Highway Safety Agency “Comes to Its Senses” on Immunity for Manufacturers of Children’s Booster Seats

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Highway Safety Agency “Comes to Its Senses” on Immunity for Manufacturers of Children’s Booster Seats 

For Immediate Release: August 5, 2008

Contact: Amaya Smith

202-965-3500 x369

NHTSA’s final rule on child safety seats excludes preemption 

Washington, DCFamilies with young children riding in booster seats will be protected by both federal safety regulation as well as state law, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in a final rule put out today.  The original draft of the NHTSA rule on child booster seats used language to bar families harmed by defective booster seats from bringing suit against the manufacturers. 

The American Association for Justice (AAJ) filed comments in March discouraging NHTSA from issuing a rule that would preempt state law, effectively giving corporations complete immunity from lawsuits.

“We hope this is a sign that federal agencies are coming to their senses on using regulations to give corporations immunity from lawsuits,” said American Association for Justice President Les Weisbrod.  “Families who travel our roadways everyday should be able to have confidence taxpayer-funded agencies are putting their safety above the interests of big business.”

To date, seven federal agencies – many times without any opportunity for public comment which is required by law (the Administrative Procedure Act) – have issued over 56 rules with preemption language in the preamble to the rule. The Constitution of the United States holds that the decision to preempt state law rests entirely with the United States Congress.  Where the intent of the Congress is not clear, it is the responsibility of the Judiciary to interpret.  As a result of these preambles, states have had their authority curtailed by federal agencies.  Government regulations only set a minimum safety standard for food, drugs, cars, medical devices and railroads and can’t guarantee safety. The agency action is a direct affront to the authority of state courts, state legislatures, and Congress. 

NHTSA recently came under fire from Congress and subsequently delayed the issuing of a rule on roof crush standards in roll-over accidents that would preempt state law.

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