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03-90 CONTACTS: DARREN McKINNEY (202) 637-3093; QUENTIN RIEGEL (202) 637-3058


Says Convoluted Legal Theory Threatens Countless Manufacturers of Lawful Products

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2003 – Arguing that a lower court’s ruling against a maker of handguns was based on legal theory that, if widely applied, could result in bankruptcies for countless manufacturers of lawful products, the National Association of Manufacturers today filed an amicus brief with Illinois’ Supreme Court asking it to reverse the decision and leave product regulation to legislative bodies.

“Today it’s handguns, but tomorrow it could be power tools, golf clubs or automobiles,” said NAM Vice President for Litigation Quentin Riegel. “Manufacturers of perfectly lawful, properly designed and well-functioning products can’t rationally be held liable for third-party actions that may result in harm to another.

“Should the golf club maker be held liable for the death of Martha Moxley? Should an SUV maker be held liable because an embittered wife decided to run her cheating husband over with one? Of course not, and both common sense and the law tell us so,” continued Riegel.

“In this gun case,” known as Young v. Bryco Arms, Riegel explained, “the appellate court allowed plaintiffs’ attorneys to retool a ‘public nuisance’ theory, even though that theory has been rejected by other state and federal courts on numerous occasions and for good reason.

“If the lower court’s holding stands, it will reverberate far beyond the firearms industry,” Riegel added. “It threatens to seriously undermine the ability of any manufacturer to produce and sell products that are lawful and non-defective, simply because those products may be criminally misused. And let’s not kid ourselves; such misuse could result in disastrously high jury awards that could well bankrupt countless upstanding companies.

“Even if American manufacturers didn’t already face litigation costs that dwarf those of foreign competitors; even if our manufacturing sector weren’t mired in an anemic economic recovery that threatens further job loss; and even if the health of manufacturing weren’t critical to both our country’s economic and national security, the type of ‘regulating from the bench’ undertaken by the Illinois appellate court would have no basis in law and would be a very bad thing,” concluded Riegel.


National Association of Manufacturers
1331 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20004-1790 (202) 637-3000
(202) 637-3182 (fax)
[email protected]

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