CPSC Database Faces Its First Legal Challenge

Consumer Product Safety Commission

The first lawsuit in connection with the new Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) database has been filed. As we reported, the CPSC launched a website at www.saferproducts.gov to serve as a consumer products safety database. The site allows consumers to submit reports of harm or risks of harm from various products, including household products and baby gear, and to research safety information about products by searching the database of past consumer complaints.

The CPSC notifies the manufacturer within five days of any complaint filed against it. The manufacturer then has 10 days to respond to the complaint by (i) submitting a response, (ii) challenging the complaint as false, or (iii) asserting that it will disclose a trade secret. If a response is filed, it appears alongside the complaint in the database. If a manufacturer claims that a complaint is false or that it would disclose a trade secret, the CPSC uses its discretion to decide whether to withhold the complaint or publish it in the database.

The lawsuit, which was filed in a federal court in Maryland by Company Do on October 17, 2001, seeks to prevent the CPSC from publishing an incident that allegedly harmed a child. The lawsuit also seeks to keep any related evidence or documents regarding the allegations, including the identity of the company, under seal.

The database has been criticized for its potential for inaccuracy, but supporters of the website point out that because manufacturers have 10 days to respond to any complaints, there is plenty of time to correct any inaccuracies and to remove any material inaccuracies from the database before the information is made public. Moreover, manufacturers are permitted to post comments alongside any complaints.

According to a spokesman for the CPSC, as of September 2011, the CPSC received 383 material inaccuracy claims from companies, 204 of which involved a consumer naming the wrong company a mistake that be easily corrected.

The Chicago product liability attorneys at Ankin Law represent a number of clients in connection with product liability and personal injury lawsuits stemming from defective or dangerous products. If you have been injured by an unsafe product, contact us to discuss how we can help you protect your legal rights and obtain the compensation you deserve.

Howard Ankin of Ankin Law (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and howard@ankinlaw.com.


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