Jeff Margulies (US)

Subscribe to all posts by Jeff Margulies (US)

Federal court says Prop 65 warnings for glyphosate violate the First Amendment

On June 22, 2020, Judge William Shubb of the US District Court for the Eastern District of California entered an order prohibiting the State of California from requiring Prop 65 warnings for glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup®. The decision was not based on whether glyphosate had been improperly listed under Prop 65, or whether the amount of exposure to average users was below the no significant risk level. Rather, the court concluded that the warnings were prohibited under the US Constitution’s First Amendment as compelled government speech. This decision is important, as it is the first final … Continue Reading

Judge issues first ruling dismissing lawsuit for Braille on gift cards

Earlier this year, we posted about the new wave of ADA claims that flooded the district courts in New York concerning Braille on gift cards. Four months later, a judge in the Southern District of New York issued the first ruling to shut down one plaintiff’s claims, holding that Title III does not require Braille on gift cards. See Dominguez v. Banana Republic, LLC, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72193

The plaintiff in this case, like all of the other virtually identical complaints, alleged that he was unable to obtain a Braille gift card at a clothing retailer. The plaintiff … Continue Reading

CCPA enforcement trends–what we are seeing

Despite limitations on private rights of action within the California Consumer Privacy Act, many were concerned that the plaintiffs’ bar would find creative ways to skirt CCPA’s boundaries. Four months into CCPA enforcement, those concerns have been borne out. We are seeing three worrisome enforcement trends:

  • Expanding the CCPA’s private right of action;
  • Cloaking a CCPA claim as a California Unfair Competition law violation; and
  • Retroactive application of the CCPA to conduct pre-dating January 1, 2020.

Check out our detailed analysis here.… Continue Reading

Court tosses consumer class action based on alleged Prop 65 violation

As a California appellate court once stated, and many businesses find out to their dismay, Proposition 65’s enforcement procedures make “the instigation of Proposition 65 litigation easy—and almost absurdly easy at the pleading stage and pretrial stages.” Consumer Defense Group v. Rental Housing Industry Members, 137 Cal. App. 4th 1185, 1215 (2006). A recent ruling from a federal court has found that despite Prop 65’s low bar, plaintiffs in a consumer class action lawsuit cannot bootstrap an alleged Proposition 65 violation into the basis for California consumer protection claims, at least not without first complying with Prop 65’s pre-suit … Continue Reading

While more states issue reopening plans, other states extend closure

In a sign of the dramatically uncertain nature of next steps, more states have issued orders to partially reopen their economies, while others have extended closure orders that were set to expire at the end of the month.

Reopening

Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vermont all have taken the first step towards a gradual reopening. While some of these states have loosened restrictions more aggressively than others, some common themes emerge. Businesses that do reopen must try to maintain social distancing, operate at reduced capacity, and take measures to ensure the safety of their … Continue Reading

Plans for reopening begin at state, federal level

State coalitions forming

In an effort to plan for reopening their economies, several states have announced regional collaboration efforts. This includes New York and six other Northeastern states, and California, Oregon, and Washington in the west. Earlier this week, California Governor Gavin Newsom outlined a framework to reopen the western economies, predicated on six key indicators: … Continue Reading

Los Angeles orders workers and customers to wear face coverings

We are continuing to track state and local restrictions, updated daily, here.

In a sign of things that may be coming nationally, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has issued an “emergency order” requiring employees of “Essential Businesses” to wear face coverings. The order also requires customers visiting such businesses to wear face coverings, at the risk of not being served if they fail to comply.  Businesses are expressly permitted to refuse entry to any customer not wearing a face covering.… Continue Reading

State “stay at home” orders now in 30 states

What seemed like a novel and crazy idea a little over a week ago has now become the majority approach to “flattening the curve” in the United States. And those states that have not yet adopted “stay at home” or “shelter in place” orders generally have comparable restrictions at the county, city, or municipal levels.

Check out our updated state and local tracker here.… Continue Reading

Coronavirus business restrictions update and links to orders

For those of you have been following our running list of state and local business restrictions here on the blog, we are happy to report that we have been upgraded to a dedicated website. And with our upgrade comes an added feature–links to the state and local orders we are discussing. Please continue to follow us there (we will also keep updating the blog, but it is not nearly as fancy).

Continue Reading

“Stay at Home” and “Shelter in Place” restrictions grow; updated business restrictions table

We continue to update our list of state and local business restrictions and limitations as quickly as we can given the rapidly changing landscape.

As of Friday night, “Stay at Home” and “Shelter in Place” orders continue to proliferate, as Connecticut and Illinois have joined California and New York. In general, under these orders, the public is required to stay at home except for essential activities, and all “non-essential” business must cease public or in-person operations. Remote working is permitted.

“Essential” businesses are set forth in detail in each order, but they largely seek to encompass the business sectors set … Continue Reading

What to expect from CPSC (at least for a little while)

Today at the International Consumer Product Health & Safety Organization annual meeting, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Acting Chairman Bob Adler delivered the keynote address. Adler provided some insight into his priorities for the Commission for the foreseeable future, recognizing that he is currently the Acting Chairman and a Democrat—with the presidential election coming in November, it is unclear how much longer he will be in this role. Overall, he intends to focus on providing stability to the Commission for however long he is the Acting Chairman. Beyond this,  here is a rundown of his comments and his specific … Continue Reading

Class actions against CBD companies proliferate under federal and state law

On the heels of FDA sending out a tranche of warning letters to sellers of cannabidiol (CBD) products, enterprising plaintiffs lawyers have filed a spate of consumer class actions over these types of products. The complaints put forth a number of different theories tied to the current illegality of these products due to FDA regulation. These include allegations that companies:

  • misled consumers by marketing their products as dietary supplements,
  • inaccurately listed CBD dosages or product content; and
  • made unsubstantiated claims about CBD’s ability to treat, prevent, or cure human disease.

Is it worth the risk?

Hemp-derived CBD was legalized in … Continue Reading

California modifies Prop 65 warning regulations

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has adopted amendments to its 2016 Proposition 65 warning regulations. These amendments address issues that arose regarding how manufacturers and distributors communicate with retailers and other downstream businesses about the need to provide warnings. The amendments also revise the definition of the “actual knowledge” that creates a duty to warn for retailers in certain circumstances under the warning regulations. The changes become effective on April 1, 2o20.

The 2016 amended warning regulation

In August 2016, OEHHA adopted a regulatory package that made sweeping changes to Prop 65’s warnings regulations (mandatory … Continue Reading

New York follows Illinois with new lead-content warning requirement for children’s jewelry

In the final week of 2019, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law Assembly Bill A6041 (S4046) to regulate children’s jewelry that contains specified levels of lead. The new law, which will take effect January 1, 2021 (without a “manufactured by” or sell-through date), prohibits the offer for sale or sale in the state of children’s jewelry with lead content greater than 0.004% (40 parts per million [ppm]) but less than 0.01% (100 ppm)* unless it contains a label with the warning language listed below

The bill’s text argues that “stringent controls on the amount of lead … Continue Reading

Braille on gift cards: ADA accessibility issue or novel shakedown?

As retailers and restaurants are well aware, the proliferation of website accessibility claims filed by serial plaintiffs’ counsel is not slowing down. But now a new wave of lawsuits—Braille on gift cards—is flooding the New York federal courts.

Recent cases

Starting in October 2019, a handful of plaintiff’s counsel have filed more than 200 putative class action lawsuits on behalf of visually impaired plaintiffs in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York against retailers and restaurants based upon their failure to sell gift cards with Braille. These lawsuits allege that blind or visually-impaired consumers are deterred from visiting retailers … Continue Reading

The mysterious world of Prop 65 reloaded, part 3: the warning

Editor’s Note: On August 30, 2018, OEHHA’s amendments to the Proposition 65 clear and reasonable warning regulations became effective. The amendments bring two major changes:

  • the first ever allocation of responsibility for warnings, which places the primary responsibility on upstream entities rather than retailers; and
  • significant changes to the “safe harbor” warning regulation, including warning content and methods of transmission.

This post focuses on the content of the warning itself; a detailed discussion of supplier and retailer responsibility can be found here. For a look at the impact of the new regulations six months after passage, click hereContinue Reading

What now? California finalizes Prop 65 exemption for coffee

On June 3, 2019, the California Office of Administrative Law approved a regulation adopted by the California Environmental Office of Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) exempting chemicals in coffee from Prop 65’s warning requirement. The regulation, which has an effective date of October 1, 2019, provides:

Exposures to chemicals in coffee, listed on or before March 15, 2019 as known to the state to cause cancer, that are created by and inherent in the processes of roasting coffee beans or brewing coffee do not pose a significant risk of cancer.

While the adoption of the regulation would seem to end the … Continue Reading

Proposition 65 survival guide

At long last, it’s here—OEHHA’s long-awaited amendments to the Proposition 65 “clear and reasonable warning” regulations become mandatory for products manufactured on and after August 30, 2018.

As we are sure you’ve probably heard ad nauseam by now, the revisions make two key changes to the Proposition 65 regulations: (1) for the first time, they allocate responsibility for warnings among suppliers and retailers; and (2) they make several substantive changes to the content and methods of transmission for “safe harbor” warnings.… Continue Reading

California Proposition 65 amended warning regulations

On August 30, 2016, OEHHA’s long-awaited amendments to the Proposition 65 clear and reasonable warning regulations became final.  The amendments bring two major changes: (1) an allocation of responsibility for providing warnings between retailers and suppliers; and (2) revisions to the safe harbor warning requirements, including warning content and methods of transmission.

Allocation of responsibility

Under the existing Proposition 65 regulations, any party in the supply chain could be held liable for failure to provide a warning.  The revised regulations allocate responsibility for warnings primarily to manufacturers, distributors, and importers (together, suppliers), with retailers responsible in specified circumstances.

Suppliers … Continue Reading

California proposes to exempt coffee from Prop 65 warning requirement

On April 12, 2018, we wrote about the decision in Council for Research on Education in Toxics v. Starbucks, in which a California Superior Court judge rejected the evidence presented by coffee roasters and retailers to demonstrate that exposures to acrylamide in coffee were exempt from Proposition 65’s warning requirement. With a motion for permanent injunction to be heard on July 31, despite widespread criticism of the basis of the court’s ruling (see, e.g., articles from NPR, CBS News, Self Magazine, and WebMD), it appeared that Prop 65 warnings for coffee would soon proliferate in … Continue Reading

LA judge rules that coffee requires a Proposition 65 warning for acrylamide

On March 28, 2018, Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle issued a proposed statement of decision that would require coffee roasters and retailers to provide Proposition 65 cancer warnings for coffee sold in California.

What the case is about

Plaintiff Council for Research and Education on Toxics (CERT) asserts that approximately 70 coffee roasters and retailers are required to provide cancer warnings for exposure to acrylamide in coffee. Acrylamide is listed as a carcinogen based on laboratory animal studies, but has not been proven to cause cancer in humans. Acrylamide is not added to coffee, but is formed in a complex … Continue Reading

Proposition 65 Listed Chemical update

Here is the latest roundup of Proposition 65 chemical issues looming on the horizon for consumer products. Reminder: warnings are required 12 months after the listing effective date, assuming that there is an exposure, and the exposure exceeds the level that requires a warning:

Listed effective Oct. 27, 2017:

Continue Reading

California Governor signs Proposition 65 amendment

Updating our prior post, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed the Proposition 65 amendment bill. As of January 1, 2018, Proposition 65’s certificate of merit requirements will be amended to:

  • Require the Attorney General to send a letter to the private enforcer and the recipients of the 60-day notice when the Attorney General has reviewed the certificate of merit and determined that there is no merit to an action;
  • Make the basis for the certificate of merit discoverable in litigation, to the extent that the information is relevant to the subject matter of the action and not subject to
Continue Reading
LexBlog