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Foreign Manufacturers Product Liability

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Foreign Manufacturers Product Liability

Brien Roche

Foreign manufacturers are viewed by many plaintiff’s lawyers as being exempt from liability. But that need not defeat a claim for product defects.

Foreign Manufacturers Product Liability Seen In Defective Chinese Drywall

The drywall fiasco that has occurred over the last many years is an example.  Drywall is created from gypsum, a soft sulfate mineral that is converted into powder and then used to make the drywall boards.  Gypsum is mined or produced synthetically and should be inert and nonreactive.  However drywall made in China from a gypsum mine contains sulfur.  Sulfur emits toxic substances.  Where this type of drywall is installed, the homes become infected.  These gases corrode copper, silver and other metallic items.  They can corrode the electrical wiring, air conditioning coils, plumbing fixtures and electronic appliances.  Electrical wire corrosion then can create fire hazards because of the potential for arcing.

The first clue of these gypsum boards being problematic was the rotten egg odor they emitted.  In hot and humid areas, the drywall is caused to emit even more gas. In those homes where this product was installed, there was a rash of broken air conditioners resulting from corroded and blackened air conditioning coils and ground wires in electrical sockets.

The problem with suing the foreign manufacturer is that if there is contractual privity, then state law may preclude the plaintiff from suing in tort.

Suing for Product Liability

If the suit is brought in the context of a products liability claim, then the defendants down the distribution chain will seek to apportion fault on the absent manufacturer.  It is important to be able to educate the jury or trier of fact as to what a reasonable supplier, distributor, installer or contractor should do to prevent defective products from entering the home.  In particular it is necessary to look at quality control measures governing the purchase, testing and inspecting of the product and what those inspection protocols were.

In the case of drywall, a commonsense test could be applied i.e., it smelled.  No distributor could miss that.

Where there is a settlement that occurs among suppliers, then that can be used against the parties i.e., they were interested in salvaging their own economic loss but care little about the damage caused to the plaintiff.

For more information on this topic, visit the product liability pages on this site and see the pages on Wikipedia.

For Claims Against Foreign Manufacturers Look To Federal Law

Pursuing a product liability claim involving a product that was made by a foreign manufacturer can be somewhat difficult.  The Consumer Product Safety Act was passed in 1972 and was designed to protect consumers from unreasonable risk of injury.  Within that Act the manufacturer is defined as one who manufacturers or imports a consumer product.  Under the policy statements issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, importers are subject to the same responsibility as domestic manufacturers. 

Likewise, under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, importers of motor vehicles for resale are deemed to be the manufacturer of the imported product. 

The federal government, to some extent, has taken the lead in terms of trying to establish standards for foreign manufacturers.  The inter-agency working group on import safety has created a frame work addressing efforts to identify recognized practices with respect to insuring the importation of safe foreign products.  For instance, this agency recommends that these foreign manufacturers should be subject to detailed contracts that lay out the process by which the product is going to be  manufactured, should call for sight visits by the  U. S. manufacturer and some system of review of that manufacturer in the foreign land.  These regulations also require the importer to determine information about the product design specifications, manufacturer process and quality control system.  All of this is designed to make sure that the U.  S. manufacturer or U. S. importer is exercising some degree of oversight over the foreign manufacturer. 

To the extent that a U. S. importer attempts to rely upon blind reliance on the foreign manufacturer, that reliance is misplaced.  It is incumbent upon the U. S. importer to exercise some degree of control over the foreign manufacturer and the failure to do so may constitute negligence.   

Contact a Product Liability Attorney

Brien Roche is a product liability attorney with over 35 years of trial experience. Contact Us today to discuss your product liability matter.

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Foreign Manufacturers Product Liability

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Foreign Manufacturers Product Liability

Brien Roche

Foreign manufacturers are viewed by many plaintiff’s lawyers as being exempt from liability. But that need not defeat a claim for product defects.

Foreign Manufacturers Product Liability Seen In Defective Chinese Drywall

The drywall fiasco that has occurred over the last many years is an example.  Drywall is created from gypsum, a soft sulfate mineral that is converted into powder and then used to make the drywall boards.  Gypsum is mined or produced synthetically and should be inert and nonreactive.  However drywall made in China from a gypsum mine contains sulfur.  Sulfur emits toxic substances.  Where this type of drywall is installed, the homes become infected.  These gases corrode copper, silver and other metallic items.  They can corrode the electrical wiring, air conditioning coils, plumbing fixtures and electronic appliances.  Electrical wire corrosion then can create fire hazards because of the potential for arcing.

The first clue of these gypsum boards being problematic was the rotten egg odor they emitted.  In hot and humid areas, the drywall is caused to emit even more gas. In those homes where this product was installed, there was a rash of broken air conditioners resulting from corroded and blackened air conditioning coils and ground wires in electrical sockets.

The problem with suing the foreign manufacturer is that if there is contractual privity, then state law may preclude the plaintiff from suing in tort.

Suing for Product Liability

If the suit is brought in the context of a products liability claim, then the defendants down the distribution chain will seek to apportion fault on the absent manufacturer.  It is important to be able to educate the jury or trier of fact as to what a reasonable supplier, distributor, installer or contractor should do to prevent defective products from entering the home.  In particular it is necessary to look at quality control measures governing the purchase, testing and inspecting of the product and what those inspection protocols were.

In the case of drywall, a commonsense test could be applied i.e., it smelled.  No distributor could miss that.

Where there is a settlement that occurs among suppliers, then that can be used against the parties i.e., they were interested in salvaging their own economic loss but care little about the damage caused to the plaintiff.

For more information on this topic, visit the product liability pages on this site and see the pages on Wikipedia.

For Claims Against Foreign Manufacturers Look To Federal Law

Pursuing a product liability claim involving a product that was made by a foreign manufacturer can be somewhat difficult.  The Consumer Product Safety Act was passed in 1972 and was designed to protect consumers from unreasonable risk of injury.  Within that Act the manufacturer is defined as one who manufacturers or imports a consumer product.  Under the policy statements issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, importers are subject to the same responsibility as domestic manufacturers. 

Likewise, under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, importers of motor vehicles for resale are deemed to be the manufacturer of the imported product. 

The federal government, to some extent, has taken the lead in terms of trying to establish standards for foreign manufacturers.  The inter-agency working group on import safety has created a frame work addressing efforts to identify recognized practices with respect to insuring the importation of safe foreign products.  For instance, this agency recommends that these foreign manufacturers should be subject to detailed contracts that lay out the process by which the product is going to be  manufactured, should call for sight visits by the  U. S. manufacturer and some system of review of that manufacturer in the foreign land.  These regulations also require the importer to determine information about the product design specifications, manufacturer process and quality control system.  All of this is designed to make sure that the U.  S. manufacturer or U. S. importer is exercising some degree of oversight over the foreign manufacturer. 

To the extent that a U. S. importer attempts to rely upon blind reliance on the foreign manufacturer, that reliance is misplaced.  It is incumbent upon the U. S. importer to exercise some degree of control over the foreign manufacturer and the failure to do so may constitute negligence.   

Contact a Product Liability Attorney

Brien Roche is a product liability attorney with over 35 years of trial experience. Contact Us today to discuss your product liability matter.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation