Manufacturer Pays Civil Penalties for Failing to Report a Defect

When there are defects discovered in a product and the manufacturer fails to report a warning concerning the risk, it could result in a penalty. This was the case recently when Williams-Sonoma, maker of Pottery Barn wooden hammock stands, agreed to pay a $987,500 civil penalty.

There was a deterioration risk of the wood in the stands deteriorating which could result in an unexpected fall. Although the hammock stands were eventually recalled, it was long after Williams-Sonoma learned of the defect. 

Prior to this, the manufacturer had received 45 incident reports and 12 injury reports including: 

  • bruising;
  • cuts;
  • neck and back pain; and
  • fractured ribs.

Requirements in Reporting a Defective Product

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requires that known defects be reported within 24 hours to the agency. A report must also be filed if there is a reasonable risk that someone could be seriously injured or killed; or if there is a failure to comply with CPSC’s regulations, rules or bans.

This applies not only to manufacturers, but retailers, distributors and importers as well. Anyone involved in the chain of distribution must immediately contact CPSC. Not only could failing to comply with these requirements result in civil and criminal penalties, as is the case with Williams-Sonoma, but consumers who are injured by a product may also seek legal action. 

Compensation could be available for: 

  • medical expenses;
  • lost wages;
  • pain and suffering; and
  • more.

If a product causes someone’s death, surviving family members may be entitled to damages through a wrongful death claim.

Defective product cases can be complicated. When it’s believed that a flaw in a product is the cause of someone’s injuries, seek legal advice. At Gacovino, Lake & Associates the attorneys can help consumers with these cases. Call them at 800-246-4878 to schedule a consultation about a potential defective product case.

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