Like virtually every other institution, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was profoundly shaped in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenges of a dispersed workforce and operational uncertainty limited the agency’s operations and forced redesign of processes, from virtual Commission meetings to banners on the agency’s website warning consumers that some companies may be unable to provide recall remedies.
Continue Reading Punctuating the Product-Safety Year: A Rush of CPSC Activity at the End of a Largely Inactive 2020

We are delighted to share that this blog has received a 2020 “Go-To Thought Leadership Award” by the National Law Review for providing relevant analysis, knowledge, and thorough coverage of product liability and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) enforcement issues.

Continue Reading Schiff Recognized as “Go-To Thought Leader” on Product Liability Issues

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

In a rare move, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to pursue and potentially litigate a civil penalty matter. In an even rarer move, the CPSC has publicly disclosed the request. Acting Chairperson Bob Adler has released a statement announcing that the Commission has voted – on a bipartisan basis – to refer a case to the DOJ, and although his statement does not identify the targeted company, its industry, or even the nature of the possible violation, the vote and announcement are certain to raise eyebrows across the CPSC-regulated community.
Continue Reading Rare CPSC Penalty Referral to Department of Justice May Signal a More Aggressive Agency in the Biden Era

Now that we know that Joe Biden will take over the White House in January, the near future for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is a little clearer. Part one of this series previewed the remaining weeks of 2020. Part two looks at what we can expect once the 117th Congress convenes and President Biden takes office.
Continue Reading A Little Less Fuzzy: What to Expect from the CPSC During the Biden Era

Now that we know that Joe Biden will take over the White House in January, the near future for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is a little clearer. While there are still a couple key unknowns, namely what will happen in the rest of 2020 and how the Senate runoff elections in Georgia will turn out, we can now get closer to answering what the CPSC of 2021 and beyond will look like. Part one of this two-part series looks at what we expect to happen during the transition, including the “lame duck” congressional period. Part two explores what roles we foresee for each of the players: the Biden administration, the agency, and Congress.
Continue Reading A Little Less Fuzzy: What to Expect from the CPSC Before the Biden Era

As we recently wrote, the presidential and congressional elections will affect both the leadership and policy of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), but we won’t have a clear picture of what the future will look like until the results come in. There’s one thing, though, that we already knew: Barring a surprising shift in U.S. Senate priorities before the end of the year, the next President will have at least three opportunities to appoint a CPSC commissioner.

We now know something else: At least two of those seats will have to be filled by new people, and perhaps all three. This impending turnover creates further uncertainty for an agency whose recent history has been defined by instability. More troublingly, as noted below, if the next White House and Senate cannot find some common CPSC ground, the agency could lose its authority to act.
Continue Reading Outgoing Adler: Acting CPSC Chair Will Not Seek Re-Nomination, Adding to Agency’s Leadership Uncertainty

Recently, we wrote about how the impending presidential election might affect the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and specifically what might happen with the Commission’s current vacancy and the two more (at least[1]) that will arise during the next presidential term. Now we’ll take a look at how the upcoming congressional elections may also affect the CPSC and the companies it regulates.
Continue Reading Safety on the Hill: Prospects for CPSC Overhaul in the 117th Congress

In this two-part series, we take a close look at the uncertainties facing the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This post examines how the ongoing difficulties in confirming CPSC nominees creates an existential threat for the agency, and we look at the game plans a President Biden or re-elected President Trump could use to overcome those difficulties and keep the lights on at the CPSC. Our first post analyzed the difficulties facing nominees.

Continue Reading Lingering Uncertainties Facing the CPSC: Election Contingency Plans

From apparel companies that have shifted from making clothing to making face masks, to distilleries and breweries that are now producing hand sanitizer, to consumer goods and auto makers manufacturing ventilators and respirators, manufacturers nationwide have shifted their production lines to meet what consumers need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Continue Reading Retooling in the Midst of COVID-19: Statutory Protections for Manufacturers