Chairman Kaye, in a widely covered recent speech, made no apologies about his clear intention to find a suitable case to seek an “eight digit” penalty, something never before seen at the CPSC. Certainly his remarks, made within a month of last week’s announcement, foreshadowed last week’s civil penalty against Gree Electric Appliances Sales Co. Ltd.. 
A Trophy Civil Penalty
In setting out his vision so clearly, Chairman Kaye made explicit what was already widely assumed to be the implicit goal of the agency’s leadership since the enactment of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). After his speech, many industry executives were frustrated that the Chairman seemed more intent on finding a trophy civil penalty than in making sure that civil penalties were commensurate with the facts of each case. Chairman Kaye, in these and other remarks, seemed intent to make an example out of a suitable corporate candidate where he and his team believed that a firm was profiting from unsafe practices and viewed civil penalties as “just another cost of doing business”. Last week, the Commission seems to have found its mark.
Chairman Kaye and most of the Commission clearly view this accomplishment as justice. And, indeed, the facts of the case, to the extent they are known, do not seem to cry out for sympathy for the Gree corporate entities.
Nevertheless, all stakeholders would be wise to pause for what is unmistakably a watershed moment: the moment that the CPSC ceased to be a relatively, quiet backwater agency and became an aggressive enforcement body deserving of respect or, at a minimum, fear.
1. Don’t lie to the government. How many times do we have to say this? There is literally nothing that antagonizes a government official so much as being lied to. Lying to the
[Click Read More link on the right to read full article.]