South Carolina Company Will Pay $4.3 Million Penalty for Unsafe Minibikes, Go Carts
South Carolina-based Baja Inc. and its affiliate One World Technologies agreed to pay a $4.3 million civil penalty to settle a complaint by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
The complaint charged that the companies knowingly failed to immediately report defects and an unreasonable risk of injuries for 11 models of minibikes and go-carts. Under the settlement agreement, however, Baja and One World Technologies do not admit to CPSC staff's charges that its minibikes and go-carts contained a defect which could create a substantial product hazard or created 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 the gas cap can leak or detach from the fuel tank on the recalled minibikes and go-carts, posing fire and burn hazards. In addition, staff charged that the throttle can stick, due to an improperly positioned fuel line and throttle cable, posing a sudden acceleration hazard.
Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to report to CPSC 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.
Baja did not file its full report with CPSC until June 2010. CPSC staff charged that by that time, Baja had received four reports of fires from leaking gas caps and burn injuries to consumers, including a serious burn injury to a child. Baja had also received two dozen consumer reports of stuck throttles. Baja had implemented design changes to remedy the throttle hazard, but the firm had not notified consumers or CPSC of these changes.
Baja sold the vehicles nationwide from November 2004 through June 2010 for $200 to $2,000. In July 2010, Baja and CPSC announced the recall of 308,000 minibikes and go-carts.
In addition to agreeing to pay the $4.3 million civil penalty, Baja and One World have agreed to maintain a program designed to ensure compliance with the safety statutes and regulations enforced by the Commission.