The defendant neither marketed nor sold its products in that State. It sold its machines nationwide through an independent U.S. distributor, but defendant’s representatives were never present in New Jersey. In any event, no more than four of its machines ended up in New Jersey. The Court held that exercise of judicial power over a defendant is unlawful unless the defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State. [Continue Reading]
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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability PracticeManufacturers 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
March 2017

 

airplane jetThe U.S. Department of Transportation recently revised the SIFL rates that are used to value an employee’s personal use of a company aircraft, as required by the Internal Revenue Code Section 61 and the Federal Tax Regulations Section 1.61-21(g). The Department announced that the following rates will apply for the 6-month period January 1, 2017 through June 30, 2017:

Continue Reading DOT Revises the Standard Industry Fare Level (SIFL) for First 6 Months of 2017

Product Liability Monitor

February 8, 2017
New Developments
Autonomous Vehicle Technology Regulation In the Trump Administration
By Eric B. Krauss

Last autumn President Obama revealed his administration’s plan for autonomous driving technology. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) published fifteen guidelines in September, 2016, that were almost widely lauded as striking the right balance between safety and technological progress.   Consumer, automotive and technology interests—with the notable exception of Apple—seemed pleased that the government espoused policies that did not overregulate and stifle innovation, yet provided enough potential federal oversight to prevent a state law quagmire. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recognized that the emerging technology faced tremendous burdens, and federal guidelines would bring some uniformity to the fifty states’ differing regulations. Support for the Obama administration guidelines was near-universal and cost to the industry was minimal. [Continue Reading]

Defective and Dangerous Spacecraft
By Alan Hoffman

On January 27, 1967, the Apollo 1 spacecraft burst into flames during a ground test at Cape Canaveral. Three astronauts—Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee—died in the conflagration.  The fire and the loss of the astronauts traumatized NASA, which had a six year record of spaceflight without loss of life. [Continue Reading]

Product Liability Defense: New Resources and the Changing Platform
By Dan Jaffe

At many law firms and companies information technology is the moving force changing and enhancing the resource platform supporting product liability defense efforts. These rapidly improving technologies can reduce costs while increasing the amount and quality of available information needed to support the liability defense of products. Automated systems allow lawyers’ tasks to be performed with greater efficiency. Law practice is similar in this respect to other service businesses in which information technology has had a profound impact on workplace organization as well as the type and amount of skilled labor needed to accomplish the enterprise’s goals and objectives. [Continue Reading]

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
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
December 2016

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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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
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

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.
Connect with us: Blog | Twitter | LinkedIn
Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
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
September 2016

Flag of CubaU.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx was among the passengers aboard the historic flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Santa Clara, Cuba today as JetBlue provided the first regularly scheduled commercial flight from the U.S. to Cuba in 55 years. Scheduled air service from the United States to Cuba is the most recent step in a string of important changes in the normalization of relations between the two nations.  As a result of these changes, which have been previously reported on here, a U.S. embassy was opened, direct mail service has been restored, Carnival cruise line has begun trips to Cuba and various regulatory changes have been made to ease travel, trade and financial transactions with Cuba.

Continue Reading Scheduled Flights to Cuba Resume After More Than 50 Years

The Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation announced today interim final rules (available to read in full here) regarding registration of small unmanned aircraft (“UAS”) weighing over 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds. These new rules will take effect on December 21, 2015.

droneMany of these rules were recommended by a report issued by a 25-member Registration Task Force in November of this year (available here). In a press release announcing the new rules, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is quoted as saying “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I’m excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation.”

Continue Reading FAA Issues New UAS Rules

truckingOn November 30, 2015 the DOT issued its final rule prohibiting coercion of commercial drivers, which expands the current whistle-blowing provisions jointly administered by the Department of Labor and the Department of Transportation via a Memo of Understanding issued last year. The main point of expansion is that now a covered driver is protected not only from discharge, discipline or discrimination for engaging in certain protected activities (focusing on safety regulations issued for this industry), but it now includes “coercion” of such drivers not only as to safety violations, but also as to any violations of commercial regulations that would apply to “motor carriers, shippers, receivers or transportation intermediaries.” The regulations are quite vague regarding what “coercion” shall consist of, stating the DOT will investigate any “non-frivolous” claim that a motor carrier, shipper, receiver or transportation intermediary, or their respective agents, officers, or representatives, have threatened to or actually withheld business, employment or work opportunities from, or taken any adverse employment action against, a driver in order to induce the driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle under conditions in which the driver would be required to violate one or more of the regulations that are codified within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Continue Reading DOT Expands Potential Liability in the Area of Commercial Truck Driving

More than a month ago, the U.S. Department of Transportation appointed a twenty-five member Task Force of representatives from industry as well as aviation and drone associations to consider establishing a requirement to register unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”). droneOn Saturday, the Task Force provided its recommendations to DOT.

Using public comments and the recommendations received from the Task Force, the FAA is drafting an Interim Final Rule on registration to streamline the UAS registration process for commercial users and specify the types of UAS that would be required to be registered. The Interim Final Rule may publish before the end of the year and would be open to further public comment.

Continue Reading FAA Preparing to Release Drone Registration Rule

droneThis Sunday morning, February 15, 2015, the DOT and FAA conducted a joint press call to announce a proposed framework for new regulations governing use of small-unmanned aircraft systems (under 55 pounds) in commercial operations. Continue Reading DOT and FAA Announce Proposed New Rules For Small UAS Commercial Operations