The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously to approve a proposed settlement agreement with Clawfoot Supply, LLC (“Clawfoot”) to resolve charges that the company failed to report that its Wall-Mounted Teak Folding Shower Seats created an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death or had a defect which could create a substantial product hazard. The settlement would require Clawfoot to pay a civil penalty of $6 million and to take other remedial actions.
Manufacturers are required to inform the CPSC of possible product defects or risks that cause injuries or deaths so that they can be adequately fixed and future injuries prevented. Secret recalls that do not improve safety and hide product risks endanger the public. Yet, for more than three years after Clawfoot learned that its shower seats posed a fall and laceration hazard, the company stayed silent and did not reveal the risks to CPSC or to the consumers who had purchased the products. During that time, there were 194 incidents of the seats breaking, including 37 incidents of falls and 23 reported injuries.
Instead of fulfilling its reporting obligations and working with CPSC to recall its product, Clawfoot tried on its own to resolve the problem quietly by initiating a design change that did not remove the hazard and offering past purchasers replacements of their shower seats. Meanwhile, the Firm continued to sell the shower seats and amass consumer incident reports. It did not make a report to CPSC until August 2018 when it learned of another incident in which its shower seat broke in such a way that the consumer required 20 stitches.
This behavior was egregious. I credit CPSC staff for pursuing this case and assessing this civil penalty. Today’s announcement is the 5th civil penalty announcement so far this year with a combined total of $38 million assessed against companies that did not comply with laws CPSC enforces. I expect industry to take seriously the CPSC’s renewed focus on enforcement and look forward to a safer marketplace for all. In the meantime, I encourage consumers to report hazards to CPSC so that we can uncover defects and save lives. Let us know what you are seeing at saferproducts.gov.
1 See: Segway Powersports Assessed $5 Million Civil Penalty for Unlawfully Importing ATVs CPSC.gov; Core Agrees to Pay $6.5 Million Civil Penalty for Failure to Report Serious Injuries Involving its Exercise Equipment