Product Liability Monitor

March 9, 2017
New Developments
Missouri Products Law: Are The Times A-Changin’?
By Joe Guffey

Missouri, the home of Mark Twain and Harry S Truman, has in recent years become one of the most deeply red states politically. Yet it has also acquired a reputation as of one of the most plaintiff friendly forums nationally, thanks to its substantive law and to juries in the City of St. Louis (dubbed the Number 1 “Judicial Hellhole” by the defense-oriented American Tort Reform Association for 2017).

Some of that may be about to change following the 2016 election of Republican former Navy Seal Eric Greitens as Governor and heavy Republican majorities in the Missouri House and Senate. Several bills are now pending in the Legislature which could bring about significant changes in Missouri product liability law and practice. [Continue Reading]

Immunity for Autonomous Vehicle Manufacturers?
By Mark Pratzel

As autonomous automobile vehicle (AV) technology develops new legal issues and challenges continue to appear. An issue that has led to much debate is the potential impact of lawsuits, which some contend could hamper the growth of AV technology. [Continue Reading]

What is an Adequate Warning? Criteria and Application
By Dan Jaffe

Many courts have stated criteria for determining the adequacy of product safety warnings. The Tennessee Supreme Court established a particularly useful 5-part test in Pittman v Upjohn Co., 890 S.W.2d 425, 429 (Tenn. 1994).  As recently re-stated by the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [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
February 2017

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

chemical factoryOn January 13, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its much anticipated proposed reset to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Substance Inventory in the Federal Register. The new TSCA amendments require EPA to subdivide the existing inventory into lists of active and inactive substances. The proposed rule sets out reporting and procedural requirements for chemical manufacturers and processors to notify the Agency which chemicals should be considered active.

The proposal requires “retrospective” notification for substances listed on the TSCA Inventory that were manufactured in or imported into the US for non-exempt business purposes between June 21, 2006 and June 21, 2016. Properly notified substances would be designated by EPA as active. Substances on the inventory that do not receive a valid notice will be designated as inactive. Inactive substances may not be manufactured, imported, or processed for a non-exempt commercial purpose under TSCA. EPA is also proposing “forward-looking” procedures for converting inactive substances to active substances in the event a company intends to resume manufacture, import, or processing of an inactive substance.

Continue Reading EPA Proposes Process for Manufacturers to Keep Chemicals in Commerce

chemical factoryOn December 21, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized amendments to its Risk Management Program (RMP). The EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, signed the final rule but it has not yet been published in the Federal Register.


The Accidental Release Prevention regulations under section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act, also called the Risk Management Program regulations, require covered facilities to develop and implement a risk management program and coordinate with state and local officials. Approximately 12,500 facilities are covered by the RMP and will be affected by the revised rule. These facilities include petroleum refineries, large chemical manufacturers, water and waste treatment systems, chemical and petroleum wholesalers and terminals, food manufacturers, packing plants and other cold storage facilities with ammonia refrigeration systems, and some gas plants.

Continue Reading EPA Administrator Signs Final Amendments To The Risk Management Program (RMP) For Chemical Facilities

Shipping Containers

The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) offers importers the opportunity to eliminate or reduce duties assessed on imported raw materials and intermediate products that are not produced in the United States or are unavailable domestically. The MTB’s goal is to aid U.S. manufacturers by reducing duties on inputs (raw materials, parts, etc.), thereby cutting domestic production costs and increasing the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers. However, MTB duty benefits have also been granted to imported finished goods. For example, the last MTB granted duty benefits to certain shopping bags, basketballs and sports footwear. Duty savings for U.S. manufacturers under the MTB are anticipated to exceed $700 million annually. Interested importers should not miss the December 12, 2016, deadline to take advantage of these cost savings opportunities.

Continue Reading New Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Process Provides Duty Savings Opportunities for Importers

work incidentLast week, OSHA published its new “Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs,” which advises employers to establish comprehensive internal safety and health programs and provides extensive guidelines and resources for doing so. In releasing the updated recommendations, OSHA argues that employers adopting such programs could reduce injuries and illnesses and promote sustainability.

Continue Reading OSHA Issues Recommendations For Employer Safety and Health Programs

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!

chemicalsWe have recently become aware of recent EPA action to enforce the reporting obligation contained in Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA) that applies to electroplating processes. This enforcement issue is of particular concern to both captive and job shop electroplaters. The EPA’s enforcement position is not a new issue; in fact it was discussed with EPA in the late 1990’s; however, many electroplating facilities, both captive and job shop, are perhaps not calculating and accurately documenting threshold determinations and releases of hazardous substances that may be required to be reported on Form R. Section 313 of EPCRA, and EPA’s implementing regulations at 40 C.F.R. §§ 372.22 and 372.30 require the reporting of releases of listed hazardous substances by the owner or operator of a facility that has 10 or more full-time employees; is covered by certain SIC codes; meets one of the criteria set forth in 40 C.F.R. s § 372.22(b)(1)-(3); and that they manufactured, processed or otherwise used a toxic chemical in an amount exceeding an applicable threshold quantity of that chemical during a calendar year. If a facility is required to report such releases, a toxic chemical release inventory form (Form R) must be submitted to EPA and to the state.

Continue Reading Be Aware of Recent EPA Enforcement Regarding Form R Threshold Determinations for Electroplating Baths

work incidentOSHA recently announced that it is delaying the effective date of the controversial anti-retaliation portion of its new recordkeeping rule in order to conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers. The agency’s announcement comes on the heels of a legal challenge seeking injunctive relief from the anti-retaliation provision in the rule.

Continue Reading Anti-Retaliation Portion of OSHA’s Recordkeeping Final Rule Subject to Delayed Effective Date and Challenged in Court

Product Liability Monitor

June 7, 2016
New Developments
Driverless Cars and the Law
By Mark Pratzel

As driverless car technology evolves, questions continue to arise regarding its legal repercussions. Google, one of the leading forces behind autonomous cars, predicts that they will be available to the public by 2020.  Nissan and Tesla are also developing self-driven car technology.  And consumers support the new technology.  A recent Pew Research Center study indicated that nearly half of Americans would ride in a driverless car. [Continue Reading]

The Sandy Hook Firearm Litigation
By Joe Guffey

On the morning of December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School armed with a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle modeled on the military M-16, which he used to kill 26 persons and wound others. The shootings received extensive nationwide media coverage. [Continue Reading]

Federal Preemption of Aircraft Design Defect Claims
By Alan Hoffman

In Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corp., 45 F.Supp.3d 431 (M.D. Pa. 2014), a wrongful death suit arising from the crash of a Cessna 172 claiming defects in the carburetor of its Lycoming engine and the related manuals and instructions, the plaintiff alleged that Lycoming violated various design requirements for the engine type certificate, and failed to report failures, malfunctions or defects as required by the Federal Air Regulations. [Continue Reading]

Editor of the Month
Alan Hoffman concentrates his practice in the Alan Hoffman areas of product liability, tort and business litigation with the firm’s St. Louis office. He handles a wide variety of product liability and personal injury litigation, including chemical and toxic tort; premises liability; firearms and ammunition; maritime; aviation; and rail cases. He has defended chemical manufacturing clients in exposure and product liability cases. Alan also has been an active pilot for more than 40 years and has a unique knowledge of aviation law.
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]