Product Liability

Electrolux settles lawsuit with $750,000 fine due to failing to report a known hazard

lawsuit gavel scales of justice Electrolux settles lawsuit with $750,000 fine due to failing to report a known hazardA civil penalty of $750,000 will be paid by Electrolux Home Products Inc., according to the Justice Department’s Civil Division. The fine will settle allegations that the company knowingly refused to report a known safety hazard with its wall ovens to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Since the settlement, Electrolux has also agreed to establish and maintain internal recordkeeping and monitoring systems that will track important information regarding product safety hazards.

“Manufacturers and distributors of consumer products are required to report product defects and hazards to the Consumer Product Safety Commission immediately and there are penalties for those who fail to do so,” said Stuart F. Delery, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We will continue to work with our partners at the CPSC to ensure that they can act promptly to protect consumers from injuries.”

The complaint filed by the United States claimed that Electrolux was aware of incidents involving its ovens allowing gas to build up during broiling and escape and ignite, posing both burn and fire hazard to Electrolux’s consumers. The approximately 7,800 hazardous Kenmore ovens were sold by Sears and various stores throughout the United States.

“CPSC will vigorously enforce the immediate reporting requirement found in the Consumer Product Safety Act,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Bob Adler. “The federal reporting rules are aimed at protecting the safety of the American public. Delay in reporting of product defects and hazards by manufacturers, distributors or retailers can result in civil penalties and other measures designed to ensure consumer safety.”

CPSC requires manufacturers, distributors and retailers that are aware of product hazards to report them to the agency due to the enactment of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA). Any company that knowingly disregards this legislation would be subject to civil penalties.

From February 2006 through November 2007, Electrolux was aware of 22 consumer reports of flames shooting out of the oven when the broiler was on. These incidents resulted in injuries from singed hair to complete facial burns. Although Frigidaire Canada, Electrolux’s sister company, implemented a design change to fix the hazardous defect in March 2006, Electrolux failed to report any of the known hazards to the CPSC.

“Public safety is a paramount concern,” said United States Attorney, Southern District of Georgia Edward J. Tarver.  “The United States Attorney’s Office must and will continue to work together with the CPSC to protect consumers.”