WASHINGTON, D.C. –The Justice Department’s Civil Division announced today that Electrolux Home Products Inc. (Electrolux), of Charlotte, North Carolina, has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $750,000 to settle allegations that it knowingly failed to report immediately to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) a safety hazard associated with certain wall ovens sold to consumers. Electrolux has also agreed to establish and maintain a compliance program with internal recordkeeping and monitoring systems to keep track of information about product safety hazards.
“Manufacturers and distributors of consumer products are required to report product defects and hazards to the Consumer Product Safety Commission immediately and there are penalties for those who fail to do so,” said Stuart F. Delery, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We will continue to work with our partners at the CPSC to ensure that they can act promptly to protect consumers from injuries.”
In a complaint filed on behalf of the CPSC in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, the United States alleged that Electrolux became aware of incidents in which gas could build up in the oven during broiling and escape and ignite, causing burn and fire hazards to consumers. Electrolux imported and distributed approximately 7,800 of the Kenmore ovens that were sold by Sears and other stores throughout the United States.
“CPSC will vigorously enforce the immediate reporting requirement found in the Consumer Product Safety Act,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Bob Adler. “The federal reporting rules are aimed at protecting the safety of the American public. Delay in reporting of product defects and hazards by manufacturers, distributors or retailers can result in civil penalties and other measures designed to ensure consumer safety.”
Under the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are required to report product hazards to the CPSC. A knowing violation of the CPSA subjects a firm to civil penalties. The United States alleged that between February 2006 and November 2007, Electrolux knew of 22 consumer reports of flames shooting out of the oven when the broiler was on. The incidents resulted in consumer injuries ranging from singed hair to facial burns. The United States alleged that Electrolux failed to immediately report hazards with the oven, despite the fact that Frigidaire Canada, Electrolux’s sister company, identified the defective and hazardous nature of the ovens in January 2005 and implemented a design change to fix the defect in March 2006.
“Public safety is a paramount concern,” said United States Attorney, Southern District of Georgia Edward J. Tarver. “The United States Attorney’s Office must and will continue to work together with the CPSC to protect consumers.”
During the relevant time period, Electrolux’s principal place of business was in Augusta, Georgia. A recall of the ovens was announced in 2008. In agreeing to settle this matter, Electrolux has not admitted that it knowingly violated the CPSA.
The matter is being handled by the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia, on behalf of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
La Comisión de Seguridad de Productos del Consumidor de EE.UU. (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, CPSC) está encargada de proteger al público contra riesgos irrazonables de lesión o muerte asociados al uso de miles de tipos de productos de consumo bajo la jurisdicción de la institución. Muertes, lesiones y daños a la propiedad asociados a incidentes con productos de consumo le cuestan al país más de $900,000 millones anualmente. La CPSC está comprometida con proteger a los consumidores y las familias contra los productos que presenten un peligro de incendio, eléctrico, químico o mecánico. Los esfuerzos de la CPSC para asegurar que los productos de consumo —tales como juguetes, cunas, herramientas eléctricas, encendedores de cigarrillos y productos químicos para uso doméstico— sean seguros, contribuyeron a la disminución en el índice de muertes y lesiones relacionadas con productos de consumo en los últimos 30 años.
La ley federal prohíbe que cualquier persona venda productos sujetos a un retiro del mercado anunciado públicamente y llevado a cabo por el fabricante; o a una orden de la Comisión obligatoria.
Para reportar un producto peligroso o una lesión relacionada con un producto, visite SaferProducts.gov (en inglés) o llame a la línea de información de la CPSC al (800) 638-2772 o al teletipo (800) 638-8270 para discapacitados auditivos. Los consumidores pueden obtener información sobre noticias y retiros en www.cpsc.gov/espanol, vía Twitter @USCPSC o suscribiéndose para recibir los boletines electrónicos gratuitos de la CPSC.