Hewlett-Packard Company (HP), of Palo Alto, Calif., has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $425,000. The settlement agreement has been provisionally accepted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The settlement resolves CPSC staff allegations that HP knowingly failed to report immediately to CPSC, as required by federal law, that certain lithium-ion battery packs contained a defect or created an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death. The lithium-ion battery packs can overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard to consumers. The packs were shipped with new HP Notebook computers, sold as accessories or provided as spare parts for various HP models.
CPSC staff alleges that by September 2007, HP knew of about 22 incidents associated with the lithium-ion battery packs. At least two of these incidents resulted in injuries to consumers. HP also was aware that at least one consumer apparently went to the hospital, but says it didn’t receive any information on the consumer’s injuries or treatment. According to CPSC staff, between March 2007 and April 2007, HP conducted a study, from which it obtained additional information about the lithium-ion battery packs. HP did not notify the Commission about the incidents or the study until July 25, 2008. By that time, CPSC staff says that the firm was aware of at least 31 incidents involving the lithium-ion battery packs. In October 2008, HP and CPSC announced a recall of about 32,000 lithium-ion battery packs.
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