The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) to “set forth principles and guidelines for the content and form of voluntary recall notices that firms provide as part of corrective action plans under Section 15 of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA).” Among other things, the proposed NPR, amended from staff’s initial proposal by the Democratic commissioners, would make any corrective action plans in a recall agreement legally binding, a move that some legal experts say is likely to increase attorney involvement in recalls and keep potentially dangerous products on shelves and in homes longer. More detailed information about the proposed rule appears in the October 3, 2013, issue of this Report.
According to a news source, Commissioner Robert Adler described the change as a “minor tweak,” that most companies “would see and yawn and move on with.” Consumer-product regulatory attorneys, however, evidently expect that the agency will be inundated with comments from companies opposing the rule.
Calling it an unnecessary change to a system that has been effective for 30 years, industry insiders are apparently concerned that the proposed plan could lead to a more adversarial relationship between the CPSC and businesses, resulting in unintended drawbacks for the agency as well. One insider noted that under the proposed change companies (i) could refuse to take product-safety actions not included in the agreement, even if new information calls for it; or (ii) keep CPSC out of product recalls, providing the agency with statutorily required information only. Comments will be accepted until February 4, 2014. See Law360, November 15, 2013;Federal Register, November 21, 2013.