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Mystery company so far successful in court battle to quash consumer complaint

Consumer advocates are outraged over the success a mystery company is having in keeping secret not only its identity but also the nature of a complaint against it and even what kind of product it makes, Fair Warning says in an update on the case.

The case, which NBC News’ Bob Sullivan wrote about in Red Tape Chronicles a year and a half ago, involves a consumer-complaints database launched by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  The database, available through the website SaferProducts.gov, is intended to make it easier to find consumer complaints about products and services.

“For the first time, relatively raw complaints -- not complaints vetted or confirmed by the government agency – were made public,” Sullivan wrote at the time.

But that didn’t sit well with “Company Doe,” which sued the commission to prevent release of a complaint against it.

Company Doe has so far succeeded, with a federal judge last July blocking the commission from posting the complaint and allowing the company to remain anonymous, Fair Warning reported. What’s more, large sections of the judge’s ruling were itself blacked out.

Then the commission decided not to appeal, so consumer groups in December asked an appeals court to intervene, saying the secrecy violated the public’s right to information. Now Company Doe is challenging the consumer groups’ right to appeal.

Read more in Fair Warning’s report.    

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