NCL Executive Director testifies before the DC Council in support of the Sunshine in Litigation Act

December 9, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin,, 703-298-2614

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sally Greenberg, NCL’s Executive Director, testified before the D.C. Council Committee on Judiciary & Public Safety yesterday to express support for the “Sunshine in Litigation Act of 2022.

Read her full testimony here.

Finally, regulation where it’s needed: seven new bills with a focus on consumer safety

headshot of NCL Health Policy intern Alexa

By NCL Health Policy intern Alexa Beeson

This June, the House Energy and Commerce’s Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee held a hearing in which they considered seven different bills concerning product safety. The hearing was motivated by a commitment to removing life-threatening products from the market, which–somehow–remain in circulation for purchase. Most notably, the bills address furniture tip-over (H.R. 2211), crib bumpers (H.R. 3170), inclined infant sleepers (H.R. 3172), and fire safety (H.R. 806).

The witnesses included Will Wallace, a manager at Consumer Reports; Crystal Ellis, a devastated mother and founder of Parents Against Tip-Overs; Chris Parsons, the president of Minnesota Professional Fire Fighters; and Charles A. Samuels, a member of Mintz, a law firm that represents manufacturers of some of the products implicated in various accidents.

Ellis was especially moving. She lost her son, Camden, five years ago on Father’s Day in a tip-over accident involving an unstable dresser. The day she testified would have been her son’s 7th birthday. Camden’s death and the deaths of many others in tip-over accidents catalyzed the founding of Parents Against Tip-Overs, which advocates for children who were victims of unsafe consumer products. Ellis recounted the devastating loss of her son and pleaded that the committee act to protect other children from suffering the same fate. Ellis urged the committee to evaluate the standards set forth by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which are not regulated enough to prevent tip-overs.

Furniture tip-over is a more widespread problem than you might realize. According to the CPSC, an estimated annual average (2014-2016) of 9,300 children ages 0-19 were treated in the emergency department for furniture tip-over injuries, not including televisions or appliances. If you include television and other appliances, which were not covered in the bills at the hearing, the number jumps to more than 15,000. From 2000-2016, furniture tip-overs killed 431 children.

These deaths could have been prevented by enforcing stricter safety regulations. The current CPSC regulations do not demand mandatory safety standards for tip-over prevention. The product manufacturing industries are only held to a voluntary standard. Additionally, products under 30 inches tall are exempt from any such safety regulations. However, as found by a Consumer Reports investigation, shorter furniture still causes major tip-over accidents.

The Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth (STURDY) Act would seek to change these standards. The bill would require the CPSC to mandate manufacturers to produce more rigorous testing of their products; to perform more “real-world” testing and to revise consumer warning requirements, ensuring higher standards of product safety and transparency.

The National Consumers League thanks the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee for taking measures to hold industry accountable with regards to product safety standards. One positive message that everyone can take away from this hearing is that times are changing. Industry will be held accountable, and consumers will be protected. It looks like the time for the CPSC to take charge in handling consumer safety and protection–instead of letting industry set its own rules–is just around the corner, to paraphrase Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ).

Alexa is a student at Washington University in St. Louis where she studies Classics and Anthropology and concentrates in global health and the environment. She expects to graduate in May of 2020

An end to secret settlements could save lives – National Consumers League

en, corporations are able to settle lawsuits brought against them in secret, paying off litigants and hushing up the hazards that lurk in their products. Consumers deserve more transparency and accountability from these corporations. USA Today editorialized last week on this very problem, focusing on a product I’d never heard discussed in this debate, ironically a rifle. 


In 2000, a nine-year-old Montana boy, Gus Barber, on a family hunting trip, was killed when his mother released the safety on a Remington 700 rifle to unload it and the gun discharged. Gus’ father later discovered that the company knew they had a safety problem for decades and never changed the design, admitted the problem, or recalled the rifles. By the time Gus was shot, more than 100 people had been injured and two-dozen killed. All these cases were buried through secret settlements, with judges sealing these confidential settlements, thus depriving the public from knowing about this deadly hazard.

The practice of sealing health and safety hazards, many of them deadly is unconscionable and dangerous. NCL and our fellow safety advocates have supported legislation introduced over the years in Congress to stop this practice, requiring judges to reject requests from plaintiff and defense lawyers to enter into secret settlements where dangerous products remain in the marketplace.

Gus Barber’s case is so outrageous that Montana joined four other states in adopting an anti-secrecy statute that prohibits their state courts from concealing information about public hazards.

Things may finally be turning around on this issue. In a recent case in Missouri, federal judge Ortrie Smith refused to seal a case against Remington for safety issues. That’s a hopeful sign. If we could get a federal bill passed, every judge would be required to follow Judge Smith’s example and refuse to deprive citizens of critical safety information that could have saved nine-year-old Gus Barber’s life.