Foreign Manufacturers Account for 83% of 2009 Recalls

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For Immediate Release: February 25, 2010

Contact: Jennifer Fuson
202-965-3500, ext. 8369
media.replies@justice.org

Foreign Manufacturers Account for 83% of 2009 Recalls

Bill Introduced in U.S. House to ensure foreign manufacturers held to same standards as U.S. companies

Washington, DCEighty-three percent (312) of the 377 recalls announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in 2009 were from foreign manufacturers, according to an analysis by the American Association for Justice (AAJ). 

Despite this fact, foreign manufacturers are able to skirt the law and export billions of dollars of products to the U.S. without facing the same legal accountability for product defects that U.S. manufacturers face, even when their products injure or kill Americans.

Today, U.S. Representative Betty Sutton (D-OH), Michael Turner (R-OH), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced the bipartisan Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act, legislation that would make it easier for U.S. consumers to hold foreign manufacturers of defective products accountable.

“Foreign corporations shouldn’t be able to export their products to our country without following our laws too,” said American Association for Justice President Anthony Tarricone.  “Both American businesses and consumers suffer when a foreign manufacturer cannot be held accountable through our legal system.  It is critical we pass this bill so foreign manufacturers are held to the same standards and justice system as U.S. manufacturers.” 

The 2009 CPSC data is similar to the 2008 figures, when 84% (329) of recalls were from foreign manufacturers out of 392 total recalls for the year.

Currently, bringing a case against a foreign manufacturer requires serving legal notice on the company in their country.  This often means translating the papers into the language of the native country and tracking down the companies’ foreign address, adding time and thousands of dollars in expense to the legal process.

One example of foreign manufacturers escaping accountability involves Taishan Gypsum, a Chinese manufacturer of drywall.  Over 500 million pounds of the sulfuric gas-emitting Chinese drywall was shipped to the U.S., which is now plaguing thousands of homeowners.  Taishan Gypsum, a company owned by the Chinese government, is currently being held in default for failing to respond to a putative class action brought by builders that used the company’s drywall in homes.  The final default ruling is expected any day out of the U.S. District Court in New Orleans.   

The Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act does several things:

  • Requires manufacturers to have an “agent” located in at least one state where the company does business that would accept service of process for civil and regulatory claims.
  • Companies would consent to state and federal jurisdiction, holding foreign manufacturers accountable to those judicial standards.
  • The legislation covers products regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), such as children’s toys; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including prescription drugs and medical devices; and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), like pesticides.

Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL).

To see the full list of 2009 recalls, see http://www.justice.org/resources/Recalls_of_CPSC_2009.pdf .

To see the full list of 2008 recalls, see http://www.justice.org/resources/Recalls_of_CPSC_2008.pdf .

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