Legislative action on S.640 in the 102nd Congress Essay

Published: 2019-10-10 05:33:29
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The Act which was introduced vide legislative action on S 640 in the 102nd Congress is named the Product Liability Fairness Act. It is deemed to govern the product liability action that can be brought against a manufacturer or product seller, for causing harm by his product. It provides for a civil action being brought against the manufacturer or product seller for the loss or damage to a product itself or for commercial loss which will in turn be determined by the commercial or contract law which is applicable.

It is designed to supersede any state law which is inconsistent regarding recovery in such actions. However this suppression is not applicable under a number of varied circumstances to include the defense of sovereign immunity asserted by any State or by the Federal Government of the United States.

The Federal law except the Federal Employees Compensation Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, the State choice-of-law rules, the right of courts to transfer the venue or apply it to a foreign nation or to dismiss a claim of any foreign nation or citizen on grounds which state that this is an inconvenient forum and also any statutory or common law cause of action including action to abate a nuisance, that authorizes a state or person to institute action for civil damages or civil penalties, clean up costs and so on.

Any statutory or common law cause of action, including an action to abate a nuisance, that authorizes a State or person to institute an action for civil damages or civil penalties, clean up costs, injunctions, restitution, cost recovery, punitive damages, or any other form of relief from contamination or pollution of the environment or the threat of it. It also implies that this is a very important issue from the point of view of the hypothesis under consideration that US district courts will not have jurisdiction over any civil action under this Act based on the specified provisions of Federal law relating to district court jurisdiction.

The Act also declares that in case of any provision of this Act shortening the period during which the producer of goods or his seller otherwise is exposed for liability, the claimant without cognizance of the period can bring about civil action under this Act within one year after its effective date. Title II of the Act allows any claimant to bring civil action for damages against a person for harm caused by a product applicable under the state law except to the extent such law is superseded by this title of the Act.

Expeditious settlement measures include an option to include an offer of settlement for a specific dollar amount by the plaintiff or the defendant in a responsive pleading or award of attorney fees and costs to the party which does not accept the terms of settlement of the offer. It also caters for alternative dispute resolution provisions and mechanisms which are recognized by state laws. In Title III, a person is permitted to seek recovery for harm which has been caused by a product through civil action against the manufacturer or seller under applicable or Federal law to the extent that such law is superseded by the Act.

It establishes a standard for liability by a product seller for the causes of the harm which can fall under categories of negligence or express warranty. The conduct of the seller can be examined with respect to a variety of factors such as construction, inspection or condition of the product and for not passing on the warning or instructions from the manufacturers only in case these have not been forwarded when the item was in his possession or has not made reasonable efforts to provide the users with the warning and instructions.

The seller is treated as a manufacturer and is liable for damage caused in case the manufacturer is not effective to service of process in any State in which the action could have been brought which is relevant in the case of the hypothesis wherein the Federal laws are said to be applicable in states under the Act. Punitive damages are however proscribed against a manufacturer or seller of a drug or medical device where the drug or the device has received the pre market approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); and the drug has been accepted as safe under conditions approved by the FDA.

Similar protection is provided to manufacturer of aircraft which have been subject to pre-market certification by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The factors to be considered in determining the amount of punitive damages have also been covered. Civil action is barred unless the case is filed within two years after the claimant is said to have discovered the harm and its cause and for a capital good which is not a toxic harm, the period is twenty five years after the delivery of product.

The Act provides for compensation to individuals when their rights are infringed as there has to be provision for trans state movement of goods. As invariably there is transmigration of goods between states, there is a need for application of a federal law of such nature. The Bill was introduced by Sen. Robert W Kasten. Jr, a Republican on 13 March 1991 and had 39 co sponsors, which was numerically adequate to see the bill through in case a majority of the senators supported it.

The proceeding of the Bill was as given below:-(a) The Bill was introduced on 13 March 1991 and then read and referred to the Committee on Commerce. (b) The Subcommittee on Consumer as well as the Committee on Commerce held hearings and it was reported on 14 November 1991 without amendment. (c) It was referred to the Committee on Judiciary by unanimous consent in June 1992. (d).

After consideration by the Judicial Committee it was placed for consideration in Senate by Unanimous Consent on 8 September 1992. (e) Cloture motion to proceed was presented and withdrawn on 8 September 1992.

(f) Cloture to proceed was not invoked in Senate by Yea-Nay votes on 10 September 1992 and again not invoked on reconsideration by Yea Nay vote of 58 38. (g) There after this was not pursued further. However the Act in a modified form and through a separate motion has came into force in 1995. The issue before us is however that of liberals being federal focused vis a vis the conservatives. The bill was designed to regulate inter state commerce and provide a uniform product liability law as per the title.

It was extensively for the benefit of the individual and the consumer and for all purposes should have been considered by the Senate and approved. However it appears that the underlying clauses in the Bill as given below which restricted the powers of the state could have contributed to its rejection for cloture:- (a) It declared that U. S. district courts did not have jurisdiction over any civil action under this Act, based on specified provisions of Federal law relating to district court jurisdiction. (b) Superseded any inconsistent State law regarding recovery in such actions.

A quantitative analysis of the votes has been carried out in the Tables 4 to 6 given below. An examination of Table 4 will reveal that the overwhelming votes of Republicans, 40 have not been in favor of cloture of the legislation with only three for it. The liberal opinion has been with 18 not in favor of the cloture and 35 for it. This clearly indicates that the Republicans were not in favor of restricting the powers of the states even when these were in favor of the individual and also affected the regulation of commerce.

This would have avoided a number of vexed issues arising out of inter state commerce which could have been smoothened. But the lack of cloture prevented from such a logical course taking place. The Republican bias towards state independence once again proved to be the stumbling block. An evaluation of the percentages polled will amplify this aspect further for which Table 5 may be examined. The Republicans have voted with an overwhelming 93. 1 percent against the cloture while 66. 1 percent of Democrats were in favor of the cloture.

Thereby establishing that a majority of liberals do vote in favor of such motions which provide for federal control on issues which impinge on state federal relationship. In case the voting is examined quantitatively in terms of percentage of voting in terms of Ayes and Nays with party affiliation, it would emerge that 68. 9 percent Republicans and 31. 1 percent Democrats had voted against the cloture and only 7. 9 percent Republicans and 62. 1 percent Democrats were for cloture. Thus the Democrats are deemed to be overwhelmingly in favor of the cloture.

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