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Accountability is good

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) have introduced S. 1606, the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act, to require foreign manufacturers of products imported into the United States to establish registered agents in the United States who are authorized to accept service of process against such manufacturers. Complaints about contaminated Chinese drywall, found mostly in Southern states, has elevated the profile of this issue.

In his introductory statement, Whitehouse said by registering an agent in the United States, the manufacturers would acknowledge the jurisdiction of state and federal courts, putting them on equal legal footing with domestic manufacturers. In addition, "It covers major product categories including consumer goods, drugs, cosmetics, and chemicals, and it requires relevant agencies to study workable approaches to ensure that foreign food producers also are brought within the ambit of the American legal system.

The bill follows on the footsteps of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing in May, "Leveling the Playing Field and Protecting Americans." As the sponsors show, the issue crosses partisan lines. General support is also broad: Witnesses at the hearing included a representative of the trial lawyer lobby, AAJ, as well as Victor Schwartz, testifying on behalf of the U.S. Chamber.


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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.