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AAJ Discusses the Impact of Dangerous Foreign Products on US Consumers

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The American Association for Justice, in conjunction with American University’s Washington College of Law, recently released two research papers discussing dangerous foreign products, Defective Foreign Products in the United States: Issues and Discussion and The Social Costs of Dangerous Products: An Empirical Investigation.

The first paper asserts that foreign producers "are protected by the complex web of laws, policies, and practices that make it difficult if not impossible to sue successfully foreign manufacturers in domestic courts." Professor Andrew Popper of American University Washington College of Law discusses the inequities of product liability between foreign and domestic manufacturers and proposes several options to level the playing field. Professor Popper concludes, "stripped of the incentive value the tort system provided, it should come as no surprise that domestic consumers have been exposed to tens of millions of defective products produced by foreign suppliers."

The second paper focuses on the costs of injuries and fatalities associated with three known dangerous products: Ford SUV’s with Firestone tires, the pharmaceutical drug Baycol manufactured by Bayer, and all terrain vehicles (ATVs). Professors Sidney Shapiro of Wake Forest School of Law, Ruth Ruttenberg of National Labor College, and Paul Leigh of the University of California at Davis, using the above products as a baseline, find nearly $4.7 billion in medical costs, lost wages, and other costs, excluding the cost of pain and sufferingor other extended costs. The paper looks at compsensation awarded in the tort system and compares it with the actuals costs created by hazardous products and ultimately concludes tort awards are less than the actual costs of the dangerous products themselves. It is difficult to measure the actual costs, however "the tort system provides a valuable service for society to the extent it successfully deters the sale of dangerous products."

A copy of Defective Foreign Products in the United States: Issues and Discussion can be found at http://www.justice.org/Unavailable_and_Unaccountable.pdf.

A copy of The Social Costs of Dangerous Products: An Empirical Investigation can be found at http://www.justice.org/he_Social_Costs_of_Dangerous_Products_An_Empirical_Investigation.pdf.