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How The Consumer Product Safety Act Affect Your Business

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My goal is to one day have my own business. As a future business owner, I must be aware of laws that affect the business world. The Consumer Product Safety Act, Title 15 USCS § 2051, is highly applicable to the business world because it ensures the safety of the consumer by enforcing certain laws and regulations on businesses. Thus, I need to make myself more aware of how this act applies to real life businesses.

Code
Title 15 USCS § 2051

Title 15. COMMERCE AND TRADE
§ 2051. Congressional findings and declaration of purpose

(a) The Congress finds that--
(1) an unacceptable number of consumer products which present unreasonable risks of injury are distributed in commerce;
(2) complexities of consumer products and the diverse nature and abilities of consumers using them frequently result in an inability of users to anticipate risks and to safeguard themselves adequately;
(3) the public should be protected against unreasonable risks of injury associated with consumer products;
(4) control by State and local governments of unreasonable risks of injury associated with consumer products is inadequate and may be burdensome to manufacturers;
(5) existing Federal authority to protect consumers from exposure to consumer products presenting unreasonable risks of injury is inadequate; and
(6) regulation of consumer products the distribution or use of which affects interstate or foreign commerce is necessary to carry out this Act.

(b) The purposes of this Act are--
(1) to protect the public against unreasonable risks of injury associated with consumer products;
(2) to assist consumers in evaluating the comparative safety of consumer products;
(3) to develop uniform safety standards for consumer products and to minimize conflicting State and local regulations; and
(4) to promote research and investigation into the causes and prevention of product-related deaths, illnesses, and injuries.

One primary purpose of Consumer Product Safety Act is promulgation of uniform national safety standards for consumer products. Wahba v H & N Prescription Center, Inc. (1982, ED NY) 539 F Supp 352.

All-terrain vehicle (ATV) driver's claim that ATV manufacturers had failed to properly warn him of dangers of ATV operation was not impliedly preempted by federal law because state common law warnings standards did not conflict with or stand as obstacle to accomplishing purposes of Consumer Product Safety Act, 15 USCS § 2051 et seq., particularly as Congress had included "savings clause" within statute. Eberts v Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (2004, DC ND) 306 F Supp 2d 890.

Rationale

The Consumer Product Safety Act states that there are an unacceptable number of consumer products which present unreasonable risk of harm to the consumer, and these products are being distributed in commerce due to a lack of regulation. The act states that the public should be protected against the unreasonable risks of injury associated with these consumer products, and that control by State and local governments may impose undue burdens upon manufacturers.

Thus, the act basically establishes the Consumer Product Safety Commission as an independent agency of the United States federal government and defined its basic authority. The purpose of this agency is to protect the public against unreasonable risks of injury associated with consumer products, assist consumers in evaluating the comparative safety of consumer products, developing uniform safety standards for consumer products, and promoting research and investigation into the causes and prevention of product-related deaths, illnesses, and injuries.

Case #1

The State Fair of Texas v. United States Consumer Product Safety Commission

Facts:
At a Missouri amusement park, a ride caused three fatalities which led to an investigation of this type of ride by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. As part of its investigation, the Commission served the State Fair with a notice of inspection (see 16 C.F.R. § 1118.2 (1980)) seeking access to the Skyride and to relevant records. The State Fair and Steck & Stapf allowed a Commission engineer to view the ride from a distance, but would not allow him to inspect it more closely or to examine the documents.

The State Fair appealed the judgment from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, which held that an amusement park ride was a "consumer product" under the Consumer Product Safety Act, 15 U.S.C.S. § 2051 et seq. Defendant United States Consumer Product Safety Commission contested the district court's ruling that it did not have authority to inspect the ride and plaintiffs' documents regarding the ride.
Issue:
Is an amusement park ride a "consumer product" under the Consumer Product Safety Act?
Law:
The term "consumer product" is defined expansively to include any article, or component part thereof, produced or distributed (i) for sale to a consumer for use in or around a permanent or temporary household or residence, a school, in recreation, or otherwise, or (ii) for the personal use, consumption, or enjoyment of a consumer in or around a permanent or temporary household or residence, a school, in recreation, or otherwise. 15 U.S.C.S. § 2052(a)(1)(A)-(I).
Analysis:

In plaintiffs' suit to prevent defendant from conducting its investigation, the district court held that defendant had jurisdiction because the ride was a "consumer product" within the meaning of the Consumer Product Safety Act (Act), 15 U.S.C.S. § 2051 et seq. Nevertheless, the district court held that defendant did not establish its authority to enter the premises. So, while the act did establish that an amusement park ride is a "consumer product," it did not establish authority for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to enter the premises.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and vacated in part a judgment holding that an amusement park ride was a "consumer product" under the Consumer Product Safety Act (Act). The ride was a "consumer product" under the Act, and defendant had authority to conduct its investigation, but the defendant United States Consumer Product Safety Commission did not have authority to inspect the ride and plaintiffs' documents regarding the ride.

Case #2

Kelsey v. Muskin, Inc.

Facts:
Donald Kelsey dove into Donald Hart's above ground swimming pool, and upon his dive suffered injuries. Kelsey then filed suit against Donald Hart, and the manufacturers of the pool, seeking damages for injuries suffered under the Consumer Product Safety Act.
Issue:
Does the CPSA apply here?

Law:

The Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), 15 U.S.C.S. § 2051 et seq., provides a private right of action to any person injured by reason of any knowing (including willful) violation of a consumer product safety rule, or any other rule or order issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 15 U.S.C.S. § 2072(a). Consumer product safety rules are defined in the CPSA as rules that set safety standards or that ban products as hazardous. 15 U.S.C.S. § 2052(a)(2).

Analysis:

Donald Kelsey had a blood alcohol level of .2%, and the defense argued that as a matter of law, Kelsey's own conduct was the sole proximate cause of his injuries, and thus the case should be dismissed. Kelsey argued that the defendants were responsible because they failed to provide adequate warnings that head-first diving into the pool could result in serious injury. They contended that the industry defendants' failure to warn violated the reporting requirements of the CPSA. As a matter of law, the court found that the plaintiff injured party's own conduct was the proximate cause of his injuries.

Conclusion:

The court dismissed the case.

Conclusion

Social Impact:
The Consumer Product Safety Act establishes a commission that has the power to regulate consumer goods. This agency is backed by the law and has undoubtedly affected businesses that deal with consumer products. Businesses must make sure that their products can not have any unreasonable risk of injury to the consumers.

Instances where harm has come to consumers from a consumer product have been dealt with by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, however, it seems like they still lack the authority necessary to control all consumer products, i.e. The State Fair of Texas v. United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. While the Act does give them the jurisdiction to investigate, it was lacking the authority to give them the right to enter the premises and inspect the product.

Personal Opinion:
I feel that Consumer Product Safety Act is beneficial to society. It serves to protect consumers and the general public from products that could be potentially harmful. As a businessman, I am awed at the affect this act has on the business world. This agency is definitely a major factor in protecting consumers and the general public. However, I do feel it lacks the power necessary to fully complete its goals. In the future, I will be fully aware of not to doing anything that will cause negative relationships with the general public and with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, because while I feel that it lacks the authority necessary to complete its goals, it is still a very powerful agency.

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