A fire caused by a defective air conditioner killed a young mother and put her two children in the hospital. The seller knew about the responsible product and its risks—it had reports of fire hazards with the unit—but it decided against reporting the dangers to CPSC, preventing the agency from acting in time. Those are the allegations giving rise to today’s notice of a proposed $9 million civil penalty against BJ’s Wholesale.
To prevent incidents like that, this Commission made it a priority to energize enforcement. So far, we have succeeded. Today’s penalty notice ends a fiscal year of active enforcement by CPSC staff. Excluding BJ’s, civil penalties in FY 2023 reached over $52 million, a 64% increase in penalties levied relative to FY 2022. CPSC’s civil penalties deter bad actors by making it costly to hide information about hazards in the consumer products that companies make and sell.
I know that CPSC’s strong focus on civil penalties will ensure a safer marketplace for American consumers; and our progress on penalties also benefits taxpayers by returning ill-gotten gains back to the Treasury and the American people. I am grateful to CPSC’s staff for working tirelessly to protect American consumers from hazardous products.