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Is it right that U.S. retailers that utilize products or raw ingredients that are...

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granny54 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted July 29, 2013 at 7:09 AM via web

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Is it right that U.S. retailers that utilize products or raw ingredients that are imported from China and that are poorly regulated should be liable in tort for injuries to consumers who are harmed by those products?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM (Answer #1)

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This is, of course, a matter of opinion rather than of fact.  My own view is that such retailers should be held liable.  The reason for this is that this is the most feasible way in which to protect US consumers from defective goods coming from China (and from many other countries outside the rich world).

Consumers in the US buy and use goods from many developing countries such as China.  In many of those countries, product safety regulations are sketchy.  Firms in those countries do things like cutting corners in the quest to reduce their costs.  Very importantly, the legal systems in such countries are not always accessible to Americans.  This is particularly true of China.  It might be exceedingly hard for American consumers to sue Chinese companies that sell dangerous products.

Therefore, it is best to hold the American companies liable.  They are in a better position than anyone else to police the Chinese firms.  They have some leverage over the companies and can take steps to force them to produce safe goods.  Pressure on the US firms will be passed along to the Chinese firms and can influence them to act responsibly.

Since Chinese companies are often beyond the reach of American consumers and American law, it is best (in my view) to hold American retailers liable for the safety of Chinese goods.  

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