Congress Set to Reconcile CPSC Reform Bills

As noted in earlier postings of MassTortDefense, both the House and Senate have passed legislation affecting the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The different versions have to be reconciled.

The House has just named conferees to work on the legislation, including Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the Commerce and Energy Commission, Rep. Robert Rush (D-Ill.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Joseph Barton (R-Texas), Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), and Edward Whitfield (R-Ky.).

The Senate conferees were announced two weeks ago, and they include Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), and Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ted Stevens R-Alaska), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), and John Sununu (R-N.H.).


Consumer advocates are lobbying Congress to produce a compromise Consumer Product Safety Reform bill that combines the “strongest protections” of the House and Senate bills, particularly on toy and other children's product safety.

Both House and Senate bills would strengthen CPSC authority and funding, establish new standards on lead content in children's toys, and require third-party certification of testing of certain children's products.

Likely to be more controversial are some of the differences, including the proposal for a publicly accessible database of product safety information. This seems to be of little use to the average consumer, but subject to potential mischief in the hands of plaintiff lawyers. Think about how they attempt to misuse adverse event data in drug litigation.

Another issue is proposed enforcement of the CPSAct by state attorney generals. This proposal risks the creation of uncertainty and inconsistency, with the potential for a patch-work of differing practical rules, rather than a uniform federal standard.

The proposed new “whistle-blower” protections seem both unnecessary and likely to encourage additional litigation.

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