If the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act passes, which it is likely to do, it will be much easier for you and your family to recover damages you may have suffered as the result of defective foreign products.
Currently, if you are injured by a defective overseas product, you have to have your attorney translate all service of process into the primary language of the foreign company (usually Chinese or Mandarin) and then track down a foreign address and someone in their country to hand deliver service of process for any civil claims. This is time consuming and expensive. Many times, the foreign company will simply ignore the service anyway — leaving U.S. consumers stuck with defective and worthless products.
In recent years, Chinese companies have sold lead-based toys, poisonous dog food, and moldy drywall to unsuspecting U.S. consumers. To date, the companies have suffered little monetary punishment for selling these defective products. If this new Bill passes, unsafe practices like these will end.
If you have been injured by a defective foreign product, you can currently sue the American company that sold you the product. This places American companies at a disadvantage, though. Without bringing the foreign manufacturer of the product into the lawsuit as a codefendant, the U.S. business that sold the product will be forced to shoulder the entire financial burden of the court awarded damages. Many smaller businesses will fold under this large financial burden. If the foreign company that made the product is held accountable, it would be forced to suffer much of the financial burden for selling you a faulty product, saving the struggling economy and saving many small businesses.
If this bill passes, all foreign companies that sell products in the US will be forced to hire an agent that has an office in the United States. This agent will be able to accept service of process for civil and regulatory claims. This will make all foreign companies who do business in the U.S. legally accountable under our federal jurisdiction.
This bill would cover companies regulated by the EPA, the CPSC, the FDA, and the NHTSA. It would include products such as drugs, cosmetics, pet foods, medical devices, cars and trucks, pesticides, and many toys and childrenâ€™s products. It pretty much covers everything your family uses on a daily basis.
There are many conservative organizations that think this is just another way for the government to be a watchdog over our daily affairs. If this legislation keeps your family safe, do you really care how it happens? The conservative groups are also scared that this will create a “trade war” which will cause many foreign corporations to stop doing business with the U.S. Again, do you really care if the company that sells you drywall laced with a deadly mold takes its business somewhere else?
This Bill is scheduled to go before a full committee hearing soon. Despite opposition by NAM and other conservative watchdog groups, the Bill is expected to pass. If a foreign company wants to see its products sold in the United States, then it needs to be subjected to the same laws and penalties as domestic manufacturers. No better, no worse.