Tag: Consumer Product Safety Database

CPSIA Update: First, Fix the CPSC Erratabase

From The Washington Post, ”Publicly accessible product safety database hits House roadblock“:

As part of the spending bill that passed the House on Feb. 19, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) won support for a measure to withhold money to implement the system, which is set to launch March 11. The database, which was welcomed by consumer advocates, would make public thousands of complaints received by the Consumer Product Safety Commission each year about safety problems with products, from table lamps to baby strollers.

Pompeo, backed by groups representing manufacturers, said the database would be filled with fictitious or inaccurate claims and place new financial burdens on U.S. businesses.

“This will drive jobs overseas,” Pompeo said during floor debate on his amendment. “It will increase the cost for manufacturers and consumers.”

We’ve uploaded Pompeo’s floor statement and the debate on the amendment here. For the National Association of Manfacturers’ views on the database, see this post.

The New York Times, the most irresponsible media outlet in uncritically cheering on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, fumed editorialy about manufacturers’ objections, claiming, “The concern about frivolous lawsuits is a predictable canard. The database was designed with safeguards to avoid bogus claims and keep lawyers from trawling for clients.” Right, because no trial lawyer would ever gin up bogus product complaints to shake down manufacturers.

And even if Congress intended the database to operate with safeguards, the Consumer Product Safety Commission ignored congressional intent and instead wrote a rule favored by the (often indistinguishable) litigation interests and “consumer advocates.” As CPSC Commissioner Anne Northup testified in the House recently:
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CPSIA Update: Erratabase

We’re still waiting to learn the witnesses for Thursday’s hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance Subcommittee, “Oversight of the Consumer Product Safety Commission: Product Safety in the Holiday Season.” A hearing limited to witnesses from officialdom would be a disappointment, oversight-lite.

We hope for probing questions about the CPSC’s approval last week of a fundamentally flawed product safety database. The Washington Times editorialized on the new federal regulation, “CPSC’s database of doom.” The editors write:

The Consumer Product Safety Commission finalized a new rule Nov. 24 that abandons both consumers and safety. Trial lawyers and unscrupulous business competitors, though, made out like bandits. American manufacturers and tradesmen are the ones left with empty pockets….[snip]

Trial lawyers pushing class-action suits could gin up hundreds of anonymous complaints, then point the jurors to those complaints at the “official” CPSC website as a way to feign the legitimacy of their theories that a product in question caused vast harm. “The agency does not appear to be concerned about fairness and does not care that unfounded complaints could damage the reputation of a company,” said Mrs. Nord. “The majority approach [on this and related rules] has imposed unnecessary costs on consumers, has limited their choices, has shut down businesses and has forced safe products off the market.”

Commissioner Nord correctly analyzes the troubling attitude of the majority commissioners, and The Washington Times makes a strong argument: The public is not served by a $29 million anonymous smear sheet.

Also, thanks, WT, for the mention of the NAM’s work on the issue.

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