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September 24, 2000

Chamber Blasts Senate Commerce Bill Criminalizing Product Liability Laws

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 25, 2000 – The United States Chamber of Commerce strongly opposed legislation that would add criminal penalties to product liability laws covering auto equipment and cars, in a letter sent to Senators.

“Adding criminal penalties to product liability laws will not create safer products,” said Bruce Josten, Chamber executive vice president. “There already are numerous ways that consumers can punish companies for defective products, both through punitive damage awards in civil cases or through criminal penalties for fraud.”

A new layer of criminal prosecution – which would supercede all civil tort claims – will create huge delays for victims seeking timely recovery of damages, according to the Chamber. Further, fear of criminal sanctions – including the possibility of imprisonment – could have a chilling effect on cooperative efforts between manufacturers and the government. Solutions to questions around product safety often rely on cooperative, and swift, action among federal agencies and businesses.

The Senate is currently considering legislation (S.3059) that would strengthen the National Highway Safety Transportation AdministrationâÄ

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