CPSC Settles Charges of Impropriety with Juvenile Products Company
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced that a $3.5 million settlement has been reached with phil&teds USA, resolving charges of ignoring safety standards.
The juvenile products developer was accused of knowingly failing to report to CPSC, as required by federal law, a defect and an unreasonable risk of serious injury concerning their MeToo high chair. In addition, the penalty settles CPSC's claim that phil&teds knowingly made material misrepresentations to agency staff during an investigation of the high chair in 2011.
The clamps of the affected high chairs were prone to detaching from the table, which could cause a fall. If only one side of the high chair detaches, a child's fingers can become crushed between the bar and the clamping mechanism, resulting in amputation. Between September 2009 and October 2010, phil&teds received multiple reports of one or both sides of the high chair detaching, including two incidents where children's fingertips were amputated.
Despite these reports and two design changes to fix the problem, the company failed to immediately report the defect, consumer incidents or the design changes.
When phil&teds USA finally reported the defect to CPSC in January 2011, the company failed to disclose that the high chair posed an amputation hazard, and withheld from CPSC staff that the sample high chair provided for analysis had been redesigned and was not the "representative sample" characterized by phil&teds.
The MeToo high chair was recalled in August 2011, after the company had sold more than 13,000 nationwide.
CPSC has agreed to suspend all but $200,000 of the penalty based on sworn representations that the company cannot pay more than that amount without ceasing business operations. In addition, the firm has agreed to implement and maintain a compliance program to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) and a related system of internal controls and procedures. The compliance program requires written standards, policies and procedures to ensure that all information regarding the company's compliance with the CPSA, including reports and complaints, is conveyed to the company's responsible employees.