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December 31, 2008

Publisher recalls book because of errors

On December 30, 2008, a publisher announced a recall of its book on how to electrically wire a house.  The book contains several errors in the technical diagrams that could lead consumers to incorrectly install or repair electrical wiring, posing an electrical shock hazard to consumers.  This recall was announced in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  There have been other recalls based on unsafe instructions in books.  And there is a very interesting advisory opinion from 1974 on jurisdiction over books and problems when books encourage unsafe product use.

Kenneth Ross

December 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 30, 2008

CPSC files suit for late reporting

The CPSC rarely tries to fine companies for late reporting safety issues to them.  And, when they do, the manufacturer and CPSC usually agree on a fine.  It is extremely rare for the CPSC and manufacturer to not agree.  In that event, the only recourse for the CPSC is to sue the manufacturer in federal court.  In over 35 years of existence, the CPSC has done this only a handful of times. 

On December 23, 2008, the CPSC filed suit in the USDC of Minnesota against Wagner Spray Tech.  Wagner complaint.

With passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and with new commissioners being appointed sometime in 2009 by the new President, the CPSC could radically change.  It is unknown whether this new lawsuit is a sign of a more aggressive enforcement approach to CPSC regulations.  This is something to keep an eye on.

Obviously, increased enforcement can adversely affect any current and future product liability cases.

Kenneth Ross

December 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 18, 2008

No Preemption of Deceptive Advertising Claims Against Cigarette Manufacturers

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that state-law-based claims for deceptive advertising brought by smokers of "light" or "low tar" cigarettes are not preempted by the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act.  Writing for the majority in Altria Group v. Good, Justice Stevens concluded that federal law does not bar all state tort claims regarding cigarette advertising but more narrowly prohibits only state law claims that would require warning labels on cigarette packages that are different from the federally-required labels.

While several commentators have expressed surprise at the ruling because it does not serve to protect business interests against state tort claims, it is in accord with the court's fairly narrow approach to analyzing preemption issues. 


December 18, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 9, 2008

Recent Developments in Safety Law for Foreign-Sourced Products

Facing an increasingly global supply chain, Congress and various states have enacted a number of changes in the country's product safety codes designed to protect consumers. Walk down the aisle of any department store today and you're likely to find a series of products made and sourced from outside the United States. The safety of these components is coming under increased scrutiny, which has made 2008 a banner year for new legislative proposals for product safety laws.

With the holiday season in full swing, many of these developments are at the forefront of consumer buying decisions. This past August, Congress granted a series of new regulatory powers to the Consumer Safety Product Commission, including more rigorous testing standards for children's toys and expanded resources for enforcement, http://cpsc.gov/cpsia.pdf.  The Consumer Product Safety Act of 2008 also, importantly, extended the ability of state Attorney Generals to enforce regulations at the state-level.

Given the complexities of international supply chains, the ability of the CSPC to effectively monitor and control product safety has been challenged over the past decade. The dual shift to establish global databases to share information across governmental entities, along with gaining access to data from corporate sources, while also giving states more powers to enforce the laws marks one of the most fundamental shifts in product safety laws in recent decades. As evidence of these new powers, the California Attorney General's office http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Californias-Supervising-Deputy-Attorney-General/story.aspx?guid={0DD6C84A-D7D3-487C-BE28-70C44079C1CE}

led a press conference to help importers to understand the new regulations heading into the holiday season.  One particular compound that has come under increased scrutiny is lead – although most direct lead sources were banned previously, indirect sources have led to small amounts of the substance, which may still be harmful to children. The California Attorney General's office also lead the way in enforcement, speeding up adoption of the new regulatory guidelines by way of a successfi; lawsuit http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/west/2008/12/05/96065.htm.

As manufacturers look to lower their sourcing costs, a stricter set of product safety law guidelines has made the equation more complex.  Fortunately for consumers, the new guidelines contain a mechanism for both measurement and enforcement going forward.

This Article was contributed by Maya Richard, who is a content writer on the subject of http://www.cablemodemhelp.com internet service and can be reached with feedback at [email protected].

December 9, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 2, 2008

Impact of Management & Operational Processes on Product Quality

This following comments are from Tom Taormina, a forensic business pathologist and expert witness:

There is an aspect to proving design and manufacturing defects little known to attorneys practicing products liability tort. The root cause of defects leading to injury and/or death is often the underlying management, operational and quality processes employed by the manufacturer, distributor or service provider. While attorneys spend (literally) years and thousands of dollars sifting through forensic evidence, discovery and testimony of opposing experts, investigation into the standard of care exercised by the manufacturer is often overlooked.

Uncovering substandard management, manufacturing and quality practices can drive cases into more rapid and conclusive settlements. Through discovery and depositions, compelling evidence can be uncovered that demonstrates how business leaders are often oblivious to the potential for liability built into their usual and customary business practices. Since the jury is shown objective evidence of how the manufacturer was not only responsible for producing the subject defect, but how their company carelessly and recklessly condoned processes that were destined to produce defects, awards are often elevated to punitive damages.

The tools for this non-traditional approach to discovery and trial strategy are found in the disciplines of quality management, business process management and organizational behavior, not in the law library.

Tom Taormina, CMQ/OE, CMC

[email protected]


December 2, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack