Products Liability Practice Group Chair, Brian Comer, and employment attorney, Charles Appleby, addressed retailers at the Merchandising 201 Seminar, hosted by the South Carolina Association of Convenience Stores this past Wednesday. Brian Comer provided a legal refresher on Products Liability Law in South Carolina, while Charles Appleby highlighted the recent changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards regarding Building Accessibility that went into effect on March 15, 2012.
Since retailers are in the business of providing products to customers, some of whom have disabilities, both of these areas of law impact their day-to-day business. Both attorneys provided valuable insight into some of the most recent changes to these areas of law to keep in mind.
· South Carolina retailers can be held responsible in a products liability case: South Carolina’s strict liability statute subjects any seller of a product that is in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to potential liability. Therefore, even a retailer can be liable for a defective product in spite of the fact that the retailer did not manufacture the product.
· Maintain strong supplier relationships: Retailers should consider indemnification provisions in any contracts with distributors so as to manage the risk of liability and litigation relating to a defective product.
· Document, Document, Document: If you experience a complaint against one of your products, be sure to carefully document the details of the customer’s experience and make note of any special circumstances surrounding the incident.
Brian Comer keeps businesses up to date on the latest legal trends in products on his
· Review the new ADA Standards if you’re making any changes at your location, and educate your employees on the new requirements. If the as-built condition of your location complies with the 1991 ADA Standards, you are not required to make changes to meet the 2010 Standards. However, if you make alterations at your location like re-stripping a parking lot or installing a new sales counter or display shelf, you may be required to comply with the 2010 Standards.
· Set Priorities: Make sure you review your retail space and understand how customers arrive and move through your business to help identify existing barriers and set priorities for their removal.
· Tax Deductions May Apply: Section 190 of the IRS Code provides a tax deduction for businesses of all sizes for costs incurred in removing architectural barriers in existing facilities or alterations. The maximum deduction = $15,000/year.
Learn more about ADA regulations and Employment Practice Law at Collins & Lacy.