Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

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

This afternoon, CPSC Chairman Alexander Hoehn-Saric gave remarks to the annual conference of the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO). As many of our readers know, the Senate confirmed Mr. Hoehn-Saric on October 7, 2021 to a six-year term. This was Hoehn-Saric’s first year addressing the annual ICPHSO conference.

Notably, Chairman Hoehn-Saric picked up right where then-Acting Chairman Robert Adler left off at the 2021 annual conference—the need for the agency to approach product safety from a variety of diverse viewpoints. The Chairman cited startling statistics concerning the significantly higher rates at which African Americans drown in swimming pools and minorities suffer from CO exposure from portable generators than their White counterparts. The Chairman stated that targeting underserved, often minority, communities would be a priority for the Commission in the months and years ahead.
Continue Reading Live from ICPHSO – New CPSC Chairman Hoehn-Saric Addresses Annual Conference

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

Supply chain issues are a top concern for many companies across industries and markets. Please join Crowell & Moring for a webinar series that explores these issues and provides insights on the various legal and tactical considerations as companies think about supply chain disruption, impacts, and solutions.

Torts & Product Liability Issues
Wednesday, January 12,

Recalls in Review: A monthly spotlight on the trending regulatory enforcement issues at the CPSC.

With the winter holiday season approaching, many families are looking forward to hard-earned vacations and fun activities with their loved ones. And many will be looking to ride, rent, or purchase recreational vehicles for some fun—from all-terrain vehicles (“ATVs”) and golf cars to off-road motorcycles and snowmobiles. Thus, as we head into the winter season, we turn our attention to Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) regulatory actions involving recreational and utility vehicles for this month’s installment of “Recalls in Review.”
Continue Reading Recalls in Review: Recreational and Utility Vehicles

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

On Tuesday evening, the United States Senate confirmed Richard Trumka Jr. to a seven-year term on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) by voice vote. Mr. Trumka Jr. will replace long-time Commissioner Bob 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.
Continue Reading Senate Confirms Trumka Jr. for Consumer Product Safety Commission; Adler to Retire After Twelve Year Run as Commissioner and Lifetime of Service to Agency

In one of the most significant developments in product safety law over the past decade, Gree Electric Appliances Inc. of Zhuhai, Hong Kong Gree Electric Appliances Sales Co. Ltd., and Gree USA Inc. (the “Gree Companies”), an appliance manufacturer and two of its subsidiaries, have pled guilty to willfully failing to report to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) under Section 15(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA). According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the CPSC, the Gree Companies knew their dehumidifiers were defective, failed to meet applicable safety standards, and could catch fire, but failed to timely report that information to the CPSC. Section 19 of the CPSA makes it unlawful to fail to furnish information required by Section 15(b), and such failures are subject to both civil and criminal penalties. While CPSC civil penalties have become fairly routine—the Gree Companies also paid a then-record $15.45 million civil penalty in 2016—this is the first corporate criminal enforcement action brought under the CPSA, according to the DOJ. 
Continue Reading Silence Isn’t Golden: Failure to Report Consumer Product Safety Issues Results in Rare $91 Million Criminal Penalty

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