The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced a financial settlement with a company that failed to notify the CPSC that certain models of its refrigerators were unsafe, even after it received reports of consumer injuries.
The company, Viking Range Corporation, has provisionally agreed to pay a civil penalty in the amount of $450,000 in connection with CPSC charges that the company failed to report the product safety defect immediately, as required under federal law. According to the CPSC, the company knew for years of a defect involving its refrigerator door hinge support mechanisms before notifying the agency.
Ultimately, Viking Range announced a recall of more than 45,000 refrigerators June 2009, following reports that the door hinge support mechanisms could loosen, sag or detach, posing the risk of an impact injury. The company received 57 reports of door detaching, including four reports of injuries involving bruises, broken toes and/or fingers, and strains. The refrigerators were sold through appliance and specialty retailers from July 1999 through April 2006 for between $4725 and $6400.
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, Viking Range has denied CPSC allegations that it knowingly violated the law.