What Does a Voluntary Recall Mean?

When the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) finds fault or a potential hazard in a certain product, they have the power to request a product recall. A product recall is a government issued request to return a batch of, or an entire production of, a defective product to the maker. For food products, the USDA is responsible for issuing recalls and health warnings. While product recalls may be costly to a company and its reputation, they are overall helpful in limiting liability for corporate negligence.

In some cases, a firm or company may initiate a recall voluntarily—meaning without a mandate from the CPSC. Such recalls are often the product of a negotiation between the product manufacturer/retailer with the federal agency that oversees their product category’s safety. Almost all announced recalls are voluntary. Voluntary product recalls are considered to be safeguards against potential lawsuits and sticky legal situations.

The CPSC or a U.S. District Court also has the right to issue a mandatory or compulsory product recall; consumers who fail to comply with a mandatory product recall may be fined as much as $5,000.

Voluntary Recalls in 2019

In 2019, there have been several large-scale voluntary recalls making headlines. Some examples include:

  • BRP Snowmobiles – This company expanded a previous recall of more than 10,000 snowmobiles with a flaw in the fuel system that was prone to leaking. The leak was considered a fire hazard. In August 2019, the recall was expanded to include 14,600 units.
  • Baby Sleepers (Several Brands) – Hundreds of thousands of inclined baby sleepers have been recalled due to widely reported infant fatalities. A design flaw makes it difficult for infants to roll onto their backs if they roll onto their bellies while unrestrained. As a result, babies have reportedly suffocated while sleeping in this device. As many as 50 infant deaths have been attributed to the inclined sleepers.
  • Porter Cable Table Saws – More than 250,000 table saws were recalled from Lowe's due to a fire hazard. The design defect made it possible for the motor to overheat and ignite. Consumers were urged to immediately stop using the table saws.
  • Disney Forky 11" Plush Toy – Disney recalled 80,000 units of the Toy Story 4 plush toy, citing a choking hazard as the reason. The doll's "googly" eyes can come off the figure, creating a potential choking hazard for toddlers and small children.
  • Tyson Ready-to-Eat Chicken Fritters – Tyson recalled more than 190,000 pounds of their ready-to-eat chicken fritter products for having "possible foreign matter contamination," specifically pieces of plastic. There were no reports of adverse reactions, but Food Safety & Inspection Services is concerned that the product may remain in food service freezers; the product was reportedly sold to schools nationwide.
  • Ground Beef Recalls Due to E. Coli (Several Suppliers) – Numerous beef suppliers recalled ground beef products due to possible E. coli contamination. There were 209 reported cases across 10 states; no single source was the cause of the outbreak. At least 29 people were hospitalized due to the contaminated beef, but no one was killed. This is the latest in a string of E. coli scares in the food supply.

Get in Touch with a Skilled Product Liability Law Firm

Do you have questions about the differences between voluntary and mandatory recalls? The skilled personal injury lawyers from our firm can help. If you or someone you love has suffered serious personal injury because of a dangerous or defective product, you may have the right to seek compensation for your injuries.

At Arnold & Itkin LLP, we are committed to providing our clients with exceptional legal counsel they can rely upon. Our firm has recovered billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements, including hundreds of results of $1 million or more. We've successfully represented people across the nation, providing them with the financial relief they needed to move forward after a defective product harmed them. Speak with us today to learn your legal options in a free consultation.

Contact a Houston product liability attorney today from our firm to begin building your case. You only pay if we win.

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