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:
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.