The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (“CPSC”) product safety database suffered its first successful legal challenge in a recent ruling by a Maryland federal judge. U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr.’s opinion in Company Doe v. Inez Tenenbaum et al., No. 8:11-cv-02958-AW, echoes the concerns that product manufacturers have voiced since the implementation of the CPSC database in March 2011 and may cause the CPSC to more closely vet the accuracy of product complaints submitted by the public.
The CPSC database, launched on March 11, 2011, allows the public to submit reports of harm involving a consumer product directly to a publicly searchable database, accessible at www.saferproducts.gov. After being notified of a complaint, a product manufacturer, importer, or private labeler, has ten days to challenge the accuracy of the report before it is published by the CPSC in its product safety database. Even if the accuracy of a report is challenged, the CPSC makes the final decision regarding the wording of a published complaint. The CPSC database features the prominent disclaimer that the “CPSC does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the contents” of the database. However, this disclaimer provides little solace when a complaint is wrongly linked with a product.
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