WASHINGTON (Sept. 8, 2000)—Angered by the recall of 6.5 million Firestone tires, two U.S. senators have introduced bills mandating criminal penalties against corporate executives who withhold information about defective products.
The bill from Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., would mandate prison terms of up to five years for people who sell defective products which cause serious injury. For those who knowingly sell a defective product which causes a death, the prison term would rise to a maximum of 15 years on a charge of second-degree murder.
The bill by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., would require tire and auto makers to report any mandatory or voluntary overseas product recalls to the Department of Transportation within two days, and also to report any significant overseas rise in deaths or serious injuries related to use of their products.
Failure to report would result in corporate penalties of up to $500,000 per day, and criminal penalties for corporate officers of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Neither bill has been scheduled for hearings, although a spokesman for Sen. Specter´s office said the senator hoped to expedite action on his legislation.