Archive for the ‘ Product Liability ’ Category

Greenwashing in the Consumer Marketplace: Marketers Will Make Green as Long as Consumers Go Green

The recent practice of what has become known as “Greenwashing” refers to the act of companies dishonestly or insincerely branding their products as environmentally friendly when in fact they are not nearly as environmentally sound as consumers are lead to believe. The challenges associated with Greenwashing are quickly becoming an invitation for legal intervention on many fronts and may likely continue to develop into a niche legal practice with an abundance of opportunity. Greenwashing claims are becoming extremely popular, and lawsuits and class actions in relation to Greenwashing claims have only seen the tip of the iceberg according to industry experts.

Although misleading advertising and false labeling is not uncommon amongst many industries, I’ve decided to focus specifically on these issues as they relate to  Environmental Marketing because of the immense consumer fixation on “Going Green” and companies’ determination to meet this consumer need. Read more

Merry Christmas and a Happy Sue Year: Children Toys to Die For This Holiday Season

The holiday season has finally arrived! The snowflakes are falling, and the colourful glow of festivities emanates through the brisk winter air. The jingling bells of reindeers are not far off as Santa Clause makes his way to town…but with a major attitude problem this year. The question is why? Have his pet reindeers’ food supply been tainted again by another Menu Food contaminant? Have his corporate security investments plummeted in value in another frauding of the masses? Or are his little elves in the North Pole demanding compensation for overtime pay? Whatever is driving his temper, let one thing remain clear, the quality of his toys this year are cause for concern, and somebody’s going to need a good lawyer (preferably with class action experience).

Deceptive and dangerous toys are managing to make their way to a store shelf near you. It’s no surprise to most consumers that safety concerns associated with lead contaminated toy products have been quite serious given the great level of media attention the issue attracted in recent memory. However, according to the consumer watchdog group W.A.T.C.H., World Against Toys Causing Harm Inc., it is all too common for the same toy hazards to play out year after year.

Some of the common toy hazards consumers should be mindful of include those related to choking, electric shock, strangulation, falling/tripping hazards and flammability tendencies to name but a few.

The “10 Worst Toys of 2009” List has been released.  Making the list this year include the Disney Pixar Wall-E Foam Rocket Launcher. Inconsistent labeling and high air pressure release cause potential for eye and other impact injuries.

Also making the list was the Dark Knight Batman Figure, which stands at 30 inches tall, and includes two 1-inch ears made from pointed rigid plastic. This raises concern for potential blunt impact and penetration injuries. There are currently no warnings included on the package.

Another toy to die for this holiday season is the Pucci Pups Maltese. These mimic soft cute puppies as the name implies. However, the puppies come with a 35-inch leash, which poses potential for strangulation and aspiration. The warnings are only advisory in nature. It is also important to note that the industry standard in string length for cribs and playpens is 12-inches.

Speaking of cribs, they have also been a big cause for concern this year. Recently, Stork Craft Manufacturing, a baby crib manufacturer based in Canada recalled 2.1 million cribs in the United States, and nearly 1 million cribs in Canada. At least four infants have suffocated in the drop-side crib design, which consists of the crib side moving up and down to allow parents to carry the infant in and out of the crib easier. The problem arises when the drop-side malfunctions leaving extra space between the mattress and the drop-side where an infant can get caught.

A national class action in six jurisdictions on behalf of all U.S. and Canadian consumers who purchased Stork Craft Manufactured  cribs (sold under various brand names) has recently been launched.

As we enter 2010, stay tuned for more class action news on the toy and baby product front.

Tobacco Litigation In Canada Not Butting Out without a Fight

A recent decision by the British Columbia Court of Appeal has granted Imperial Tobacco Canada Limited (“Imperial”) the right to add the Federal Government of Canada to the class action as a third party for contribution and indemnity in the event Imperial is found liable to the Government of British Columbia for tobacco related health care costs incurred over the years . This judgment reversed a lower court decision, which refused to permit the Federal Government to become a third party defendant to the action.

The Federal Government of Canada is alleged to have played an active role from the early 1900’s onwards in cooperating with the Tobacco industry in researching, developing and engineering ways of producing improved tobacco varieties, which were ultimately sold to consumers despite the fact that scientific evidence linking cancer to smoking were available. It is also alleged that the Feds sponsored research programs relating to tobacco.

According to Donald McCarthy, Imperial’s VP of Law, “The B.C. decision will demonstrate that the Government of Canada has known about the risks associated with smoking for decades and that it instigated and promoted the development and sale of lower-tar tobacco product”. He went on, “the Government of Canada has been a senior partner of the tobacco industry for decades. They have legalized tobacco in Canada, heavily regulated it, and taxed it to the tune of billions of dollars every year”.

Imperial also issued third party claims in the provinces of Newfoundland, Quebec and New Brunswick against the Federal Government of Canada  making certain that the battle over smoking related healthcare litigation is not about to butt out any time soon.

 
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