Today, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted 4-0-1 to approve a proposed settlement agreement with Vornado Air, LLC (“Vornado”) after the company failed to report that its VH101 Personal Vortex Heaters (“heaters”) contained a defect which created an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death or could create a substantial product hazard. The settlement would require Vornado to pay a civil penalty of $7.5 million and to take other remedial actions.
For more than three years after Vornado learned that its heaters were susceptible to fire, the company stayed silent and did not reveal the risks to CPSC or to the consumers who had purchased the product. During that time, one of the defective heaters caught fire, resulting in the death of a 90-year-old man. This death was avoidable.
While the penalty announced today is significant, companies should be on notice that the agency will be even more aggressive in the future. The entire consumer product industry – including manufacturers, importers, and retailers – have an obligation to immediately report potential defects which could create an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death. Failure to report in a timely fashion will result in an investigation and CPSC will pursue significant civil and potentially criminal penalties. The CPSC will not hesitate to use all of the tools at our disposal to hold firms responsible who choose to put anything other than safety first when selling consumer products.
I thank the Commissioners and CPSC staff who continue to work hard to ensure that consumer products are safe for individuals and families to use. In the meantime, I encourage consumers to report hazards to CPSC so that we can uncover defects and save lives. Let us know what you are seeing at saferproducts.gov.