Black & Decker Pays ~$1 Million Fine to CPSC News & Opinion

Black & Decker Pays Million Dollar Fine to CPSC


It’s bound to happen. With all of the manufacturing that goes on, the headline Black & Decker Pays Million Dollar Fine to CPSC isn’t a surprise. You’re bound to get a product that somehow slips by and ends up causing injuries. This is especially true with power tools, and even more evident in yard tools and things that sling around objects at high RPMs… like, say, a string trimmer. The real worries start – at least for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) when injuries and dangerous situations don’t get readily disclosed. Well, this week the CPSC announced that Black & Decker  agreed to pay a “civil penalty” of $960,000. That’s basically a fine by any other name. The commission accepted the penalty agreement unanimously and it resolves allegations that Black & Decker failed to immediately report several safety defects. The defects were with regard to their Grasshog XP GH1000 trimmer/edgers. This reporting is required by federal law. In addition, the CPSC had alleged that Black & Decker withheld information they had requested during the investigation into the safety recall.

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Black & Decker Pays Million Dollar Fine to CPSC

The way current federal law works is that a manufacturer, distributor or retailer must report any information that would indicate a product contains a defect that could pose a hazard to consumers or pose a serious risk of injury. The report is to go to the CPSC directly. The original allegations (which are now moot according to the commission’s vote of acceptance) are that Black & Decker knew, on or before May of 2006, that the high-powered, electric Grasshog XP GH1000 Trimmer/Edger was defective and could cause harm, but didn’t report the defect to the CPSC

The CPSC also alleged that Black & Decker didn’t provide the complete story regarding defects, incidents and injuries until a full 5 months later. Because the information provided was incomplete, the CPSC closed the case. When October 2006 rolled around, the situation was much different and by  July 2007, Black & Decker and the CPSC had announced a recall involving close to 200,000 Grasshog XP model GH1000 trimmer/edgers.

By that date, however, more than 700 incidents, including over 50 injuries, had been reported.

Oops.

Apparently, the GH1000’s spool, spool cap, and even pieces of trimmer string could come loose during use and become projectiles. This is a real hassle if you’re like, you know, trimming the lawn while your neighbor is walking their dog, or your kids are playing nearby. On top of this, the trimmers also could overheat and burn the operator. Double whammy. Black & Decker sold about 200,000 Grassing XP weed trimmers from November of 2005 through May of 2007 for about $70. The recall didn’t go out until 2009 and by that time another 100 injuries had been reported. Black & Decker is (and has been) offering a free repair kit to consumers for this trimmer.

Because they agreed to the settlement, Black & Decker denies CPSC allegations that it knowingly violated the law.

Our only question is: who gets the money?

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