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Chabot's Bill to Improve Competitiveness of Domestic Manufacturing Passes Judiciary Committee

Location: Washington, DC

Chabot's Bill to Improve Competitiveness of Domestic Manufacturing Passes Judiciary Committee
July 19, 2006

Washington, D.C. -- A bill sponsored by Congressman Steve Chabot that will help protect American manufacturing jobs from moving overseas, passed the House Judiciary Committee today. The Workplace Goods Job Growth and Competitiveness Act (H.R. 3509) will limit frivolous lawsuits brought against American manufacturers by creating a nationwide twelve-year "statute of repose" for durable goods used in the workplace. The bill is similar to a Chabot proposal that previously passed the House but was not considered by the Senate

"This legislation will fix a flaw in our legal system and stop runaway lawsuits that hurt workers, small businesses, and consumers," said Chabot. "This bill will help level the playing field so that Ohio companies can better compete with foreign enterprises. It's a critically needed reform to encourage economic growth, maintain the competitiveness of American durable goods manufacturers and keep U.S. manufacturing jobs from moving overseas."

The legislation would primarily impact machine-tool manufacturers, an industry that provides significant employment in Ohio and the Cincinnati area. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2004 there were 4,986 machine-tool employees in the state of Ohio and about 1,400 in the Cincinnati area. Importantly, the twelve-year statute of repose would not apply in any case where the injured party is not eligible to receive worker's compensation — ensuring that workers will not go uncompensated.

In many cases, decades-old or obsolete workplace goods have been resold and subsequently modified without the original manufacturer's knowledge or control. Although most of these cases never reach trial or are won by the manufacturers, millions of dollars are wasted every year defending claims - with most of the money going to trial lawyers and legal expenses. Ultimately, the abuse of product liability laws offers consumers fewer domestic products at higher prices and compromises the competitiveness of U.S. firms in foreign and domestic markets.

"Our bill will provide the kind of tort reform that will save millions of dollars in lawsuit costs and help create new jobs like those in the machine-tool industry, which is the life-blood of American manufacturing."

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