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Home Shopping Network Fined by CPSC Over Welbilt Pressure Cooker Recall

Jan 2, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP The Home Shopping Network (HSN) has been fined by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) over dangerous pressure cookers.  According to the CPSC, the popular TV shopping channel will have to shell out $875,000 for its failure to inform the Commission in a timely manner that Welbilt electronic pressure cookers sold by HSN from September 2001 to November 2002 where dangerously defective. Federal law requires that companies notify the CPSC within 24 hours of discovering a product defect.

According to a CPSC press release announcing the fine, HSN received at least 25 reports from consumers indicating that the Welbilt pressure cookers contained a defect that could create a substantial product hazard or that the pressure cookers created an unreasonable risk of serious injury. The CPSC charges that HSN failed to immediately report this information as required by federal law, and did not report the Welbilt pressure cooker problems to the Commission in February 2005. The defective Welbilt pressure cookers were recalled by the CPSC in June and October 2005.  

HSN agreed to the fine in order to head off a lawsuit the CPSC and the Justice Department were prepared to file against HSN accusing it of failing to tell the Commission about problems with the Welbilt pressure cookers.  As part of the settlement, HSN denied that it was aware of 25 reports about problems with the appliance, and it acknowledged no responsibility for failing to promptly warn consumers about the danger of using the pressure cooker. The network also denied not adequately reporting to the product safety commission any risks associated with the cooker.  "The safety of our customers is HSN's highest priority, which is why we voluntarily reported this matter to the CPSC," a company spokesperson said in a statement. "Although we disagree with the allegations of the CPSC, we have agreed to resolve this matter without the distraction and expense of litigation."

The Welbilt pressure cooker was manufactured in Korea by DRECO Ltd., formerly known as DaeRyuk Electronics Ltd. As part of the October 2005 recall notice, the CPSC said HSN had received 43 reports of lids opening while contents were under pressure, resulting in 37 burn incidents, four of which involved third-degree burns.

It is not unusual for the CPSC to fine manufacturers of defective products for failing to report problems to the Commission in a timely manner.  Last March, Mattel was fined $975,000 for not informing the CPSC within the proper time frame of a choking hazard posed by one of its Little People toys. And in 2001, Mattel was also fined more than $1 million for a similar incident involving its Power Wheel vehicles.

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