CPSC Civil Penalty Update

With the 2015 calendar year almost ¾ over, it seems like a good time to take a look at the civil penalties issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) this year so far, and to compare them to prior years.  During calendar year 2015 to date, five civil penalties were issued, totaling $12.9 million.  Although two fewer civil penalties have been issued so far this year, as compared to all of 2014, the total amount of the penalties is already $725,000 more than 2014, which was a record setting year.  The $2.58 million average amount of the civil penalties is also $840,000 more than last year’s average, which was also a then record.  In addition to the total number of civil penalties issued, the only other category where 2015 trails 2014 so far is for largest penalty, $3.5 million in 2015 versus $4.3 million in 2014 (the largest ever issued).  The minimum amount of a civil penalty issued this year is $1,575,000, which is almost a million more than last year’s smallest penalty of $600,000.   It is also worth noting that the U.S. Department of Justice was involved in two of the five civil penalties in 2015.  Finally, as was the case in 2014, every 2015 civil penalty included the implementation and/or maintenance of a compliance program.  

As discussed in this Blog on numerous occasions, there is every indication that civil penalty amounts will continue to trend upward, even if the total number of civil penalties issued does not seem to be rising as quickly.  In light of these large civil penalties, CPSC-mandated compliance programs, and DOJ involvement, manufacturers would be wise to preemptively make sure they have an effective strategy in place for monitoring and reporting potential hazards to the CPSC.

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