GE Settles CPSC Complaint That it Failed to Report Dangerous Defects, but Won't Admit to Wrongdoing
General Electric (GE) has agreed to pay a $3.5 million civil penalty to settle a complaint filed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), but did not admit to any wrongdoing.
The CPSC's complaint charged that the GE knowingly failed to report defects that could cause an unreasonable risk of serious injury in two models of kitchen ranges and dishwashers. By law companies are required to report these types of defects within 24 hours, but in GE's case, it took at least five years.
GE has agreed to pay a $3.5 million fine, but the company did not admit to CPSC staff's charges that its ranges or dishwashers contained a defect which could create a substantial product hazard or an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or that the company failed to notify the Commission in a timely manner, in accordance with the reporting requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Act.
CPSC staff charged that a connector in two models of Profile freestanding duel fuel ranges can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards. GE received notice of the hazard in 2004, but did not report the hazards to the CPSC until February 2009. By then, GE had received 13 reports of the harness and writing overheating in the back of the range, causing five fires. About 28,000 ranges were recalled in April 2009.
In September 2010, GE reported that various models of Profile and Monogram dishwashers can short circuit from condensation building up on the control board, which poses fire and burn hazards. By then, GE had received several reports of fires that had occurred due to overheated control panels, including a report received in 2007. In October 2010, about 174,000 dishwashers were recalled.
Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to report to CPSC immediately (generally within 24 hours), after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard, creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or fails to comply with any consumer product safety rule or any other rule, regulation, standard, or ban enforced by CPSC.
In addition to paying the $3.5 million civil penalty, General Electric has agreed that GE Appliances will maintain a compliance program designed to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act and a system of internal controls and procedures.