Product Liability Monitor

October 11, 2017
New Developments
America’s Opioid Epidemic: Who Will Be Held Accountable?
By Ally Towers

In recent years America has seen an increasing number of opioid-involved deaths and is currently experiencing what the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) describes as an “opioid epidemic.” This crisis has been devastating to many communities and individuals, and States are feeling the effect, too. State, county and municipal governments have faced mounting costs in battling this crisis, and some are now taking the fight to the manufacturers and distributors of these drugs. [Continue Reading]

Robots are Becoming a Media Phenomenon—And a Legal Phenomenon, Too
By Eric Krauss

The American public cannot get enough of robots. From science fiction to scientific fact, robotic news and entertainment are part of our daily lives. This past year, at least two television series focused on robots set in the near future (“Westworld” on HBO and “Humans” on AMC) have captured viewers’ imagination, and last week the Blade Runner 2049 sequel opened at theaters nationwide. Indeed, the relationship between people and robotics has been a film subject at least since Fritz Lang’s silent film Metropolis in 1927.  Its continuing popularity reflects our love-hate relationship with automation. [Continue Reading]

Heed the Heeding Presumption
By Alan Hoffman

One of the legacies of the Restatement of Torts, Second, Section 402A published in 1965, is the so-called “heeding presumption.” Section 402A’s Comment j afforded product sellers a presumption that an adequate warning, when given, would be heeded to avoid the risk: “Where a warning is given, the seller may reasonably assume that it will be read and heeded.” However, courts soon began inverting Comment j to create a presumption favoring plaintiffs; i.e., that since they would have heeded an adequate warning, they need not show that the absence of an “adequate” warning caused their injury. Effectively, the heeding presumption shifts the burden to the seller to disprove causation. [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
September 2017

clocking systemA Wisconsin employer recently made headlines when it announced that it was offering its employees the option to be outfitted with a microchip to replace the cards or badges they use regularly while at work. The company, called Three Square Market, held a “chip party” on August 1 during which 41 out of its 85 employees opted to have the small chip implanted in their hand. Although the purpose of this RFID chip is limited to office functions such as making purchases in the break room market, logging into computers and printers, and accessing the building, one cannot help but think about the implications this type of technology could have on employee privacy.

Continue Reading It’s 10:00 p.m. – Do You Know Where Your Employees Are?

Product Liability Monitor

December 13, 2016
New Developments
Auto Manufacturers Partner with Nauto to Improve Driverless Car Technology
By Shannon Peters

One of the main obstacles to the autonomous vehicle industry is “infrastructure,” but not in the sense typically associated with the term. Since autonomous vehicles come in all shapes, sizes, and powertrain types (gasoline, electric, and hybrid), and a wide range of degree of automation, the key infrastructure issue is not with the roads or the need for a worldwide network of guidance wires, rails, or charging stations, but ensuring the safe integration of autonomous vehicles into the world of human drivers.  Enter “Nauto.” [Continue Reading]

Confidentiality and the Public Interest
By Dan Jaffe

Public Justice, a public interest advocacy organization, recently posted over one million pages of Remington Arms Company internal documents on a publically available searchable online database. These documents concern the “Walker” trigger mechanism of the Remington Model 700 rifle, which has been the subject of more than 100 lawsuits, and is allegedly implicated in at least 24 deaths. [Continue Reading]

What is an Adequate Warning?
By Alan Hoffman

In Miasa Barron, et al. v. Abbott Laboratories, Inc., the Missouri Court of Appeals recently affirmed a verdict by a St. Louis jury awarding $15 million in compensatory damages and $23 million punitive damages for birth defects caused by the antiepileptic drug Depakote.  While there were other issues, the central liability question was whether Abbott adequately warned about the dangers of birth defects from using Depakote during pregnancy. [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
November 2016

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.

Continue Reading Revised Cuba Rules Allow Medical Collaboration and Ease Some Trade

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

Product Liability Monitor

September 12, 2016
New Developments
FDA Requires Highest Level of Warning on Opioids & Benzodiazepines
By Jenna Marie Stupar

On August 31, 2016 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new directive to include the “black box” label on approximately 400 opioid and benzodiazepine products. Opioids are powerful pain reducing medications including prescription oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine.  Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed to treat conditions such as anxiety, insomnia and seizures.  Examples of these products include alprazolam, clonazepam and lorazepam.  Both types of drugs depress the central nervous system. [Continue Reading]

Driverless Cars and Automobile Insurance
By Mark Pratzel

As driverless automobile technology develops it leaves unanswered questions about the legal implications for auto insurance.   Currently, if drivers of traditional cars get into an accident, the auto insurance policy of the party at fault will typically cover the property and bodily injury damages sustained by the victim. But what happens if the fault can be attributed to an autonomous vehicle controlled by a computer? [Continue Reading]

When is a Product Design Defective?
By Alan Hoffman

In Izzarelli v. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, the Connecticut Supreme Court was called on by the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, to consider whether the so-called “good tobacco” exception to strict liability of comment (i) to Section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts precludes an action against a cigarette manufacturer for manipulating the nicotine in its cigarettes to increase the user’s risk of cancer under Connecticut law. Answering in the negative, the Connecticut Court used the case to revisit its holding in Potter v. Chicago Pneumatic Tool Co. and the evolution of product liability jurisprudence since the Second Restatement. In doing so, it delved into a question at the heart of product liability law: what constitutes a design defect? [Continue Reading]

Editor of the Month
Jenna Stupar stupar-jennajoined Husch Blackwell in 2015 after serving as a summer associate for the firm in 2014. She focuses her practice on toxic tort, product liability, and commercial litigation matters. She also has experience working with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations.
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
August 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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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
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]
Upcoming Events
DRI – Asbestos Medicine
November 10-11, 2016
New Orleans, LA

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

healthcareIn an April 2016 Interpretation Letter recently made publically available, OSHA responded to an inquiry about whether an employee’s self-treatment of wrist pain constituted medical treatment beyond first aid for recordkeeping purposes. The scenario at issue involved an employee who bought and used a rigid wrist brace due to experiencing wrist pain after working at a computer for a number of hours.  Later, when the employee saw a doctor at the occupational health clinic, the doctor determined that the brace was not necessary, but recommended that the employee continue to wear the brace if the employee felt it was relieving his pain.

Continue Reading OSHA Determines Doctor Recommendations Are Medical Treatment

Husch Blackwell’s 3D Printing Team works to stay ahead in a field with rapid advancements. Husch Blackwell is positioned to play a major role in the 3D printing industry. In Part 1 of Husch Blackwell’s 3D Printing Team video, attorneys share how clients can benefit from our knowledge on Intellectual Property, medical regulations, and how these apply to the 3D Printing industry. For more information, watch the firm’s 3D Printing video.

Part 2 of Husch Blackwell’s 3D Printing Team video can be found here.

Husch Blackwell’s Laura Labeots St. Louis Institute of Nanoscience and Nanomedicine is scheduled to present at the St. Louis Institute of Nanoscience and Nanomedicine Presentation on December 12, 2015. Laura will be on a panel discussing NanoMedicine.

The St. Louis Institute of Nanoscience and Nanomedicine Symposium provides a platform for nanotechnology researchers and practitioners to:

  • Discuss recent advances in nanoscience, nanotechnology, and nanomedicine
  • Identify potential opportunities for commercialization
  • Share entrepreneurial experiences
  • Connect with academia, industry, government agencies, private foundations, service providers, and venture capitalists

To register for this event, please click here.