Black & Decker to Pay $1.6M for Mower Defect

BALTIMORE (CN) – Black & Decker agreed on Thursday to pay $1.58 million to settle charges it purposely didn’t report safety issues with its cordless electric lawnmowers.
     In a complaint filed in the Baltimore Federal Court, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and U.S. Justice Department claimed the manufacturer received more than 100 complaints between 1998 and 2009 about electric mowers that either started by themselves or continued to run after their handles were released.
     However, the company failed to report these problems to the federal safety regulators until late 2009, the government’s complaint says.
     In at least two cases, consumers were injured when the mowers started while being cleaned, the agencies said.
     According to the lawsuit, in one of those cases the lawnmower “continued to run while the consumer was in an emergency room, between two and five hours, and continued to run even after fire department personnel removed the blade.”
     In agreeing to the settlement, Black and Decker, which has since merged with the Connecticut-based Stanley Company, did not admit to any wrongdoing.
     “This dispute represents an honest disagreement over the reporting requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Act,” said Gregory Waybright, the company’s vice president for investor and government relations, in a written statement. “Stanley Black &Decker resolved to put it behind us, to resume and maintain our good relations with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
     But Elliot Kaye, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, took a harder view in a statement released by his agency.
     “Companies are required to report potential product hazards and risks to the CPSC on a timely basis,” he said. “That means within 24 hours, not months or years as in Black & Decker’s case.”
     The lawnmowers that were the subject of the settlement were manufactured under both the Black & Decker and Craftsman brand names between 1995 and 2006. The pertinent Black & Decker brand cordless electric lawnmowers contained model numbers CMM1000 or CMM1000R; the Craftsman brand lawnmowers had model number 900.370520.
     The government was represented by former Trial Attorney Dan Baeza of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, with the assistance of Patricia Vieira of the CPSC’s Office of the General Counsel.
     Although the parties have an agreement in principle, the settlement still requires court approval.

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