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. Kawasaki allegedly failed to do this with regard to defects in thousands of eventually recalled recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs) and now the company has agreed to pay a $5.2 million penalty.
The CPSC announced today that Kawasaki Heavy Industries will pay $5.2 million to resolve charges it failed to immediately report that more than 30,500 model year 2012 to 2016 Teryx4 750, Teryx4 800, and Teryx 800 likely contained a defect that could pose an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death.
The agency alleges that despite receiving hundreds of reports of incidents involving the floorboards of the ROVs, Kawasaki knowingly made misrepresentations to the CPSC related to its 2014 recall of the vehicles. By failing to properly report information related to the potential defect, Kawasaki allowed potentially dangerous vehicles to remain in use and prevented the CPSC from taking action.
In July 2014, Kawasaki recalled 11,000 of the ROVs after determining the floorboards could allow a stick or other debris to break through and protrude into the foot rest area, posing an injury hazard to the operator and front passenger. The recall was expanded by 19,000 ROVs in Dec. 2015.
According to the CPSC, failed to properly notify CPSC of the defect or risk posed by the ROVs, as required by federal law.
The agency claims that between April 2012 and July 2014, Kawasaki received more than 400 reports of Teryx4 750 floorboards cracking or breaking during normal operation due to impact with, or penetration by, debris from outside the vehicle. Three of these reports involved injuries to consumers, including one serious injury.
Additionally, the CPSC claims that between July 2013 and August 2015, Kawasaki received more than 150 reports of Teryx4 800 or Teryx 800 floorboards cracking or breaking during normal operation. Three of these incidents resulted in injuries to consumers, including two serious injuries.
Despite these reports, the CPSC claims that when Kawasaki finally filed a full report with the agency related to the ROVs’ defect, the company only reported a single incident and an unspecified number of injuries.
“The full report did not identify the more than 400 similar incidents involving Teryx floorboards about which Kawasaki had actual or presumed knowledge or any incidents involving the Teryx4 800 or Teryx 800,” the CPSC notes in a statement.
By omitting this information, Kawasaki made a material misrepresentation to the agency, impeding CPSC staff’s investigation into the hazard posed by the ROVs and Kawasaki’s proposed repair, and hampered staff’s ability to accurately communicate the prevalence of the hazard to the public, the agency states.
In addition to paying the $5.2 million penalty, Kawasaki will maintain a compliance program to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) and maintain a related system of internal controls and procedures.
It should be noted that Kawasaki did not admit it violated the CPSA. Consumerist has reached out to Kawasaki for comment on the settlement.