Judge Rules in Favor of “Company Doe” Complaint about SaferProducts.gov
October 24, 2012 | A federal court decision has sided with an anonymous manufacturer who sued to keep its name out of the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) federal database of product complaints.
In the lawsuit, the manufacturer (identified as “Company Doe”) argued that a complaint made about its product on SaferProducts.gov was “baseless” and would cause “irreparable harm to its reputation and financial well-being” if the report was posted as written. While Commission staff agreed and corrected the report, the manufacturer argued that the corrections failed to omit the errors.
On October 22, it was revealed that a judge from the United States District Court in Maryland ruled on July 31 that the CPSC’s decision to disclose a public database complaint made against the company violated the law and was “arbitrary and capricious.” The court also rejected requests to unseal the matter to make the company name public; therefore, portions of the decision are heavily redacted. Consumer groups and the CPSC have announced that they intend to appeal the court’s decision.
In a statement released this week, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) said:
TIA supports the timely disclosure of important product safety information to consumers. Assuring the accuracy and integrity of this information is an important part of the disclosure process. Inaccurate details about product safety incidents can confuse consumers and unjustifiably harm a company’s reputation.
The government has a responsibility to the public to prevent false, misleading and inaccurate information from being posted on SaferProducts.gov. We hope the CPSC continues to work with companies, consumers and other stakeholders to ensure that its own database is a credible source of product safety information.
Mandated by Section 212 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), SaferProducts.gov was launched in March 2011 as a “single central location where consumers can report product safety incidents and search for prior incidents and recalls on products they own, or may be thinking of buying.”
Questions on this topic may be directed to TIA’s Rebecca Mond (202.344.4554) or Autumn Moore (202. 344.4453). TIA will keep members apprised of any developments.