Innocent Seller Bill Would Right an Injustice

Date: February 07, 2020

Shaking down retailers who did no wrong is a wrong in itself

Where are courts of law places to wring money out of innocent retailers?

Answer: Arizona.

That could change if NFIB-backed Senate Bill 1449 is adopted into law. Right now, it’s made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is before the full Senate.

Current Arizona product liability law unfairly exposes every seller in a product’s chain of distribution to a lawsuit—even retailers and distributors who had no involvement in the design or manufacture of the item at issue.

According to the American Tort Reform Association, “In most cases asserting that a defective product injured someone, the central issue is whether the product at issue was properly designed or constructed. Local sellers typically have no involvement whatsoever in these functions, yet current Arizona law allows them to be named as defendants in these lawsuits simply because they sold the product … the seller faces considerable disruption and significant expense even though the seller did nothing wrong.”

Personal injury plaintiffs frequently exploit this opportunity by naming every seller who touched the product during its distribution. This tactic requires small businesses to foot the bill upfront for expensive attorney fees and litigation costs.

“Senate Bill 1449 addresses this costly and unfair situation by preventing product liability lawsuits from ever commencing against a seller who did not manufacture the product,” says ATRA, “unless certain exceptional circumstances are present.”

NFIB Arizona State Director Chad Heinrich, who testified in support of SB 1449, points out that “indemnity from the manufacturer, which is current law, comes too late. This approach requires small businesses to foot the bill upfront for expensive attorney fees and litigation costs.”

Click here for NFIB’s talking points on the issue and here to read ATRA’s letter to Sen. Eddie Farnsworth, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman. Click the photo below to see and hear Heinrich’s two-minute testimony before the committee.

NFIB Arizona State Director Chad Heinrich testifying on Senate Bill 1449, a product liability reform measure.



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