Civil Penalty Imposed On Office Chair Producer

South Carolina defective product attorneys came across interesting bit of news from the the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regarding a civil penalty imposed upon an office chair manufacturer. Raynor Marketing Ltd., of West Hempstead, New York reached an agreement that has been provisionally accepted by the CPSC to pay $390,00 in penalties. It was alleged Raynor Manufacturing Ltd. was aware of a defect in office chairs sold to consumers, as well as injuries, and failed to report this information immediately to the Commission as required by federal law.

Raynor Marketing Ltd. announced a recall of 150,000 office chairs in October 2009 because bolts attaching the seatback can loosen and detach, posing a fall and injury hazard to consumers. The chairs were sold exclusively through Office Depot stores nationwide and on the retailer’s website, officedepot.com.

“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 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.”

Despite agreeing to the settlement and monetary penalty, Raynor Marketing Ltd. maintains that it did not knowingly violate the aforementioned law. The penalty agreement put forth by the CPSC alleges that Raynor received its first report of an incident involving a broken office chair in December 2007 and by August 2008 Raynor knew of approximately 16 incidents involving bolts in the chairs loosening and/or detaching, causing the seatback to come apart from the base. It was reported in at least four of those incidents the broken chairs caused injury to consumers.

The penalty agreement notes that it was not until April 2009 that Raynor report to the Commission and by that time, Raynor was aware of 28 reports of incidents involving chairs with bolt failures. The time period between Raynor’s alleged first incident report of a defective consumer product and their report to the CPSC was obviously well outside the federal law’s requirement to contact the CPSC within 24 hours. Of the at least 28 reported incidents, there were at least eight instances of substantial physical injuries to consumers.

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