GE to Pay $3.5 Million for Failing to Report Defective Products

The General Electric Company of Fairfield, CT has agreed to pay a monetary forfeiture of $3.5 million to settle charges that it failed to properly notify the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) of product defects that could lead to consumer injuries.

According the CPSC, GE failed to report on a timely basis defects with two models of the company’s Profile-brand freestanding dual-fuel ranges. The company sold the ranges for $1300 to $2000 between June 2002 and December 2005, but began receiving reports in 2004 of overheating and fires attributable to a defect in the ranges’ wiring harness. Ultimately, GE reported the hazards to the CPSC in February 2009 after receiving 13 separate reports of overheating, including 5 separate reports of fires. The company announced a recall of about 28,000 ranges in April 2009.

In a separate instance, GE failed to report a defect involving overheated control panels on Profile and Monogram-brand dishwashers sold between July 2003 and October 2010. The company began receiving reports from consumers regarding the defect as early as 2007, and even paid out settlements to consumers in connection with the defect. But it failed to report the problem to the CPSC until October 2010, when GE and the CPSC announced a recall of about 174,000 dishwashers.

Federal law requires that manufacturers, distributors and retailers immediately (i.e., within 24 hours) report to the CPSC information that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard, or pose a risk of injury or death to consumers.

As part of its settlement with the CPSC, GE also agreed to maintain an internal compliance program to ensure the timely reporting of defective products. However, the company neither admitted nor denied CPSC allegations that its appliances posed an unreasonable risk of injury or death, or that the company violated the reporting requirement of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Act.

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