Proposed Federal Product Liability Laws to Impair Rights, Says Aba

By Carter, Kim | THE JOURNAL RECORD, March 8, 1986 | Go to article overview

Proposed Federal Product Liability Laws to Impair Rights, Says Aba


Carter, Kim, THE JOURNAL RECORD


Spokesmen for the American Bar Association has told Congress that proposed federal products liability legislation would seriously impair the rights of those who have been injured and the consuming public generally.

The legislation, they said, would introduce great uncertainty and confusion into a judicial system that, with rare exception, has been working on the state level in a sound and rational way.

Testifying before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on the Consumer were Keith Davidson, chairman-elect of the ABA tort and insurance practice sections and Marshall Shapo, professor of law at Northwestern University Law School and reporter for the ABA's five year study on the American tort liability system.

ABA witnesses told commitee members there was no data to substantiate accusations that the system as a whole is not working. They urged caution before Congress replaces the substantial body of state laws that was "painfully wrought over a period of a quarter centry and more" to protect the American public against unsafe products.

Shapo pointed out that there is no "army of injury victims who are claiming that the law has treated them unjustly," although many are not compensated through the litigation process. Further, he noted that the major consumer organizations have not supported this sort of legislation.

Davidson said the committee needs to gather facts on the operation of the present legal system, including its insurance components, before enacting a law.

He said its members need to be particuarly aware of the "liability insurance crisis."

"If Congress takes a bite out of the products liability apple," Davidson noted, "it is inevitably going to have to deal with the whole orchard of insurance."

- Scott L. Gesell, an associate with the Oklahoma City law firm of Andrews, Davis, Legg, Bixler, Milsten and Murrah, has been appointed to serve on a corporate law committee of the young lawyers division of the American Bar Association.

Gesell will serve a one year term at the request of John K. Irion, chairman of the division's corporation, banking and business law committee.

In addition to corporation law, Gesell concentrates much of his practice in the area of litigation and bankruptcy. . .

- Oklahoma City attorney Andrew E. Thurman will present two programs this month to registered nursing managers at a conference sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Health Care Managers.

Thurman, an associate with the firm of Miller, Dollarhide, Dawson & Shaw, will speak on "Corporate Legal Organizations and their Impact on Emergency Departments," on March 24, 1:45 p.m., at the Holiday Inn Northwest, 3535 Northwest Expressway.

The second program, also to be held at the Holiday Inn Northwest, is set for March 26 at 1:45 p.m. It will cover the "Legal Considerations Impacting on the Orthopedic Department and Its Manager."..

- Charles W. Whalen Jr., a former U.S. representative from Ohio, will present a public lecture March 20 as part of the Scholar-Leadership Enrichment Program on the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman.

Whalen will speak at 7:30 in 200 Dale Hall, located at 455 W. Lindsey St.

The former lawmaker, who served in the U.S. House from 1967 to 1979, will examine America's human rights record, emphasizing the legislative struggles that have resulted from efforts to end discrimination.

Whalen and his wife, writer Barbara Whalen, are authors of the book "The Longest Debate," which recounts the legislative history of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. …

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