The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Fisher-Price, of East Aurora, N.Y., has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $1.1 million to settle CPSC charges that it failed to report serious safety defects with Power Wheels toy vehicles. This is the largest fine against a toy firm in CPSC's history.
Under federal law, companies are required to report to CPSC if they obtain information that reasonably suggests that their products could present a substantial risk of injury to consumers, or creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death. CPSC charges Fisher-Price failed to report to CPSC in a timely manner, as required by the Consumer Product Safety Act, that its "Power Wheels" ride-on toy vehicles presented fire hazards and failed to stop.
Fisher-Price failed to report 116 fires involving the vehicles and reports of more than 1,800 incidents of the vehicles' electrical components overheating, short-circuiting, melting or failing. These incidents resulted in at least nine minor burn injuries to children, and up to $300,000 in property damage to 22 houses and garages. Additionally, Fisher-Price was aware of at least 71 incidents involving the products' failure to stop, resulting in six minor injuries when the vehicles hit a car, truck, pole, window or fence. Fisher-Price began marketing the Power Wheels in 1995. CPSC began an investigation after receiving consumer reports about Power Wheels incidents. The firm only fully reported after being requested to do so by the CPSC staff.
"Firms are required by law to report safety hazards to CPSC so products can be recalled to prevent serious injuries from occurring," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "Fisher-Price knew about hundreds of problems with Power Wheels, yet did nothing for years. This fine is a loud-and-clear message to all firms that failing to report product defects will not be tolerated."
"Fisher-Price significantly strengthened its product integrity organization," Brown added. "I applaud this commitment to turning things around to ensure the safety of children's toys."
In agreeing to settle this matter, Fisher-Price denies CPSC allegations and denies it knowingly violated the Consumer Product Safety Act.
In cooperation with CPSC, Fisher-Price recalled up to 10 million Power Wheels ride-on vehicles on October 22, 1998. The recalled Power Wheels cars and trucks were sold under nearly 100 model names. Power Wheels cars and trucks are intended for children 2 to 7 years old. Toy and mass merchandise stores nationwide sold the recalled vehicles from 1984 through October 1998 for $70 to $300. For more information about the recall, consumers should call Fisher-Price at (800) 977-7800 anytime.
About the U.S. CPSC
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years.
Federal law prohibits any person from selling products subject to a Commission ordered recall or a voluntary recall undertaken in consultation with the CPSC.
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