Federal agency sues over allegedly defective “Fulfilled by Amazon” household products, demands Amazon take legal responsibility for recalling more than 424,000 individual products
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer Reports today praised the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for suing Amazon to force recalls of numerous allegedly defective products. According to the CPSC, which oversees the safety of thousands of household products nationwide, these products pose a risk of serious injury or death to consumers and Amazon is legally responsible for recalling them as their distributor under the “Fulfilled by Amazon” program. The allegedly defective products include:
- About 24,000 faulty carbon monoxide detectors that fail to alarm
- Numerous children’s sleepwear garments that violate flammability requirements
- Nearly 400,000 hair dryers sold without required technology to protect consumers against shock and electrocution
William Wallace, the manager of safety policy for Consumer Reports, said, “Amazon is not above the law, and safety must come first. It shouldn’t matter whether someone is shopping in-person or online, and on Amazon, it shouldn’t matter whether someone is buying something directly from the company or from a third-party seller. People expect the products they buy for their homes to be safe and not leave them or their families at risk. We commend the CPSC for its action today to make sure Amazon lives up to these expectations and follows the law.
“It’s clear that the CPSC’s lawsuit comes only after drawn-out negotiations with Amazon, and there could’ve been much faster action if the company were cooperative. We’re also concerned that this step—while critical—may cover only a small portion of the potentially hazardous products that Amazon has manufactured, distributed, or sold. The agency’s acting chair calls the approach the CPSC is taking today ‘ineffective, inefficient, and frustratingly insufficient.’ Keeping the public safe should be straightforward, and Congress should make it much easier for the CPSC to achieve broad, binding agreements with companies to fix product safety failures.”
Through today’s action, the CPSC is seeking to hold Amazon legally responsible for safety recalls of third-party products offered to consumers on its platform—specifically, in this case, certain “Fulfilled by Amazon” products. Amazon has been the subject of dozens of state and federal product liability lawsuits, with mixed outcomes, in which the company has argued it bears little or no responsibility for the safety of products on Amazon that are offered by third-party sellers.
Under federal product safety laws passed in 1972, the CPSC has the authority to file a lawsuit and conduct an adjudicative proceeding to require a manufacturer, distributor, or seller to carry out a safety recall. This proceeding can lead to a mandatory recall order requiring a company to take various actions, such as notifying the public, offering consumers a sufficient remedy, providing monthly recall progress reports, and destroying defective products in its possession.
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