If you have a cynical streak, you may wonder why a product manufacturer would voluntarily recall one of its products - and do so sooner rather than later.

Fortunately, a recall of nearly 5,000 skis that was issued by Nordica USA last week answers that question. Under Federal law, manufacturers, distributors and retailers are required to report to the Consumer Products Safety Commission within 24 hours any information that

"reasonably support[s] the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard, creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or fails to comply with any consumer product safety rule or any other rule, regulation, standard or ban enforced by the CPSC."

The penalty for non-compliance is rather steep - in this case, a civil penalty exceeding $200,000.

It is also important to note, however, that the mere fact that a recall was issued does not preclude the manufacturer from later asserting that its product was not defective in the context of a product liability law suit. In fact, the CPSC's own recall guidebook specifically provides as follows:

"Reporting a product to the Commission under section 15 does not automatically mean that the Commission will conclude that the product creates a substantial product hazard or that corrective action is necessary."

Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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