A Colorado company has agreed to a $3.5 million penalty to settle charges that it knowingly failed to report to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) a defective product that posed an unreasonable risk of injury to consumers.
According to the CPSC, the company, phil&teds USA of Fort Collins, Colorado, was aware that the clamps on its MeToo high chairs could detach from a table, exposing children to falls and crushed or amputated fingers. The company reportedly received multiple reports between September 2009 and October 2010 of one or both sides of the chair detaching from a table. These reports included two incidents in which children’s fingertips were amputated.
Despite these reports, the company failed to report the defect to the CPSC until January 2011. Further, upon notifying the CPSC, the company failed to disclose the specific hazard associated with the defect, and actually supplied the CPSC with a sample chair that had been redesigned to minimize the risk.
More than 13,000 MeToo high chairs were sold in the U.S. between May 2009 and January 2011 for between $40 and $50.
In reaching the settlement with the company, the CPSC agreed to suspend all but $200,000 of the $3.5 million penalty based on the company’s sworn representations of its inability to pay the total penalty with ceasing its operations.