Thursday, August 04, 2005

What Part of "Illegal" Don't They Understand?

From the Houston Chronicle:

"Relatives of seven immigrants who died in a nearly airtight truck trailer as they were being smuggled into Texas in one of the country's deadliest human-trafficking accidents have sued the truck driver and the trailer owner and manufacturer in federal court.

"The lawsuits allege that Great Dane Trailers 'manufactured and designed the trailer to be used without any warnings, safety precautions or human escape mechanisms. The design of the trailer allowed operators, occupants and/or passengers to be trapped inside the trailer and yet have no rescue hatch, pull string or other escape mechanism thus placing trapped occupants of the trailer in danger of suffocation or death. There were no warnings, instructions, decals or other means of warning of the dangers of transporting individuals inside the trailer nor where (sic) there safety switches within the trailer to allow escape in case of emergency.'"

You've seen Great Dane Trailers on your local interstate. They are designed for carrying cargo--furniture, electronics, apparel, auto parts. There are no warnings inside about the dangers of transporting individuals inside the trailers because they aren't designed to carry them. (And we wonder why there are wacky warning labels on things.)

But, while I agree the owner and driver of the tractor-trailer should be prosecuted for murder, suing Great Dane makes no sense. If the seven immigrants would still be alive had they entered this country legally. They chose to break our law and get into a truck with no ventilation or means of escape. (If there were, would those labels have to be in Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic as well?) What legal standing do the families have to sue a third party in federal court? Can a foreign national file a civil suit in the U.S.?

I'm not big on using the law to solve every problem. But, since common sense appears to be more and more uncommon in the legal profession, we may need a law that says that if you are killed or injured in the commission of a felony, you and/or your heirs lose your right to sue. And entering this country illegally--or staying past your visa--should be a felony.

(H/T: LaShawn Barber)