Marty Dolan, principal at Dolan Law, and his associate Karen Munoz represent victims of wrongful death and personal-injury. His column “Law and Wellness” appears in the Chicago Lawyer and her column appears regularly in the Law Bulletin. This week’s blog is written by Karen Munoz.
The public usually becomes aware of a dangerous children’s product when the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalls a product. Very often, products will be on store shelves or in consumer’s homes by the time the CPSC recalls a product. Currently, there are no federal requirements for the posting of recall notices in stores or on websites where a product has been deemed dangerous to a child. Thankfully, to protect children, the Illinois attorney general, pursuant to the Children’s Product Safety Act (430 ILCS 125/1), requires that retailers remove dangerous products from their shelves and post recall notices in prominent locations in their stores.
The term “children’s product” has been defined as a product designed for use by or care of a child under the age of 9. 430 ILCS 125/10(a). This definition includes (but is not limited to) to cribs, car seats, beds, high chairs, strollers, walkers toys or play equipment. 430 ILCS 125/10(a)(i). This can also include food, drugs or medication that is designed to be used or consumed by children. The act states that a product is unsafe if a warning has been issued that the intended use of the product creates a safety hazard, the product doesn’t conform to applicable laws that regulate standards for children’s products or the product has been recalled for any reason. 430 ILCS 125/15(a).
The act places a number of requirements on a merchant once a product has been recalled or a warning has been issued about a product. 430 ILCS 125/17(b). Within three days of receiving the notice of recall or warning, a retailer must remove the product from its stores or website to ensure that the item cannot be sold. If an e-mail address or a shipping address was provided at the time of the purchase, the retailer must attempt to contact the purchaser with information regarding the recall or warning. Within five days of receiving the warning or the recall, the merchant must post the recall or warning notice in a prominent location within the store for a period of 120 days. If the product was sold online, the retailer must post a link to the recall or warning on their homepage within five days of receiving notice of the recall or the warning. The merchant notification responsibilities also apply to secondhand stores.
The penalty for not complying with the provisions of the act shall face a fine of $500 for each day that the retailer is violation. 430 ILCS 125/25.
Overall, the act provides protection for a retailer who complies with the requirements of the act against any claims of negligence by a consumer who may have been injured by a recalled product. The act also successfully finds the balance between providing adequate information to a consumer regarding the recall and placing an overly burdensome requirement on retailers to contact consumers.