Manufacturers Checklist for California Proposition 65

  1. Determine what chemicals are found in all of your products.
    1. Look at your SDS (formerly MSDS) sheets. US manufacturers are placing California Prop 65 info on their SDS sheets. It should say whether or not the chemical needs to be listed as a California Prop 65 chemical.
    2. If the SDS sheets are not available:
      1. Contact your manufacturers and get SDS sheets to avoid OSHA issues.
      2. Contact your manufactures.
        1. Confirm that their products do not contain any chemicals on the California Prop 65 list of chemicals: https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/chemicals
        2. Get an agreement from them that if their product does contain one of the chemicals on the list or someone states that your product containing their product contains the chemicals they will either:
          1. Indemnify you
          2. Take over the litigation or claims and hold your harmless.
    3. If your manufacturer does not know or is not cooperating.
      1. Find a new manufacturer
      2. Send the product to a lab for testing
        1. I am recommending Act Labs: https://act-lab.com/
          1. Contact
            1. Devin Walton: 970 443 7825 dwalton@ad-Iab.com
            2. Michael Baker: (310) 607-0186 ext. 730 mbaker@act-lab.com
            3. Phil Bash: 562 470 7215 info@act-lab.com
          2. I get nothing from Act Lab for the referrals. (They promise me they’ll get me a beer at Interbike, but it will be a cheap one probably!)
        2. You need two things from a testing lab.
          1. You have to trust them.
          2. You have to be able to count on them in court if necessary to back up their results.
        3. I trust Act Lab. They know what they are doing, and they enjoy standing behind their results.
          1. They have testing facilities in the US and China.
  2. Based on your findings
    1. If you have chemicals in some products create the warning label for one of the chemicals found and place it on the product where the consumer can see the label before purchasing.
      1. Place the warning label on your website
      2. Place the warning label in your catalog
      3. Notify all retailers, in and out of California, of the products that must have a warning label on them.
        1. Supply the warning label to those retailers in California carrying products requiring the warning.
    2. If your product does not require a warning label.
      1. Have a beer.
  3. When does California Prop 65 not apply.
    1. If your company has ten of few employees, you do not have to post warnings on the products, however, I still would, see below.
    2. If your products containing the chemicals on the list were manufactured prior to August 30, 2018 you do not have to place the warning label on the product, but I still would, see below.
  4. Why CYA if you don’t have to.
    1. The cost of proving you don’t qualify is going to exceed the cost of complying.
      1. Attorneys and consumers cannot read UPC codes to determine the date of a manufacture.
        1. The cost to you of proving the manufacturing date is going to take time to show how the UPC code shows the manufacturing date. You may also have to supply additional documentation to support this information.
      2. Attorneys and consumers do not know how many employees you have.
        1. Unless you want to send copies of your payroll to law firms proving that you have less than ten employees is nearly impossible.
    2. The cost of proving you do not need the warning label on your product is much greater than the cost of just placing the warning label on the product.
  5. Is the warning label going to stop sales?
    1. California Consumers will not care about the warning label; it is going to be on everything they buy.
      1. Non-California consumers are going to get used to seeing it eventually, and they won’t care.
        1. I have one client shipped a product to Texas with the California warning label and had the consumer return the product because of it. Loss of one sale, that is a lot cheaper both in money and time than a lawsuit from California.

Additional Reading or Links

California Proposition 65 is a nightmare for manufacturers and as usual, manufacturer bad dreams are felt by retailers.    https://rec-law.us/2sKLYXA

Every Manufacturer worldwide selling in California must meet these new Labeling Requirements. New California Proposition 65 warnings will become effective in one year.    http://rec-law.us/2Dni4R2

Downloads

New California Proposition 65 warnings & Retailers II

California Proposition 65

CA Prop 65 Chemical list 5.18

California Proposition 65

California Prop 65 Website

Chemicals Considered or Listed Under Proposition 65    https://rec-law.us/2mCuoC8

About Proposition 65    https://rec-law.us/2M51ULV

New Proposition 65 Warnings    https://rec-law.us/2M6YqbH

If You Need Help

Information and Agreement to Review Your Products and Product Information Foreign Imports    https://rec-law.us/2M8hExw

Information and Agreement to Review Your Products and Product Information Foreign Imports    https://rec-law.us/2M8hExw


SFIA Partners with World Federation to Promote Global Product Labeling Database

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State laws that affect the relationship between a manufacturer and a commissioned independent sales representative

You need to make sure you understand the law if you are a manufacturer or an independent sales representative. For this chart, the following definitions shall apply.

 

Referenced in a Statute as:

Referred to Here as:

Manufacturer, Principal or Employer

Mfg.

Commissioned Sales Person, Wholesale Sales Representative, Sales Representative, Employee (Iowa)

Rep

Contract

K

The Headings used are defined or explained as:

State: This is the state where the law is applicable. Most of the statutes, however, say that a rep can sue for unpaid commissions in this state for money owed by the manufacturer in other states. Eleven states require a written contract between the Mfg. and the Rep. Three states probably require a written contract between a Mfg. and Rep. All states say that a request to pay a person a commission for a sale is a contract.

Statute Name & Number: This is the name of the statute and number of the statute. This is always linked to the statute.

K Required: This means the burden is on the Manufacturer to create a written contract. Many of the statutes require not only a signature of both parties but proof in the form of a receipt that the rep has received a copy of the contract.

Written K Controls (except non-payment issues): If there is a dispute or the written contract is different from the statute the written contract controls the payment of commissions upon termination.

Other K Requirements: Any special or unique issues in the statute that may be of importance.

Pay upon Termination: This is what the statute requires as far as commissions paid upon termination of the contract with the Rep.

Damages: If the Rep is not paid as per the contract or the statute, this sets forth the damages that a rep can recover for non-payment. Most states this is a factor of the commissions owed, which can be as much as four times the commissions owed. Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Missouri have more complicated ways of determining damages based upon the time until paid or other ways to calculate the damages.

Most states allow a rep, if successful in a suit to recover unpaid commission’s damages in excess of the commissions owed. In several cases that amount totals four times the commissions owed. If the rep is successful in recovering damages, the rep can also recover attorney fees and court costs.

Eight states allow the Mfg. to recover attorney fees and court costs if the lawsuit filed by the Rep was frivolous. Frivolous in a legal context means there was no basis for the suit. Have a claim and losing it for some reason, is not frivolous.

Most states require commissions that were earned but not due until after the termination of the Contact between the Mfg., and the Rep must be paid to the Rep.

Court Costs & Atty Fees: Either the Rep or in a few cases, the Prevailing party (winner) can recover court costs and attorney’s fees if they successfully sue for unpaid commissions.

Suit brought in a state of Rep Choice: This statute states that even though the Mfg. may not have a business location within the state, which would normally be needed to establish venue and jurisdiction over the manufacturer, the statute provides the necessary venue and jurisdiction. That means the manufacturer can be brought to suit in that state.

K can waive the statute: This means that a contract between the Rep and the Mfg. cannot waive parts of the statute, specifically the requirement on how commissions are to be paid on termination, damages, attorney fees and costs and whether and jurisdiction and venue are established.

Misc.: More unique or important sections of the statute you should know about.

 

This information is here as a starting point. Contact your attorney for additional information.

Click here to download a copy of this chart

27 state laws and short interpretations are listed below.

State Statute Name & Number K Required Written K Controls (except non-payment issues) Other K Requirements Pay upon Termination Damages Court Costs & Atty Fees Suit brought in state of Rep Choice K can waive statute Misc
Alabama Alabama Code Annotated § 8-24-1 Maybe§ 8-24-2 Yes§ 8-24-2 Contract must set forth how commission calculated and to be paid. Mft must provide copy of contract to rep§ 44-1798.01 30 Days after termination30 Days post termination§ 8-24-2(c) Three times damages§ 8-24-3 Reasonable Attorney fees and Costs§ 8-24-3 Yes§ 8-24-4 No§ 8-24-5 Rep can bring all claims against mfg in this action§ 8-24-5
Arizona Arizona Revised Statutes § 44-1798.01 Yes§ 44-1798.01 A Rep must receive a signed copy of the contract and sign a receipt acknowledging receipt of signed copy§ 44-1798.01 B Paid within 30 days§ 44-1798.02 A14 days on commissions due after termination§ 44-1798.02 B Three times the unpaid commissions owed§ 44-1798.02 C Reasonable attorney fees and costs§ 44-1798.02 D Final Settlement null & void unless paid in full§ 44-1798.02 F
Arkansas Arkansas Code of 1987
4-70-301
Yes4-70-302(a) Method of computation and payment must be in written contract4-70-302(a)Rep must receive copy of contract 4-70-302(b) If not written contract, all commissions must be paid within 30 days after termination4-70-303 3 times damages4-70-306 Reasonable attorney fees and costs4-70-306 Yes4-70-302(c)4-70-304 Waiver of statute is void4-70-305
California California Codes Annotated § 1738.10Independent Wholesale Sales Representatives Contractual Relations Act of 1990§ 1738.11 Yes§ 1738.13(a) Commission Rate, Payment dates, Territory, Territory Exceptions, ChargebacksRep must be given a copy of the contract, sign it and sign a receipt acknowledging receipt of the signed contract§ 1738.13(b) Treble DamagesFailure to pay or Failure to have written contract§ 1738.15 The Prevailing Party can recover Reasonable Attorney Fees & Costs§ 1738.16 Yes§ 1738.14 No§ 1738.13(e) Rep must receive written info of all orders, customer name and invoice numberCommission rate on each order§ 1738.13(c)
Colorado Colorado Revised Statutes 12-66-101 Probably§ 12-66-103 Treble damages12-66-103(1) Prevailing Party receives Reasonable attorney fees and costs Yes12-66-102
Illinois Sales Representative Act. Illinois Compiled Statutes Annotated § 820 ILCS 120/0.01. 13 days after termination and 13 days if commissions become payable after termination§ 820 ILCS 120/2 Exemplary damages of 3 times commissions owed§ 820 ILCS 120/3 Reasonable attorney fees and court costs to rep§ 820 ILCS 120/3 No§ 820 ILCS 120/2
Indiana Indiana Statutes Annotated 24-4-7-0.1 Must be paid within 14 days24-4-7-5(a) Exemplary Damages Three times the commissions owed24-4-7-5(b) If exemplary damages awarded, the sales rep receives reasonable attorney fees and costs24-4-7-5(c)If suit is frivolous, the mfg can receive reasonable attorney fees and costs 24-4-7-5(c) Yes24-4-7-6 No24-4-7-8 If you make an offer to pay commissions you cannot revoke the offer once the commissions are earned 24-4-7-7
Iowa Iowa Wage Payment Collection Law
Iowa Code 91A.1
5% per day for every day not paid91A.2 6 Yes if intentionally failed to pay91A.8 Only disputed amounts can be withheld, all non-disputed amounts of commissions must be paid91A.7
Louisiana Louisiana Revised Statutes § 51:441 Yes§ 51:442 A written contract supersedes statute on payment of wages§ 51:442 Rep must receive a copy of the contract§ 51:442 Per the contract or On the 30th working day after termination§ 51:443 Treble damages§ 51:444 Rep’s Attorney fees§ 51:444 Yes§ 51:445 A§ 51:445 C No§ 51:445 B Sales Rep can sue for all money owed under this statute.Statute does not prohibit other seeking other forms of relief§ 51:445 D
Maine Maine Revised Statutes Annotated § 1341 Unless otherwise in contract requires 14 days’ notice to terminate§ 1342 Payment within 30 days of termination§ 1343 Exemplary damages of 3 times commissions owed§ 1344 1 Reasonable attorney fees and costs§ 1344 1 Yes§ 1344 4 Yes§ 1343 If action was frivolous mfg can recover actual attorney fees and costs§ 1344 2
Maryland Annotated Code of Maryland
§ 3-601
Commissions must be paid within 45 days of termination§ 3-604 Can recover up to 3 times the commissions due§ 3-605(a)(1) Reasonable attorney fees and costs§ 3-605(b) Yes§ 3-606 Law cannot be waived§ 3-603 Rep must give mfg 10 days’
Massachusetts Annotated Laws of Massachusetts
Chpt 104 § 7
YesChpt 104 § 8 Commissions must be paid within 14 days of terminationChpt 104 § 8Commissions that come due after termination must be paid within 14 daysChpt 104 § 8 Willfully or knowingly fails to pay, rep can recover an additional 3 times the amount dueChpt 104 § 9 Rep can recover reasonable attorney fees and court costsChpt 104 § 9 Yes104 § 9 NoChpt 104 § 9
Michigan Michigan Compiled Laws § 600.2961 YesSec. 2961(e)(2) Commissions must be paid within 45 days of termination§ 600.2961(e)(4) Actual damages plus 2 times amount of commissions or $100K or whatever is less§ 600.2961(e)(5)(b) Rep can recover reasonable attorney fees and costs§ 600.2961(e)(5) No§ 600.2961(e)(8)
Minnesota Minnesota Statutes 181.13 Yes§ 407.912 3 days after termination181.145 Subd 2 Penalty of 1/15 per day not to exceed 15 days181.145 Subd 3 Yes181.171 Subd 3 Sales made before termination must be paid after termination181.145 Subd 5
Missouri Missouri § 407.911 Yes§ 407.912 Within 30 days of termination§ 407.912 Based on the time due till paid§ 407.913 Reasonable attorney fees and costs§ 407.913 Yes§ 407.914 No§ 407.915 Rep to be paid on commissions earned before termination but not due until after termination§ 407.912 2
Nebraska Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act Nebraska Revised Statutes Annotated § 48-1229 30 days after termination§ 48-1231(1) Court Costs and attorney fees of not less than 25% of damages§ 48-1231(1) Damages are increased if case appealed§ 48-1231(1)
New Hampshire Sales Representatives and Post-Termination Commissions New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated 339-E:1 Yes339-E:2 Commissions must be paid within 45 days of termination339-E:2 Exemplary damages of 3 times commission339-E:3 Reasonable attorney fees and costs339-E:3 Yes339-E:4 No339-E:2 & 339-E:6 Commissions must be paid on orders before termination§ 2A:61A-2If Sales Rep brings frivolous suit mfg. can recover attorney fees§ 2A:61A-3
New Jersey New Jersey Annotated Statutes
§ 2A:61A-1.
Must be paid within 30 days§ 2A:61A-2 Exemplary damages of 3 times amount of commissions owed§ 2A:61A-3 Actual and reasonable attorney fees and costs§ 2A:61A-3 Yes§ 2A:61A-5 No§ 2A:61A-6
New York New York Consolidated Laws
§ 190
Yes§ 191-b 1 Yes, K must be signed by both parties and kept on file at mfg. for 3 years§ 191 b Must be paid within 5 business days§ 191-c 1 Double damages§ 191-c 3 Prevailing party receives reasonable attorney fees and costs§ 191-c 3 Commissions must be paid at least monthly§ 191 cCommissions earned after termination must be paid§ 191-a (b)
North Carolina General Statutes of North Carolina § 66-190 Yes§ 66-190.1 30 days after termination unless rep commits malfeasance§ 66-191 2 times damages§ 66-192(a) Attorney fees actually and reasonably incurred and court costs§ 66-192(c) Yes§ 66-192(c) No§ 66-193 Commissions that come due after termination must be paid within 15 days§ 66-191
Oklahoma Sales Representatives Recognition Act Oklahoma Statutes Annotated § 675 Yes§ 677 1 14 days after termination14 days on commissions that come due after termination§ 678 A Prevailing party reasonable attorney fees and costs§ 678 B Yes§ 679 A No§ 679 B Rep can recover all claims in OK case against mfg§ 679 C
Pennsylvania Commissioned Sales Representatives Pennsylvania Statutes Annotated § 1471 Yes§ 1472 Yes§ 1475.1 14 days after termination§ 147314 days on commissions earned after termination§ 1474 2 times the commissions due§ 1475(a)(1) Cost of the suit and reasonable attorney fees§ 1475(a)(2) No§ 1476 If case is frivolous then mfg can recover reasonable attorney fees and costs§ 1475(b)
South Carolina Payment Of Post-Termination Claims To Sales Representatives South Carolina Code of Laws § 39-65-10 Seems to be.§ 39-65-20 Yes§ 39-65-20 Paid as terms of the contract§ 39-65-20 Commissions due plus 3 times damages§ 39-65-30(1) Actually and reasonably incurred attorney fees and court costs§ 39-65-30(2) Yes§ 39-65-50 No§ 39-65-70 If the suit brought by the Rep is frivolous the mfg may recover attorney fees and costs§ 39-65-40Rep may bring all actions against mfg in SC§ 39-65-60
Tennessee Tennessee Code Annotated § 47-50-114 Yes47-50-114 (b) (1) Yes§ 47-50-114(b)(1) 14 days after termination§ 47-50-114(b)(c) Mfg acting in bad faith liable for exemplary damages of treble the amount of commissions§ 47-50-114(d) Reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs§ 47-50-114(d) Yes§ 47-50-114(e) No§ 47-50-114(f) Commissions earned after termination must be paid within 14 days§ 47-50-114(b)(c)If action brought by Rep is frivolous mfg can recover attorney fees and court costs47-50-114(d)
Virginia Code of Virginia § 59.1-455 Yes§ 59.1-456 Yes§ 59.1-457 Per contract but not later than 30 days§ 59.1-457 No§ 59.1-458 Post termination commissions must be paid within 30 days§ 59.1-457
Washington Annotated Revised Code of Washington §49.48.150 Yes§49.48.160(1) Yes§49.48.160(1) Per contract but no later than 30 days§49.48.160(3) Yes§49.48.180 No§49.48.160(1)
§49.48.190
All commissions including commissions earned by not due must be paid upon termination§49.48.160
Wisconsin Wisconsin Statute § 134.93 Yes§ 134.93(3) Due upon termination§ 134.93(4) Exemplary damages 200% of the commission owed§ 134.93(5) 90 days written notice of termination must be given to rep§ 134.93(3)

If you are a manufacturer, distributor or importer hiring independent reps, make sure you have a contract that protects you from being sued in 27 other states.

If you are a rep, insist on a contract with every manufacturer you represent.

Either way, you both will be better off.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Indemnification agreements? What are you signing?

Suddenly, indemnification agreements are flying around the outdoor industry. Make sure you know what you are signing.

Indemnification agreements, either as part of another document or individually are being tossed around the outdoor industry. So far, they have all been written by non-attorneys. By that I mean they are written badly or by someone who does not understand what they are and how they work. Before you sign an indemnification agreement, you need to understand what you are signing and the ramifications of signing it.

An indemnification agreement is similar, not like, but similar, to an insurance policy. Most times an indemnification agreement says you will pay us (indemnify) for any money we spend because of your actions that have cost us money, including our costs and attorney’s fees.

An insurance policy is slightly different than indemnification policy for two reasons.

1.   An insurance policy is very specific on what if covers. If it is not written in the policy as something that is insured, then you will not get money.

2.   You pay for a policy. The amount of money you pay is based on the risk; the greater the risk, the more money you pay for the policy.

Indemnification agreements in the past have been narrow and focused on specific issues that the parties negotiate. The indemnification agreement said if something you did brings us into a lawsuit, you have to reimburse us for our costs if we are sued because of what you did. Indemnification agreements were written into contracts as part of the overall deal.

An Example would be:

A manufacturer makes a product with a defect, and the retailer is sued because of the defect by the consumer who purchased the product. The liability issues are set forth because the agreement says the retailer must be sued or there must be liability or a claim.

First Problem: Consideration

For a contract to be valid there must be consideration. Consideration is a benefit flowing from one party to the other party. Normally, consideration is money. If a contract and a course of dealing exist between two parties, if one party now wants an indemnification agreement signed, there must be new consideration. You have to pay for the new agreement to be a contract and to be binding. No consideration, no contract.

Second Problem: Overly Broad

The indemnification agreements I am seeing recently have been very broad and cover everything. There are major issues with a document this broad because it is impossible to comply with. By that I mean there are realistic limits to what can be indemnified. The major item controlling indemnification agreements is money. If you don’t have a bank account with enough cash in the account to cover the indemnification bill when it comes due, why sign the agreement to begin with?

1.   You can only sign what you can pay for.

Unless you are dealing with broken products (replacement) or fixed amounts (breach of contract), you can only sign an indemnification agreement that has limits that you can afford. If you sign an indemnification agreement knowing there are no way you can pay for it, you are creating additional problems; misrepresentation and fraud (see below). If you can’t pay the bill when it comes due, you will either file bankruptcy and or go out of business.

Make sure you know how much indemnification will cost you and whether or not you can deal with the bill. If you don’t have the cash, then you better have an insurance policy.

2.   You can only sign what your insurance policy says it will cover.

99% of the time, an indemnification agreement is really based on your insurance company stepping up and writing a check. The insurance company does that because:

A.   There is a legitimate claim covered by the policy.

B.   The claim is within the limits of the policy.

C.  The insurance company knew about the indemnification and agreed to it in advance! (Oh?)

If your policy is not broad enough, does not cover everything covered in the indemnification, you are again on the hook yourself. Your commercial policy is very different from your homeowner’s policy. Your commercial policy says it covers everything on the list of covered items in the policy. If the claim is not on the list, you have no insurance coverage.

Your insurance policy is written to pay claims, not necessarily contracts. If the indemnification is not based on a claim or legal liability, your insurance policy may just ignore the issue. The insurance company is not contractually required to pay what is not covered in the policy.

3.   If your insurance company does not know about the indemnification and agree to it, you still may not have coverage. You are back to writing a check.

Your insurance company in many cases can cover indemnification; however, many policies require knowledge in advance or in some cases need to approve indemnification. Sending an indemnification claim to an insurance company based on a contract you signed without the insurance company knowing about the indemnification agreement in advance is an easy way to get the claim denied or the policy non-renewed the next time it comes up for renewal.

4.   Signing an indemnification agreement without the ability to back it up is a misrepresentation in some states.

Misrepresentation pierces the corporate veil making you personally liable for the claims. (The sole exception to this MAYBE if you are an LLC; however several states have not ruled that an LLC can be pierced for misrepresentation and fraud.) Simply put, you sign a contract knowing you cannot complete the contract that is called misrepresentation and maybe fraud. Misrepresentation and fraud on the part of the owner of a corporation, when dealing with monetary issues, is a way to pierce the corporate veil. Piercing the corporate veil is one way of making your personal assets liable for the claims against your business.

This might be a stretch in some cases, but it is clearly within the realm of possibilities, especially if you have a lot of personal assets. Attorneys and insurance companies work harder if they know there is a payoff.

If you can’t fulfill the indemnification agreement, and you have no insurance to cover it, you better not sign it.

5.   You should not indemnify someone for something that you are not liable for.

This is simple. If you don’t owe the money, why would you say you owe the money? Many of these agreements are asking for indemnification for issues that you have no legal liability for. It is hard to be liable for how a product is used if they do not read the instructions. An example would be an employee of a retailer store is demonstrating your product without reading the instructions, attending the tech clinic or understanding the product. During the demonstration to the consumer, he injures the consumer.

Why would that be your fault and why should you pay for it? Yet a few indemnification agreements I’ve read lately would require the manufacture to pay for the injuries.

As a manufacturer you are not legally liable for that claim. It is not your fault; you were not negligent. However, the indemnification agreement you signed said you would pay for any claim based on your product. The consumer has a claim against the retailer, because of the product, but not because the product was defective. The retailer is solely liable for the claim, and you should not be.

A.  You should only indemnify someone for what you are responsible for.

Conversely, you should agree to indemnify someone for what you are liable for. If it is your fault, you should pay. Many indemnification agreements are being written because the cost of getting a manufacturer or liable party to pay up exceeds the amount owed. I understand that reasoning, and it is sound and smart.

A good example of these is: you are running an event on property owned by a third party. You accept the money for the event, set up the course, review the entrants and totally control the event. The landowner’s sole responsibility in the event was providing the land and pointing out any known or reasonably foreseeable dangers on the land.

If someone is hurt in the event and sues the landowner, the event promoter should protect the landowner.

B.  You should not indemnify someone for what you do not have control over.

If the landowner is told by the event promoter that he cannot tell the event promoter how to run the event, the landowner should not be liable. The landowner has no control over the event. Therefore, the landowner should not be liable.

The manufacturer can only be liable for the product. If the sales person working for the retailer tells the consumer that this product will save their lives and prevent all injuries contrary to the manufacturer’s warnings, manual, instructions and marketing, then the manufacturer should not pick up the tab for the injured consumer. The manufacturer had no control over the salesperson, did not even know the salesperson existed, and therefore, should not be liable for someone they have no control over.

A manufacture could be liable if they have not disclaimed the warranty of merchantability or the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, but that is for another article.

C.  You should only indemnify someone for what your insurance company agrees to indemnify someone for.

That means you should only indemnify someone for:

a.   What you can control.

b.   What you are liable for.

c.   What insurance policy says it will cover?

But they are my friends; they would never sue me based on the agreement!

They might not, but your friend may not always be in control of that agreement. Anyone who becomes a beneficiary or an owner of the contract can use the indemnification to sue you. The two best examples of this are:

A Bankruptcy Trustee: A bankruptcy trustee is an attorney whose job is to find every dime that may be owed to the bankrupt business. Any contract that has not been fulfilled, any invoice that has not been paid, and any indemnification agreement that may have money tied available, will be fair game. If the Bankruptcy Trustee can determine if the business that signed the indemnification agreement owes the bankrupt business money, the Trustee by law, must get the money back.

The Bankruptcy Trustee will sue in the name of the Bankrupt Company claiming indemnification for an earlier claim. You will think you are free and clear because the company you signed the indemnification agreement with filed bankruptcy. However, the Bankruptcy Trustee will come rowing back to the courtroom and hold you liable to the point of forcing you to file bankruptcy.

The Insurance Company under the Subrogation clause of an insurance policy believing the indemnification agreement allows them to collect from you. Every insurance policy has a subrogation clause. That means that the insurance company has the right to recover from anyone who caused the claim that the insurance company wrote a check for. Insurance companies will spend days looking for anyone who they can recover money from, and an indemnification agreement is a perfect opportunity. I would guess that 30% or more of the lawsuits in the US are insurance company subrogation claims.

Subrogation claims can be filed by worker’s comp accidents, car accidents, general liability or health insurance claims.

Again, the lawsuit will be in the name of the company you signed the indemnification agreement with, and that company has no choice. If the company does not cooperate with the insurance company, the original claim may not get paid. Insurance companies will finance the lawsuit, so there are no legal games to be played; they know what they want, and they understand the cost of getting it.

If you want Indemnification Agreements…. And you should then get them in a way that works for everyone.

Spending time money legal fees on an agreement that won’t be used or cannot be collected on is a waste of time.

1.   Be realistic.

a.   With you asking to indemnify for what

b.   What they can pay or what insurance they can purchase and afford.

c.   With what you need indemnified, with what someone other than you is legally liable for.

2.   Be prepared to offer one in return. Why should I sign yours if you are going to leave me out in the cold for any claim or liability you cause? Besides mutual indemnification, agreements take out the consideration issue if written correctly.

3.   Make sure it is signed by the right person. A corporation has officers. The board of directors of the corporation authorizes the officers to sign agreements for the corporation. An indemnification agreement is a big deal so make sure the person signing it has the authority to sign the agreement. Having a sales person or sales manager sign the agreement is a waste of trees.

4.   An indemnification agreement without a Certificate of Insurance or an Additional Insured document that is tied to the Indemnification Agreement, not just with it, is worthless.

The certificate of insurance must be legally tied to the indemnification agreement or both are worthless. There is no insurance to cover the indemnification and not money to indemnify the problem.

5.   Have an attorney write your indemnification agreement so it works.

One last point

Signing indemnification agreements may increase your insurance rates. Basically, instead of insuring you, your policy is not insuring dozens of other businesses and their employees. Your insurance company, if they continue to renew your policy, may increase your premium because the risk has increased.

(Insurance companies also do this based on the number of Additional Insured’s you issue and the coverage you make available to the Additional insured’s. Again, that is another article for another day.)

Indemnification agreements work, but only if written correctly and written with knowledge of how and why they work.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Copyright 2012 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law

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By Recreation Law          Rec-law@recreation-law.com   James H. Moss                  Jim Moss

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