NMMA supports Recreational Marine Preservation Act

WASHINGTON – The National Marine Manufacturers Association is supporting a bill in Congress that it says will help curb frivolous lawsuits.

H.R. 5256, the Recreational Marine Preservation Act of 2006, introduced by Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), seeks to stop fraudulent lawsuits brought by boat owners for products well past their use, or in some extreme cases, for boats that should legitimately be labeled as salvage, NMMA said.

In 1971, Congress passed the Federal Boat Safety Act, which authorizes the United States Coast Guard to establish construction and performance standards for manufacturers of recreational boats. The U.S. Coast Guard recognized the reasonable life spans of recreational boats with respect to the repair and replacement of legitimate defects in its regulations.

In essence, the Coast Guard understood that a manufacturer should not, and is not, required to provide notification of a defect after ten years from the date of original certification of the boat. This new bill, H.R. 5256, would create a recreational marine industry statute of repose recognizing normal operation, “wear and tear,” based on this ten-year cut-off, NMMA said.

“Like all durable goods, recreational boats are built for many years of enjoyable and safe use, but not indefinitely,” said Monita Fontaine, NMMA Vice President of Government Relations. “If we’re going to promote high standards we also need to prevent manufacturers from having to defend an action brought many years after the completion and successful operation of a product.”

H.R. 5256 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee after introduction, and NMMA said it would work to educate members of Congress on the importance of passing this legislation before the close of the 109th Congress.

“The recreational marine manufacturing industry is recognized time and again for its commitment to quality, and the long life spans of boats in use today is a testament to those high standards of craftsmanship,” said NMMA President Thom Dammrich. “We urge Congress to pass this legislation and protect our manufacturers from unreasonable litigation.”

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