Yesterday the Consumer Product Safety Commission ("CPSC") announced that Hewlett-Packard Company has agreed to pay a $425,000 civil penalty to settle allegations that the company failed to report safety issues with its lithium-ion battery pack to the CPSC in a timely manner.
Section 15(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act requires companies to report immediately to the CPSC if they have information that a product could create a "substantial product hazard" or create an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death. The CPSC alleges that HP was aware of incidents of overheating, two of which allegedly involved injuries to consumers, 10 months before reporting to the CPSC. HP and CPSC recalled around 32,000 battery packs in October 2008.
According to a statement released by CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum, the settlement with HP was negotiated under the pre-CPSIA enforcement scheme, which had much lower statutory limits on civil penalties. However, Tenenbaum indicated an expectation that the Commission’s future enforcement actions will “include civil penalty amounts that maximize the likelihood of deterring violations.”
Also yesterday, the Obama Administration announced the nomination of Marietta Robinson for CPSC Commissioner. Ms. Robinson is a trial attorney with 33 years experience and former trustee of the Dalkon Shield Trust.