Retailers in Colorado might well escape any liability for a consumer’s illnesses if Colorado House Bill 11-1190 becomes law – even if the manufacturer is bankrupt or from a foreign country. According to a summary of the Bill:

Screen shot 2011-02-16 at 6.33.58 AM.pngThe bill applies to a product liability action brought against a food retailer who is not a manufacturer of food but who is deemed to be the manufacturer of the food because jurisdiction cannot be obtained over the manufacturer. The bill limits the liability of food retailers who are deemed manufacturers for causing an injured party to suffer a food-borne illness unless the injured party establishes that:

1. The food retailer introduced into the food the contaminant, agent, defect, or mechanism producing the food-borne illness; or

2. The food retailer has actual knowledge at the time of the sale that the food contained the contaminant, agent, defect, or mechanism producing the food-borne illness or was subject to a recall.

So, to put this in context:

A retailer that purchased Salmonella-tainted peanut butter from bankrupt PCA would bear no responsibility for injuries to victims, even if the retailer never visited the PCA plant and never cared what type of conditions the peanut products were being produced, and even if the victim had no other recourse for compensation.

A retailer that purchased melamine-tainted food from China would also escape all liability to victims even though the retailer profited from the sale.

This is a bad law and one that likely was drafted for a particular retailer in Colorado. Which one is the question that needs to be answered and what is that retailers relationship to the legislators who authored this bill.