As I stated above, it’s not just the FDA that the Bush gang is using to sneak federal preemption into the system. Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has inserted a preemption provision into the new rule governing seat belt safety. The final rule, issued on October 9th, contains language that will preempt state regulation of seat belt positioning, including state-based tort claims arising from injuries related to seat belt placement. The action by NHTSA is bad news for consumers. In layman’s language this simply means state laws will be banned regardless of how bad the conduct of a manufacturer happens to be. The rule, known as the “designated seating position” rule, sets the standard for the appropriate number of seat belts required in vehicles. NHTSA claims its action is designed to provide the optimum level of crash protection.
A preamble to the revised rule also contains language barring state law claims related to seat belt positions. If this is upheld in the federal courts, the language will prevent consumers who were injured in accidents from seeking redress if they were unable to wear a seatbelt because of lack of sufficient number of belts or a belt’s location in the vehicle. NHTSA has been little more than an extension of the automobile manufacturing industry for years and its recent action is just another example of how the agency has “shafted” consumers.
Consumers have a basic right to hold vehicle manufacturers accountable when they have made a defective product. Unfortunately, the regulatory agency puts manufacturer costs and profits ahead of consumer protections. In this case, NHTSA’s seatbelt rule takes away the basic constitutional right of a consumer to have access to the civil justice system. In its comments to the revised rule, NHTSA defended the use of preemptive language, saying that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the need for such language to ensure effective and uniform application of regulatory standards. That is – without question – incorrect. Also, and most importantly, Congress never authorized NHTSA to create federal preemption in its rule-making authority. It’s pretty basic that the agency gets its powers and authority from Congress.
The amendments take effect on December 8, 2008, but compliance with the new rule is not required until September 1, 2010. If the U.S. Supreme Court allows federal preemption, it will be up to Congress to protect the American people. Hopefully, correcting a bad Court decision – if that becomes necessary – will be a top priority for the President and Congress next year. I believe that it will be.
Source: Lawyers USA
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