Looking to Litigate in Secret? Fourth Circuit Creates Hurdles for Product Manufacturers

In April, the Fourth Circuit ruled in Company Doe v. Public Citizen that a manufacturer could not hide behind a veil of secrecy even after successfully enjoining the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from publishing an inaccurate report of harm. As a result of this ruling, Ergobaby, a company that makes and sells baby carriers, recently revealed itself as Company Doe. In light of this opinion, manufacturers must tread carefully if the CPSC attempts to publish a suspect report that could unfairly harm the manufacturer’s reputation.


The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) requires the CPSC to maintain a publicly available, searchable database on the safety of consumer products. The CPSC implemented this mandate in 2011 by establishing the website SaferProducts.gov. The purpose of the database is to provide consumers with an avenue through which to report safety hazards about certain consumer products and to enhance public access to product safety information.

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