Two years ago, Viking Range recalled 52,000 oven ranges that were somehow able to turn themselves on. Now the company behind the ranges has agreed to pay $4.65 million to resolve allegations it failed to properly report the issue to federal regulators in a timely manner.
Under federal law, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are required to immediately report information regarding possible safety defects to the Consumer Product Safety Commission within 24 hours of obtaining reasonable supporting evidence.
The CPSC voted 4-1 to approve a proposed settlement [PDF] fining Viking Ranges and Middleby Corporation $4.65 million for not immediately notifying the agency of a potential defect in tens of thousand of oven ranges.
According to the original recall notice, the ranges — sold between July 2007 and June 2014 — contained a defect that could create a substantial product hazard and an unreasonable risk of serious injury, the CPSC alleged.
Viking Ranges found that the appliances could turn on spontaneously and cannot be turned off using the control knobs. This could result in extreme surface temperatures that pose a burn hazard to consumers.
At the time of the recall, Viking Range said it had received 75 reports of the gas ranges turning on by themselves, including three reports of burns and four reports of property damage claims, with one claim resulting in a payment of $850.
The CPSC contends in the proposed settlement that prior to reporting the issue to the agency, Viking had collected more than 170 incident reports from June 2008 to July 2014.
Of these reports, the settlement claims that five incidents included property damage, while several customers reported they had called 911 for assistance in disconnecting the appliances.
After receiving a number of reports related to the ranges, Viking collected and tested the appliances and developed a repair for the ranges.
Viking also allegedly issued numerous engineering change orders and technical bulletins identifying the defect and providing instructions on how to conduct the repair.
Despite having “information reasonably supporting the conclusion that the ranges contained a defect,” the CPSC claimed that instead of reporting the issue to the agency immediately, Viking waited until July 2014 to submit notice to the regulator.
The company and the CPSC then jointly announced a recall of the ranges in May 2015.
In addition to fining the company $4.65 million, Viking must also maintain a compliance program designed to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act. According to the proposed settlement, Viking did not admit any wrongdoing.
We’ve reached out to Viking and Middleby for comment on the settlement and will update this post if we hear back.
Viking Ranges’ fine comes after two other high-profile fines levied against companies for failure to properly report defects.
In February, Keurig agreed to pay $5.8 million to resolve allegations it didn’t follow federal rules when it came to the Dec. 2014 recall of 7 million MINI Plus Brewing Systems after finding that water in the machine could overheat during brewing, spray out, and burn consumers.
Gree, the maker of millions of recalled dehumidifiers linked to $19 million in property damage, was fined a record $15.45 million over failing to report fires to the Commission, “knowingly made misrepresentations to CPSC staff,” and put Underwriters Laboratories safety marks on products that didn’t meet UL specifications.