Here’s a brief review of key developments concerning the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) from last month. We look forward to seeing many friends at the Annual Meeting and Training Symposium of ICPHSO in two weeks. For those who are unable to make the conference, our team plans to share daily insights so stay tuned for more important product safety updates!

Decisional Meeting on Clothing Storage Units Addresses “Tip-Over” Issue. On January 19, the CPSC adopted, by a 4-0 vote, staff’s recommendation to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Clothing Storage Units (CSUs) to address the “tip-over” issue. Notably, the Commission adopted two amendments to the proposed rule, both offered by Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr.

The first amendment pertained to the rule’s stockpiling provision. The rule presented by staff “prohibited manufacturers and importers of CSUs from manufacturing or importing CSUs that do not comply with the requirements of the proposed rule in any 12-month period between the date a rule is promulgated and the effective date of the rule at a rate that is greater than 120 percent of the rate at which they manufactured or imported CSUs during the base period for the manufacturer.” Trumka’s amendment defines the “base period” as one month out of the last 13 months with the median import or manufacture volume, and changes the percentage increase that is allowed under that base period from 120% to 105% in each month between the final rule and the effective date. It is intended to reduce the risk of stockpiling products. The Commission adopted the amendment by a vote of 4-0.
Continue Reading CPSC Insights – January 2022

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

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

Gree Appliance Companies Plead Guilty to Felony Charge for Failure to Report; Indicted Executives Await Trial.  In one of the most significant developments in product safety law over the past decade, Gree Electric Appliances Inc. of China, Hong Kong Gree Electric Appliances Sales Co. Ltd., and Gree USA Inc. (the “Gree Companies”), a global appliance manufacturer, have pleaded guilty to willfully failing to report to the CPSC under Section 15(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act.  According to the DOJ and CPSC, the Gree Companies knew their dehumidifiers were defective, failed to meet applicable safety standards, and could catch fire, but failed to report that information to the CPSC for months.  Section 19 of the CPSA makes it unlawful to fail to furnish information required by Section 15(b), and that failure is subject to civil and criminal penalties.  While CPSC civil penalties (or at least investigations) have become fairly routine—indeed, the Gree Companies paid a then-record $15.45 million civil penalty in 2016—this is the first corporate criminal enforcement action brought under the CPSA by the GovernmentAs part of the Gree Companies’ plea agreement, they will pay a $91 million penalty.  Two Gree executives have been charged criminally by the DOJ as well, and await trial, scheduled for March 2022.  Stay tuned for a full analysis from the Crowell product safety team.
Continue Reading CPSC Insights – October 2021

Here’s a brief review of 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.

Commissioner Elliot Kaye Departs the Commission.  In late August, Commissioner (and former Chairman) Elliot Kaye announced his departure from the agency to assume a senior position at Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen.  Kaye, whose term had expired in October 2020, was serving in his “hold-over” year pending the confirmation of a new commissioner.  As a result of Kaye’s departure, there are currently two Republicans on the Commission (Dana Baiocco and Peter Feldman) and one Democrat—Acting Chairman Robert Adler.  This political dynamic, similar to when the Democrats held a majority of commissioner seats during the Trump Administration, has already caused some partisan maneuvering and angst at the agency (see Vote on FY22 Operations Plan story below).  However, this 2-1 split in favor of the Republicans will not last for long.  Read on!
Continue Reading CPSC Insights – September 2021