Texas-based craft store, Michaels, has agreed to pay $1.5 million in penalties to settle allegations that it did not report product defects to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in a timely manner. According to a news report in The Hill, the large glass vases Michaels sold were shattering in customers’ hands. The announcement about the fine came from the Department of Justice, which along with the CPSC, had filed a joint lawsuit against Michaels Stores Inc. in 2015.
Violation of Product Safety Laws
The lawsuit alleged that Michaels violated the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) by failing to report the safety defects with the vases until 2010 in spite of having information that one consumer had been injured by the vases in 2007 and at least four others had suffered injuries in the first half of 2009. The complaint stated that the walls of the glass vases were too thin to withstand the normal pressure of handling. Some vases apparently shattered even when customers lifted them from store shelves.
As part of the agreement with CPSC, Michaels has agreed to maintain a CPSA compliant program and ensure that internal procedures are set to make sure that such defects are reported to federal regulators in a timely manner. The store, however, does not admit in the agreement that it violated federal product safety laws.
Why Timely Reporting is Important
Product manufacturers are required under the law to report to federal regulators right away if their product is causing death or serious injuries. They should report the defect also if the product has not yet caused serious injuries, but has the potential for serious injuries. For example, if small parts in a toy come off and pose a choking hazard, the recall should be issued right away before a young child is injured a killed as result of a such a risk.
When a manufacturer reports defects and injuries in a timely manner, it also gives regulators the time and ability to warn consumers about these products that pose risks. Injured victims of defective products may be able to seek compensation for their losses by filing a product liability lawsuit. A class action lawsuit could also be a good way for consumers to band together and hold large corporations accountable for defective products.