Introduction

The Minnesota Supreme Court said that a report authored for Polaris by regulatory compliance lawyers is not protected from disclosure by the attorney client privilege and can be discovered in a products liability lawsuit against the company. In doing so, the Minnesota Supreme Court formally adopted the “predominant purpose test,” joining the majority of jurisdictions nationwide.

The predominant purpose test asks whether the predominant purpose of a document is to render or solicit legal advice. If so, then the attorney-client privilege protects the entirety of the document from disclosure. If not, then portions of the document that contain legal advice are protected by redaction but the document is otherwise discoverable.

Continue Reading Attorney’s Compliance Report Not Entitled to Attorney-client Privilege Under Predominant Purpose Test

Advanced vehicle control systems, including autonomous functionality, present novel liability considerations for the auto industry. While current law provides a useful framework to assess manufacturer liability, things may change as the “human error” factor is effectively eliminated as an overwhelming cause of vehicle crashes.

Continue Reading Advanced Vehicle Control Systems & Human Error

For the fourth year in a row, respondents to Dykema’s 17th annual M&A Outlook Survey identified the automotive industry as likely to be the busiest sector with M&A activity in the coming 12 months.

Continue Reading Automotive in the Lead: Survey of Top Dealmakers Suggest Boom Times Ahead for Auto Industry M&A

Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Katie Porter, D-Calif. recently announced that they will be introducing the Booster Seat Safety Act to implement sweeping changes to regulations governing child booster seat safety.

The legislation follows a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, which follows a ProPublica report, which was prompted by a class action and another class action, both of which were prompted by a prior products liability lawsuit.

The Act seeks to introduce a number of mandatory reforms. Per the Subcommittee press release:

Continue Reading Congress Proposes Booster Seat Safety Act—What to Know

In early September, Dykema’s Jeff Cox and Dommond Lonnie served as moderators for the DRI’s Strictly Automotive seminar, joining fellow automotive in-house and outside counsel to discuss trending topics in the industry. Jeff’s session, “The Future of Alternative Fuel Vehicles is Already Here,” included a high-level discussion of alternative fuel vehicles, including hybrid, fully electric and hydrogen fuel cell designs, with an update from manufacturers on their short-term and future development, new technology, EV recalls, and a discussion of ways to best defend an EV case at trial. Dommond’s session, “The Future is Electric,” discussed how the Biden Administration’s Infrastructure Plan and other developments in the legal landscape are poised to drive widespread acceptance of EV technology.

Continue Reading The Future is Electric

On June 29, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) issued an order requiring autonomous vehicle and advance driver assistance systems manufacturers and operators to report serious crashes within a day of learning of them.  The order applies specifically to manufacturers and operators of vehicles equipped with SAE Level 2 advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) or SAE Levels 3-5 automated driving systems (ADS).

Continue Reading NHTSA Requires Reporting of Autonomous or Assisted-Driving Vehicle Crashes

On April 30, 2021, SAE International updated its “Taxonomy and Definitions for Terms Related to Driving Automation Systems for On-Road Motor Vehicles,” labeled SAE J3016_202104. This updated version cancels and supersedes the June 2018 version, labeled SAE J3016_201806. Its basic framework remains intact with six levels of driving automation, ranging from no driving automation (Level 0) to full driving automation (Level 5).

Continue Reading SAE Updates J3016 Standard for Automated Driving Systems With More Clarity and New Terms and Definitions

As first reported by Reuters on April 22, Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) had recently released drafts of an amendment that would allow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to exempt 15,000 self-driving vehicles per manufacturer from safety standards that were written for human drivers. Within three years, that figure would rise to 80,000, and after four years, manufacturers could ask NHTSA to increase exemptions beyond 80,000 vehicles. At this time, NHTSA only allows exemptions of up to 2,500 vehicles per manufacturer.

In a statement, Sen. Peters said the amendment would “ensure that the innovation and testing around autonomous vehicles can continue happening safely under the watchful eye of the Department of Transportation.” The Senators had planned to attach the amendment to “The AI Scholarship-for-Service Act,” a bill providing $100 billion for science and technology research and development with the aim of maintaining U.S. competitiveness with China. Continue Reading Proposed Amendment to Advance Self-Driving Cars is Postponed Amidst Rising Safety Concerns

The recent Tesla fire in Houston reportedly took four-plus hours to extinguish completely because of continued flareups. This highlights some of the challenges faced by auto manufacturers (and fire departments) as electric vehicles start to take over the roads, including unique issues related to lithium-ion fires.  Dykema attorneys Deron Wade, Jeff Cox and Rebekah Hudgins recently presented a litigation update addressing: “How Going All Electric May Impact the Future of Fire Litigation” (PowerPoint Slides – starting on Slide 21). The first portion of the update addressed: “A Discussion of Jury Selection and Juror Attitudes in the Post-COVID World.” Continue Reading Hot Topics in Electric Vehicles: Battery Fires