The circumstances surrounding a product liability penalty announced this week by the Consumer Product Safety Commission go a long way toward explaining why both government oversight and the remedies offered by our courts are so important when defective or dangerous products find their way to market.
According to the Sacramento Bee, and an announcement on the agency’s website, the Consumer Product Safety Commission “has reached a settlement with E&B Giftware LLC of Yonkers, N.Y., resolving CPSC staff allegations that E&B failed to report a defect with its fitness balls.” The agency reports that the company has been hit with a $550,000 civil penalty as a result of its failure to act promptly on legitimate product safety issues.
A statement published on the CPSC website notes that E&B sold three million fitness balls between 2000 and 2009, despite, over that period, “47 reports of the fitness balls unexpectedly bursting when overinflated by consumers, resulting in injuries, including a fracture and bruises.” The agency notes that the balls were recalled by the company in 2009, but that more recent investigations have shown that the manufacturer was aware of some of the potential problems for a significant period of time prior to agreeing to the recall.
We would all like to think that companies will always do the right thing when confronted with evidence that a product they manufacture does not function, particularly when the product in question emerges as a danger to the public. Unfortunately, as this and many earlier CPSC actions demonstrate, that is not the case.
When companies ignore clear, obvious signs that their products are not functioning as anticipated, or that the product’s use requires greater precautions than the manufacturer has taken, it is the responsibility of an Oregon product liability attorney to help victims gain their day in court and the accountability that comes with it. Justice should not require going to court to make companies do the right thing. Too often, however, it does.