CPSC Enforcement Actions
Summary: This page is devoted to giving a flavor for how CPSC enforces its regulations. Segments of various
press releases, some of them old, explain a few of the details of CPSC recalls and provide a sample of the penalties paid
by manufacturers for violations. For more recent penalty assessments in the worst cases, see our CPSC Jail Page.
CPSC Issues Safety Alert on Bassinets
August 28, 2008
New legislation giving CPSC new powers to act when a firm will not recall its product made it possible for the agency to
a "Safety Alert"
on Simplicity 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 convertible bassinets. The press release says "CPSC is issuing this
safety alert because SFCA Inc., the company which purchased all of Simplicity Inc.'s assets at public auction in April
2008, has refused to cooperate with the government and recall the products. SFCA maintains that it is not responsible for
products previously manufactured by Simplicity Inc." CPSC announced that Wal-Mart, Toys "R" Us, Kmart, Big Lots!, Target
and J.C. Penney have all agreed to pull the product from their stores.
CPSC will be explaining this action further in a conference already scheduled in Washington for the first week in
September. We are attending and should eventually have an update on the significance of this action.
For Immediate Release
February 6, 1998
Release # 98-063
CPSC Earns "Hammer" Award for Fast Track Product Recall Program
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC) staff today received its fourth "Hammer" Award from Vice President Albert Gore's National
Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR) for the Fast Track Product Recall Program. This award honors federal
employees for significant improvements to customer service and for making the government work more efficiently.
"The Consumer Product Safety Commission has taken a common-sense approach to the way government operates," Vice President
Gore said. "This new initiative created by front-line employees enhances product safety for American consumers."
Under the Fast Track Product Recall Program, a company suspecting a product could be hazardous can voluntarily report it
to CPSC and propose a plan for recall. If the CPSC staff considers the firm's plan satisfactory and finds no other cause
for concern in its review, it approves the plan and works with the firm to expedite the recall to begin within 20 days of
the initial report to CPSC. This saves the government and companies time and money, and gets dangerous products out of
the marketplace in a matter of weeks instead of months.
"By working cooperatively with industry for their mutual benefit, CPSC has improved its effectiveness, cut red tape and
speeded up recalls," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "Getting hazardous products out of consumers' hands faster saves lives
and prevents injuries."
By law, companies are required to report the discovery of a potential product defect to CPSC. Under its standard
procedure, CPSC staff's first step is to determine whether there is a defect that might result in injury. If there is a
defect, the staff then negotiates a voluntary recall or repair program with the company. This process can take 90 to 120
days. Under the Fast Track program, there is no preliminary determination of a defect and the product is recalled within
20 working days.
Since CPSC instituted the pilot program in August 1995, it has approved more than 228 expedited recalls affecting nearly
19 million potentially defective product units. The Commission voted March 24, 1997 to make the program permanent.
Companies have reacted positively to the new Fast Track program. "This is overall a very good program -- very smart,"
said Peter Winik, an attorney who has represented a number of manufacturers involved in the Fast Track program. "It is a
more streamlined process for companies and the government."
"Getting the Hammer Award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff who are continually striving to
improve our service to the American people," Brown said.
The $6 hammer mounted on a plaque, with a little red, white and blue ribbon and a handwritten note, is a symbolic answer
to the $600 hammer of yesterday's government.
For Immediate Release
February 9, 1998
Release # 98-064
Century Products to Pay $225,000 Civil Penalty
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
(CPSC) announced today that Century Products Company of Macedonia, Ohio, has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $225,000 to
settle allegations that it violated the Consumer Product Safety Act by failing to report in a timely manner defects with
certain cribs and strollers.
Just before the Bush administration replacement of activist Commission chair Ann Brown with the more conservative Mary
Sheila Gall (originally appointed by the elder Bush in 1991), CPSC sued the world's largest retailer.
For Immediate Release
May 25, 2001
Release # 01-161
Wal-Mart and Exercise Equipment Manufacturer Sued for Not Reporting Product Defects; CPSC, Justice Department Seek $9
Million in Fines
WASHINGTON, D.C.- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that the CPSC
and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are suing Wal-Mart Stores Inc., of Bentonville, Ark., two of its subsidiaries, and
Icon Health & Fitness Inc., of Logan, Utah, for failing to report serious safety hazards associated with home exercise
equipment. Many of the incidents occurred at Wal-Mart stores while customers were trying out the equipment. The lawsuit
seeks fines of up to $9 million from the companies. This is the first time that the government has sued a retailer in
federal court for failing to report product-related injuries.
CPSC and DOJ are charging that the companies failed to report a dangerous defect with Weider and Weslo exercise gliders
manufactured by Icon and distributed by Wal-Mart and its subsidiaries between 1996 and 1999, even after the companies had
been notified of dozens of injuries caused by the equipment. Icon manufactured 75,000 of the gliders, many of which were
distributed by the Wal-Mart companies nationwide. Under the Consumer Product Safety Act, manufacturers, distributors and
retailers are required to report to CPSC products that have a defect that could create a substantial risk of injury to
the public or that present an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death. The Weider and Weslo exercise gliders had a
defect that allowed the seat to collapse during use, causing the user to fall abruptly and suffer severe injuries.
Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, and Icon began to receive information about injuries in the summer of 1996. The
lawsuit alleges that Wal-Mart, its subsidiaries, and Icon were aware of dozens of injuries, including fractured vertebrae
and herniated discs, but did not report them to the CPSC. Some injuries resulted in partial disability, including a
compression injury to a woman's spine that left her 50 percent permanently disabled. In April 1999, Icon recalled the
gliders in cooperation with CPSC The full story was once on the CPSC web page
they have changed the link.
We have more on penalties CPSC has exacted on our CPSC Jail Page.