The Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act of 2009, a bipartisan bill that was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate, aims to help victims of tainted Chinese drywall hold foreign manufacturers more accountable for their defective products. The act would cut down the red tape faced by American consumers who try to sue foreign companies.
The legislation arose from a May Senate subcommittee meeting that asked how to hold foreign manufacturers accountable for their products. During the hearing, an Alabama-based home building company, Mitchell Co., described how difficult it was to get a response from a Chinese manufacturer after the manufacturer’s drywall was found to be defective. The flawed drywall gives off a sulfuric odor that some homeowners have blamed for health problems. Because Mitchell Co. was unable to formally serve notice to the Chinese manufacturer, the company was not able to get the compensation it desired.
Among its stipulations, the act calls for the manufacturer to have a representative in each state that the company does business, who could be served in any claims. It also aims to make foreign companies agree to be accountable to U.S. courts if sued. Sponsors and supporters of the bill claim this is the best way for Americans to receive justice for any defective products since foreign manufacturers typically use technical legal defenses to avoid compensation. They claim that with the profit and benefits of the American market should come accountability for defective products.