There have been two significant updates on matters that we have reported on in recent months.

1) Expansive Compliance Program Required in 2nd Settlement for Untimely Reporting

As with the Kolcraft settlement we reported on last month, the newest settlement for untimely reporting of a substantial product hazard announced by the CPSC included not only a civil penalty, but the establishment of an expansive compliance program as well. Although the Kolcraft settlement involved a children’s product, and the newly announced settlement with Williams-Sonoma involved a hammock intended for adults, the compliance programs that must be established under the settlement agreements are identical. Thus, regardless of whether a company is involved in children’s products or housewares intended for adults (or presumably any other type of consumer product), the CPSC has signaled that it expects a company’s compliance program to have the following elements:

  1. written standards and policies,
  2. a mechanism for confidential employee reporting of compliance related questions to a compliance officer or to other senior manager,
  3. training on company compliance-related policies and procedures to all employees,
  4. a senior manager responsible for compliance,
  5. board oversight of compliance (if applicable), and
  6. retention of all compliance-related records for at least five years.

2) CPSC Allowed to Add CEO In Suit to Force Mandatory Recall

In the February Snapshot, we reported that the CPSC had filed suit against several manufacturers of high-powered magnet sets seeking to have the products declared “substantial product hazards” so that it may to force a recall of the products. In February, the CPSC amended its complaint against Maxfield & Oberton to name the dissolved company’s former CEO as a defendant, both “individually and in his capacity as CEO.” Although the former CEO argued that he should not be added to the suit because he could not be held individually accountable for violations under the CPSA, the administrative law judge found that the allegations against the CEO were sufficient to add him to the suit. In support of his ruling, the judge noted that other courts had found that corporate officers could be held individually liable under other public health and safety laws. 

Voluntary Recalls Announced by the CPSC in April 2013

NUMBER OF RECALLS BY PRODUCT CATEGORY

Child/Infant – 11          Housewares – 4    Sporting Goods – 3   Furniture – 2

Tools/Hardware – 2    Apparel – 1             Appliance – 1           Yard Equipment – 1

Click here to view table.

The CPSC did not announce any civil penalties in April.