Viking Range LLC and its parent company, The Middleby Corp., have agreed to pay a $4.65 million civil penalty for failure to report defective gas ranges. The civil penalty settles claims that Greenwood, Mississippi-based Viking and Elgin, Illinois-based Middleby failed to immediately report to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that the gas ranges contained a defect that could create a substantial product hazard and an unreasonable risk of serious injury, according to the agency. The CPSC said:
Several consumers called 911 for assistance when they discovered that the ranges had turned on spontaneously and could not be turned off or disconnected. Viking knew of this information, but failed to notify CPSC immediately of the defect or risk posed by the ranges, as required by federal law.
The CPSC said that between 2008 and 2014, Viking received 170 incident reports of ranges that had turned on spontaneously and could not be turned off using their control knobs, resulting in extreme surface temperatures posing a burn hazard to consumers. The incidents include reports by two consumers who said they were unable to turn off the Viking range using the controls and were burned while attempting to disconnect the power source, according to the agency. Viking eventually told the commission that it had received five reports of ranges that had turned on spontaneously and caused damage to property in the areas surrounding the ranges.
Viking recalled a total of 52,000 ranges in May 2015, according to the CPSC. They were sold for between $4,000 and $13,000 at retail appliance stores nationwide – including Abt, Ferguson, Morrison’s, Pacific Sales and P.C. Richard & Son – from July 2007 through June 2014.
In addition to paying the $4.65 million civil penalty, Viking and Middleby have agreed to maintain an enhanced compliance program to ensure compliance with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Act. Viking will also maintain a related system of internal controls and procedures, the CPSC said. The food equipment manufacturing giant on Feb. 28 reported net profits for fiscal 2016 of $284 million, compared with $192 million in fiscal 2015. Middleby’s international brands, in addition to Viking, include Aga Ranges in Great Britain, Beech Ovens in Australia and La Cornue cookers in France.
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