Product Liability Monitor

May 10, 2017
New Developments
Discovery Sanctions Sanctioned
By Alan Hoffman

On April 18, 2017 the United States Supreme Court did something unusual: it decided a discovery issue. In Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Haeger (2017), it reversed a $2.7 million sanctions order for bad faith discovery misconduct. And in Sec. Nat’l Bank of Sioux City v. Day, 800 F.3d 936 (8th Cir., 2015), another recent high profile discovery case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed a sanctions order requiring a lawyer to write and produce a training film on deposition conduct as a punishment for “obstructive deposition practices.” Each of these decisions held that the sanctions exceeded the court’s inherent authority. [Continue Reading]

Tesla Autopilot Goes to Court
By Mark Pratzel

Tesla is facing its first U.S. product liability litigation challenging its Autopilot autonomous vehicle (AV) technology in a putative class action filed in Federal Court in San Jose, California. The three named plaintiffs are owners of Tesla Model S cars in Colorado, Florida, and New Jersey, who paid between $81,200 and $113,200 for their vehicles, including a $5,000 premium for Tesla’s “Enhanced Autopilot” 2.0 AV software. Each plaintiff claims that both the Autopilot “Standard Safety Features” and Enhanced Autopilot features were non-functional at delivery and remained so when suit was filed. The plaintiffs claim that Tesla sold 47,000 vehicles with “dangerously defective” software, at least half of which were supposed to have Enhanced Autopilot. They refer to it derisively as “vaporware,” which they define as “computer software that is advertised but still nonexistent.” [Continue Reading]

“Innocent Seller” Statutes: More Warnings, Less Protection
By Dan Jaffe

In Davis v. Dunham’s Athleisure Corp. (E.D. Mo., 2017), the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri recently ruled that a firearms retailer was not entitled to the protection of Missouri’s “innocent seller” statute because it gave additional warnings and directions to the buyer beyond the manufacturer’s warnings. In Davis, the plaintiff bought a used rifle from the defendant retailer, Dunham’s Athleisure Corporation. The rifle was sold to Dunham’s by Century International Arms, Inc.  Plaintiff was injured when the rifle exploded. Dunham’s moved for dismissal under the Missouri “innocent seller” statute, §537.762.1, RSMo. [Continue Reading]

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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
April 2017

globeOn April 24, 2017, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a press release and updated the Specially Designated National (SDN) List by adding 271 new Syrian nationals that are employed by Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC).  SSRC is the Syrian government agency responsible for the development and deployment of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons program.  As a result of the designation, any assets held by the individuals in the United States will be frozen and U.S. persons are generally blocked from dealing with the listed individuals.

Continue Reading OFAC Adds 271 Syrian Individuals to the SDN List in Response to Sarin Gas Attack

globeIn March 2016, ZTE Corporation and ZTE Kangxun (collectively ZTE) were placed on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Entity List after corporate documents revealed alleged failure to comply with U.S. sanctions against Iran. While placement on the Entity List would ordinarily result in a ban on conducting business with the U.S., President Obama issued a Temporary General License (TGL) on March 24, 2016, which authorizes the export, reexport and transfer (in country) of items to ZTE. The TGL was implemented by amending the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) with the addition of Supplement No. 7 to part 744.

Continue Reading ZTE’s TGL Extended until March 29

The Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) has taken two unrelated sanctions actions against Iran over the past several days:

SDN Designations in Response to Ballistic Missiles Tests

world health globeEffective February 3, 2017, OFAC imposed sanctions against 13 individuals and 12 entities with ties to Iran’s ballistic missile program. OFAC added these individuals and entities to its list of Specially Designated Nationals (the “SDN list”) freezing all  of their assets held in the U.S. and prohibiting persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction from engaging in trade with the sanctioned individuals and entities. These sanctions also apply to non-U.S. persons on a secondary basis. In a press release, OFAC Acting Director John E. Smith stated “Iran’s continued support for terrorism and development of its ballistic missile program poses a threat to the region, to our partners worldwide, and to the United States” and also added “We will continue to actively apply all available tools, including financial sanctions, to address this behavior.”

Continue Reading OFAC Sanctions Iran Missile Program Supporters and Imposes New Medical Device Licensing Requirements

Treasury DepartmentAs previously reported here, former President Obama in December 2016 issued an amendment to Executive Order (“EO”) 13694, which imposed sanctions on the Russian Federal Security Service (a.k.a Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti and/or FSB) (“FSB”), other Russian entities and officers of those entities. The Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) also placed FSB and those entities and individuals on its list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (the “SDN List”).  These sanctions prohibited persons subject to US jurisdiction from transacting business with the FSB and the other entities and individuals named in EO 13694 and the SDN List designations.

Continue Reading OFAC Issues General License Authorizing Limited Interactions With Russia’s FSB

globeIn the last few days of his Administration, President Obama and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (“OFAC”) took actions that, on at least a temporary basis, will authorize financial transactions with and most exports of goods and services to Sudan and the Sudanese Government. These actions take effect on Tuesday, January 17, but any U.S. persons seeking to trade with Sudan under the expanded authorizations should be aware that these new authorizations are subject to various conditions and could be revoked or modified based on future actions by the Government of Sudan and/or President-Elect Donald Trump’s incoming administration.

Continue Reading OFAC Eases Sanctions on Sudan

shipping containersFollowing the recent release of a joint analysis report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Russian Malicious Cyber Activity and sanctions issued by the Obama Administration on December 29, 2016 (as previously reported here), the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has amended the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) by adding five (5) Russian entities to the Entity List.  The entities identified below have been determined to have been involved in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States:

Continue Reading Commerce Targets Russian Hackers with Additions to Entity List

white houseYesterday, President Obama issued an amendment to Executive Order 13694 related to malicious cyber activities which imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies (the Federal Security Service and the Main Intelligence Directorate), four individual intelligence agency officers and three Russian vendors that provided cyber support to one of the sanctioned agencies. In an official statement, President Obama explained that the amendment was a response to “the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election.” The amendment also authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to sanction any additional individuals or entities determined to be engaged in “tampering with, altering, or causing a misappropriation of information with the purpose or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes or institutions.”  The nine individuals and entities named in the E.O. 13694 amendment are now listed on the list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (the “SDN list”) maintained by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”).  This places a freeze on any property within the U.S. belonging to those individuals or entities and also prohibits persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction from engaging in trade with the sanctioned individuals and entities.  Shortly thereafter, OFAC exercised its authority under a separate section of E.O. 13694 and added two Russian cyber criminals to the SDN list along with the nine individuals and entities named by President Obama (list found here).

Continue Reading President Obama and OFAC Issue New Sanctions in Response to Russian Involvement in Elections

cargo ship containersThe Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has announced new rules, which will take effect December 23, 2016, amending the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 560 (ITSR). The revised rules expand the scope of medical devices and agricultural commodities that may be exported or re-exported to Iran without specific authorization, pursuant to the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSRA).

Continue Reading OFAC Amends Iran Sanctions to Ease Humanitarian Trade

shipping containersOn December 20, 2016, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued its latest round of Russian sanctions as part of the ongoing U.S. response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and its subsequent escalation of conflict in the region. The new sanctions target seven individuals, eight entities, and two vessels. OFAC also added an additional 26 subsidiaries of Russian banks already subject to sanctions to the U.S. Sectoral Sanctions List. The new sanctions come one day after the European Union extended its sanctions against Russia for an additional six months.

Continue Reading Treasury Department Issues New Sanctions Against Russia