June 07, 2011 Articles

Defending Mass Retailer Liability for Foreign-Sourced Goods

By Michelle Cheek

Globalization has redefined the concept of the supply chain by which products are moved from foreign suppliers and manufacturers to domestic customers in search of the best bargain. As globalization accelerates, more supply chain functions are being performed outside the United States to meet consumer demands. This has created legal uncertainty for U.S. retailers who sell products that are often manufactured in countries where quality control may be sacrificed in favor of cheap, efficient production. When products liability suits arise from poor quality control, domestic companies can find themselves in a precarious position when it comes to determining who will bear the loss. While legal claims provide a basis for a retailer to attempt to pass liability on to foreign manufacturers, there are obstacles that can impede a retailer's ability to shift liability and damages to responsible foreign manufacturers.

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