GOVERNOR VETOES HOUSE BILL 1240
Bill would undermine state’s efforts to end lawsuit abuse
through Tort Reform Act of 2004
Governor Haley Barbour today vetoed House
Bill 1240, saying the bill would undermine the comprehensive tort reform
law he proposed and the Legislature passed in 2004.
“I am vetoing House Bill 1240, whose enactment will result in
hindering the positive results of the Tort Reform Act of 2004 in ending
lawsuit abuse in Mississippi,” Governor Barbour said.
Under House Bill 1240, claims for alleged defective children’s
products could be filed under the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act,
which has different standards than Mississippi’s existing products
liability laws designed to protect both consumers and manufacturers.
Governor Barbour explained the bill would “negate Mississippi’s
fair and just legal system by setting up a separate, poorly-defined
scheme for alleged defective children’s products without indicating
what, if any, of the provisions of our state’s existing products
liability laws would apply.”
Also, the bill fails to define the term “children’s products,
which could cause confusion and open the door for almost any type of
products liability case. Governor Barbour called this a “glaring
omission” in the bill’s language.
Although Governor Barbour vetoed House Bill 1240, he urged the
Legislature to reconsider some of the positive merits of the
legislation. â€œI support the creation of a list of defective
childrenâ€™s products and this list should be made available at no
cost and over the internet to the general public, day care facilities,
family child care homes, and licensed pediatricians.â€
The Governor said these lists should be handled by the Department of
Health or the Department of Human Services, given their roles in
protecting the health and welfare of the stateâ€™s children.
Governor’s Veto Message for House Bill
To the Members of the House of Representatives:
I am returning House Bill 1240, â€œAN ACT TO CREATE THE CHILDREN’S
PRODUCT SAFETY ACT; TO PROVIDE WHEN A CHILDREN’S PRODUCT IS DEEMED
UNSAFE; TO REQUIRE THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO CREATE, MAINTAIN AND UPDATE A
COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF UNSAFE CHILDREN’S PRODUCTS; TO PROHIBIT A SELLER
FROM RESELLING UNSAFE CHILDREN’S PRODUCTS; TO PROVIDE PENALTIES FOR
VIOLATION OF THIS ACT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES,â€ without my approval
and assign the following reasons for my veto:
I am vetoing House Bill 1240 because it would undermine the
comprehensive tort reform law the Legislature enacted in 2004.
Specifically, HB 1240 would allow claims for alleged defective
childrenâ€™s products to be filed under the Mississippi Consumer
Protection Act (MCPA), which has different standards than
Mississippiâ€™s existing products liability laws.
A fair and just legal system provides appropriate compensation to those
who have been injured and provides certainty and predictability to those
being sued. Mississippiâ€™s statutory products liability scheme is fair
and just, because it provides clear rights to both those who are injured
by defective products and those who manufacture products. It also
protects â€œinnocent sellers.â€
House Bill 1240 would set up a separate, poorly defined scheme for
alleged defective childrenâ€™s products without indicating what, if any,
of the provisions of our existing products liability laws would apply.
If House Bill 1240 became law, would â€œinnocent sellersâ€ be protected
against suit? Or, can a local hardware store be sued for selling a
product it had no reason to believe was defective? House Bill 1240 does
not answer these questions.
Furthermore, House Bill 1240 fails to define the term â€œchildrenâ€™s
product.â€ This is a glaring omission which opens the door for almost
any type of products liability case to be filed under the Mississippi
Consumer Protection Act.
These issues were settled when the Legislature passed comprehensive
tort reform in 2004. HB 1240 would undermine that effective law.
There are components of House Bill 1240 which have merit that I
encourage the Legislature to reconsider. I support the creation of a
list of defective childrenâ€™s products and this list should be made
available at no cost and over the internet to the general public, day
care facilities, family child care homes, and licensed pediatricians.
Given their roles in protecting the health and welfare of children and
their daily interaction with child care facilities, this is a natural
fit for either the Department of Health or the Department of Human
For these reasons, I encourage the members to reject House Bill 1240
and to sustain my veto.