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An examination of the product recall process - II

In our last post, we started examining how the product recall process undertaken by the Consumer Product Safety Commission can unfold and how this effort can take anywhere from just a few weeks to upwards of a year depending upon the circumstances.

In today's post, we'll continue this examination of the how the agency tasked with overseeing more than 15,000 different types of consumer goods works to keep American consumers safe from dangerous and defective products.

4) The CPSC waits to see how the company responds to the results of the IDI

If the results of the in-depth investigation undertaken by the CPSC reveals that a recall should be undertaken, the company essentially has two options: Undertake a voluntary recall or refuse to take this step.

If the company opts for the latter option, the onus falls on the CPSC to take legal action. Specifically, if the agency can prove that the product in question is both defective and poses a substantial hazard to the public, it can file a lawsuit essentially calling for an involuntary recall to be ordered.

It should be noted that while it's rare for things to escalate to this point, the CPSC has in the past and probably will at some point in the future take this action.

5) The next course of action taken by the CPSC depends upon the results of the lawsuit

If the CPSC wins the lawsuit, the company may decline to appeal and instead decide to work with the agency to develop a solution to the problem. Once a plan of action is determined, the public will be notified and the necessary remedial measures by the company (replacement, repair, refund) will take place.

It's important to note that in the event the CPSC loses the lawsuit, it can still file an appeal and, if it emerges victorious at the appellate level, pursue the steps outlined above. Indeed, the same outcome would result if the company lost both the initial lawsuit and a subsequent appeal of its own.

Conversely, if the CPSC loses its appeal or if the company emerges victorious in its appeal, no recall would be undertaken.

Here's hoping the above information provided some valuable insight into how the otherwise complex product recall process works. In the meantime, remember that you can seek justice if you lost a loved one or suffered serious injuries because of a defective product.

Source: Popular Mechanics, "How a product recall works," Dan Koeppel, June 21, 2012

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