Cinmar LLC, of West Chester, Ohio, has agreed to pay a $3.1 million civil penalty, which has been accepted provisionally by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The settlement resolves CPSC staff’s charges that the firm knowingly failed to report to CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, a defect involving Frontgate foldaway two-and three-step ladders made of mahogany wood and designed for use in walk-in closets. Cinmar sold the ladders nationwide between November 2005 and July 2010 for $90 to $150.
CPSC staff charged that the steps could break unexpectedly, posing a fall hazard to consumers. Cinmar did not file its full report with CPSC until July 29, 2010. By that time, more than 1,200 consumers had returned their ladders to Cinmar, most citing breakage, and others citing cosmetic problems. Additionally, by that time, Cinmar had received notice of at least two dozen injuries, one requiring surgery and another necessitating hospitalization. On Jan. 20, 2011, Cinmar and CPSC announced the recall of 38,000 wooden step ladders.
Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors and retailers to report to CPSC immediately (within 24 hours) after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect that 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 a monetary penalty, Cinmar has agreed to implement and maintain a compliance program designed to ensure compliance with the safety statutes and regulations enforced by the Commission. Cinmar has also agreed to maintain and enforce a system of internal controls and procedures designed to ensure that:
• information required to be disclosed by the company to the Commission is recorded, processed and reported, in accordance with applicable law;
• all reporting made to the Commission is timely, truthful, complete and accurate; and
• prompt disclosure is made to Cinmar management of any significant deficiencies or material weaknesses in the design or operation of such internal controls that are reasonably likely to adversely affect, in any material respect, the company’s ability to record, process and report to the Commission.
Cinmar also further agreed to do the following: provide written documentation of such improvements, processes and controls, upon request of CPSC staff; cooperate fully and truthfully with CPSC staff; and make available all information, materials and personnel deemed necessary by staff to evaluate the company’s compliance with the terms of the agreement. Photos are available and can be viewed at http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Newsroom/News-Releases/2014/Cinmar-Agrees-to-Civil-Penalty.
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