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View Diary: Walmart - this is going to leave a mark or Wal-Mart Nixed Paying Bangladesh Suppliers to Fight Fire (66 comments)

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  •  tjlord - the liability chain here is challenging (15+ / 0-)

    The factory was a sub contractor of a sub contractor for many brands, not just Walmart. One of many reasons why brands don't manufacture their own products in the US is to shield the brand from US regulations, and potential liability in US courts. The families of the victims of this tragedy have a big mountain to climb to try and obtain any recovery in any court, but particularly US courts. This document is damaging but there is no law or regulation that compels brands to pay a premium for safety improvements. In theory the manufacturer should bid at a price that allows it to conform to local safety standards or guidelines provided by the brands.  

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 08:53:08 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Liability (4+ / 0-)

      I don't think you'd have much of a problem proving that Walmart made the decision on behalf of the subcontractor.  If Walmart said no to increased safety requirments, then Walmart was establishing business practices for the subcontractor and therefore Walmart can be held liable.

      •  According to the article (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        there were other retailers involved; it seems that GAP had not agreed to upgrade at that time as well.

        "The ignorant mind, with its infinite afflictions, passions, and evils, is rooted in the three poisons. Greed, anger, and delusion." - Bodhidharma

        by hopesprings on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 10:25:26 AM PST

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      •  Jeremy - I don't agree (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lina, MGross, goodpractice

        You might have a point if the sub-contractor was making exclusively Walmart brands. However, both the contractor and sub-contractor were manufacturing for multiple parties and the contract prices reflected a transaction with an unrelated third party, not dictated by a single vendor. In addition, Walmart claims it had not approved this specific location and didn't know it was being used to manufacture their brands. Sears, Gap, Disney and even the US Marines (all with brands found in the facility) claim they didn't know this location was being used. I don't think the facts in this case are favorable for the victims. Few countries allow contingency law suits so I don't know how a case would be pursued in Bangladesh and the possibility of winning in the US are remote, in my view. However, there is likely to be a contingency lawsuit in the US so it will be interesting to follow.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 10:31:27 AM PST

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        •  It's like that old anti-Tammany Hall cartoon (5+ / 0-)

          where the perps are standing in a circle, each pointing at his neighbor, in response to a question like "Who stole the people's money?"

          "We must become the change we want to see." -Gandhi

          by larryrant on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 10:39:06 AM PST

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        •  you are correct- too tangential (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib, MGross, goodpractice, elwior, FG

          Walmart put its products out to bid.  The manufacturer had the low bid in part due to its low labor costs and its lack of safety features.  Walmart and Gap and any other purchaser of these products are not liable for the mistakes of the manufacturer.

        •  The fact that they werent soley in business with (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elwior, glorificus

          Walmart doesn't mean Walmart is excluded from liability.  Any other company that prevented these changes from being implemented would be equally liable, but the presence of other parties doesn't limit Walmarts liability.  Also, they can say they didn't approve this location, but if its true that they told them not to add more safety features I don't see how they can deny knowledge that their work was being done there.

          I work for a company that has Offshore developers and I know that we have to explicitly state in our contracts with them that we can in no way dictate the work environment.  

          Forgive me if more info has come out recently I haven't gotten my news update for the afternoon yet.

          •  Jeremy - no new facts that I have seen (0+ / 0-)

            I think the challenge for the lawyers representing the victims is finding a venue where they can succeed. I think the US will be a hostile venue for them. What Walmart, and others, have is a set of generic safety standards that they expect their contractors to meet. They don't have an affirmative obligation to inspect the facilities to be certain they are always in compliance.

            I imagine that your company does not have any legal obligation for the occupational safety of its offshore developers.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 01:09:57 PM PST

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            •  I agree. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              A venue would be very difficult.  US courts would be reticent to allow foreign citizens to sue US companies because that would open the door for thousands of lawsuits.  I would be interested to see what the laws of Bangladesh say (although I imagine not much considering they want more people to invest there).  This is one of the tragedies of the Neo-Liberal reforms that have been implemented in third world countries.

              And while my company has no legal obligation for the safety of the ODCs we also can't tell them how to conduct themselves.  So if we told them how to conduct their business in any way legally they might not be considered to be subcontractors at that point.

              International law is confusing as all hell (considering its not really law).

      •  The specific upgrades need to be known as well (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I read that some doors were locked preventing escape.  That is not a fault of inadequate or unsafe facilities but criminal negligence.  
        We need to know what specific upgrades were needed and the priorities.  First on the list would be adequate egress (size and number and location of exit doors)
        next would be sprinklers, and next would be fire/smoke alarms.
        It's a long list, but ascribing specific fault and liability for missing or compromised facilities is not clear yet.

        There are very few subjects which do not interest or fascinate me.

        by NYFM on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 10:50:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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