Update 4/21 1:42PM: Jury found Tesla Autopilot did not fail in the crash.
A California state court jury is deliberating in what appears to be the first trial related to a crash involving Tesla's Autopilot partially automated driving software. Justine Hsu, a resident of Los Angeles, sued Tesla in 2020, alleging defects in the design of Autopilot and the airbag and seeking more than $3 million in damages for the alleged defects and other claims. Tesla denies liability for the 2019 accident, stating that Hsu used Autopilot on city streets, despite the company's user manual warning against doing so. The trial, which has unfolded in Los Angeles Superior Court over the last three weeks, has featured testimony from three Tesla engineers. The verdict could offer an important sign of the risk facing Tesla as it tests and rolls out its Autopilot and more advanced "Full Self-Driving" system. While the trial's outcome will not be legally binding in other cases, it is considered a test case because it would serve as a bellwether to help Tesla and other plaintiffs' lawyers hone their strategies. Tesla is also under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over its claims about self-driving capabilities and the safety of the technology, respectively.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is considering updating its Green Guides, a set of guidelines established in 1992 to help businesses avoid making deceptive environmental marketing claims, with an overhaul having the potential to significantly impact the marketing strategies of companies. The Green Guides are intended to be instructive rather than punitive, however, their influence has spread over the past three decades, with Maine, Minnesota, New York, and Rhode Island using them to define their own laws against fraudulent consumer marketing. The FTC has the authority to take action against companies making deceptive environmental claims and can also issue guidance on whether there should be new mandatory rules, rather than just advisory guidelines. Environmental groups, industries and individuals have all submitted comments since the FTC started the process of updating the guides in December last year. The FTC is hosting a public workshop in May on the subject of what can be called recyclable. The revisions to the Green Guides are expected to give environmental activists and consumers fresh ammunition to bring challenges and lawsuits.
Fox Corp. and Rupert Murdoch, along with his son Lachlan and former US House Speaker Paul Ryan, are facing a new lawsuit in Delaware’s Chancery Court. This comes just two days after Fox announced it would pay $787.5 million to end a defamation case over lies it broadcast about the 2020 election. The circumstances suggest that the suit blames the company’s leaders for steering it into a legal disaster. The proposed class action is the first court case seeking to hold Fox accountable since the Dominion settlement was announced, but it appears to echo a shareholder derivative suit filed April 11, just as the defamation trial was getting underway. The earlier complaint focused at length on blockbuster revelations that emerged from the Fox-Dominion case in February. Fox still faces a parallel defamation case brought by Smartmatic USA Corp. Both Dominion and Smartmatic have also sued Newsmax Media Inc. The ongoing cases seek billions in damages, and Dominion recently said it has been “under siege” from threats since the networks devoted airtime to slandering it.
A federal court in the District of Columbia has ruled that the district’s large-capacity magazine ban is constitutional, following a preliminary constitutional challenge by gun owners. The ruling by Judge Rudolph Contreras of the US District Court for the District of Columbia found that large-capacity magazines present “unprecedented societal concerns” and are subject to “dramatic technological changes” that warrant a public safety response. Although the plaintiffs argued that large-capacity magazines are “arms” within the meaning of the Second Amendment, the court found that they are not protected by the constitutional provision because they are not used for self-defense purposes. Gun owners had sought a preliminary injunction against the law, but the court’s order denied the request, opening up the possibility of a review by the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. The case is the latest in a series of legal challenges to state gun laws that have followed the US Supreme Court’s recent decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, which held that the Second Amendment protects the right to carry guns outside the home.
Altria Group, a tobacco giant, is set to face trial on Monday in a lawsuit filed by the San Francisco Unified School District. The lawsuit accuses the company of contributing to a teen vaping epidemic, along with e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. The school district is seeking to force Altria to pay for the cost of tackling the problem, stating that teachers and staff "have had to go to extreme lengths to respond to the ever-growing number of students using e-cigarettes on school grounds." Altria, which held a 35% stake in Juul from 2018 until earlier this year, faces thousands of similar cases from individuals, local government entities, and states. The San Francisco school district's case was chosen by the presiding judge as a bellwether or test case. Juul has since settled the school district's lawsuit and most of the similar claims against it, paying more than $1 billion to 48 states and territories and $1.7 billion to individuals and local government entities.