Fixing Consumer Product Safety Laws: A Legal Roundup

 

From law firm Warner Norcross & Judd: “On Friday, August 12, 2011, President Obama signed into law H.R.2715, a bill to ‘fix’ what Congress described as ‘unintended consequences’ of the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). While the reform bill is not everything that industry had hoped for, it will provide some clarity and relief from certain CPSI requirements.” 

Read the entire alert here: New law seeks to fix Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

Additional Updates

Congress Eases Burden of Consumer Product Safety Law (Joanne Murray):

“Congress recently passed an amendment to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act that will ease the burden of compliance with safety regulations (particularly in the areas of lead content, third party testing, phthalates, and tracking labels). This amendment provides the CPSC with greater authority and discretion in enforcing consumer product safety laws. The legislation offers much-needed clarification and relief for some consumer product and toy manufacturers but does not contain the industry-friendly provisions included in prior bills.” Read more»

Summary of Enhancing CPSC Authority and Discretion Act of 2011 (Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC):

“…CPSC is required to ask consumers submitting a “report of harm” for the model or serial number of the product or, if not available, a photograph of the product if this information was omitted from the original report and relay immediately that information to the manufacturer. Nevertheless, CPSC must publish the report on the 15th business day after receipt, even without such information. CPSC may not (1) delay transmission of a report to the manufacturer or private labeler until it has received such information or (2) make a report’s inclusion in the database contingent upon the availability of such information.” Read more»

Other Product Safety Guidance and Analysis

New CPSC Database Raises Regulatory Risks and Product Liability Exposure (Venable LLP):

“Manufacturers and private-label distributors that do not regularly monitor developments at the Consumer Product Safety Commission may find themselves doing an abrupt about-face since SaferProducts.gov, a publicly available, searchable database created by new regulations promulgated by the CPSC, began operation in March. The database will contain safety information about all products under the CPSC’s jurisdiction, including many products that companies may not think fall into that category.” Read more»

Manufacturers Should Carefully Monitor the New Consumer Product Safety Information Database (Sedgwick LLP):

“For several decades, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has gathered and maintained a database of consumer complaints related to death, injury and diseases allegedly caused by consumer products. Such information was accessible to the public via the Freedom of Information Act after reasonable steps were followed to ensure fairness and accuracy, and after the manufacturer had a chance to investigate and comment on the incident. In contrast, the rules recently promulgated by the CPSC have created new disclosure requirements for consumer product safety-related incident reports that provide much less protection for manufacturers and potentially open the door for fraud, abuse and a significant increase in litigation.” Read more»

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Set to Further Reduce Lead Content Limit for All Children’s Products (Morrison & Foerster LLP):

“In the wake of several toy recalls, the federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (‘CPSIA’) imposed far-reaching requirements on consumer product manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers. Although its provisions have the potential to affect all members of the consumer product industry, the main focus of the CPSIA upon enactment was limiting the lead content of ‘children’s products.’ Under the CPSIA, a ‘children’s product’ is a consumer product primarily designed or intended for use by children ages 12 and under.” Read more»

Far-Reaching Button Cell and Lithium Battery Law in the Works (Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP):

“The proposed Button Cell Battery Safety Act of 2011 would require warning labels and more secure battery compartments to lessen the risk of children swallowing small batteries. The law would cover a wide range of products, including cell phones, smartphones, watches, cameras, remote car locks, calculators, electronic toys, and laptops. If enacted, companies will need to evaluate their product lines and take appropriate steps to make sure their product designs and marketing materials comply with the new law.” Read more»

House Committee Votes To End Funding for CPSC Database (Dechert LLP):

“…the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 mandated the creation of a consumer product safety information database, and from the beginning, there was controversy about the absence of a process for addressing false and inaccurate reports that will scare consumers, harm business, and generate no additional safety gains; the need to employ means to prevent the submission of fraudulent reports of harm while not discouraging the submission of valid reports; the importance of not putting the governmental imprimatur on voluntary data that has not been verified; and the absence of a sufficient time period allocated for manufacturers to evaluate and respond to any proposed report.” Read more»

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