Recently, the safety of foreign products has caused great concern among American consumers. Chinese companies have sold lead-based toys, poisonous food and defective tires, all causing great harm to hundreds in this country. Since 2005, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported between 400 and 500 recalls a year. Over half of the recalled products were “made in China.” In response, federal lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow U.S. consumers to effectively hold all foreign product manufacturers responsible for the dangerous products they import to this country.
H.R. 4678, the Foreign Manufacturer Legal Accountability Act of 2010, will soon be before Congress. The proposed bill was approved by the House’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection this past July. The Act is intended to provide greater protection for consumers from foreign manufacturers, which operate in countries with less strict safety standards and regulations than in the U.S. When you consider how weak U.S. standards are, these foreign countries have to be mighty bad.
The Act would require all foreign manufacturers and producers of products covered by the Act to establish a registered agent in the U.S. This agent must consent to jurisdiction and must be authorized to accept service of process on behalf of the manufacturer or producer of products for the purpose of all civil and regulatory actions in State and Federal courts. Any manufacturer or producer who fails to register an agent within the U.S. will be prohibited from importing its products into this country. The act is important for a number of reasons, including these two:
The Act will apply to products such as children’s toys and clothes, consumer electronics and medical devices. Consumer advocates are hopeful this bill will pass and provide much needed protection from foreign manufacturers who continue to make products that cause harm. If you need additional information on this subject contact Rick Morrison, a lawyer in our Personal Injury/Product Liability Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Rick.Morrison@beasleyallen.com
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