Today, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection approved legislation sponsored by Representatives Betty Sutton (D-Ohio) and Rep. Mike Turner that would hold foreign manufacturers legally accountable to American consumers injured by dangerous or defective products. The subcommittee reported the bill to the full committee for consideration.
The importation of consumer products into the United States more than doubled in the decade between 1998 and 2007. This sharp rise in imported consumer products has been accompanied by an overall increase in product recalls and a disproportionate increase in the share of product recalls involving imported products – particularly goods manufactured in China.
“Every year, many Americans are injured, sometimes fatally, by dangerous products that have been manufactured abroad and imported into the U.S.,” Rep. Sutton said. “Recent examples include toxic drywall, faulty infant cribs, lead paint in children’s toys and defective tires. These products not only hurt American consumers, they hurt American businesses. We cannot allow foreign manufacturers to continue to undercut our manufacturers by disregarding the safety of their products, thereby endangering our consumers and costing us jobs. This legislation will help protect American consumers and businesses from defective products manufactured abroad, level the playing field for American manufacturers and provide U.S. consumers with the necessary tools to seek proper redress.”
“Domestic manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that the products they put on the market are safe. Yet it is extremely difficult for injured parties to hold foreign manufacturers accountable because they are unable to serve process or establish jurisdiction. This legislation will fix that problem and I want to thank Representative Turner for his support and advocacy on this important measure,” said Rep. Sutton.
Introduced on February 24, 2010 with strong bipartisan co-sponsorship, H.R. 4678, the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act, would require manufacturers that import products into the U.S. to register an agent to accept service of process on behalf of the manufacturer. Registering an agent would constitute acceptance of personal jurisdiction of the state and federal courts in which the agent is located. The agent would have to be registered in a state with a substantial connection to the importation, distribution or sale of products of the foreign manufacturer or producer. The Act prohibits the importation into the United States of products from foreign manufacturers that fail to designate a registered agent.
“’Manufacturers in Ohio, and throughout the United States find themselves in an uphill battle with foreign manufactures due to unfair trade practices,” Rep. Turner said. “This legislation is an important step in leveling the playing field for domestic manufacturers, and ensuring foreign manufacturers are held accountable to US consumer protection laws. I appreciate Rep. Sutton working in a bipartisan manner to move this important piece of legislation forward.”