The CPSC Online Database: "Be Careful Out There..."


In an old police television series, the precinct sergeant closed every daily briefing with the admonition, “Be careful out there.” The same could be said for the CPSC online complaint database, although not because the complaints in the database are different from the ones the CPSC has received in the past or because they are likely to contain reports of serious injuries. In fact, as Miles and Stockbridge P.C.‘s Lee Bishop and Ecomometrica‘s Steve McGonagle have explained in two well-re...
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Healthy Debate About "Recall Fatigue"


A recent article in USA Today titled “Surge in products being recalled may be numbing consumers” has exposed and enhanced a debate about “recall fatigue.”  Making sure that recalls are effective has always been more of an art than a science.  As the number of recalls grows, some are concerned that consumers will pay less attention to them. At least for the CPSC, the acceptable risk posed by a product has been going down over many years; risks that were taken for granted in the past no...
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Should You Use the Online Section 15 Report Form?


The CPSC is trying to enter the digital age, and that is basically a good thing.  “Snail mail” is a thing of the past and phone calls can be misinterpreted. But the online form the CPSC would like you to use to file initial reports of potential substantial product hazards is itself a potential hazard if you are not careful.  The form insists that you provide very specific information regarding the potential product hazard, such as the date you learned of the issue, the number of products ...
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Whistleblower Protection


A recent decision by the Department of Labor has expanded the scope of the whistleblower protection provision in the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) to manufacturers or sellers of products not regulated by the CPSC, as long as the employee has a “reasonable belief” that it is. One of the provisions in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) that gave pause to company lawyers was the so-called “whistleblower” protection provision.  Now codified at Sec. 40 of the...
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Are the "Reports of Harm" Really New...or Harmful?


The launch of the CPSC‘s online complaint database in March 2011 was the subject of much delight, or angst, depending on your point of view.  Consumer advocates and the chairman of the CPSC view the database as a new opportunity for consumers to become informed about product hazards before they are recalled.  Some have been concerned, however, that the database will be filled with misleading, fraudulent slanders, prompting a torrent of class action lawsuits and CPSC investigations. As Miles...
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