Thursday, September 27, 2007

Defective Products "Made In China"

A number of years ago, the Michigan legislature passed an exceptionally pro-industry "reform" of the state's products liability laws. A significant aspect of the new law was that it severely limited the circumstances in which a distributor or seller (other than the manufacturer) could be liable for selling a defective product.
MCL 600.2947(6) In a product liability action, a seller other than a manufacturer is not liable for harm allegedly caused by the product unless either of the following is true:

(a) The seller failed to exercise reasonable care, including breach of any implied warranty, with respect to the product and that failure was a proximate cause of the person's injuries.

(b) The seller made an express warranty as to the product, the product failed to conform to the warranty, and the failure to conform to the warranty was a proximate cause of the person's harm.
The rash of dangerous and defective product imports from China, particularly products intended for use by babies and children, calls into question the wisdom of this approach which favors willful ignorance over more careful selection and testing of products, and all-but-immunizes everybody involved in importing and selling a defective product manufactured overseas (but you can always go to China and try suing the manufacturer, right? Yeah, right.)

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