The April 3 front-page article “How the BOB stroller was kept from recall” suggested that the Consumer Product Safety Commission is not protecting the public and that political motivations of Republican CPSC commissioners drove the agency to settle a case it brought against Britax Child Safety Inc. The story did not explain that the case was premised on a flawed legal theory that sought to significantly expand the agency’s reach. Furthermore, it incorrectly implied that dedicated public servants had improper motives.
The case involved a jogging stroller with a quick-release wheel feature. Injuries occurred when consumers did not properly engage the quick release, not because the quick release malfunctioned. Under the logic of the Britax case, as brought by the CPSC, the potential for a consumer to misassemble or misuse a product, even with clear instructions and adequate warnings (which the CPSC did not criticize), is enough to render a product defective.
Acting CPSC chair Ann Marie Buerkle, a former congresswoman, medical professional and lawyer, is well-qualified to chair the CPSC. Ms. Buerkle has a regulatory philosophy, as do all commissioners. She carefully listens to and considers all arguments and information before making decisions.
Some may not agree with votes Ms. Buerkle has made, but disagreements should be debated at the policy level, not used to sully the reputation of a dedicated public servant.
Nancy A. Nord, Washington
The writer served from 2005 to 2013 on the Consumer Product Safety Commission and as acting chairman from 2006 to 2009.