There were two new studies released today, each discussing the need for the civil justice system to address defective products. First, Professor Andrew Popper from the American University, Washington College of Law in DC released Defective Foreign Products in the United States. The premise of the study is:
There is no mystery regarding the flood of dangerous and even deadly consumer products manufactured abroad and sold in the United States. Foreign manufacturers are not naïve. They understand the effect of state and federal laws that limit or eliminate tort liability, known, oddly enough, as tort reform. They understand the difficulty of securing a product liability judgment against a domestic wholesaler or manufacturer – and they understand that as foreign producers, they are not only shielded by tort reform but also protected by the complex web of laws, policies, and practices that make it difficult if not impossible to sue successfully foreign manufacturers in domestic courts. Stripped of the incentive value the tort system provided, it should come as no surprise that domestic consumers have been exposed to tens of millions of defective products produced by foreign suppliers.
Professor Popper looks at the flood of foreign defective products in the US market, the role of products liability claims, the decreased effectiveness of governmental regulators, some issues in suing foreign manufacturers, and some proposed steps for protecting the public.
The second study, Societal Costs of Dangerous Products: An Empirical Investigation, looks at the costs of injuries and fatalities associated with Ford SUVs with Firestone tires, the drug Baycol, and all terrain vehicles (ATVs). These three products created nearly $4.7 billion in medical costs, lost wages, and other costs, excluding the cost of pain and suffering and other extended costs.
These are just two more studies to keep in mind, not only when contemplating traditional tort reform, but also the ill-fated idea of federal preemption.