This case involves an international manufacturer of high-powered consumer products that was interested in introducing their product in the US market. The manufacturer’s products were not compliant with ANSI standards and EVAP rules prior to their introduction into the market. Several months after the products were released, a handful of lawsuits came forth regarding injuries sustained from using the products in question. The opposition contended that the products should have been compliant with ANSI and EVAP prior to being sold domestically. The manufacturer maintained that no changes to the products were necessary in order to sell them on the US market. An industry specialist familiar with ANSI standards and EVAP rules was sought to provide insights into the concerns.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Are you familiar with ANSI standards and EVAP rules in the equipment industry?
- 2. Please describe your experience working with compliance, manufacturing, or importing of equipment.
- 3. Are you able to opine on the relevant standards and what might need to be changed in order to sell the product in the US?
Expert Witness Response E-017105
ANSI standards do not possess the force of law and compliance is voluntary. Theoretically, a manufacturer could introduce any product to market, even one with overt and obvious safety concerns. The problem becomes one of litigation when a negative event occurs in the field. OPEI is an industry group comprised of the larger manufacturers in outdoor power equipment. Each company has a representative that forms committees to write and review product standards which are then submitted to ANSI for publication. In the past, I have been the representative for one of these committees. The OPEI/ANSI standards represent the cumulative industry opinion of current best practices regarding safety and operational standardization. If a manufacturer is not ANSI compliant and becomes drawn into litigation, their position in court would likely become one of answering, “Why not?”. Non-compliance is generally regarded as willful negligence. CARB (California Air Research Board) standards related to emissions have served as the prototype for EPA standards. They do possess the force of law and can result in large penalties for a company selling products which do not meet the standards. 49-State compliance (EPA) generally trails CARB by a couple of years. In my opinion, it is wise for a manufacturer to assume this pattern will continue and to make their products CARB (50-State) compliant and be done with it. It is my opinion that the company faces challenges in bringing their machines to the U.S. market. None of these challenges are insurmountable, but if not addressed and dealt with in the correct manner, they could lead to results less than their expectations. Many international companies have failed to recognize the nuances of marketing in North America and without a local guide, and these oversights can make for very expensive, and ultimately unproductive, efforts. I believe that my experiences could help to successfully navigate and avoid a number of these hazards.