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Defective product case results in $4.25 million civil penalty

When you purchase products in this country, you do so with the expectation that they've been vetted for safety and that their reasonable use won't cause you injury. However, there are times when companies fail to warn consumers about risk and even go to great lengths to cover up injuries caused by the products they sell. When this happens, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) can step in and issue fines.

The CPSC recently did exactly that when pet supply retail giant PetSmart failed to alert consumers to the dangers of "Top Fin" and "Grreat Choice" fish bowls. The fish bowls were known to crack, shatter or break, even during acceptable use, causing serious injury in, at minimum, 12 different cases.

PetSmart was informed 19 times of the issue and issued a recall for some of the fish bowls. However, they knowingly failed to report 81,300 additional fish bowls for two years. For this, the CPSC has handed down a $4.25 million fine for PetSmart. The retailer has now "agreed to maintain an enhanced compliance program to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA)."

It's important to note that the penalty PetSmart will pay is completely separate from any civil suit a customer could bring to seek compensation for their injuries. This is the case in any defective product case; if you feel you've been injured because of a dangerous product, you have the right to bring a civil action against the responsible parties. An attorney with experience in this area may be able to help you receive damages.

Source: wset.com, "CPSC: PetSmart to pay $4.25 million penalty fee for failing to report a defective product," Catherine Doss, November 17, 2016

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