Dangerous Products No Longer Receive Federal Protection

Companies that produce dangerous products suffered a major defaet last week in the United States House of Representaatives. By a vote of 407 to 0, the House of Representatives passed legislation reauthorizing the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and included statutory language specifically prohibiting the CPSC from issuing any rule or regulation that expands the scope of federal preemption of state law.
During the Bush administration, the CPSC has issued rules and regualtions which it argues preempt state laws governing dangerous products, thereby depriving innocent parties injured by these products from seeking redress in the courts. Obviously, based upon the vote, both Democratric and Republican lawmakers in the House recognized the dangers of this practice.
Seeking to end this unfair practice, the House Energy and Commerce Committee included specific language in the Committee Report, which is the official statement of congressional intent. The Committee Report language formally and specifically disapproves the CPSC’s effort to override state common law by including preemption language in preambles to its proposed rules and final rules. Specifically with regard to preemption language in the preamble to a recently issued rule on mattress flammability, the Report states “this preamble should not be accorded deference by State or Federal Courts.”
The Report specifically identifies the importance of “tort actions based on negligence” which the Committee says “are predicated on procedures and standards developed over hundreds of years of American and English jurisprudence.” And it says this about the preservation of common law remedies generally: “The preemption provisions of the statutes under the jurisdiction of the CPSC are clear, and State common law actions and standards are not preempted.”
The bill will now go th the Senate for action.

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