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Tainted Foreign Goods: Where can You Turn for Compensation?

Papayas imported from Mexico are suspected in a recent four-state outbreak of salmonella poisoning that has caused over 200 people to become sick thus far. While any person affected by  tainted fruit may experience symptoms that range from mild to severe (or no symptoms at all), does it seem fair that these individuals themselves should bear the financial cost of their poisoning, such as lost wages, medical bills, and other such expenses?  What recourse, if any, does a person have against a foreign manufacturer or distributor of products or goods that cause injury or illness?

More Than a Hypothetical Question

 Before dismissing the question posed above as a far-fetched hypothetical that would never happen, one may recall the recent news involving defective airbags manufactured by Takata – a company based in Japan and with facilities located on four continents. With today’s global marketplace, defective products or goods often have some ties to a foreign company. Does this mean that individuals injured in some way by such products or goods are not able to recover compensation for their injuries? The answer: it depends.

Potential Defendants When an Injury is Caused by a Defective Foreign Product

 In looking for potential defendants in a product liability case involving imported products or goods, we suggest looking to see if there is a domestic distributor who may be liable. For example, if Distributor A is a California-based company that imported goods from an overseas company in order to distribute to consumers or other purchasers, Distributor A may be held responsible for injuries if Distributor A should have known that the goods were defective but chose to distribute anyway. In addition, foreign manufacturers who intend to sell their goods stateside must typically consent to the jurisdiction of United States courts (federal and/or state courts) as a prerequisite to importing their goods. Finally, even in the absence of such consent, a federal court may nonetheless employ one or more jurisdictional tests and hear a dispute with a foreign company.

The Take-Away: Do Not Give Up

 All of this is to reinforce this simple point: Do not assume that you cannot recover compensation for injuries just because facts are unusual or seem difficult. Instead, speak with an experienced California personal injury law firm as soon as possible and have someone familiar with the relevant laws review your case. You may be surprised to learn what rights you have that may be exercised, and the compensation to which you may be entitled. At Heiting & Irwin, we diligently search for solutions for our clients: We understand that their future, and their family’s future, may depend on receiving adequate compensation for their injuries. Learn what can be done for you by calling Heiting & Irwin at 951-682-6400, or contact us online.


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