Company Pays Millions in Penalties for Gas Ranges That Turn On by Themselves
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has fined Viking $4.65 million because the company failed to immediately report to the agency that its gas ranges contained a defect that could cause them to turn on by themselves. According to a CPSC news release, the civil penalty settles charges that Viking failed to immediately report to the agency that its gas ranges contained a substantial product hazard or that the ranges created an unreasonable risk of serious injury.
Between 2008 and 2014, Viking received 170 incident reports of ranges that had turned out spontaneously and could not be turned off using the control knobs. This resulted in extreme surface temperatures that posed a burn hazard to consumers. The reported incidents included two cases where consumers who were unable to turn off the range using the controls, were burned while trying to disconnect the power source.
Failure to Report a Product Defect
Viking had also received five reports that the ranges had turned on by themselves and caused property damage to the area surrounding the range. Several consumers called 911 for help when they found out the ranges were on and could not be turned off or disconnected. CPSC officials said Viking knew about these dangerous defects, but failed to notify CPSC immediately of the defect or risk posed by the ranges, as required by federal law.
Viking eventually recalled 52,000 ranges in May 2015. They were sold at several stores nationwide between July 2007 through June 2014 for between $4,000 and $13,000. In addition to the $4.65-million fine, Viking has agreed to maintain an enhanced compliance program to make sure they comply with the Consumer Product Safety Act. The company’s settlement of the matter with the civil penalty does not constitute an admission of CPSC’s charges.
What the Law Says
If you are a manufacturer, importer, distributor or retailer of consumer products, you have a legal obligation to immediately report the following types of information to the CPSC:
- A defective product that could create a substantial risk of injury to consumers.
- A product that creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death.
- A product that fails to comply with a consumer product safety rule.
- An incident where a child chokes on a marble, small ball, latex balloon, or other small part contained in a toy or game, which results in serious injury or death.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a dangerous or defective product, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. Contact an experienced product defect lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.