The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Family Dollar Inc., of Matthews, N.C. has agreed to pay a $100,000 civil penalty to settle allegations that the company failed to report defects with electric blankets. The penalty has been provisionally accepted by the Commission.
"This penalty should send a message to retailers that they are just as responsible as manufacturers for reporting defects or hazards with consumer products," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton.
CPSC alleged that Family Dollar Inc. failed to report to the government in a timely manner that electric blankets the firm sold could overheat and catch on fire.
Family Dollar Inc. sold about 9,000 of the electric blankets between November 2003 and February 2004. During that time, the firm received at least 40 reports of malfunctions with the electric blankets, including fire, scorching, or smoke damage; and nine reported injuries, consisting mainly of minor skin burns.
The Commission does recognize that Family Dollar Inc. acted to protect the public by stopping sale of the electric blankets in February 2004 by instituting its own recall in March 2004. However, Family Dollar Inc. did not report the problem to CPSC until after the Commission requested the firm to do so. Therefore, CPSC believes that Family Dollar Inc. failed to meet its reporting obligations.
The Commission ultimately announced the recall of the electric blankets in November 2004. They were manufactured by Bilt-Safe Technologies Inc., of Erwin, Tenn, also known as International Home Fashions Inc. For more information about the recall, contact Bilt-Safe Technologies at (800) 905-0799.
In agreeing to settle the allegations, Family Dollar Inc. denies it violated the Consumer Product Safety Act by failing to report defects with its electric blankets in a timely manner.
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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