Keurig has been ordered to pay a government fine of $5.8 million for failing to quickly report information about its defective coffee brewers, which reportedly led to a number of injuries and a massive safety recall. According to a report on Consumerist.com, federal law requires manufacturers, distributors and retailers to immediately report information regarding possible safety defects to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) within 24 hours of obtaining reasonable supporting evidence.
But Keurig allegedly did not follow that rule when it came to the December 2014 recall of 7 million MINI Plus Brewing Systems. This is the second largest civil penalty in the agency’s history, which Keurig paid out to resolve charges that the company failed to report a defect and unreasonable risk of injury.
What Happened with Keurig Brewers?
In December 2014, Keurig recalled millions of its brewing systems after finding out that water in the machine could overheat while brewing, spray out and burn consumers. At the time, the company had received more than 200 reports of the spraying hot water. About 90 of the incidents included consumers who suffered burn-related injuries to their hands, faces and bodies. In some cases, people even suffered more serious second- and third-degree burn injuries.
CPSC officials said they did an investigation into how the recall was handling and found that the company had received the 200 injury and defect reports over a period of four years beginning as early as 2010. Investigators said they found Keurig had accumulated significant information over a four year-period and failed to report the incidents in time, which could have prevented other consumers from suffering burn injuries.
Company Padded Its Profits
Keurig apparently did not notify CPSC until the end of 2014 and even continued to import the machines after reporting the defect. In addition, investigators said the company continued to make profits by selling the machine between the time they reported the defective products to regulators and the actual recall a month later.
Since it was between November and December, they took full advantage of Black Friday and holiday sales to promote the products, which they fully knew were faulty, regulators said. In addition to paying the fine, Keurig also agreed to develop, implement and maintain a compliance program that will ensure they comply with the Consumer Product Safety Act.
This is a classic example of how manufacturers put profits ahead of customers who buy their products. Product liability lawsuits are a way for consumers to hold such negligent manufacturers responsible when they fail to do the right thing.