November 25, 2008
Too Many Warnings?
I couldn't resist sharing this humorous article about a serious problem: How does a manufacturer effectively convey warnings to consumers who are over-warned? Dave Barry wrote this story for the Greene County Dailies in response to a Washington Post story in which appliance, computer and car manufacturers wanted to know why consumers don't read their owner's manuals.
November 24, 2008
US, EU, and China Reach Toy Safety Agreement
According to Reuters (11/17), the consumer chiefs of the European Union and the United States called on China on Monday to crack down on unsafe products, especially toys, ahead of Christmas. It's been a rough year for the toy industry, with several major recalls on toys made in China, including one from Mattel.
More than 20 million of the toys recalled worldwide were manufactured in China and it's often so difficult to track major shipments of defective consumer goods that they can enter the distribution chain and wind up on store shelves before anything can be done. This difficulty may ultimately end up causing a whirlwind of lawsuits and litigation for people on both sides of the supply chain.
And it's not just toys. China's been rather slapdash in its safety standards for everything from toothpaste to milk to furniture. Earlier this year, hundreds of Chinese infants were hospitalized after drinking tainted milk. The world is watching, but is that enough?
Domestically, we're continuing to make progress. On August 14, President Bush signed a law that overhauls the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 made consumer products safer by requiring that toys and infant products are tested before they are sold, and by banning toxic chemicals like lead and phthalates in toys.
The bill also created the first comprehensive publicly accessible consumer complaint database, gave the CPSC the resources and authority it needs to protect the public, increase civil penalties that CPSC can assess against violators of product safety laws, and protect whistleblowers who report product safety defects.
It's tougher when we're talking about toys coming from other countries, particularly China. Vigilance will be the key here. It's unacceptable that China can continue to export sub-standard and even dangerous goods to boost its economy. Developed nations have more responsibility to the safety and wellbeing of the consumers of their products than Chinais currently assuming for all the international consumers of its products.
And, while this agreement is a step in the right direction, legislation must follow at the international level to ensure strict adherence to these new and much-needed policies.
This post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick, who writes on the subject of nursing assistant exams. She invites your feedback at kellykilpatrick24 at gmail dot com.
November 17, 2008
Restatement 10th Anniversary Symposium at Brooklyn Law School
The Brooklyn Law School's symposium commemorating the 10th anniversay of the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Products Liability was held on November 13 - 14 at Brooklyn Law School. In attendance were the Reporters for the Restatement, Aaron Twerski and Jim Henderson, as well as several other academics and practitioners (including editors of this blog, Ken Ross and Dave Prince), many of whom were instrumental in fashioning the Restatement and all of whom expressed their views on the Restatement's success over the past decade. The two-day discussion demonstrated that the the Products Liability Restatement has lost none of its capacity to inspire vigorous debate. There was widespread agreement that the Restatement has been quite successful in describing the developments that occured in this area of law in the decades following the addition of Section 402A to the Restatement (Second) of Torts. And even its detractors agree that the Restatement 3d has set the agenda for the continuing debate over future developments in this area of the law.
The Brooklyn Law Review will publish a symposium edition this winter that will include papers from several of the participants.