The law of products liability enables consumers to recover damages if they suffer injury because of a design or manufacturing defect, a failure to provide adequate instructions for using a product, or a failure to warn of a known risk associated with a product. Agencies like the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) work to protect the public from dangerous or defective products by encouraging or ordering recalls before they cause excessive damage. Consumers also have the right to sue for damages on their own behalf. Two recent items in the news illustrate these two approaches, and both of them involve shoes.
The CPSC announced on February 20, 2014 that Eastman Footwear is recalling 12,200 units of Coleman Runestone Style children’s shoes sold at Big Five Sporting Goods stores during the calendar year 2013. The reason for the recall is described by the CPSC as a “laceration hazard” associated with metal rivets surrounding the shoestring holes. The CPSC received a single report “of an adult who scratched or cut his finger, but did not require further medical attention.
A nationwide recall might seem like overkill, based on the available facts, but it was undertaken voluntarily by the manufacturer. Sometimes caution, in this case a recall, is a better strategy than risking additional, possibly more-severe injuries. Now that the CPSC has announced the recall, consumers are advised to stop using the product, and resale of any units subject to the recall is illegal.