WASHINGTON – Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Texas)
reintroduced a bill known as the Innocent Sellers Fairness Act that is designed
to shield vendors who do not actually design or manufacture the products they
sell from defect-related litigation.
“If you just put something on your shelf, you haven’t done
anything wrong,” Farenthold told The Record.
According to Farenthold’s office, the Innocent
Sellers Fairness Act states that “no seller of any product shall be liable for
personal injury, monetary loss or damage to property arising out of an accident
or transaction involving such product,” unless the injured party can claim the
seller met one of several criteria.
The criteria that make a seller liable for damages include
that the seller manufactured, participated in the design or participated in the
installation of the product, changed or made guarantees on the product not
authorized by the manufacturer, knew of the defect because of a recall or knew
when the product was supplied and made a false claim about the product that was
not approved by the manufacturer.
The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers
Association (NLBMDA) said in a statement that the legislation was originally written
by Jimmy Duncan (R-TN) and Lamar Smith (R-TX).
“Unfair and unfounded lawsuits disproportionately affect
small business,” NLBMDA said in the statement. “According to a study by the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, small businesses bear 81
percent of business tort liability costs. While state reforms have helped, a
federal solution is important to ensure uniformity for suppliers who often
operate in multiple states.”
Farenthold said he reintroduced the bill, which “never made
it to the floor last time,” because he believes the parties in question still
need to be protected.
“The issue remains the same,” Farenthold said. “(The
Innocent Sellers Fairness Act) puts these people out of the chain of
Of course, Farenthold said there is one more benefit for
those who would be covered under the legislation.
“Nobody wants to get sued,” he said.