The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has clarified its rules regarding the factors it can consider when seeking civil penalties in connection with the importation and/or sale of unsafe products.
Consistent with the provisions of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), the Commission has approved a final rule that requires it to consider the following factors in determining the amount of civil penalties it may levy in connection with violations of CPSC laws:
- The nature, circumstance, extent and gravity of the violations, including the nature of the product defect or the substance;
- The appropriateness of the penalty in relation to the size of the business or of the person charged (including how to mitigate undue adverse impacts on small businesses); and
- Other factors as the Commission deems appropriate.
These factors are in addition to other factors that the Commission is already required to consider, such as the severity of the risk of injury, the occurrence or absence of injury, and the number of defective products distributed.
In its announcement regarding the rule change, the CPSC also notes that the maximum penalty for each violation of CPSC rules is now $100,000 (up from just $8000 before the passage of the CPSIA), and $15 million for a related series of violations (up from $1.8 million).