Tennessee consumers may want to be especially careful about purchasing products that come on the market during the government shutdown. This week, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that only a handful of its staff is available to deal with the most emergent situations. The rest of the 500 employees are furloughed along with about 25 percent of the federal government since the shutdown began just before Christmas. The CPSC warns that manufacturers should comply with safety laws nonetheless or risk mass torts actions.
With the partial shutdown, consumers no longer have the CPSC looking out for their safety. The agency typically recalls over 300 items each year due to safety issues, and fields thousands of requests for information and action regarding dangerous products. While some agents remain in the offices to address emergencies, most consumers will not be able to find help until the shutdown ends.
Meanwhile, the CPSC reminds companies of its serious obligation to meet safety standards for consumer products through testing and reporting anything that may place the buying public at risk. Just because no one may be at the CPSC offices to process the information does not relieve a business of its duty to report a defective or dangerous product. The manufacturer of a product known to be dangerous or defective has the obligation to pull those items from the shelves even if the CPSC is not available to assist.
It is quite possible that during the shutdown, products may be on the market that should be recalled. If a Tennessee business takes advantage of the government hiatus to introduce defective or dangerous items to consumers, that business is responsible for any resulting injuries. Consumers who suffer under these circumstances may wish to contact an attorney about the potential of filing a mass torts claim to seek recovery of their losses.