The U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that it has settled three civil penalty cases and imposed penalties totaling $1.5 million.
Two of the settlements, with Brunswick Corp., of Lake Forest, Ill., and Murray Inc., of Brentwood, Tenn., resolve allegations that the firms failed to report, in a timely manner, defects in their products that could create a substantial product hazard or an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death. Blue Coral-Slick 50 Inc., of Houston, Texas, has agreed to a penalty for failing to package some of its windshield products in child-resistant packaging.
"If in doubt, companies should always report any and all information to the Commission that could affect the safety of consumers," said Chairman Hal Stratton. "Companies that fail to take such an approach expose themselves to the risk of civil penalties." Brunswick agreed to a $1 million civil penalty. The Commission alleged that Brunswick was not timely in reporting that it had learned of 31 serious incidents involving defective forks on its Mongoose and Roadmaster bicycles. The forks broke apart during normal use of the bicycles and caused riders to lose control, fall to the ground face first, and suffer serious facial and head injuries. The company conducted three recalls with CPSC between May 2000 and April 2002, each time increasing the number of defective units recalled and identifying additional injuries to riders from the increased number of bicycles recalled. The final announcement brought the total number of bicycles involved in the recall to 103,000.
Murray agreed to $375,000 in civil penalties to settle the Commission's allegation that between November 2000 and February 2002, Murray received over 900 reports of riding lawn mower gas tanks cracking and leaking fuel, resulting in six fires and one burn injury. The company failed to inform CPSC of the incidents and safety hazards on its rear-engine and mid-engine riding lawn mowers, as required by the Consumer Product Safety Act. In March 2002, Murray agreed to a recall of nearly 100,000 lawnmowers sold under the Murray, Murray Select, Craftsman and Wizard brand names.
The $150,000 penalty against Blue Coral-Slick 50 Inc. represents the first civil penalty the CPSC has imposed against a company for violating the Poison Prevention Packaging Act.
The allegations against Blue Coral-Slick 50 were that between September 1997 and May 2001, the firm distributed about one million bottles and pouches of Rain-X® Super Glass Cleaner Concentrate, Rain-X® Washer Fluid Additive and Rain-X® Plus Washer Fluid Concentrate without child resistant closures, as required under the Poison Prevention Packaging Act. The PPPA guidelines call for all household products with more than 4% methanol to be packaged in child resistant containers. The product solution contained a hazardous level of methanol (6%) and did not use the proper safety packaging. The Rain-X glass cleaner and washer fluid were recalled in September 2001.
In agreeing to settle these cases, the three companies denied that they knowingly violated the federal statutes regulated by the Commission.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product 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 deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.
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