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Doug Landau
Doug Landau
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Injured Bikers Taken for a Ride by Defective and Dangerous Foreign Bicycle Components

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Why is it so hard for American bikers to sue foreign bicycle (or component) makers, sellers and/or suppliers? If a domestic bicycle or bike part maker causes riders injuries, the company can be sued here in the United States. But if the bike or cycle parts are manufactured abroad, there can be hurdles to filing suit and obtaining compensation for injuries.

Among the challenges facing riders injured and disabled by defective bicycle parts manufactured in foreign countries are getting jurisdiction over the foreign company and obtaining properly-served process on that corporation. Establishing jurisdiction gives power to interpret and apply the law in a certain territory (in this case, a foreign country). Service of process is the delivery of notification of a lawsuit being filed to the person required to respond to that notification.

The Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act of 2009 is currently before the Senate Finance Committee. If passed, the Act will make it easier for US Cyclists to hold responsible those foreign manufacturers who produce defective bike parts by requiring foreign companies to agree to conditions regarding jurisdiction and service of process prior to importing products into the US.

The bill requires several agencies to issue regulations requiring foreign manufacturers and producers to designate a registered agent authorized to accept service of process for all civil and regulatory matters. The regulations must require the agent to "be located in a State with a substantial connection to the importation, distribution, or sale of the products of such foreign manufacturer or producer". The bill also states that any manufacturer or producer that registers an agent for service of process "thereby consents to the personal jurisdiction of the State or Federal courts of the State in which the registered agent is located." If an entity does not designate a registered agent, its products may not be imported into the United States.

It is important that cyclists and other consumers are protected not only from domestic defective and dangerous products but also from defective bicycle parts manufactured in foreign countries. The Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act of 2009 helps protect injured US athletes from having to navigate international treaties, worry about the expenses involved in trying to file a foreign suit and from being "taken for a ride" by foreign corporations.