Defective Fan Maker Fined $500,000Jan 5, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
Lasko Products will pay $500,000 in a civil penalty for its failure to report defective fans, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) just announced. The CPSC has provisionally accepted the fine to be paid by Lasko, which settles allegations that Lasko failed to immediately report incidents about its defective portable box and floor fans. Lasko—in agreeing to settle the issue—denies it knowingly violated the law.
The defective Lasko fans were sold between 2000 and 2004; in February 2006, CPSC and Lasko announced the recall of about 5.6 million fans. Between November 2002 and September 2005, Lasko received about 42 reports of fans overheating, smoking, melting, or catching fire, which resulted in nine personal injuries—including burns and smoke inhalation—and property damage, eight of which resulted in fires that caused extensive property damage. It seems that Lasko did not fully report the incidents to the CPSC until September 2005 and, because of this, the CPSC has alleged that Lasko failed to report that its defective fans could pose fire and burn hazards to consumers.
According to the CPSC, federal law requires firms to report to it 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 violates any consumer product safety rule, or any other rule, regulation, standard, or ban enforced by the agency.
The defective fans were manufactured in the United States; sold at discount department stores nationwide for between $10 and $25; and include 5.6 million Lasko, General Electric, Galaxy, and Air King Brand Box and Pivoting Floor Fans manufactured between January 1999 and July 2001. Styles and model numbers are either stamped or appear on a label on the bottom of the fans, are listed below include:
- Lasko: Box Fan models 3700, 3723, 3733, 3750; Cyclone Fan models 3510, 3550, 3800, 35105; Wind Machine models 3300 and 3521; Air Companion model 3515; Air Director model 2135; and Wind Tunnel models 3400 and 3410.
- General Electric: Box Fan model 106620 and Cyclone Fan models 106600 and 106630.
- Galaxy: Box Fan model 3733.
- Air King: Cyclone Fan 20-inch deluxe pivot fan model 9500 and Air Companion 15-inch deluxe pivot fan model 9515
Philly.com noted that fan and space heater maker Lasko was criticized by the CPSC for waiting several years before it reported the fire and burn hazards. "To have incidences of fire, to have incidences where somebody has been burned, and to not immediately turn that information over to CPSC is wholly unacceptable," CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson said, adding, "A company cannot and should not, under federal law, wait years—years—to report to the federal government when there are incidents that rise to the level of fires with a consumer product, incidents that lead to personal injury of consumers," according to Philly.com.
Consumers with recalled fans can receive a free fan cord adaptor designed to shut the fan motor off if overheating occurs; Lasko can be reached toll-free at (800) 984-3311, or at the firm’s Website at www.laskoproducts.com/recall/recall_fans.html.