Over the last few years, as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has moved slowly in its rulemaking efforts to address tip-overs of dressers. Without a final rule, the agency has sought to use other methods to address dresser incidents, specifically its authority to investigate potentially hazardous products and its ability to request – and even compel – recalls. The agency’s process has been straightforward: It has obtained samples of countless brands and models of dressers, tested them against the relevant voluntary standard, and, where testing suggested the samples did not meet the standard, sent letters requesting recalls.
Continue Reading Regulation-by-Enforcement: CPSC Targets Adult Portable Bed Rail Industry Company-by-Company

Current thinking from public health experts is that COVID-19 will affect the American economy for several months. But during this period businesses still have responsibilities to their brands and obligations under law. And unlike during last year’s government shutdown, the pandemic has forced government agencies like the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to operate differently, but it hasn’t closed its doors. For that reason, businesses will still have legal obligations and face the possibility of CPSC enforcement efforts.

Here are three steps companies can take to protect their brands and reduce the risk of CPSC enforcement.
Continue Reading COVID-19: Three Steps Companies Can Take to Reduce Risk of Regulatory Side Effects

Frequently the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shares big news at the annual meeting of the International Consumer Product Health & Safety Organization (ICPHSO), the body that brings together all stakeholders in the product safety space, from consumer advocates to industry to regulators. A few years ago, then-Chairman Elliot Kaye shared his desire to see penalties in the “double-digit millions.” That statement preceded – by mere weeks – the announcement of a $15.45 million penalty against Gree Electric Appliances, Inc., the maximum penalty allowed by CPSC’s statutes.
Continue Reading CPSC to Industry: Talk to Our Lawyers

“Hello.  This is an automated call from Acme Manufacturing. Our records indicate that you purchased Product X between December 2019 and January 2020. We wanted to let you know that we are recalling Product X because of a potential fire risk. Please call us or visit our website for important information on how to participate in this recall.”

When companies recall products, they do so to protect consumers.  In fact, various federal laws, including the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), and National Highway and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA), encourage (and may require) recalls. And the agencies that enforce these statutes would likely approve of the hypothetical automated call above, because direct notification is the best way to motivate consumer responses to recalls.[1]

But automated calls to protect consumers can run into a problem: the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
Continue Reading Clash of Consumer Protection Goals: Does the Text of the TCPA Frustrate the Purposes of the CPSA?

As we wrote last year when the U.S. House of Representatives was debating a series of bills on narrow issues related to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a broader push to reform the agency was likely to come in late 2019 or early 2020. Now, at least one shoe of that overhaul has dropped.
Continue Reading Taking the Safety Off: Legislation Would Eliminate Failsafe Against Inaccurate CPSC Disclosures

In an uncommon move, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on Wednesday issued a unilateral press release warning consumers of the need to anchor a particular brand and model of dressers. In its release, the CPSC wrote that it “intends to continue pressing the case for a recall with” the manufacturer.
Continue Reading Going Old School: CPSC Issues Rare Safety Warning on Dressers

Entities regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) should have greater confidence in sharing confidential business information with the agency following a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year that addressed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s duty to disclose information in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Continue Reading Private Eyes: When is Company Information Shared with the CPSC Confidential?

Of the various debates and documents that can presage the interests and activities of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the agency’s operating plan is generally the most illustrative. The CPSC adopts a new plan around the beginning of each fiscal year, laying out that year’s objectives. Last Tuesday, the Commission received a briefing from agency staff on the FY20 Op Plan. The five commissioners will now review the draft and discuss potential changes, and they will likely hold another public meeting to vote any amendments and a final plan. Presumably, that vote will occur before Commissioner Ann Marie Buerkle’s departure on October 27; once she’s gone, the body will be evenly split on party lines, and the odds of failing to reach consensus will go up.
Continue Reading First Glimpse at the CPSC’s FY2020 Plan

With uses ranging from transporting troops to increasing mobility for people with disabilities, off-road vehicles (ORVs) are being used by more people now than when the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) emerged in the 1960s. With increased demand comes increased discussion about how ORVs are regulated. And the answer is, it depends on where you live.
Continue Reading Motor Vehicles or High-Powered Toys: The Diverse Landscape of Off-Road Vehicle Regulation and Where it Might be Going

As Congress returns from its August recess, the House has plenty of work on its plate regarding the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). As we wrote previously, six bills addressing specific CPSC-regulated products are on the House floor awaiting votes. Another bill still under subcommittee consideration could help companies regulated by the CPSC, the agency itself, and consumers.

The Focusing Attention on Safety Transparency and Effective Recalls (FASTER) Act (H.R. 3169) would formalize and improve the CPSC’s Fast Track voluntary recall program. In 1995, Fast Track was a welcome and successful innovation, but recently companies have been frustrated by growing delays.
Continue Reading Will CPSC Recalls Soon Get FASTER?