Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner
Following the unprecedented number of toy and child furniture recalls in 2007, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) was enacted to address safety issues, including mandatory third party testing for certain children’s products, lead certifications for both domestic products and imports, and tracking labeling requirements.
In a recent unanimous ruling, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted to allow toy giant Mattel Inc. to conduct in-house safety testing in their “firewalled laboratories” rather than submit to third party testing. According to CPSC, the approval was granted because Mattel could prove that its in-house testing could provide equal or improved consumer safety than that provided by an external laboratory. Consumer advocate Don Mays, senior director of product safety at Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, protests that, “It’s a little bit like the fox guarding the henhouse.” and added that ” There is a potential conflict of interest.” Smaller companies which don’t have the resources for internal testing laboratories criticized the CPSC’s decision as being “extremely frustrating and unfair.”
Confidence in the safety of children’s products is of extreme concern for every parent. I am inclined to agree with Mr. Mays–it smacks of a conflict of interest to have Mattel police its own products without independent oversight. Too much is at risk–the safety of kids. The CPSC ought to seriously and quickly reconsider its position.
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About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 1%” of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including product defects, medical malpractice and serious truck and car collisions. Mr. Zambri has also been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Law and Politics magazine–a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.
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