Posts from December 2016.
Time 3 Minute Read

This past week, several consumer actions made headlines:

VW and the FTC Agree in Principle on Settlement to Compensate Consumers

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez issued the following statement regarding the announcement of nearly completed agreements resolving the EPA’s Clean Air Act claims and consumer injury claims against Volkswagen:

Time 4 Minute Read

In August 2016, the Supreme Court of California issued its decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court, which – as detailed more fully in our earlier post – features an expansive interpretation of specific personal jurisdiction that is difficult to reconcile with the U.S. Supreme Court’s general personal jurisdiction decisions in Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 131 S. Ct. 2846 (2011) and Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S. Ct. 746 (2014). Those decisions significantly limited the exercise of general personal jurisdiction over defendant corporations to their state of incorporation and principal place of business unless “exceptional circumstances” exist. 

Time 6 Minute Read

This past week, several consumer protection actions made headlines that affect the retail industry.

FTC Actions

FTC Settles Charges Against Marketer of Blood Pressure App

The FTC settled charges against a marketer of a blood pressure app called “Instant Blood Pressure.” According to the complaint, Aura Labs deceptively claimed that its app could use consumers’ phones to measure blood pressure as accurately as a traditional blood pressure cuff. In addition, the FTC alleges that the company’s founder left “five-star” reviews of the app in the Apple App Store without disclosing his connection with the company.

Time 2 Minute Read

On December 12, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission announced a summary decision against California Naturel, Inc., holding that advertising sunscreen as “all natural” violates Sections 5 and 12 of the FTC Act because 8 percent of the product is comprised of the synthetic ingredient dimethicone. 

Time 5 Minute Read

As with other areas of the law, the recent presidential election will present both challenges and opportunities for retailers concerned with financial and securities regulation. While President-elect Trump did not articulate his views on financial services regulation on the campaign trail in any detailed manner, he did suggest that the Dodd-Frank Act should be repealed as it has increased costs for businesses, impeded economic growth and severely reduced lending without any clear benefits to investors or consumers.

Time 2 Minute Read

On December 8, 2016, four major retailers were accused of unfair competition and false advertising under California law. According to complaints filed by the City of Los Angeles in California state court, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Sears have each misrepresented the regular retail price of thousands of goods in an effort to make consumers believe the items are available at steeper discounts than actually being offered.

Time 3 Minute Read

This past week, several consumer and self-regulatory actions made headlines that affect the retail industry.

Court Dismisses ‘Made in USA’ Claims against Citizens of Humanity

A California federal judge dismissed claims against Citizens of Humanity alleging that it falsely labeled its products as “Made in the USA.” While plaintiffs alleged that the fabric, thread, buttons and other components were foreign-made, the court found that this was not enough to satisfy California’s standard, allowing the use of “Made in the USA” labels on products containing 5 to 10 percent of foreign materials. Significantly, the court applied the 5 to 10 percent standard found in the California rule despite the fact that the products at issue had been purchased prior to the rule’s enactments. The court also dismissed claims under the Unfair Competition Law and California Legal Remedies Act, finding that the plaintiffs failed to plead with particularity. 

Time 2 Minute Read

With Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, employers should be mindful of state blue laws, which sometimes require premium pay to hourly employees working on Sundays or holidays. Although most state laws, as well as federal law, do not require premium pay for work performed on holidays (unless, of course, the employee has worked more than 40 hours that week), there are a few exceptions, such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island. 

Time 6 Minute Read

This past week, several regulatory, self-regulatory and consumer actions made headlines that affect the retail industry.

Regulatory Actions: FTC

FTC Drives Home Privacy and Security Point in Comment to NHTSA

On November 21, 2016, the FTC’s Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection filed a comment with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) in support of including consumer privacy and cybersecurity guidance in NHTSA's Federal Automated Vehicles Policy. The guidance governs the collection, transmission and sharing of personal data, and how to protect that data, as cars become smarter and add Apple CarPlay, Google Android Auto and Windows Embedded Automotive, among other Internet-connected software options. The FTC applauded NHTSA's efforts to embed consumer privacy protections and cybersecurity into the software, expressing wholesale support of NHTSA's efforts while emphasizing the FTC's expertise in this area, including the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, to offer further guidance.

Time 2 Minute Read

November brought a reminder that civil penalties are the trend to watch from the CPSC when a pet goods retailer agreed to a $4.25 million penalty for failing to immediately report to CPSC an alleged defect in fish bowls at risk of breaking, which posed a risk to purchasers of cutting themselves. CPSC’s data shows a hefty increase in the amount of civil penalties extracted, ranging from a low of $700,000 to a high of $4.3 million in fiscal year 2015 and a low of $2 million to a whopping high of $15.45 million in fiscal year 2016. Virtually all of those instances involved a “failure to report” or delay in reporting.


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