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

It’s hard to miss news headlines lately noting CPSC actions involving infant reclined sleepers.  In today’s installment of “Recalls in Review,” we look back at CPSC regulatory action involving a similar baby product –  infant cribs.

Approximately 110 recalls of cribs have been conducted since 1978. As you can see in the chart above, CPSC recalls of cribs saw a dramatic increase in 2008 (12 recalls that year) and spiked in 2010 (20 recalls that year). The increase shows the lead-up to the implementation of improved federal safety standards (16 CFR 1219 and 16 CFR 1220) enacted in June 2011 which prohibited the manufacture and sale of drop-side rail cribs, among other added safety requirements. During 2008, the most common reason for the recall was a failure to meet minimum side-height requirements of 26 inches. During 2010, the majority of recalls were due to drop-side hardware that could break or fail, posing entrapment and fall hazards. Other reasons for recalls over the years have included loose or breaking slats and spindles, chipping paint, gaps between the sides and mattress, and faulty or inadequate mattress support causing the mattress to fall. There have been no recalls of cribs since 2015.

As for post-recall enforcement, there have been five civil penalties brought against crib manufacturers and retailers, with civil fines ranging from $175,000 to $1.3 million.

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About Recalls in Review: As with all things, but particularly in retail, it is important to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s trending with consumers. Regulatory enforcement is no different – it can also be subject to pop culture trends and social media fervor. And this makes sense, as sales increase for a “trending” product, the likelihood of discovering a product defect or common consumer misuse also increases. And the CPSC is wise to focus on popular products when monitoring the marketplace for safety issues.

As product safety lawyers, part of our expertise is knowing what types of products present “hot” issues or are likely targets for regulatory attention. Through Recalls in Review, we’re happy to share our observations with you.