Despite imposing onerous new compliance terms, the recently announced Vornado civil penalty was criticized by three commissioners as too low amid their urgent calls for larger penalties in the future. On July 7, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a $7.5 million civil penalty settlement with manufacturer of air circulation products, Vornado Air (Vornado). Vornado agreed to pay the civil penalty to resolve charges that the Company knowingly failed to immediately report allegedly defective electric space heaters to the CPSC under Section 15(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA). The Commission voted 4-0-1 to provisionally accept the settlement. Notably, three of the agency’s five commissioners published individual statements alongside the agency’s announcement of the penalty, which is atypical. The statements provide product safety stakeholders with insights on how the “new” Commission views civil penalties and its enforcement authority. 

Continue Reading “Wiping the Slate Clean”— CPSC Commissioners Signal Higher Penalties to Come in Wake of Vornado Penalty Resolution

With the beginnings of the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 brought an onslaught of retail bankruptcy cases. Lord & Taylor, Ascena Brands, Neiman Marcus and JC Penny, among many others – not less than 52 in total. As the economy recovered from the initial shock of the pandemic, the number of retail bankruptcy cases subsided in 2021. According to reports, there were 21 retail cases in 2021 as retail traffic began returning to pre-pandemic levels. 2022, however, brings new pressures on the global economy, and certain that may strike the retail industry with force. This month’s filing by Revlon put a spotlight on the industry and may portend a coming wave of filings in what has been a rather tame year for bankruptcies generally, and in retail in particular.

Continue Reading Revlon May Signal Another Wave of Retail Bankruptcies

In the first half of 2022, manufacturers have been as busy as ever navigating recalled products and fielding the class action lawsuit that often (but do not always) follow.

CPAP Litigation Finds New Defendant 

For the last year, Philips Respironics (“Philips”) has been inundated with lawsuits  brought by consumers and medical device suppliers, over its CPAP and BiPAP breathing machines. And in more recent months, SoClean, a manufacturer of sanitation machines specifically designed to work with CPAP and BiPAP sleep apnea equipment, has been defending itself against a lawsuit of its own.

Continue Reading Recall Litigation Report: 2022 Mid-Year Recap

Earlier this week, President Biden signed the Safe Sleep for Babies Act into law. The new statute does two things. First, it bans infant inclined sleepers with an inclined sleep surface greater than ten degrees that are intended for infants up to age one. Second, it bans crib bumpers. When the Act takes effect in November, both products will be considered “banned hazardous products” under Section 8 of the Consumer Product Safety Act.

These infant products have also been the subject of recent rulemaking activity by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This sets up at least one potential conflict of law. Where the Safe Sleep for Babies Act bans infant inclined sleepers intended for infants up to age one, the CPSC rule affected only sleepers intended for infants up to 5 months old.
Continue Reading President Biden Signs Safe Sleep Act, Banning Infant Inclined Sleepers and Crib Bumpers

Happy New Year! We hope that our readers had a very enjoyable and safe holiday season. Here’s a brief review of key developments concerning the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) from last month to help you stay aware of important product safety legislative and regulatory happenings.

CPSC Responds to Finnbinn’s Challenge on Infant Sleeper Rule. On December 17, the CPSC responded to Finnbinn’s challenge of its final rule applying the voluntary safety standard for inclined infant sleep products (ASTM F3118-17a) to all infant sleep products, including those that are “flat,” such as baby boxes and in-bed sleepers. In its responding brief, the CPSC asserts that Section 104 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which requires the agency to study and develop safety standards for infant and toddler products, gives CPSC the authority to set such a standard, even where no existing voluntary safety standard exists. According to the CPSC, to decide otherwise would “allow inaction by a voluntary standard-setting organization to preclude action by the Commission.” The agency further argued that its rule was supported by sufficient evidence, citing 11 deaths and 16 injuries associated with flat sleep products over a two-year span, which it maintained was an undercount. The primary dangers of these products, according to the agency, are that they can fall when placed on other pieces of furniture, and that products without strength and stability requirements can lead to babies falling out of the sleepers. Of note, a trio of consumer advocacy groups filed an amicus brief urging the court to uphold the safety standard’s application to flat sleep products. We will continue to follow and report on this litigation.
Continue Reading CPSC Insights – December 2021

Here’s a brief review of three key developments concerning the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) from the past month or so to help you stay aware of important product safety legislative and regulatory happenings.

The CPSC Has a New Commissioner. On November 16, the United States Senate confirmed Richard Trumka Jr. to a seven-year term on the Commission by voice vote. Mr. Trumka Jr. will replace long-time Commissioner Robert Adler whose term expired last month. Importantly, with Mr. Trumka Jr.’s confirmation, the Commission will remain comprised of two Democratic (Hoehn-Saric and Trumka Jr.) and two Republican (Baiocco and Feldman) Commissioners. The Democrats will not have a majority on the Commission until current Biden nominee (and CPSC Executive Director) Mary Boyle is confirmed by the Senate—and the status of that nomination remains unclear. Ms. Boyle’s nomination is not on the Senate Commerce Committee’s “Nominations Hearing” agenda for December 1. You can read more about Mr. Trumka Jr.’s confirmation in our prior post about his confirmation.
Continue Reading CPSC Insights – November 2021

A perfect storm of unprecedented stress on the global supply chain from the continuing COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the promise of increased FCPA enforcement by U.S. regulators makes this an opportune time for retailers to take stock of changes to their corruption risk profile and ensure that they adjust their compliance programs accordingly.
Continue Reading Supply Chain Pressures Trigger Escalating FCPA Risks — Impact on Retailers

In a major move by California that may be but a harbinger of a dramatic sea change in banning or severely restricting the inclusion of hundreds of chemicals present in every-day consumer goods, California just imposed upon the consumer product industry (culminating, at least most likely for 2021, right before the end of October), a sweeping range of bans that likely will fundamentally disrupt the California consumer product economy.
Continue Reading No Treats, Too Many Tricks, For PFAS This Halloween