Defective and unsafe products cause thousands of injuries and deaths every year in the United States yet legislators are trying to make it easier for companies to avoid having to take responsibility for the harm their products cause. H.R. 985, an anti-class action bill on its way to the Senate after being approved in the House, would allow companies to keep their unsafe and defective products on the market even if they’re known to cause injuries or even death.
One of the goals of class action lawsuits is to remove defective and unsafe products from the marketplace, preventing further harm to others who could be injured or killed in the future. In 2010, over 38 million Americans sought medical attention after injuries related to consumer products, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Nearly 13 in every 100 people are injured and nearly 12 in every 100,000 people are killed in accidents related to consumer products. Preventing even a small part of these injuries by removing defective and unsafe products is significant, helping countless Americans avoid injury or death from products known to be harmful.
To some it might seem that defective and unsafe products lawsuits are frivolous at first, but understanding the effects of leaving these products on the market proves the importance of class action lawsuits. One recent case is a prime example of the kinds of lawsuits H.R. 985 is trying to stop.
One police officer discovered that his firearm would fire unexpectedly when dropped even with the safety on after his gun fell from his holster while chasing a suspect. No amount of training or gun safety precautions could have prevented the gun from firing and potentially killing an officer or bystanders. Extensive testing reveal that these guns were defective and often fired upon impact, even with the safety on.
One million other Americans and police officers had purchased the same gun model that may have had this same problem. A class action lawsuit helped remove these guns from the marketplace by replacing the pistols at the manufacturer’s cost and alerted purchasers of the defect, helping to prevent injuries or deaths caused by the unsafe guns.
But because no one was injured in the accident, H.R. 985 would prevent any class action lawsuit. Instead, H.R. 985 would require that someone was injured or killed by the defective gun for a lawsuit to take place and would only address that individual’s injuries without any obligation to remove the guns from the market or alert owners of the defects. Not only would these gun owners not know about the defect, the manufacturer would be able to sell more of theses defective products.
If H.R. 985 becomes a law any action to recall or alert owners of a defect will only be taken voluntarily by a manufacturer. A question central to consider about H.R. 985 is whether or not Americans can rely on manufacturers to do the right thing that would be detrimental to their profits. It should come as no shock that companies that produce defective and unsafe products aren’t jumping to do the right thing when it’s their fault.
Calling your Senator to tell them to vote NO on H.R. 985 is an important step in protecting your rights and helping prevent harm from defective products to all Americans. Call your Senator immediately before this bill goes to a vote and tell them you want your family to be protected from defective and unsafe products.