Monday, January 10, 2022

Consumer Protection: Cryptocurrency Payment Scams

  • The FTC issued a warning alerting consumers to a new cryptocurrency scam. Scammers begin by impersonating government, law enforcement, or local utility companies. They message or call the victim to the tell them that they have won the lottery or a prize. Eventually, the scammer requests money from the victim and instructs the person to withdraw cryptocurrency from a cryptocurrency ATM. The scammer provides a QR code so the victim can transfer the cryptocurrency to themselves. Tracking the cryptocurrency is extremely difficult to do, which means most victims are not able to retrieve their funds. The FTC issued the warning due to the increased number of reported scams.

Continue Reading FTC Updates (January 10-14, 2022)

Earlier this month, New York State Assemblywoman Kelles and State Senator Biaggi introduced the Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act in the New York State Assembly and Senate. If the legislation becomes law, it would amend New York’s general business law to require fashion companies to publicly disclose extensive information about their environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) policies, impacts, and targets for improvement.

Specifically, the Act would require all fashion retail sellers and manufacturers doing business in New York that have annual worldwide gross receipts surpassing $100 million to disclose:

  • ESG due diligence policies and processes;
  • ESG outcomes, including actual or possible negative environmental and social impacts; and
  • Binding targets for prevention and improvement of ESG outcomes and policies.

Continue Reading Will New York’s Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act Set a Trend?

Monday, December 20, 2021

Bureau of Competition: Retail Fuel Merger

  • The FTC entered into a consent order with Global Partners LP and Richard Wiehl to settle charges that Global’s proposed acquisition of Wiehl’s chain of 27 retail gasoline service stations would violate federal antitrust laws. Under the order, Global and Wiehl must divest seven fuel outlets to Petroleum Marketing Investment Group, and for the next ten years, Global must obtain prior approval from the Commission before acquiring retail fuel assets within two miles of any of the divested outlets. Concurrently with the order, the agency issued an analysis explaining the potential anticompetitive effects of the proposed acquisition and how the consent agreement remedies those effects.

Continue Reading FTC Updates (December 20, 2021 – January 7, 2022)

At the end of 2021, the California Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling (the “Commission”) sent a letter to The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, also known as CalRecycle, and California Attorney General Rob Bonta, asking them to investigate illegal labeling of plastic bags as recyclable by retailers. The Commission is alleging that businesses in the state are falsely implying that their bags are capable of being recycled through curbside collection with the “chasing arrows” logo and words such as “recyclable” and “recycle.” The Commission believes this labeling is impeding the curbside recycling process. Continue Reading California Recyclability Labeling Scrutiny Poised to Increase Retailers’ Liability Risk

Happy New Year! We hope that our readers had a very enjoyable and safe holiday season. Here’s a brief review of key developments concerning the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) from last month to help you stay aware of important product safety legislative and regulatory happenings.

CPSC Responds to Finnbinn’s Challenge on Infant Sleeper Rule. On December 17, the CPSC responded to Finnbinn’s challenge of its final rule applying the voluntary safety standard for inclined infant sleep products (ASTM F3118-17a) to all infant sleep products, including those that are “flat,” such as baby boxes and in-bed sleepers. In its responding brief, the CPSC asserts that Section 104 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which requires the agency to study and develop safety standards for infant and toddler products, gives CPSC the authority to set such a standard, even where no existing voluntary safety standard exists. According to the CPSC, to decide otherwise would “allow inaction by a voluntary standard-setting organization to preclude action by the Commission.” The agency further argued that its rule was supported by sufficient evidence, citing 11 deaths and 16 injuries associated with flat sleep products over a two-year span, which it maintained was an undercount. The primary dangers of these products, according to the agency, are that they can fall when placed on other pieces of furniture, and that products without strength and stability requirements can lead to babies falling out of the sleepers. Of note, a trio of consumer advocacy groups filed an amicus brief urging the court to uphold the safety standard’s application to flat sleep products. We will continue to follow and report on this litigation. Continue Reading CPSC Insights – December 2021

This is an update to the International Trade Law Blog’s December 22, 2021 post on the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.

On December 23, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). This action by President Biden comes a week after the law passed both chambers of Congress. After stalling in the Senate last year, an updated version of the bill was reintroduced on January 27, 2021 by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and passed the Senate on July 14. The House version of the bill was introduced by Congressman James McGovern (D-MA) on February 18, 2021 and passed on December 8. Congressman McGovern and Senator Rubio reconciled the bill and delivered it to each respective chamber a week later. The reconciled version then passed the House and the Senate through unanimous decisions on December 14 and December 16, respectively. Continue Reading Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Signed into Law

The practice of law has changed in many ways during the COVID-19 global pandemic, but a slow-down in class action lawsuits was not one of those changes. In the second half of 2021, consumers filed quite a few lawsuits following a wide range of highly-publicized recalls, involving everything from pharmaceuticals to automobiles.

For example, as previously reported, on June 14, 2021, Philips Respironics voluntarily recalled several different models of CPAP and BiPAP breathing machines because the polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) foam in the machines has the potential to break down, be inhaled or ingested by users, and increase their risk of cancer and other injuries. In the weeks and months that followed the recall, a number of putative class action lawsuits emerged, seeking compensation for injuries, risks, and disrupted use. Generally speaking, plaintiffs allege that Philips Respironics knew about the serious risk of injury caused by its devices long before it warned the public about potential hazards in April 2021 and finally recalled the machines in June 2021. Over a hundred lawsuits have now been consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in the CPAP multi-district litigation, In Re: Philips Recalled CPAP, Bi-Level PAP, and Mechanical Ventilator Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 3014, and discovery is ongoing. Continue Reading Recall Litigation Report: Year in Review (2021)

Supply chain issues are a top concern for many companies across industries and markets. Please join Crowell & Moring for a webinar series that explores these issues and provides insights on the various legal and tactical considerations as companies think about supply chain disruption, impacts, and solutions.

Torts & Product Liability Issues
Wednesday, January 12, 2022 at 1:00 pm EST

A failure to meet safety compliance and regulatory obligations can undo the herculean efforts to surmount supply chain challenges and get products into the US. Our Products Liability and Regulatory Compliance lawyers will discuss the impacts of current efforts by regulators to police product safety at the ports, the expectations of federal safety regulators at the ports and how to use compliance documentation to speed the process when products have been stopped for inspection. This discussion will cover activities at CPSC, NHTSA, EPA and FDA. The panel will also discuss the challenge of counterfeit products and parts and how safety can be a lever to stop counterfeits. Given the increased costs of shipping, downstream recovery opportunities may help alleviate some of the monetary pressures and the panel will discuss these opportunities as well as the contract clauses that can allocate risks appropriately when things do go wrong.

Speakers: Rebecca Chaney, John Fuson, Cheryl Falvey, Warren Lehrenbaum, Carolyn Wagner

Click here to register!

Our look back on the 10 most read posts from this past year highlights key developments in 2021. These posts reflect the emergence of environmental justice and environment, social, and governance as critical areas for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. They also show the growing enforcement trend among State Attorneys General and the Federal Trade Commission. Regulations have covered a wide range of issues, from chemicals and hazardous materials in the U.S. to digital markets in the European Union. And, as the impact of Covid-19 continues to affect us all, one of our most-read articles shows the continued struggle retailers face with pandemic-related lease disputes.
Continue Reading This Year’s Most Popular Posts

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Deceptive and Misleading Conduct

  • The FTC announced rulemaking geared towards combatting government and business impersonation fraud. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant uptick in scammers utilizing various forms of communication to impersonate government agencies or businesses in order to steal money or a consumer’s identity. In order to combat these deceptive schemes, the FTC launched an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) seeking comment from the public. The ANPR notes that the Commission’s authority to seek consumer redress or civil penalties in these cases is currently very limited. The provisions related to impersonation under the Telemarketing Sales Rule and Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule cover only specific sectors or methods of scams. Chair Lina M. Khan issued a statement and Commissioner Christine S. Wilson released her remarks in support of the ANPR. Chair Khan highlighted the Supreme Court decision in AMG Capital Management, LLC v. FTC stating that it significantly curbed the FTC’s ability to recover money for the victims of these schemes. This is the first rulemaking initiated under the Commission’s streamlined rulemaking procedures.

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Deceptive and Misleading Conduct

  • The FTC announced that MyLife.com, Inc., an online platform providing background report services, and its CEO, have been banned from engaging in deceptive negative option marketing and are required to pay $21 million following allegations that they tricked consumers with “teaser background reports” to lure them into difficult-to-cancel subscription programs. The Department of Justice, on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission, claimed that the company’s teaser reports often falsely insinuated that individual reports contained arrest, criminal, and sexual offender records such that consumers would want to learn more by signing up for the company’s automatic renewal program.