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历年考研英语阅读理解1999年01

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[00:03.78]1999 Passage1

[00:11.56]It's a rough world out there.

[00:13.67]Step outside and you could break a leg

[00:16.32]slipping on your doormat.

[00:18.20]Light up the stove

[00:19.59]and you could burn down the house.

[00:22.66]Luckily, if the doormat or stove failed to warn

[00:26.29]of coming disaster, a successful lawsuit

[00:29.30]might compensate you for your troubles.

[00:31.83]Or so the thinking has gone since the early 1980s,

[00:36.26]when juries began holding more companies liable

[00:39.38]for their customers' misfortunes.

[00:42.71]Feeling threatened, companies responded

[00:45.13]by writing ever-longer warning labels,

[00:47.90]trying to anticipate every possible accident.

[00:51.64]Today, stepladders carry labels several inches long

[00:55.97]that warn, among other things,

[00:58.18]that you might-surprise! --fall off.

[01:01.72]The label on a child's Batman cape cautions

[01:04.66]that the toy "does not enable user to fly."

[01:09.59]While warnings are often appropriate and necessary

[01:13.72]--the dangers of drug interactions, for example

[01:17.12]--and many are required by state

[01:19.14]or federal regulations, it isn't clear

[01:22.24]that they actually protect the manufacturers

[01:25.55]and sellers from liability if a customer is injured.

[01:29.88]About 50 percent of the companies lose

[01:32.51]when injured customers take them to court.

[01:36.14]Now the tide appears to be turning.

[01:38.65]As personal injury claims continue as before,

[01:42.19]some courts are beginning to side with defendants,

[01:45.52]especially in cases where a warning label

[01:48.19]probably wouldn't have changed anything.

[01:51.22]In May, Julie Nimmons, president of Schutt Sports

[01:55.06]in Illinois, successfully fought a lawsuit

[01:58.20]involving a football player

[02:00.18]who was paralyzed in a game

[02:01.99]while wearing a Schutt helmet.

[02:04.42]"We're really sorry he has become paralyzed,

[02:07.34]but helmets aren't designed to prevent

[02:09.35]those kinds of injuries," says Nimmons.

[02:12.75]The jury agreed that the nature of the game,

[02:15.81]not the helmet, was the reason for the athlete's injury.

[02:19.74]At the same time, the American Law Institute

[02:23.48]--a group of judges, lawyers, and academics

[02:26.80]whose recommendations carry substantial weight

[02:29.93]--issued new guidelines for tort law stating

[02:33.13]that companies need not warn customers of obvious dangers

[02:37.78]or bombard them with a lengthy list of possible ones.

[02:42.02]"Important information can get buried

[02:44.36]in a sea of trivialities,"

[02:47.09]says a law professor at Cornell law School

[02:50.00]who helped draft the new guidelines.

[02:52.53]If the moderate end of the legal community

[02:54.74]has its way, the information on products

[02:57.27]might actually be provided for the benefit of customers

[03:01.17]and not as protection against legal liability.

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