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

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.
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Product Liability Monitor Archive
September 2016

3D printerWith a busy holiday season ahead, many shoppers are looking forward to finding that unique gift.  Parents of children who enjoy crafts or building will be especially attracted to the creative possibilities of a home 3D printer.  Kids can make their own jewelry, model cars, and even wearable fashion.  With an industry still in its infancy in the consumer market, I sat down with Brandan Mueller to better understand the legal pitfalls inherent in the expected Christmas season sales bump.  Brandan is Husch Blackwell’s expert on the intersection of traditional consumer protection / products liability law and 3D printing technology.

Continue Reading 3D Printing: Warranty and Products Liability Issues

On Sunday, March 1, 2015, CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes” ran a lengthy piece reported by Anderson Cooper regarding accusations that Lumber Liquidators imported laminated flooring products that did not meet the standards set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for levels of formaldehyde. The focus of the story was on Lumber Liquidators, but the issue is likely to affect almost every importer of flooring and other wood products from China.

During the segment, Cooper referenced various lawsuits that are pending against Lumber Liquidators alleging that the company failed to meet CARB standards in California for formaldehyde. Cooper interviewed the CEO of Lumber Liquidators, Robert Lynch. Lynch said the company has a good system in place and checks carefully to make sure that CARB standards are met.

After making this statement, Lynch was shown a video interview of the plant manager of a Chinese plant that manufactures products for Lumber Liquidators. In the video, the plant manager plainly states that the flooring did not meet CARB standards. The journalist narrating the video adds that visits made to two other plants that manufacture flooring for the company revealed that the company’s flooring failed to meet the standards.

Continue Reading Formaldehyde Issues Regarding Wood Products Put Companies at Risk

California courts have forged a shield for product manufacturers faced with liability stemming from the foreseeable but unintended use of their product in conjunction with another manufacturer’s product. Consistent with a recent decision by the California Supreme Court, a California appellate court concluded that a manufacturer is generally not liable in strict liability or negligence for harm caused by another manufacturer’s product, despite the fact that the two products are compatible to be used together. Continue Reading California Appellate Court Affirms Limits on Liability for Compatible Products