(Christian Morris) – The last time I checked, the Republican mantra has been, and should always be, “buy American made; support small business owners.” If that is the case, what is going on with Republican sponsored products liability bill SB 161?
SB 161 protects big retailers and provides them with immunity for their desire to sell “affordable” and often times “defective” foreign goods.
SB 161 sends a message to the big box owners of such stores as Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco and Home Depot that “it’s alright with us that you contract with Chinese/international manufacturers and sell poor quality products; no matter what they might do to harm American consumers.”
It allows dangerous products to be distributed in our country, for profit, and leaves any American hurt by those products with no recourse; unless, of course, they want to travel to another continent to get their justice.
The result of this bill? Big corporations protecting their profit margin and injured Americans thrown on the states and federal governments for support.
The bill does contain some exceptions, but those exceptions are meaningless.
For example, the bill says a retailer can be responsible for an injury if it has actual knowledge that the product was dangerous. In the real world no retailer is going to admit actual knowledge of a defect.
But, more importantly, it promotes an environment that retailers do not NEED or HAVE to test these products; if they don’t test them, they will never know they created a hazard or danger to children and adults alike. It throws quality control out the window.
The stated purpose of SB 161 is to protect the not-so-innocent retailer, the small local hardware store owner or the family-owned mom and pop store on the corner. If the proponents wanted to protect larger discount retailers and small businesses here is a solution: Amend the bills to state the following…
“A retailer is not liable for a defective product unless it knew or should have known the product was defective or actively marketed or sold the product for use in a manner unintended by the manufacturer.”
That clause will protect the truly innocent seller who is just selling a product with no warning that the product is defective.
The difficulty with getting bills like this amended, is that such amendments don’t benefit the true sponsor of the bills: the insurance companies. All I can say to that is…
Sorry, insurance company gods. Republicans are finally in control. And while they like the premise of the bill, they are going to inspect it thoroughly before they distribute it to the constituents of Nevada.
And when they do, they will fix the defect and distribute a great product.
Ms. Morris is a Republican trial attorney practicing in Las Vegas.