Two veteran Democratic lawmakers join Republicans to protect small-business owners from harmful lawsuits
In a bipartisan, 19-11 vote on February 26, the Arizona Senate pushed back against one of the entrenched lobbies in the State Capitol by passing Senate Bill 1449, the so-called ‘innocent seller’ measure. The supportive votes included two veteran Democratic lawmakers who joined with Republicans to stand with small business and against the only opposing interest, Arizona’s trial lawyers’ association.
“Arizona needs to protect these small businesses against unfair lawsuits in cases where the retailer does nothing more than sell a product,” wrote NFIB Arizona State Director Chad Heinrich in a letter to senators asking for their support of SB 1449. “The protection afforded innocent sellers in Senate Bill 1449 is already law in 16 states. These 16 states have recognized the problematic nature of allowing plaintiffs to sue small business retailers who do nothing but sell a product in the box.”
Heinrich’s correspondence assured senators that “The legislation does provide a path for plaintiffs in cases where circumstances indicate that the seller may have actively contributed to a problem with a product,” but “Unless the seller engaged in blameworthy conduct, there is no legitimate reason to force upon them the business disruption and expenses associated with defending a lawsuit over a product that they sold in the box. The real dispute is between the consumer and the manufacturer in the vast majority of these cases.”
Senate Minority Leader David Bradley and Democratic colleague Sean Bowie joined their Republican counterparts in passing the SB 1449. A similar bill awaits action in the Arizona House of Representatives.
Also supporting the ‘innocent seller’ legislation are the:
- Arizona Retailers Association
- Arizona Chamber of Commerce
- Arizona Manufacturers Council
- Home Builders Association of Central Arizona
- Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce
- Chandler Chamber of Commerce