In warfare there is a term – collateral damage – that is used to describe damage to people and property which is unintended or incidental to the intended outcome. It is important we understand that, unlike land closures and noise ordinances, the latest threat to our vintage dirt bike hobby, the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act of 2010, is not targeted toward vintage dirt bikes, or motorcycles, or even off-road vehicles in general.
It is targeted at the thousands of foreign manufacturers who ship electronics, toys, clothing, and consumer goods into the US. It is intended to make those companies subject to, and easily accessible by, the US tort system. It also includes any suppliers to those companies – such as companies that make boxes, pallets, packaging materials, straps, plastics, etc.
We, the vintage dirt bikers, are just a little invisible community that will be squashed if this bill passes. Continue reading
Watch out. Congress is at it again and this time they may wipe out half the vintage dirt bike industry.
A couple of years ago the motorcycle industry was caught by surprise when Congress enacted, and then deployed, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) — almost immediately wiping out a $1 billion youth motorcycle and atv industry. Over the ensuing two years the CPSIA proved to be a massive screw job for all sorts of small businesses.
On Wednesday, June 30, 2010 the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed (by voice vote) another piece of legislation that could be equally devastating to the vintage dirt bike scene — the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act of 2010, H.R. 4678. The bill now moves to the larger Ways and Means Committee or perhaps to the floor for a vote.
This act is aimed at forcing foreign manufacturers into the US tort system for liability law suits. Like most laws, that sounds great in a sound byte on the news – force all those big Chinese and Taiwanese companies to be accessible to our thousands of personal injury lawyers.
The truth is that if you’re a vintage dirt bike fan and you buy or use any part that’s made in the UK, China, Taiwan, Australia, or Europe by a small manufacturer you may well find that part is no longer available to you. Those cool CZ parts Bertus brings in from Czechoslovakia? Not gonna happen if this bill passes. Nifty trials parts for your Ty250 or TL125 from Great Britain? Kiss them goodbye. Replica frames from GMC in Australia? Adios, amigo.
To get a little more insight into this bill I called Paul Vitrano, General Counsel for the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), to discuss it. Continue reading