What happens when the feds issue a product recall order

Originally posted by necontact in Consumer Forum, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Education. Tagged: , , .

CONSUMER FORUM

A recent column dealt with the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s settlement with Best Buy after the retailer sold goods that had been recalled.

Northeast CONTACT asked attorney Regan A. Sweeney of Portland, a former trial attorney with CPSC, for some insights into the agency’s actions:

NEC: Does CPSC have a standard procedure when negotiating recalls, or is each case unique?

Sweeney: Your question raises a good point, which is that 99.9 percent of CPSC’s recalls are negotiated with the companies and are voluntary; they are not unilaterally decided by CPSC or forced on the companies. The procedure’s generally the same: the CPSC gets incident reports for a product, evaluates the hazard, opens an investigation, and where it finds a substantial hazard, it negotiates with the company for a recall. Because products are unique, recalls are tailored to the product, the hazard and the remedy being addressed.

NEC: In the Best Buy case, the sale of recalled products went on for some time. Why couldn’t CPSC act more quickly to stop those sales?

Sweeney: Because civil penalty cases are negotiated confidentially between the company and the CPSC, we’ll likely never know the details of the case. The settlement agreement tends to indicate that there were a very small number of recalled products that were similar to non-recalled products currently for sale, and a few were sold to consumers due to poor record-keeping and product tracking on Best Buy’s part. The settlement agreement is intentionally short on details, so we’ll never know what the CPSC knew when.

NEC: What about consumer products made overseas?

Sweeney: Federal laws require that a U.S.-based entity be responsible for imported products and for any recall, if necessary. Internet sales create a wrinkle in this, as they’re not considered sales in the U.S. Products purchased online directly from a foreign manufacturer or distributor wouldn’t be covered by CPSC’s laws, so consumers should always buy from a reputable, U.S. based distributor or retailer whenever possible.

NEC: How can consumers be sure they’re not buying recalled items at yard sales or flea markets?

Sweeney: CPSC maintains a database of all recalls announced, sortable by product type, brand, etc., but there’s currently no efficient way of checking that list short of running searches and looking through the listings. When shopping at places like that, use a smartphone to take a picture of the product and do an internet search for the product name and/or model number. Search CPSC’s site, http://www.saferproducts.gov, for the same things.

Even then, here’s a short list of products you should never buy used at a yard sale or flea market:

— Cribs. Federal crib standards and laws changed drastically in 2011, adding a lot of new safety requirements and making it illegal to resell any crib made before then. More importantly, a crib in a yard sale may not have been properly assembled, may have been subject to abuse that caused damage you can’t see, may have been fixed with unsafe homemade repairs, or have other potential problems. Using a replacement mattress in an old crib can create entrapment and asphyxiation hazards.

— Car Seats. It may be impossible to tell by sight if it’s already been in a car crash, thereby significantly reducing its ability to absorb another impact. Many are designed to work only with specific components and parts from that manufacturer; trying to pair it with other parts may render it unsafe.

— Soft Plastic Child Care Articles and Toys. CPSC’s rules over the years have evolved to prohibit certain plastic compounds — phthalates in particular — as they can migrate from the material to a child. These are relatively new rules and testing for these components is complex, not something recognizable by eye or touch, so steer clear of these items as they may not meet the new requirements.

Sweeney says companies that agree to a recall are required to have a website and a toll-free U.S. number for consumers to call to get the recall remedy and usually have to make the remedy available indefinitely. People who can’t get through on a toll-free number, don’t get a response from the website, or can’t readily get the remedy should visit CPSC online at http://www.cpsc.gov or call 800-638-2772.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer, ME 04412, visit https://necontact.wordpress.com or email contacexdir@live.com.

Northeast CONTACT's Blog

CONSUMER FORUM

Posted Oct. 24, 2016, at 9:02 a.m.

A recent column dealt with the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s settlement with Best Buy after the retailer sold goods that had been recalled.

Northeast CONTACT asked attorney Regan A. Sweeney of Portland, a former trial attorney with CPSC, for some insights into the agency’s actions:

NEC: Does CPSC have a standard procedure when negotiating recalls, or is each case unique?

Sweeney: Your question raises a good point, which is that 99.9 percent of CPSC’s recalls are negotiated with the companies and are voluntary; they are not unilaterally decided by CPSC or forced on the companies. The procedure’s generally the same: the CPSC gets incident reports for a product, evaluates the hazard, opens an investigation, and where it finds a substantial hazard, it negotiates with the company for a recall. Because products are unique…

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Great Advice for Selecting an Attorney

A long-standing joke about lawyers is that they are actually “liars” who will take any money from you that they can. Don’t become a statistic and fuel this joke – select a lawyer that will really work for you! Read this article for tips on selecting BTR Law Firm that really knows their stuff.

Inquire about the fees that you are going to have to pay. These fees can vary greatly depending on their demand and experience, so you must know what you’re paying before choosing them. It is highly problematic to lose your attorney after your matter is already underway.

Never hire the first lawyer you come across. There are so many out there that it can be tempting to select the first one you come in contact with. Take your time and consult with a few before you make your decision. You don’t want to make the mistake of choosing the wrong one.

A good tip to remember when looking to hire a lawyer is to make sure you find a lawyer that has the necessary experience that you’re looking for. If you’re going to court soon for a criminal case, it wouldn’t make sense to bring on a divorce lawyer, you’ll need a criminal lawyer.

There is a great deal of legwork necessary in a legal case, both research and actually talking to witnesses, which will lead to the development of the presentation of your lawyer in court. That means any lawyer who tells you you’ll win up front has no idea what they’re talking about.

You should make sure you have a solid case before attacking someone in court. Keep in mind that some lawyers only have their own interest in mind and will advise you to go to court regardless of how solid your case is. Present your case to different professionals and do some research on your own before you go to court.

When meeting with a prospective attorney, ask him or her who you will primarily be talking to about your case. In some situations, lawyers give part of their caseload to a junior associate. If you feel you really connect with a certain attorney, suddenly finding out you will be working with another person may be quite upsetting. These feelings could be exacerbated if you don’t get along with the other person, too.

If you need a good lawyer for your business, use your network. You could ask your banker, partners, insurance agent or even your distributors if they know any good lawyers in the area. Do not hesitate to refer this lawyer to people you know if you have a good experience.

Never just randomly pick a lawyer out of a phone book or directory to work on your case. Since you do not know anything about a lawyer using this method, you could end up with someone who is incompetent or inexperienced. You could ask loved ones if they know of a lawyer who can help or look at online reviews.

Avoid lawyers who actively seek your business. Consider it a red flag if a lawyer solicits you after an accident without you having expressed any interest. These “ambulance chasers” tend to have sketchy business ethics, so it is best to steer clear of them. A good lawyer will have clients seeking their help, and doesn’t need to resort to this type of behavior.

A big mistake that people make is hiring a lawyer who contacts them after some sort of accident. Not only is it against the rules of professional conduct, in many states it is illegal. This is sometimes referred to as “ambulance chasing” and is frowned upon in the legal community.

If you need a specialized lawyer, ask the lawyers you are considering about their specialized training. There are seminars and additional classes lawyers can take to learn more about a specific issue. For instance, lawyers who are qualified to help you with filing for bankruptcy should be members of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.

Instead of becoming a victim who must pay high bills for little quality service, do your homework and find a reliable lawyer. You can easily find someone that will help you in the courtroom. Remember these tips next time you find yourself in a sticky situation, so you can come out on top!

via Knowing Where To Turn When You Need A Lawyer — Hire An Attorney For Debt Consolidation

5 Things Aspiring Landlords Should Know Before Buying a Duplex or Multi-Family Home

When my husband and I—aspiring landlords that we are—found out we could get an FHA loan to cover the purchase of a duplex, triplex, or fourplex, we thought we had it all figured out. But four months and a dozen offers later, we were still discovering surprises right and left. Here’s what we wish we’d […]

via 5 Things Aspiring Landlords Should Know Before Buying a Duplex or Multi-Family Home — Round Two

Monitor Employees’ Hours This Holiday Season

NIU Springboard

This post was written by one of our Graduate Research Assistants, Tara Ramljak.

Decking the halls this yeasantasworkshop-bigr will come with come with a precaution for employers. In May 2016, President Obama and the Department of Labor enacted a new overtime law that affects salaried and hourly employees. According to the Department of Labor, the salary threshold will rise form $455 per week ($23,660 for a full-year worker) to $913 per week ($47,478 for a full-year worker).[1] The final rule will also automatically update the salary threshold every three years, which increases predictability; strengthen overtime protections for salaried workers already entitled to overtime; and provide greater clarity for workers and employer.[2] This provision to the overtime law is set to take effect December 1, 2016.

Since the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act, there has been an unkept promise that if employees work over 40…

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Lawsuit: Insurer Anthem Misleading California Customers

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California consumer advocacy group is suing Anthem Blue Cross over allegations that the health plan is misleading several hundred thousand customers about changes in their policies for next year.

Consumer Watchdog filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Tuesday claiming Anthem is charging more for inferior coverage and burying the changes in a mountain of paperwork.

In most of California, Anthem is changing its “preferred provider organization,” or PPO, plans that provide coverage for out-of-network doctors to “exclusive provider organization,” or EPO, policies that do not.

Consumer Watchdog says many customers chose PPO plans specifically for the option to use out-of-network providers and will be surprised when their bills are no longer covered.

Anthem says state regulators approved the changes and the lawsuit is without merit.

via Lawsuit: Insurer Anthem Misleading California Customers — FOX40

Bill Cosby Resorts to Playing the Race Card to Avoid Standing Trial In Sex Assault Case — BCNN1 WP

In a just-filed motion for dismissal, the disgraced comedian’s lawyers are arguing that because of his race, he won’t receive a fair trial.

via Bill Cosby Resorts to Playing the Race Card to Avoid Standing Trial In Sex Assault Case — BCNN1 WP