Legislative & Judicial Updates

Congress ChamberYesterday, July 25th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” by a vote of 419-3. The bill originated as an act in the Senate which was focused on Iran. In response to Russian meddling in the U.S. election, the Senate expanded that bill to include additional sanctions against Russia, codify various Russia-Ukraine sanctions promulgated by the Obama Administration into law and add procedural provisions to delay or prevent any efforts by the Trump Administration to relax those codified Obama Administration sanctions. The Senate passed their revised version of this legislation last month by a vote of 98-2. For more information on the Senate’s earlier approval, please see our post on June 16th.

Continue Reading Congress Passes Russian Sanctions Bill with New Sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea

Product Liability Monitor

July 14, 2017
New Developments
Rats! Eco-Friendly Soy-Based Insulation Could Spell Trouble Down the Road
By Sarah Rashid

A new “eco-friendly” biodegradable material used to insulate wiring in newer cars could make for trouble — and lawsuits — down the road for car manufacturers. This insulation is made from soybeans, making it more environmentally friendly and cheaper for car manufacturers. But it has a downside: it serves as an attractive, tasty treat for rats, mice, squirrel, rabbits, and other rodents. [Continue Reading]

The Benefits And Risks Of Autonomous Vehicles
By Leslie Gutierrez

On June 15, 2017, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill that will allow autonomous vehicles (AVs) to operate on the state’s roads. Texas is now one of 17 states (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, plus Washington D.C.) that have passed legislation related to AVs. Governors in Arizona, Massachusetts, Washington and Wisconsin have also issued executive orders related to AVs. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has formed a committee to determine AV best practices, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee formed a similar interagency work group. [Continue Reading]

Speak, Corporation!
By Alan Hoffman

Mitt Romney famously told a heckler during his Presidential campaign, “Corporations are people, my friend.” While corporations are not people, they and other organizations surely are legal persons capable of suing and being sued. But how to take the deposition of a corporation or organization which can only speak through employees or representatives? [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
June 2017

cargo shipJuly 5 is the deadline to submit comments in response to the Federal Maritime Commission’s Notice of Inquiry seeking guidance on maritime regulations that should be modified or eliminated. As noted in our previous post, within the NOI the FMC specifically identifies the regulations which impose tariff publication requirements (46 C.F.R. §520) as a target for deregulation.

Coupled with recent comments by Acting FMC Chairman Michael Khouri acknowledging the lack of purpose in tariff publication, it appears that tariff publication requirements may be coming to an end:

Continue Reading Tariff Reform: FMC Taking Aim

Container ShipCurrent bills (HR 2593, S. 1119) authorizing appropriations for the Federal Maritime Commission contain substantive terms which seem to forecast the path the regulatory agency is taking with respect to both tariff requirements and regulation of ocean transportation intermediaries.

Tariff References

The bills address some meaningful changes to the current antiquated tariff system. Combined with the FMC’s new Regulatory Reform Task Force, and the corresponding Notice of Inquiry issued by the FMC seeking specifics from the shipping public for deregulation, it appears the FMC  may be taking a clear stance on tariffs. Acting Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, Michael Khouri, has made several public statements which confirm the conclusion that tariffs have no place in the current ocean transportation marketplace.

Continue Reading The Federal Maritime Commission Authorization Act of 2017: A Death Knell for Tariffs and Closer Carrier Scrutiny?

globe AsiaOn Thursday, June 15, 2017, by a vote of 98-2, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that would potentially impose additional sanctions against Russia and give Congress the power to delay and/or prevent any action by President Trump to lift or relax sanctions against Russia. Tentatively titled the “Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act of 2017” (“CRIEEA”), the bill must now proceed to the U.S. House of Representatives for further deliberation and approval.

Continue Reading Senate Passes Potential Russian Sanctions Bill

Product Liability Monitor

June 9, 2017
New Developments
Lung Cancer Without Asbestosis? The Effects of Smoking
By Mark Zellmer

In the medical and scientific literature, a finding of asbestosis is clear evidence that asbestos at least contributed to cause a person’s lung cancer. Many medical experts regard a finding of asbestosis as essential to any finding that asbestos caused any lung cancer. Other experts look for sufficient exposure to cause asbestosis, even if not evident from radiology or pathology. Still others take a position contrary to both views. [Continue Reading]

Defend Trade Secrets Act: Protecting Product Manufacturers and Sellers’ Confidential Information
By Dan Jaffe

Manufacturers and sellers of products can use the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) to effectively protect their trade secrets. The DTSA was enacted on May 11, 2016, extending the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (18 U.S.C. §§ 1831, et seq.). DTSA creates a federal civil cause of action for trade secret misappropriation whereby “[a]n owner of a trade secret that is misappropriated may bring a civil action . . . if the trade secret is related to a product or service used in or intended for use in, interstate or foreign commerce.” [Continue Reading]

Protective Orders in Product Cases
By Alan Hoffman

Discovery in product liability cases often involves inquiry into and disclosure of a firm’s confidential internal product information and documents not available to competitors or the public that it has a legitimate interest in protecting. Plaintiffs frequently serve broad brush stroke discovery in an effort to avoid in missing documents, information and witnesses that might prove relevant to prosecuting their claims. Defense counsel must act quickly and effectively to defend their clients’ valid interests, and seek to limit the scope of discovery as much as possible to avoid costly and burdensome discovery disruptive to their clients’ normal course of business. [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
May 2017

 

PayslipOn May 12, 2017, the Missouri Legislature passed a bill prohibiting any political subdivision from enforcing or enacting a local minimum wage ordinance.  The bill, unless vetoed, will take effect August 28, 2017, and will pre-empt the current minimum wage ordinances in St. Louis and Kansas City.

Employers in St. Louis and Kansas City should continue to comply with the local minimum wage ordinances, and should stay apprised of the upcoming changes to Missouri’s Minimum Wage Laws.

For more information on this topic, please contact Loren Foy or Terry Potter.

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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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
April 2017

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 Peters

The 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 Hoffman

Lone 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 Jaffe

In 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]

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
March 2017