On January 25, 2024, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), introduced the Consumer Advocacy and Protection (CAP) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives (HR 7096) and U.S. Senate (S 3667). The CAP Act aims to deter companies from committing safety violations by increasing CPSC’s penalty authority.
Under current law, manufacturers, importers, and distributors of consumer products are required to report immediately to the CPSC information that reasonably supports the conclusion that a product contains a defect that could create a substantial product hazard or an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death. If violations occur, the applicable civil penalty is a maximum of $100,000 per individual violation and $15,000,000 for a series of related violations. These amounts were adjusted for inflation in 2021, reaching $120,000 per violation and $17,150,000 for a series of related violations.
The CAP Act increases the individual violation cap from $100,000 to $250,000 and would strike the maximum civil penalty cap on a series of violations. If the CAP Act becomes law, there would be no limit to the maximum fines available under the for violations of the Consumer Product Safety Act as well as other acts administered by the CPSC including the Federal Hazardous Substances Act and the Flammable Fabrics Act.
The CAP Act would also adjust the inflation review period from every five years to every year and create a new formula for inflation adjustments and set a time frame and procedures for these adjustments.
The CAP Act is cosponsored by U.S. Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) and U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM). The CAP Act is endorsed by the Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, Kids in Danger, Public Citizen, and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
Manufacturers, importers, and distributors of consumer products should be aware that higher penalties may be on the horizon for failing to report immediately to the CPSC information that reasonably supports the conclusion that a product contains a defect that could create a substantial product hazard or an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death.