WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that PetSmart Inc., of Phoenix, Arizona, has agreed to pay a $4.25 million civil penalty for failing to immediately report to CPSC that “Grreat Choice” and “Top Fin” brand fish bowls contained a defect that could create a substantial product hazard or that the fish bowls created an unreasonable risk of serious injury. CPSC staff also alleged that PetSmart knowingly misrepresented to CPSC the scope of the products that were subject to a recall.
Between August 2011 and January 2014, PetSmart received at least 19 reports of fish bowls cracking, breaking, or shattering during normal use, resulting in serious injuries to consumers in at least 12 cases. The injuries included deep lacerations requiring stitches and severed tendons that required surgery. PetSmart failed to immediately notify CPSC of the defect or risk posed by the fish bowls, as required by federal law.
During CPSC’s investigation, PetSmart failed to identify the correct amount and distribution dates of the fish bowls that posed a laceration hazard to consumers. Consequently, the recall announced in April 2014, involving 10,200 fish bowls sold from February 2013 to September 2013, had to be reannounced and expanded in 2015. PetSmart had failed to identify 81,300 additional fish bowls sold before February 2013 that posed the same hazard, requiring the expansion of the recall in November 2015.
The recalled fish bowls were sold at PetSmart stores nationwide from March 2010 through September 2013 for about $20.
In addition to paying the $4.25 million civil penalty, PetSmart has agreed to maintain an enhanced compliance program to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA). PetSmart will also maintain a related system of internal controls and procedures.
PetSmart’s settlement of this matter does not constitute an admission of CPSC staff’s charges.
The penalty agreement has been accepted provisionally by the Commission by a 4 to 1 vote.