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Another Blow to Consumer Safety by the U.S. Supreme Court


The U.S. Supreme Court recently came to a decision in McIntyre Machinery v. Nicastro that will make it a lot harder to hold foreign manufacturers accountable in U.S. court when they sell defective or dangerous products that injure or kill Americans.

This is an especially big deal because according to the American Association for Justice, a full 83% of the 377 recalls by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2009 were for products manufactured in foreign countries (think: China). Take away accountability for foreign manufacturers and you take away accountability for almost all of the recalled products in our country.

“Simply put, foreign companies that market and sell their products in our country should not be able to evade accountability,” said AAJ President Gibson Vance. “In our global marketplace, this decision will allow foreign manufacturers to sell their products without adhering to our safety standards.”

“This decision not only hurts consumers, but also U.S. distributors and businesses that must adhere to safety laws and regulations that foreign manufacturers can avoid,” said Vance. -AAJ

The long-term effects of a decision like this are already suggesting themselves. American-made products, while safer due to their adherence to American safety standards, will become even more expensive (and thus unattainable to more Americans), while foreign-made products will become cheaper but less safe…and will end up injuring those people who have the least power to do anything about it.

While the prices at Wal-Mart and other big box stores might be attractive, almost nothing they sell is made in America. Please be mindful of where your products come from, and for safety’s sake—not to mention our economy—buy American whenever you can!


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  1. Von Aras says:
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    It would have been nice if you actually told your readers what it was that the court ruled – and why.

  2. Mike Ferrara says:
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    Thanks so much for reading and commenting. The wording of the decision is as follows:

    Holding: A court may not exercise jurisdiction over a defendant that has not purposefully availed itself of doing business in the jurisdiction or placed goods in the stream of commerce in the expectation they would be purchased in the jurisdiction.

    Judgment: Reversed, 6-3, in an opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy on June 27, 2011. Justices Breyer filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, which was joined by Justice Alito. Justice Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan.

    see http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/j-mcintyre-machinery-v-nicastro/ for more info.