The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) presented 2012 chair Cally Coleman Fromme, president and CEO of Zarsky Lumber Company in Victoria, Texas, with the 2013 Grassroots Dealer of the Year award during the ProDealer Industry Summit in Nashville, Tenn.
Fromme earned the award for her efforts in helping to reintroduce the Innocent Sellers Fairness Act (H.R. 2746), a top legislative priority for the NLBMDA. The bill provides product liability protection to those businesses that sell products, but did not manufacture them.
Fromme’s outreach to Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), in building support for the legislation, was critical to its reintroduction. Farenthold, a member of the House Committee on Judiciary, has worked to protect Americans from abusive litigation, and became familiar with the Innocent Sellers Fairness Act after meeting with Fromme about the legislation. His reintroduction of the legislation is an important step in addressing lawsuit abuse.
“NLBMDA is appreciative of Congressman Farenthold's work to bring balance back to our legal system," said Fromme. "Retailers whose only role in the supply chain is the sale of a product should not be held liable for product defects that they did not create."
Unfounded and unfair lawsuits are increasingly having a negative effect on the ability of building material dealers and distributors to run their businesses and contribute to their communities. According to a 2010 study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, small businesses bear 81% of business tort liability costs. The high costs of defending product liability lawsuits have caused many building material dealers to settle, regardless of the merits of the case.
"NLBMDA thanks Cally for her continued work in helping lumber and building material dealers," said 2013 NLBMDA chair Chuck Bankston, president of Bankston Lumber Company in Barnesville, Ga. "Abusive product liability cases are part of a growing litigation burden, and we appreciate Congressman Farenthold's leadership on this issue."