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The Chinese Manufacture Everything and You Cannot Sue Them!

As everyone knows, from watching the news and reading the paper, China is now America’s manufacturer. They make the majority of low tech products used in America, while America makes more of the higher technology products. However, even when America makes higher technology products, portions of those products are made in China. These components are usually then shipped to Taiwan or America for final assembly with other components.

When European companies, or companies located in many other parts of the world, manufacture a product and ship it to the United States, and that product then injures someone in America, those companies can be sued in America. The reason is that they are part of a treaty which allows for a lawsuit here. The same happens when American companies ship their products overseas to those same countries. However, despite China being the largest manufacturer of low tech goods sold in America, China is not part of such a treaty! Indeed, if you want to sue a Chinese corporation, you need to translate your lawsuit into Chinese (Mandarin), file it in China, and then allow your lawsuit to be fixed by the Chinese government before being filed! The Chinese government will then oversee the litigation to ensure that you receive nothing or almost nothing. When a Chinese factory produces a product which is defective and which is sold in America, how do you get around the need to sue the Chinese manufacturer?

Products liability law in Georgia concerns the liability of a manufacturer or designer of a product. When the manufacturer is not in America and you need to find another defendant, you may be able to sue the corporations that sold the product. However, the seller is not liable for a defectively designed or manufactured product unless the seller was aware of the hazard or was involved in the design or manufacture of the product. A seller will claim that they were not aware of the hazard and often get out of these lawsuits on summary judgment, i.e. the court dismisses them as a matter of law before there is a jury trial. See Product Liability.

We have successfully gotten around the Chinese manufacturer defense by showing that those who sell products, whether being the importer, a wholesaler, or retailer, had knowledge of the hazard. We have found proof of same in everything from files concerning the design and testing of a product to emails between the Chinese and the American entities. Additionally, design files sometimes show that the American company can actually be held liable as the designer or manufacturer of the product despite their usual claim that they are simply importing a Chinese product.

An example of the above is a piece of exercise equipment which broke and recoiled into one of our client’s eyes, blinding him despite five surgeries. Of course, the entire manufacturing was performed in China. We sued three companies in America, including the company which was the wholesaler/importer, the distributor who bought the product from the wholesaler, and the company which sold the product via stores and its website throughout the United States. Various theories, including that the American companies were really at least partial designers of the product and that they knew of the hazard prior to the date of the injury, resulted in an eventual settlement. As with any catastrophic type injury, our firm hired a Lifecare Planner to determine the future medical costs, an economist to determine the present value of the future stream of lost wages and the cost of the Lifecare plan, a warnings expert in regard to the failure of the American companies to warn about known hazards of the product, and a design expert concerning the improper design of the product and to devise a safer cost-effective alternative.

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Wilbur D. Owens Attorney Photo
Wilbur D. Owens

Mr. Owens devotes his practice exclusively to representing plaintiffs in personal injury and wrongful death claims. His primary focus is automobile/tractor-trailer accidents, dog bites, slip/trip and falls, medical malpractice, injuries from dangerous products, job injuries and nursing home abuse. Before joining forces with Mr. Mulherin to open Owens & Mulherin in 2001, Mr. Owens worked…

Joseph A. Mulherin Attorney Photo
Joseph A. Mulherin

Mr. Mulherin represents individuals in personal injury cases. His primary practice areas are automobile accidents, tractor-trailer collisions, medical malpractice claims and workplace injuries. Before forming Owens & Mulherin with Mr. Owens in 2001, Mr. Mulherin practiced at Bouhan, Williams & Levy, LLP, from 1984 - 2000, representing both plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury cases.…

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