Legal Review: Senator Alleges Consumer Protection Agency Failing at Its Job

By Personal Injury Attorney Gary Massey of Massey & Associates, PC

Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, is questioning whether the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is doing its due diligence to protect consumers against dangerous and defective products.

Cantwell worked with minority party staff members of the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to produce a report detailing instances where they allege the CPSC has inexcusably failed to protect the American public.

In at least three separate cases, the report alleges, the CPSC showed inappropriate deference to regulated industry interests at the expense of the public that the CPSC is tasked with protecting.

Specifically, the report identifies 200 different instances where wheels fell off a Britax B.O.B. jogging stroller, causing injuries. As a result of the 2018 settlement between Britax and the agency, the company offered the almost 500,000 stroller owners the option to receive a replacement part or receive a 20% discount on a new jogging stroller. The strollers, notably, were not replaced or refunded.

This response came after agency leadership reportedly ignored warnings from its staff, calling for an immediate recall for the defective and dangerous product.

Similarly, a Fisher-Price inclined infant sleeper known as a Rock ‘n’ Play was linked to numerous deaths before the CPSC took any action. In April of last year, Fisher-Price publicly announced that the sleeper was connected to the deaths of 10 babies. It was not until the American Academy of Pediatrics pointed to a Consumer Reports study identifying 32 associated infant deaths that the agency mandated a recall by the company.

The committee report also discusses the CPSC’s response to known hazards relating to residential elevators. The report asserts that the agency has shifted responsibility and blame to state regulators and families, away from the manufacturers themselves.

Senator Cantwell alleges that the agency whose mission is supposed to be protecting consumers and families from dangerous defective products is instead cozying up with the industry groups it is tasked with regulating. She reiterates that the public should feel confident in the safety of products available to them on the market and that real remedies should be made in cases of faulty products.

The CPSC declined to comment on the report.

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