Congressman Mike Turner (OH-10) and Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-17), along with 30 original co-sponsors, joined in introducing the bi-partisan Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act (FMLAA).
The FMLAA would require foreign manufacturers doing business in the U.S. to identify a registered agent authorized to accept service of process on behalf of the manufacturer. Registering an agent would constitute an acceptance of jurisdiction of the state in which the agent is located.
“A level playing field ensures that American consumers and businesses have recourse when a foreign manufacturer’s products cause them harm. Currently, our laws allow foreign businesses and their products not to avoid being held to the same standards as those made by American businesses. This bill would change that,” said Turner
This FMLAA will allow Americans to overcome the current procedural hurdles and delays by serving legal papers on registered agents of foreign manufacturers in the United States. Under the bill, relevant federal agencies will require that foreign manufacturers of products regulated by their agencies register an agent who will accept service of process.
“This bipartisan legislation is a commonsense solution to an issue which is affecting manufacturers in Ohio and across the country. Our consumers deserve the peace of mind that they have an means to address injuries brought on by the harmful, defective products of a foreign manufacturers. When businesses are required to compete fairly across marketplaces, and when Americans can hold bad actors accountable, Ohio businesses succeed, and so does America,” added Turner.
The bill also ensures that, at a minimum, courts in the state where the registered agent is located will have personal jurisdiction over the foreign manufacturer. Currently, some foreign manufacturers are able to avoid the jurisdiction of every state and federal court even though they sell their products in the United States market.
The bill applies to major product categories including consumer goods, drugs, cosmetics and chemicals, and it authorizes a study of how to apply similar rules to foreign food producers as well as to component parts contained within products imported into the United States.