The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act Governs Recalls and Product Liability Claims

The Federal government has issued a consumer protection law that governs the sale and/or resale of recalled products. This law is called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). If you intend to conduct a garage sale, give away consumer product items or operate a retail store or second hand store, you must know about this law. Also, if you are a consumer of products, and we all are, you should be aware of this law and how it affects you.

CPSIA Makes It Illegal to Sell Any Recalled Product

Under the CPSIA, it is illegal to sell any recalled consumer product. A consumer product is defined as "any product that is found in or around the home, a school, or in a recreational setting, including furniture, appliances, rugs, curtains, bed linens, wearing apparel, jewelry, toys, sports equipment and electronics." The law requires you to make sure that the products you sell, whether at a garage sale or a second-hand store, etc., are not restricted from sale by the federal law. Here are some examples of what you cannot sell or offer to sell under this law:

  • Products which have already been recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC);
  • Toys, furniture and other items intended for use by children with coatings containing lead over a specified amount;
  • Products primarily intended for children under the age 12 with lead content over a specific amount;
  • Certain toys or child care articles containing a family of chemicals known as phthalates; and,
  • Other products that violate CPSC safety standards, bans, rules or regulations or otherwise present a substantial product hazard.

Everyone Is Expected to Know the Laws and Regulations of CPSIA

So how do you know if you are breaking the law by selling your child’s old toy? The CPSC says you are to access its website, (CPSC.org) search for each product you intend to sell and make sure that it is not on the list of prohibited products. Under the law, it is illegal to sell ANY recalled product (for adults as well as children). If you are in the business of reselling products, or are selling products at your yard sale, you are expected to know the laws, rules and regulations that apply to your actions. Ignorance of the recall or safety standards is not an excuse from liability for injuries to another, or from the civil penalties associated with a violation of the law. Another site to check out is Recalls.gov.

Penalties for CPSIA Violations Can Be Severe

If it is determined that you are selling products that violate the provisions of the CPSIA, then you can be penalized by the federal government for doing so. The penalty for selling recalled or prohibited products can be severe. The law imposes $100,000 to $15,000,000.00 fines of individuals or companies violating the law. Normally, these fines are reserved for small to large businesses. Don Mays, Senior Director of product safety planning at the publisher of Consumer Reports, says the hefty penalties are necessary to have an impact.

"The former civil penalty limit of $1.87 million was too small to be an effective deterrent to large companies who flagrantly violated the law," Mays told FOXNews.com. "Mattel and its subsidiary Fisher-Price, for example, recently paid a $2.3 million penalty for importing about 2 million toys that violated the CPSC 30-year-old lead paint ban — that amounts to just over one dollar per toy."

Unfortunately, in the way the law is written, there is no distinction between the garage sale in your front yard, thrift store operator and a large corporation like Mattel Toys.

However, remember that if you do sell a prohibited product, and that product ends up injuring a child, or another person, you can be responsible for that injury or loss of life merely because you put that item on the market when it should have been destroyed. When selling products that are not on the recall list or are prohibited from sale, make sure those items are not broken, or damaged, in such a way that they can cause an injury to another. You can be held responsible for selling that "defective" or damaged product without warning the purchaser of the problem. Remember, the old saying "One man’s junk is another man’s treasure?" The following is now true, that your junk, can be your nightmare if someone is hurt by your junk. Be very careful, review the recall list and use your common sense when selling your items.

If Your Were Injured By a Recalled Product, Our Personal Injury Attorneys Are Here to Help

Finally, if you believe you have been injured by a product, report the defective product to the CPSC at to help others avoid injuries. Next, consult with the personal injury attorneys of the Inland Empire Law Group to see if you have a claim for damages under the theories of negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty or under a consumer protection law such as the CPSIA. We have offices in Rancho Cucamona and Victorville, and proudly serve Fontana and the entire Inland Empire and High Desert Regions. Call (888) MY IE LAW to request your consultation today.