HIGH POINT, N.C.—The furniture industry is examining the dangers to children posed by “tip-overs”—and Womble Carlyle attorneys Michael Sullivan and Whitney Passmore are part of the conversation to improve safety standards.

The ASTM Furniture Safety Subcommittee is proposing two updates to the Standard Safety Specification for Clothing Storage Units. These proposed changes come in response to a Consumer Product Safety Commissioner’s comments that the existing introduction to the standard includes a loophole that could create ambiguity. From a legal liability standpoint, furniture manufacturers must be aware of potential tip-over lawsuits or possible product recalls.

Sullivan and Passmore reviewed the specification on behalf of the American Home Furnishings Alliance. As counsel to AHFA, they offered advice on questions raised by the Commissioner and then worked with the ASTM Subcommittee to tighten the pertinent language in the ASTM standard. 

Their work was part of a broad effort by the ASTM Subcommittee to review the existing voluntary standard for tip-over risk in light of recent incidents reported to the CPSC.

This topic, including Sullivan and Passmore’s role in the conversation, is covered in depth in the June 2016 issue of The Furniture Executive.

Clients turn to Michael Sullivan for senior-level strategic guidance in mass tort product liability litigation and other large-scale commercial litigation. Sullivan brings nearly three decades of experience in “bet-the-company” cases. He serves in the role of “outside General Counsel” or Coordinating Counsel, providing big-picture advice to craft successful litigation strategies, increase efficiencies and contain costs. Sullivan collaborates with clients on a wide range of high-end business problems, including mass tort litigation. He practices out of Womble Carlyle’s Atlanta office.

Whitney Passmore’s practice focuses on high-stakes mass tort and product liability litigation defense cases, with a particular focus on defending claims involving corporate conduct, product development, and medical and scientific issues. She has been involved in all phases of litigation including development of defense strategy, discovery, trial, and post-trial proceedings.  In addition to her litigation practice, Whitney works with companies to develop and implement strategies to avoid future litigation.  Whitney also assists companies with regulatory compliance, including regulations issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  She has worked with clients in a variety of industries, including tobacco products, home furnishings, food products, commercial appliances, and personal apparel. She is based in Womble Carlyle’s Winston-Salem, N.C. office.