Delay in Reporting Defect Leads to $1.9M in Penalties for Spectrum Brands

A Wisconsin-based consumer products company has been ordered to pay $1.9 million in civil penalties for waiting to report a defect in coffee carafes, which resulted in injuries to nearly 70 people, and for continuing to sell them after they were recalled.

U.S. District Judge William Conley issued the order against Spectrum Brands, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The order stemmed from a 2016 court ruling that found the company violated the Consumer Product Safety Act by waiting years to turn over complaints about handles breaking on Black & Decker SpaceMaker carafes.

The company reported the problem to the Consumer Product Safety Commission in April 2012, but went on to sell about 600 more products, the court said.

The company sold about 159,000 coffeemakers between July 2008 and April 2012, and received about 1,600 reports of broken handles from November 2008 through April 2012.

Among those cases, 66 people reported being burned by hot coffee that spilled because of the handle breaking. Three said they were cut by broken glass. Two customers received medical attention.

Conley’s ruling cited a company official who said the company doesn’t have a clear policy on executing a recall. Conley issued a permanent injunction for the company to improve its compliance program.

Company spokesman David Prichard said the company hasn’t decided if it will appeal.

“Spectrum Brands appreciates the court’s time and consideration of the evidence in this matter,” Prichard said. “We will take the court’s ruling into account as we consider our options in this matter.”

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