Manufacturers of defective products that have injured or killed others that have settled claims often require that a confidentiality agreement be a term of settlement. These agreements forbid disclosure of the settlement and also prevent consumers from learning about the potentially deadly defects in the products. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) recognizes that these agreements can violate principals of public safety and recently recommended that an exclusion be included in all settlement agreements allowing disclosure of evidence of defective products to be shared with the commission:
“The commission believe the best way to protect public health and safety is to pre-emptively exclude or exempt the reporting of relevant consumer products safety information to the CPSC (and other government public health and safety agencies) from all confidentiality provisions.”
The CPSC acts as a clearing house to identify and catalogue unreasonable hazards in consumer products and to force manufacturers to remove such defective products to avoid injury to consumers. The CPSC has identified and removed such defective products as flammable children’s pajamas, hazardous baby cribs, strangling pull cords, unstable furniture and appliances, choking magnets, and thousands of other deadly and defective products. Confidentiality agreements prevent even the CPSC from learning about critical product defects discovered in civil litigation.