A few lawyers specializing in CPSC law have begun to warn their clients of the perils ahead, especially when the plaintiffs' bar begins to both hunt for clients among the postings and to use the "reports" found there in courtrooms far and wide as evidence of a pattern or practice of corporate indifference to injury. My colleague Gary Wolensky gave a presentation to the Sporting Goods Manufactures Association this week on the need for every manufacturer in America to design now a response strategy to roll out when the database goes live next spring. Rob Neppell of Kithbridge.com opined on my show last week that any manufacturer in the country that isn't already methodically scanning the web for mentions of its products is far behind the information curve, a late start that will become lethal if the companies aren't prepared to monitor and effectively respond to the "reports" to the database.
But even with the best lawyering and real-time monitoring it is hard to imagine American manufacturing being able to keep up with a flood of anonymous "reports" about the dangers posed by their products. The old Mark Twain rule about a lie being half-way around the world before truth has its boots on is even more obviously true in an era of instant connectivity to the global information superhighway.
Congress has ordered the CPSC to arrange for open-season on American manufacturing. If the Congress is returned to saner hands this November perhaps this train wreck can be averted, but don't count on it. American business is about to take another one on the chin.