As reported on the November 14, 2019 posting to the Hunton Insurance Recovery Blog, last week, in an exciting moment, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 321 to 103 in favor of H.R.1595, the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019 (“SAFE Banking Act”). If enacted into law, the SAFE Banking Act, would provide financial institutions, including insurers, a safe harbor to do business with “cannabis-related legitimate businesses” in the United States. In particular, the act would protect insurers, independent agents, and brokers from criminal and civil liability when offering insurance coverage to state-legalized cannabis businesses. The SAFE Banking Act would grant the cannabis business community access to many of the financial services most companies take for granted, like electronic payment processing, employer-sponsored 401(k) accounts and small business loans.
On October 28, 2019, the US Chamber of Commerce, along with two other business-oriented groups—the National Retail Federation and the Retail Litigation Center, Inc.—filed an amicus brief urging the Ninth Circuit to overrule a $102 million judgment against Wal-Mart.
This month, the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation released its investigative report on the CPSC’s data handling breaches from the spring. In April, the CPSC issued notices to multiple manufacturers explaining that “nonpublic manufacturer information” was released to the public without complying with Section 6(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act. Section 6(b) prohibits the CPSC from disclosing information reported by product manufacturers without complying with the procedures for and restrictions on the commission’s public disclosure of such information. Section 6(b) aims to incentivize manufacturers to provide more safety information without fear of public backlash. The Senate committee’s report is troubling. It found that the CPSC made “improper disclosures to 29 unique entities” that “contained information on approximately 10,900 unique manufacturers, as well as street addresses, ages, and genders of approximately 30,000 consumers.” The Senate committee reviewed “hundreds of documents and emails and conducted multiple interviews” to conclude that the CPSC’s violations of Section 6(b) “were due to a lack of training, ineffective management, and poor information technology implementation.” The report cited several examples, such as that CPSC employees had “little to no Section 6(b) training” and were provided with “three different software applications to access and process relevant data without the necessary training on how to use these often confusing and idiosyncratic systems.” The Senate committee ended with a list of recommendations for the CPSC to remedy these problems and avoid future data-handling breaches.
As marijuana sales become increasingly legal in many states across the US, a growing number of commercial property owners will be faced with the decision of whether to lease their space to a marijuana-related business. There are many factors that potential landlords and tenants must keep in mind, not the least of which is federal law.
For the past few years, retailers have been confronted with a tidal wave of litigation alleging that their websites are inaccessible in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Indeed, in 2018 alone, one analysis determined that there were at least 2,258 web accessibility cases filed in federal court, a 177 percent increase from the previous year. Of these cases, a total of 1,564—over 69 percent—were filed in New York federal courts by just a handful of lawyers, including Jeffrey Gottlieb, Bradley Marks, C.K. Lee, Joseph Mizrahi, Jonathan Shalom and Doug Lipsky, with a surge following two unsuccessful motions to dismiss in cases involving Five Guys and Blick Art.
As reported on the Hunton Andrews Kurth Privacy & Information Security Law Blog last week, on October 21, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission took action against two companies alleged to have engaged in the business of false online reviews and social media influence. In the first case, the FTC entered into a consent decree with cosmetics marketer Sunday Riley, LLC, and the company’s owner, who sell products at Sephora stores and online at Sephora.com. According to the FTC’s complaint, disguised as ordinary consumers, Sunday Riley employees and Ms. Riley herself posted fake 5-star reviews of the company’s products on Sephora’s website. Under the terms of the FTC’s agreement, the company and its principal are barred from posting fake reviews, must clearly identify endorsers, and must instruct staff on their disclosure obligations. The FTC vote on the action was 3-2, with Commissioners Chopra and Slaughter dissenting on the grounds that the settlement did not include a monetary payment or an admission of guilt.
Office workers everywhere are familiar with height-adjustable desks. These desks allow workers to raise or lower their work surfaces, and often workers will use a height-adjustable desk to perform tasks while standing instead of sitting. As awareness of the negative health effects of sedentary lifestyles grows, height-adjustable desks have become a common solution to avoid long periods of sitting at work.
With Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle’s earlier announcement that she will leave the CPSC this fall, this month the commissioners elected Commissioner Robert Adler as the new acting chairman. Adler has been affiliated with the CPSC for more than 40 years. He has served as a commissioner since 2009 and previously served as the acting chairman from December 2013 through July 2014.
New Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) reporting requirements took effect September 25, 2019. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently made changes to the HSR form. Retail clients exploring a merger or acquisition should be aware that the FTC requires updated codes for Item 5 of the HSR form. Clients will need to provide 6-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes and 10-digit North American Product Classification System (NAPCS) codes when reporting manufacturing revenues. The FTC will require 2017 NAICS codes for reporting non-manufacturing revenues.
As reported in our previous client alert, on September 6, 2019, the staff in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Corporation Finance (the Division) announced important changes to the Division’s process for administering Rule 14a-8 no-action requests regarding shareholder proposals. Specifically, the staff may respond orally rather than in writing to no-action requests. Moreover, the staff may decide not to take a position on the merits of certain requests, thus leaving to the company the decision of whether to include or exclude the shareholder proposal.