According to a recent news release from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Home Depot has agreed to pay a $5.7 million civil penalty for distributing recalled products that posed various safety hazards to American consumers.
Beginning in 2012 and continuing for the next four years, Home Depot sold dangerous, recalled items. Product recalls are initiated when an item needs to be removed from the market – or requires some sort of corrective action on behalf of the manufacturer and/or distributor – because it endangers the physical wellbeing of consumers. All in all, the CPSC reports that Home Depot sold over 2,800 units of recalled products to its customers.
The Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) was created in 1972 to protect consumers against any unreasonable hazards created from dangerously designed items. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 made it explicitly illegal for distributors to sell items that had been recalled. Both acts give the CPSC the authority to enact financial penalties against companies who fail to ensure that recalled items are not making their ways onto shelves and into the hands of consumers.
In the case of the recalled products that Home Depot continued to sell, there were multiple hazards that consumers unknowingly faced. Some created fire and burn risks, others electrocution or shock hazards – and some were liable to inflict lacerations and cuts. Sadly, this is not the first time that the CPSC has had to enact multi-million dollar fines against companies; in fact, major online seller Amazon is currently facing a lawsuit against two plaintiffs. The individuals allege that they sustained eye injuries after purchasing solar eclipse viewing glasses online – but the glasses had already been recalled over safety concerns.
In 2009, popular toymaker Mattel was fined more than $2 million by the CPSC for knowingly importing toys that were not in compliance with American lead regulations. Another children’s company, Meijer, paid a $2 million civil penalty in 2014 because they distributed recalled items. Although the CPSC works hard to ensure consumer safety, manufacturers must also strive to meet federal safety regulations.
The majority of the recalled products were sold directly on Home Depot’s shelves, although some were also sold online, as well as through donation programs and warehouses. Consumers purchased items like top loading washers, bike hooks, faucets, portable heaters, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, vacuums, knives and portable generators without knowing they had been recalled.
As part of its agreement with the CPSC, Home Depot must create and maintain a compliance program. The CPSC ruled that the company failed to “accurately identify, quarantine, and prevent the sale and distribution of recalled products”, so the main goal of the program is to immediately address these safety failures and work towards different results in the future.
As Home Depot continues to work with the CPSC, ensures the recalled products cease to be sold and maintains a compliance program, we can expect consumer safety to increase. If you are worried that you or a loved one may have purchased a recalled Home Depot product, you can view the complete CPSC news release here: https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/News-Releases/2017/Home-Depot-Agrees-to-Pay-5_7-Million-Civil-Penalty-Maintain-Compliance-Program-for-Selling-and-Distributing-Recalled-Products.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact one of our Philadelphia product liability lawyers. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Reading, and Lancaster, Galfand Berger serves clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.