Nevada Legislature: Judiciary hears bill to protect sellers of defective products
Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, told the Judiciary Committee on Thursday innocent product sellers shouldn’t be “dragged into court” to defend faulty products.
The measure is one of several tort reform measures introduced by Republican majorities in the 2015 session.
Roberson said if the retailer did nothing to alter or cause problems with the product and the problem is caused by the manufacturer, retailers would be protected from those suits by SB161.
But Robert Eglet of the trial lawyers told the committee too often the lawyers for the person who was injured won’t know whether the retailer was at fault for making changes to the product until after the suit was filed and the parties go through the discovery process.
He said by that time, the statute of limitations may have expired leaving the victim unable to sue the retailer and, therefore, no way to recover damages.
Eglet said the bill doesn’t “toll” the statute of limitations, which would keep open the possibility of suing that business if it turns out it’s responsible.
But Committee members Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, and Chairman Greg Brower, R-Reno, both pointed out the plaintiff’s lawyer could name several “John Does” as parties to the suit in that case to protect the ability to sue.
Eglet said when sellers have no liability, they are normally voluntarily dismissed from the suit so he doesn’t believe the bill is needed.
Roberson said one example of the problem is the lawsuit against a Las Vegas gun store for an allegedly faulty Glock handgun the store owner did nothing to alter before selling it to the victim.
“When you’re selling a product in a box, it’s hard to make the claim in product liability that the seller had any substantial control over the design or manufacture of the product,” Roberson said.
He said the practice of naming the retailer “is frequent and ongoing,” causing substantial legal costs for retailers and, as a result, some 17 states have recognized that problem and passed legislation similar to SB161.
He said an exception in the bill is for situations such as when the defective product was made in China and the victim can’t sue the manufacturer for recovery of damages.