What Does a Voluntary Recall Mean?

When the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) finds fault or a potential for 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. 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 $5000.

Voluntary Recalls in 2015

In 2015, there have been several high-profile voluntary recalls making headlines. Some examples include:

  • Takata Airbags – Toyota recalled certain Takata airbag inflators in a recall that involved more than 34 million vehicles. This recall came after it was found that the inflators could rupture when deployed, causing them to seriously injure occupants in the vehicle. At least 6 deaths and 100+ injuries have been associated with the defect. This is currently the largest automotive recall in the history of the U.S.
  • Niagara Bottling – A voluntary recall was made of spring water produced a two of their Pennsylvania plants from June 10 to June 18, 2015 as there was evidence of E. coli bacteria at the spring source.
  • Blue Bell Ice Cream – Blue Bell Creamery issued a recall for all ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, and any of their frozen snacks after it was found that they may be contaminated with Listeria. There are at least 10 different cases of people who have been infected with 3 deaths attributed to the infection.
  • Sabra Hummus – Sabra Dipping Co., LLC issued a nationwide voluntary recall of select SKUs of its classic hummus due to a potential contamination with Listeria.
  • Kraft Mac & Cheese – In March, Kraft issued a voluntary recall that affected approximately 240,000 boxes of Macaroni & Cheese dinners. The recall came after concern of metal pieces in the boxes.
  • Zimmer Persona Knee Implant – Zimmer issued a Class II recall for their Zimmer Persona Trabecular Metal Tibial Plate after receiving a high volume of complaints regarding the loosening of the implant, as well as poor fixation. More than a third of complaints were from patients who had symptomatic problems, who had radiolucent lines, and/or who needed revision surgery to address the loosening.

Get in Touch with a Skilled Product Liability Law Firm

At Arnold & Itkin LLP, we are committed to providing our clients with exceptional legal counsel that they can rely upon. In the last 5 years alone, we have recovered more than $1 billion in verdicts and settlements. 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.

Contact a Houston product liability attorney today from our firm to begin building your case.

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