PetSmart Pays $4.25 Million for Failure to Report Unsafe Product
February 3, 2017
PetSmart has been held accountable for its misrepresentation of, and failure to report, two brands of fish bowls that not only posed a serious risk of injury to consumers, but caused multiple injuries as well. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released its statement, alleging that PetSmart intentionally misrepresented how many fish bowls were defective, keeping nearly 100,000 of the fish bowls on the market until a more expansive review was implemented.
The initial product recall was launched in 2014 and included roughly 11,000 fish bowls. The reason for the recall was a significant product hazard that resulted in at least 12 injuries to consumers. The two brands of fish bowls, “Top Fin” and “Great Choice” were prone to shattering, breaking or cracking while in use. The injuries that consumers sustained included severed tendons and deep skin lacerations. In some cases, the injuries were serious enough to require surgical repair.
It is federal law to report an unsafe product, but in the case of the fish bowls, PetSmart neglected to report the defects to the CPSC, even after consumer injuries had been documented. Furthermore, after the initial recall of nearly 11,000 products, the CPSC conducted an investigation. Throughout the investigation it was determined that PetSmart had failed to find that more than 81,000 additional fish bowls were defective and had been sold or were still on the shelves.
The fish bowls were sold between March 2010 and September 2013. They were sold for prices ranging up to $20. Reports of injuries were lodged as early as August 2011, yet the products were not recalled because PetSmart did not willingly disclose the information to the CPSC. People who were injured by the products suffered serious damages that could affect their ability to work, pay medical bills and impact their quality of life.
An expanded recall on the two brands of fish bowls was released in 2015. PetSmart allowed for over one year to pass between the original recall and the revised one, and according to the CPSC was knowingly putting consumers at risk for those serious injuries during that time.
As a result, PetSmart has finally agreed to pay a civil penalty totaling $4.25 million. Not only does PetSmart have to pay a substantial sum, but it has also agreed to implement and insure adherence to an enhanced compliance program. The compliance program requires PetSmart to abide by the Consumer Product Safety Act, or CPSA.
The CPSA is a statute that allows the CPSC to have the authority to develop safety standards and bans in relation to consumer products. In this case, had PetSmart followed the CPSC’s rules, consumer injuries could have been avoided. PetSmart has agreed that it will work to improve its reporting and will be compliant with the CPSC in the future.
This is by no means the first time a company has failed to report products for being dangerous and injurious. The CPSC alleged that conglomerates like Mattel, Fisher-Price and Reebok have all distributed or imported products that put people at risk and failed to report the danger to the commission. In each of these cases, the companies settled and paid large civil penalties. In some cases, however, people died because of the company’s misrepresentation of products or their failure to report.
Luckily, the CPSC consistently works hard to protect the rights, safety and lives of consumers. If companies have kept unsafe products on the shelves for financial gain, the civil penalties handed down will hopefully continue to send the message that the agency will not tolerate any undue or irresponsible risk being inflicted on consumers.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Advocate for Victims Injured by Unsafe Products
The Philadelphia products liability lawyers at Galfand Berger have successfully represented clients who have been injured by dangerous or defective products. If you or any of your loved ones have experienced such a situation, an attorney at Galfand Berger, LLP can help. With offices located in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.