HP pays civil penalty for defective li-ion battery packs

The Hewlett-Packard Company of Palo Alto, CA has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $425,000 for failing to report defective lithium-ion battery packs used in the company’s notebook computers.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the defective battery packs can overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard to consumers.  HP reportedly knew as of September 2007 of approximately 22 separate incidents associated with the battery packs, including two incidents that resulted in injuries to consumers. However, the company did not notify the CPSC about the problem until July 2008. About 32,000 lithium-ion battery packs were eventually recalled by HP in October 2008. 

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.

In agreeing to the civil penalty, HP has denied CPSC allegations that it knowingly violated the law.