ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Experts Discuss Legal Liability of Standards Developing Organizations and Conformity Assessment Bodies at 2014 ANSI Legal Issues Forum


11/05/2014

More than 80 legal experts and other members of the standards and conformity assessment community came together on October 22, 2014, for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Legal Issues Forum.

This year’s event, titled Best Practices for Standards Developers and Conformity Assessment Bodies to Avoid Legal Liability in Tort, Antitrust, and Other Areas of the Law, focused on legal claims that can be brought against standards developing organizations (SDOs) and conformity assessment bodies (CABs). The forum was held by ANSI as part of the 2014 World Standards Week (WSW) series of events.

Following introductory remarks from ANSI president and CEO S. Joe Bhatia, attendees heard a keynote address from Steven Weiner, a partner at Kaufman Borgeest & Ryan LLP. Mr. Weiner discussed the numerous pending lawsuits against his client, Primus Labs, in connection with its third-party audit of Jensen Farms, the source of a 2011 outbreak of listeria. Mr. Weiner used the case to touch on legal issues related to liability that are of significant concern to CABs like Primus Labs, including the impact government regulations and guidelines often have on legal outcomes in such litigations.

Following Mr. Weiner’s address, Kevan Lawlor, president and CEO of NSF International, moderated an interactive roundtable discussion on some important legal issues faced by SDOs and CABs. The following panelists took part in the discussion:

  • Neil Bogatz, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, IAPMO
  • Paul Brown, Vice President, Intellectual Property & Litigation, UL
  • Jameson Carroll, Partner, Carroll & Weiss LLP
  • Robert Davis, Counsel, Venable
  • Patrick McCarthy, Managing Partner, Howard & Howard Attorneys, PLLC
  • Grace Rodriguez, Partner, King & Spalding

The first section of the roundtable focused on potential tort liability and touched on common-sense ways for organizations to mitigate risk, including using disclaimers and purchasing professional liability insurance, among other measures. The second section of the roundtable addressed antitrust concerns arising out of standards development and conformity assessment activities. After surveying the law, panelists recommended that SDOs establish clear antitrust policies and related enforcement It was noted that ANSI published a new Antitrust Policy in 2013 [see related news item] and that a new antitrust policy was added to the ANSI Essential Requirements and International Procedures, to become effective in 2015.

For more information about the Legal Issues Forum, please visit the event page. A gallery of photographs taken at the event is available online.

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