By: U. Kelley Riedel, Attorney at Law and Partner
CONSUMER PRODUCT LIABILITY ISSUES – Imagine that you’re watching the local news one evening and you hear a report about the recall of a toy your child loves and has been playing with for over a year, with no problems. Or imagine that you hear a report of a blade saw that you recently purchased at Home Depot which has worked perfectly so far. Should you remove the toy from your home, or should you just continue to let your child play with it? Should you continue to use the blade saw or should you return it?
There are thousands of product recalls issued each year by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), which is an agency organized by the United States government to protect consumers from defective products and to increase the safety of products available in our country. The CPSC recalls products that pose a significant risk to consumers either because the product is defective, because it has been found to cause serious personal injuries, because it has resulted in reported deaths or because it violates a mandatory standard issued by the CPSC.
Products under the jurisdiction of the CPSC include toys, household electronics, personal tools, clothing, cleaning products and over 15,000 other consumer goods which are sold in our country. A product can be recalled in its entirety, where buyers are asked to dispose of or destroy the product or return the product to the seller, or just a portion of a product may be defective, such as a faulty switch in a dishwasher that can be easily replaced by a service technician in your home. Whether you will receive a refund or whether the replacement of the faulty portion of the product will be paid for by the manufacturer depends on many factors, but the CPSC works hard to make sure that consumers are fairly compensated as much as reasonably possible.
Recalls are typically issued after a product has already entered the market place and a previously unknown defect in the product is been identified, sometimes after a consumer or series of consumers have been injured or, in rare instances killed by the defective product.
The most important action you should take when you learn that you have a recalled product in your home is to educate yourself about the recall by either calling the CPSC at (800) 638-2772 or by logging onto www.cpsc.gov. You should follow the specific guidelines listed in the product’s recall, paying careful attention to the description of the product including any model numbers or other specific product references.
Some states have their own consumer safety commissions which provide an additional layer of protection to consumers from the dangers of defective products. In the State of California, consumer protection issues fall under the province of the California Department of Consumer Affairs, which you can find out more about at www.consumer.ca.gov.
U. Kelley Riedel is an attorney and Partner at the Southern California law firm of Berman & Riedel, LLP, and has personally handled numerous cases involving defective products within the counties of San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. Furthermore, Ms. Riedel has extensive litigation experience in California State Courts in coordinated actions as well as Federal U.S. District Courts throughout the United States in Multi-District Litigation cases.