In the wake of the #MeToo Movement, New York, California and a number of other jurisdictions, both local and state, have passed new laws aimed at combatting sexual harassment in the workplace. The New York laws require written sexual harassment prevention policy, assurance that all current and new employees, and even applicants for employment, receive a copy of the policy, and mandate annual sexual harassment training for all employees. In addition, New York law now provides that employers can be liable for sexual harassment of nonemployees in the workplace, such as contractors, vendors and subcontractors. Recent legislation prohibits employers from using mandatory arbitration provisions in employment contracts or nondisclosure agreements except when this is the victim preference. Let me suggest that there are some important lessons to be learned from these laws. Continue Reading Lessons From Changes to New York State’s Sexual Harassment Laws

Fresh off the heels enacting the California Consumer Privacy Act, California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed the country’s first law governing the security of Internet of Things or connected devices. The bill, SB 327, is entitled “Security of Connected Devices.”

Beginning on January 1, 2020, all manufacturers of connected devices will be required to equip the device with reasonable security features to protect against the unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification or disclosure of information that is collected or transmitted by the device. Continue Reading California Steps into the Fray to Regulate the Security of Connected Devices

Many commentators have noted recently that the near-monopoly Silicon Valley has enjoyed in technology startups is beginning to erode. Last month, The Economist magazine dubbed the trend a “techsodus” from the Bay Area and stated that “[Silicon] Valley’s influence is peaking.”

Much of the venture capital investment aimed at technology startups is still raised in and flows into California, but increasingly, when startups look to scale their business models, they are doing it elsewhere, due to the increasingly high costs associated with the Bay Area in terms of talent, real estate, and taxes. This shift in investment will greatly benefit regions that have ample incentives in place to attract startups, areas like greater Kansas City and other cities throughout the Heartland.

Continue Reading Historic Shift in Venture Investment Could Benefit Kansas City and Region

As we previously reported, major changes are going into effect tomorrow concerning California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, known as Proposition 65. This law requires businesses to notify Californians about significant amounts of chemicals in products in their homes or workplaces, that are released into the environment, or that are present at certain public locations. On August 30, new regulations go into effect that impact the obligations of businesses in order to comply with this law. For more details, see our prior post on this topic, and do not hesitate to reach out to us to help guide you through the Prop 65 changes and how they impact your business.

The proverbial hacksaw inside a prisoner’s birthday cake has been supplanted by a new technological trend for bringing contraband into the jailhouse – Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”). As early as 2015, a fight broke out at the Mansfield Correctional Institution in Ohio when a drone carrying tobacco, marijuana, and heroin crashed into a yard inside the facility. That same year, a drone trafficking hacksaw blades, a cellphone, and Super Glue crashed into a maximum security prison in Oklahoma. Similar plots have been attempted in more than a dozen states nationwide, leading states like North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas to ban drone flights over correctional facilities. Perhaps to save us from another pre-emption fight over UAS operational restrictions, the federal government is now following suit.

On June 7, 2018 the FAA announced temporary flight restrictions over federal correctional facilities and certain U.S. Coast Guard facilities. The inclusion of Coast Guard facilities has no connection to the smuggling concerns faced by correctional facilities. Rather, the addition of Coast Guard facilities is simply an expansion of the FAA’s existing flight restrictions at select national security sensitive facilities that are operated by the Departments of Defense and Energy.

The new restrictions went into effect on June 20, 2018 and prohibit UAS operations between the surface and 400 feet above ground in the vicinity of thirty-three Coast Guard and correctional facilities. The restrictions are in effect 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

The correctional facilities located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Coast Guard facilities are in Maryland, Massachusetts, California, North Carolina, Alaska, Florida, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

Failure to comply with FAA and state UAS regulations (including temporary flight restrictions) can lead to significant civil and criminal penalties. Software developers must ensure their products are updated to appropriately avoid these restricted areas, and operators would be wise to check the FAA’s Know Before You Fly app before beginning their missions.

You can reach Husch Blackwell’s experienced team of UAS attorneys by contacting Erik Dullea and Chris Sundberg, who are happy to help your business more effectively utilize UAS technology and stay out of trouble with the FAA.

 

Toxic Tort Monitor

 

May 15, 2018 | Editor: Jen Dlugosz | Assistant Editors: Anne McLeod and Natalie Holden
New Developments
Order of Operations: Maryland’s Highest Court Analysis of the Statute of Repose and Discovery Rule’s Applicability to Asbestos Cases
By Soham Desai

On March 28, 2018, the Court of Appeals of Maryland, Maryland’s highest court, was asked to: (1) determine whether the state’s statute of repose was ambiguous as to when an injury and cause of action “arise” within the scope of the statute and, (2) discuss the applicability of the discovery rule in relation to the manifestation of a latent disease. The Court found that, in a case involving a steamfitter’s alleged asbestos exposure, the plaintiff’s claims were not barred as the date of his last exposure to asbestos containing products determined whether the statute of repose applied. [Continue Reading]

Pennsylvania Court Finds That an Employer’s Take-Home Duty Can Extend to Girlfriends of Former Employees
By Sarah Rashid

A Pennsylvania District Court recently denied a defendant’s motion for summary judgment of the issue of duty, finding that that an employer’s take home duty may in certain situations extend to the girlfriend of a former employee. Plaintiff Brenda Schwartz and her husband, Paul Schwartz (“Plaintiffs”), brought a negligence action against Defendant Accuratus Corporation (“Defendant”), alleging that Mrs. Schwartz had contracted chronic beryllium disease (“CBD”) from exposure to beryllium brought home on Mr. Schwartz’s clothes while he was an employee of Defendant. Mrs. Schwartz also claims exposure to beryllium from Mr. Schwartz’s roommate, Gregory Altemose, who was also an employee of Defendant. [Continue Reading]

District Court in Washington Reverses Course on Personal Jurisdiction?
By Jackson Otto

In recent years federal courts have clarified and narrowed the scope of personal jurisdiction as it applies to nonresident defendants, particularly in mass tort and toxic exposure cases. However, a recent decision coming out of Washington appears to buck this trend. In Donald Varney and Maria Varney v. Air & Liquid Systems Corporation, et al., the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington had an opportunity to decide motions brought by Defendants Taco, Inc. and Aurora Pump Company to dismiss for failure to state a claim, for lack of standing, to strike Plaintiffs’ request for pre-judgment interest, and most notably for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Court denied each of the Defendants’ motions. [Continue Reading]

Toxic Tort Monitor Archive
April 2018

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Toxic Tort Litigation 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]

Toxic Tort Monitor

 

April 16, 2018 | Editor: Jen Dlugosz | Assistant Editors: Anne McLeod and Natalie Holden
New Developments
Cook County Circuit Court Denies Personal Jurisdiction Motion in Asbestos Case
By Anne McLeod

The Circuit court in Cook County, Illinois has recently clarified one of the limitations on which it applies personal jurisdiction and venue protections to Defendants in asbestos cases. In John C. Clark v. A.W. Chesterton Company, et al., the Court performed personal jurisdictional analyses of general and specific jurisdiction, and also analyzed Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for forum non conveniens. While the Defendant in this case won the argument on general jurisdiction, it lost the arguments on specific jurisdiction and forum non conveniens. The court reasoned that Plaintiff’s “take-home” exposure to asbestos brought both the Defendant’s actions and the alleged resulting injury into Illinois. [Continue Reading]

“Sue-me State” or “Show-me State”: The Latest Push for Asbestos Exposure Tort Reform in Missouri
By Ketajh Brown and Jen Dlugosz

The stage is set for a heated showdown between GOP leaders and bipartisan critics over implementation of HB 1645. If adopted by the Senate, the bill would alter several provisions related to a plaintiff’s ability to bring asbestos tort claims. The main contention sparked by HB 1645 requires plaintiff-side attorneys to identify and file claims against all potentially liable defendants or bankruptcy trusts at the onset of lawsuits alleging injury from asbestos exposure. The idea behind this segment of the bill is twofold: (1) to embed built-in transparency preconditions allowing asbestos claim resolution with minimal delay; and (2) thwart the practice of “double-dipping” by granting injured plaintiffs compensation from one defendant at a time—before pursuing claims against additional defendants. [Continue Reading]

Another Take on “Take-Home” Exposure in California: Foglia v. Moore Dry Dock Co.
By Theresa Mullineaux

A California appellate court recently upheld the trial court’s granting of summary judgment in a secondary exposure asbestos case where Plaintiffs could offer no admissible evidence that decedent’s father worked around asbestos-containing materials. The trial court excluded plaintiff’s testimony regarding his father’s work because he acknowledged he had no personal knowledge and also sustained defendant’s objections to an affidavit of decedent’s aunt who likewise had no personal knowledge of decedent’s father’s work. [Continue Reading]

Toxic Tort Monitor Archive
March 2018

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Toxic Tort Litigation PracticeCompanies 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]

Toxic Tort Monitor

 

March 14, 2018 | Editor: Jen Dlugosz | Assistant Editors: Anne McLeod and Natalie Holden
New Developments
Precluding a Second Bite at the Apple; Federal District Court Grants Summary Judgment on Basis of Doctrine of Collateral Estoppel
By Tierra Jones

In the interest of justice and courtroom efficiency, res judicata aims to prevent parties from re-litigating previously legally resolved issues and claims involving the same or similar parties. Two doctrines – claim preclusion and issue preclusion – are encompassed in res judicata. Issue preclusion, also known as the doctrine of collateral estoppel, is the narrower doctrine of the two. [Continue Reading]

Personal Jurisdiction and LLCs – Does Citizenship Matter?
By Jen Dlugosz

When deciding whether to remove a case when an LLC is a party it is necessary to look at the citizenship of the LLC’s members to determine whether there is diversity for subject matter jurisdiction. However, citizenship of LLC members is not a key component of personal jurisdiction. The tests for subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction, while sometimes muddled, are in fact distinct. Simply put, just because an LLC is a citizen in the jurisdiction, does not equate to personal jurisdiction over the LLC in that jurisdiction. [Continue Reading]

Eastern District of Missouri Denies Plaintiff’s Motion to Reconsider Personal Jurisdiction Ruling
By Natalie Holden

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri recently denied an asbestos plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration of the court’s previous grant of defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. [Continue Reading]

Toxic Tort Monitor Archive
February 2018

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Toxic Tort Litigation 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]

Toxic Tort Monitor

February 12, 2018 | Editor: Jen Dlugosz | Assistant Editors: Anne McLeod and Natalie Holden
New Developments
Which Came First: Subject Matter or Personal Jurisdiction?
By Mary Kate Mullen

Two recent Eastern District of Missouri cases examined the same issue, yet the court reached opposite results. In Lewis v. Johnson & Johnson and Jinright v. Johnson & Johnson, the court considered whether subject matter jurisdiction or personal jurisdiction should be decided first. [Continue Reading]

Fifth Circuit Sets Bright Line Rule for Timing Requirement Under Federal Officer Removal Statute
By Tierra Jones

In January 2018, a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated a district court’s remand of an asbestos case to state court for being untimely, based on a federal officer removal statute, 28 U.S.C § 1442 (“Statute”). The Court of Appeals found that the Statute allows for removal of a case within 30 days after the date a defendant received the transcript of an oral deposition providing a basis for removal, as opposed to the date on which the relevant deposition testimony was taken. [Continue Reading]

An Analysis of the Pennsylvania Fair Share Act and its Application to Asbestos Litigation, in Light of the Recent Ruling in Roverano v. John Crane, Inc.
By Theresa Mullineaux

In December, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that the Fair Share Act applies to asbestos litigation, meaning that defendants are only responsible for the percent they are found liable. Prior to the enactment of the Fair Share Act, a defendant found liable could be on the hook for the entire verdict. [Continue Reading]

Upcoming Events
DRI – Toxic Torts and Environmental Law
March 1-2, 2018
Nashville, TN

Several of our toxic tort litigators are attending this DRI seminar; we hope to see you there!

Toxic Tort Monitor Archive
January 2018

Read the full Toxic Tort Monitor Archive

Connect with us: Blog | Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram | YouTube
Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Toxic Tort Litigation 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]

environment chemicalsOn December 6 2017, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) issued a notice indicating the approval of amendments to Proposition 65’s “clear and reasonable warnings” regulations. OEHHA issued these amendments to clarify and correct certain sections of the significant new regulations going into effect August 30, 2018 that will change how parties in the supply chain for consumer products must warn their customers.

Under the Proposition 65 regulations, a manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of a consumer product sold in California must label the product with a clear and reasonable warning if the product contains one or more chemicals identified by OEHHA as causing cancer, or birth defects or other reproductive harm. Parties in the chain of distribution who fail to provide such warnings may become targets of State enforcement, or private lawsuits for penalties, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees. OEHHA has provided “safe harbor” warning language to be used in labeling.

Continue Reading on Husch Blackwell’s Food & Ag Law Insights.