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Updated June 18, 2018

CPSC Notification Requirements, Recalls and Recent Enforcement Actions: Desk Reference for Section 15 of the Consumer Product Safety Act

Desk Reference

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC or the Commission) is a small federal agency with a big job: protecting consumers from unreasonable risks of injury from more than 15,000 types of products. With a budget request for fiscal year 2019 of approximately $123 million and 538 employees1— tiny by federal government standards — CPSC uses safety data submitted by companies pursuant to the notification requirements in Section 15 of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) to help carry out the agency's mandate.2 Further, following implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), which increased dramatically the maximum penalties for noncompliance,3 CPSC has been aggressively pursuing multi-million dollar penalties for alleged late reporting and other violations.

Congress created CPSC as an independent commission, which means that it does not report to the President either directly or through any department or agency of the federal government. CPSC can have up to five Commissioners, one of whom serves as Chair, and only three of whom can be from the same political party. CPSC's Chair and Commissioners are appointed by the President for seven-year terms with the advice and consent of the Senate.4 Ann Marie Buerkle became Acting Chair in February 2017, and has been nominated to fill the position.5 As of June 15, 2018,6 there is a 2-2 split between Republicans and Democrats on the Commission, which will change to a 3-2 Republican majority upon Senate confirmation of a nominee to fill the remaining commissioner vacancy.7

This article first explains the Section 15 notification requirements, including the broad scope of CPSC's jurisdiction, and then discusses routes to a product safety recall, reporting and recall trends, and penalties and injunctive relief for late reporting.

© Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP 2018 All Rights Reserved. This Desk Reference is intended to be a general summary of the law and does not constitute legal advice. You should consult with counsel to determine applicable legal requirements in a specific fact situation.

  1. CPSC, Fiscal Year 2019 Performance Budget Request to Congress, Feb. 12, 2018.

  2. Pub. L. No. 92-573, 86 Stat. 1207 (1972), codified at 15 U.S.C. §§ 2051-2089.

  3. Pub. L. No. 110-314, § 217, 122 Stat. 3016, 3058 (2008).

  4. 15 U.S.C. § 2053.

  5. See PN825 — 115th Congress (2017-2018), Nomination of Ann Marie Buerkle to be Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (July 27, 2017); PN1361 — 115th Congress (2017-2018), Nomination of Ann Marie Buerkle to be Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (Jan. 8, 2018).

  6. On May 22, 2018, the Senate confirmed Dana Baiocco's appointment to fill the position that had been held by Commissioner Marietta Robinson. See PN1358 — 115th Congress (2017-2018), Confirmation of Dana Baiocco to be a Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (May 22, 2018); PN1358 — 115th Congress (2017-2018).

  7. See PN2048 — 115th Congress (2017- 2018); Nomination of Peter A. Feldman to be Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission for the remainder of the term expiring October 26, 2019 (June 4, 2018).

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