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Consumer Product Safety Act

The Consumer Product Safety Act of 1972 created the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission . Under the Act, the Commission has authority to adopt consumer product safety rules. The Act requires manufacturers to place warning labels and information labels on consumer products. The Act also requires manufacturers to report defects that have caused or may cause serious injury or death. Manufacturers must also report a product that fails to comply with a consumer product safety standard. The Act creates a federal tort cause of action for a knowing violation of safety standards or the Commission’s rules. Injured persons who win a lawsuit under the Act can receive attorney fees and recover expert witness fees.

Recalls of Imminently Hazardous Products

The Act gives the Commission authority to recall products. In the case of an imminently hazardous product, the Commission can go to federal court to obtain an immediate temporary restraining order against the manufacturer of the product. An imminently hazardous product is a product presenting an immediate risk of death or serious personal injury. Examples of imminently hazardous products include an automatic pitching machine that starts even when it is turned off and an amusement park ride with defective door latches.

Recalls of Products with Substantial Risk of Injury

The Act also gives the Commission authority to recall products that create a substantial risk of injury to the public because they contain a defect or fail to comply with a Commission rule. For example, in 1998 the Commission recalled disposable cigarette lighters for violation of the Consumer Product Safety Act. The lighters did not have mechanisms to prevent children from lighting them or their child-resistant mechanisms were defective.

Corrective Action Plan

The Act gives the Commission enforcement authority. If the Commission finds that a product fails to comply with its safety rules, the Commission sends a letter informing the manufacturer of the violation and requesting it to stop distributing the product. The manufacturer is required to submit a plan to correct the violation. If an investigation reveals a product defect, the Commission notifies the manufacturer of its finding and requests the company to submit a corrective action plan. If a matter cannot be resolved with the company, the Commission holds a formal administrative hearing to determine if a recall is justified.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.


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