In April 2020, the National Advertising Division (NAD) rolled out a Fast-Track SWIFT option (“Single Well-defined Issue Fast Track”) for certain cases under review. The new SWIFT track expedites the process for single-issue disputes that do not require complex evidence or argument and meet certain parameters. On June 10, the NAD published its first trio of SWIFT decisions that illustrate what participants can expect from the new process. Continue Reading NAD Unveils its First Three Cases Under New SWIFT Fast-Track Process

One novel feature of the 2020 proxy season has been the surge in virtual shareholder meetings. For example, one provider of virtual meeting services reported four times as many virtual shareholder meetings as last year. Although the rise in virtual meetings this year resulted from safety precautions surrounding COVID-19, after weighing the benefits and becoming more comfortable with conducting business remotely, it is likely that many companies will continue to use virtual shareholder meetings or hybrid in-person and virtual meetings in the future.

Continue Reading Will Virtual Shareholder Meetings Become the New Normal?

On Monday, the US Supreme Court agreed to consider whether a provision in an arbitration agreement that exempts certain claims from arbitration negates an otherwise clear and unmistakable delegation of questions of arbitrability to an arbitrator. It is a question on which circuits have been divided. On one hand, some courts have found that the gateway question of arbitrability—whether the claims fall within the scope of the carve-out provision—is for the arbitrator to decide. On the other, some courts have found that, where there is a carve-out provision, there is no clear and unmistakable evidence of the parties’ intent to delegate questions of arbitrability to an arbitrator, and questions of arbitrability are to be decided by the court. Undoubtedly, resolution is necessary.

Continue Reading SCOTUS Considers Effect of Carve-Out Provision in Arbitration Agreement

Should you have to pay to see CPSC’s adopted safety standards?  That is the question raised by a lawsuit filed in the Third Circuit this month, which challenges the CPSC’s adoption of mandatory safety standards for consumer products that are not available for free to the public.  The American Society for Testing and Materials (“ASTM”) is a well-recognized independent organization that develops consensus-based, voluntary standards for children’s products.  In 2019, ASTM updated its safety specifications for infant bath seats, which includes changes to labeling, product performance, and safety testing (ASTM F1967-19).  The CPSC later promulgated an agency rule adopting the updated ASTM standard as legally binding on infant bath seat manufacturers (16 C.F.R. § 1215).  On behalf of a new mother, a civil rights group filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 2060 challenging the CPSC’s rule.  The mother claims that she asked the CPSC for a copy of the standard and the CPSC instead directed her to buy a copy from ASTM.  ASTM charges $56 for a copy of the standard—almost double the price of an infant bath seat.  The petition asks the Third Circuit to vacate the rule, order the CPSC to make any binding standard freely accessible to the public whenever the CPSC proposes to promulgate a new rule, and order the CPSC to make any binding standard freely accessible to the public permanently after the CPSC adopts it in a final rule.

Continue Reading Recall Roundup: May

According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, retail sales plummeted 16.4% in April 2020. As state and local governments across the country begin to lift or ease Stay at Home Orders and business closures, retailers reopening their doors are grappling with how to protect their employees’ health and reassure customers that it is safe to shop.

Continue Reading Cash or Credit? State and City Bans on Cashless Retailers Are on the Rise

A consumer advisory issued on June 1, 2020 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) clarifies which hard-surface disinfectant products may legally make claims regarding expected efficacy against the COVID-19 virus. The advisory, titled “What You Need to Know Regarding Products Making Claims to Kill the Coronavirus Causing COVID-19,” also warns retailers of potential enforcement actions if they sell non-compliant products. Continue Reading EPA Warns Against Potentially False and Misleading COVID-19 Disinfectant Claims

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven a large shift toward online retail transactions. In April of 2020, nonstore sales, mostly conducted through e-commerce, increased by nearly 30 percent while overall retail sales in the US are down 16 percent year over year, according to the Department of Commerce. The recent flood of e-commerce has left unprepared retailers struggling to fulfill orders, as they currently lack the requisite warehouse space and other supply chain capabilities. At the same time, other retailers have been forced into bankruptcy as a result of COVID-related closures. The changing needs of retailers who are adopting e-commerce strategies and the market exits of others are altering the industry’s real estate footprint.

Continue Reading COVID-19 and E-Commerce are Changing Retailers’ Real Estate Footprints

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on the retail industry across the United States, as many retailers grapple with government mandates that either require closure or impose stringent restrictions on being open, employment and supply chain disruptions, and an overall decline in consumer demand as market conditions remain volatile and unemployment rates continue to rise. The devastating consequences of the coronavirus began to come into focus at the same time many companies were preparing to issue quarterly or annual results and convene investor calls.

Continue Reading Trends in Retailer SEC Disclosures in Light of COVID-19

A consumer recently filed a products liability lawsuit against Keurig regarding its mini plus brewing system—a coffee maker that Keurig recalled at the end of 2014. Keurig recalled the brewing system after receiving about 200 consumer reports, including 90 reports of burn-related injuries, regarding the brewing system’s pressurized water overheating and spraying out of the machine. The lawsuit alleges that Keurig waited too long to recall the brewing system and therefore failed to warn consumers of the product’s defects. This lawsuit serves as a reminder to manufacturers, distributors and retailers that actions or inactions prior to issuing a recall may be subject to scrutiny and litigation.

Continue Reading Recall Roundup: April

The National Advertising Division (NAD) has recommended that Factor Nutrition Labs, LLC, discontinue its claim that its Focus Factor brain health supplement is “America’s #1 Clinically Studied and Patented Brain Health Formula.” NAD’s decision follows a challenge by Quincy BioScience, Inc. (Quincy), the maker of Prevagen brain health dietary supplement.

Continue Reading Making an Unsubstantiated Brain Health Claim? Think Again.