More Multi-Million Dollar Civil Penalty Settlements: Dangerous Products Sold to Trusting Customers


More Multi-Million Dollar Civil Penalty Settlements: Dangerous Products Sold to Trusting Customers

Selling Recalled Products Despite Their Danger: Another Example of Profits Over People

Last week, a multi-million dollar settlement was reached between the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Best Buy Co., Inc., of Richfield, Minnesota. Did you hear about it?

Best Buy stores are all over Indiana and Illinois. Chances are high that you or a loved one will be doing some shopping at a Best Buy this holiday season.

Today, we’re not going to consider the bargains that Best Buy will be offering on Black Friday or in the After Christmas sales. Best Buy is our focus for an entirely different reason.

Best Buy is an example of how stores sell products that can hurt you. Even after the maker of that product has issued its recall. Recalls involve more than manufacturers.

Best Buy $3.8 Million Civil Penalty Settlement Announced

A CPSC news release gives the details of the $3.8 civil penalty that Best Buy is paying for knowingly selling and distributing 16 different recalled products over a five year time span. These were products that Best Buy knew were recalled. The company didn’t stop them from being sold to innocent consumers.

From the CPSC:

The agreement settles charges that Best Buy knowingly sold and distributed 16 different recalled products from 2010 through 2015.

Sales of recalled products continued even after Best Buy told CPSC that the firm had put measures into place to reduce the risk of sales of recalled products.

Between September 2010 and October 2015, Best Buy sold about 600 recalled items, including more than 400 Canon cameras, to consumers.

The recalled products included:

Toshiba Satellite Notebook Computers, recalled on September 2, 2010;
iSi North America Twist ‘n Sparkle Beverage Carbonation Systems, recalled on July 5, 2012;
LG Electronics Gas Dryers, recalled on August 21, 2012;
GE Dishwashers, recalled on August 9, 2012;
Canon EOS Rebel T4i Digital Cameras, recalled on August 14, 2012;
GE Profile Front Load Washers, recalled on October 3, 2012;
Sauder Woodworking Gruga Office Chairs, recalled on November 7, 2012;
LG Electronics Electric Ranges, recalled on November 8, 2012;
LG Electronics Top-Loading Washing Machines, recalled on December 18, 2012;
Samsonite Dual-Wattage Travel Converters, recalled on February 12, 2013;
Definitive Technology SuperCube 2000 Subwoofers, recalled on March 28, 2013;
Gree Dehumidifiers, recalled on September 12, 2013;
Frigidaire Professional Blenders, recalled on September 19, 2013;
Schneider Electric APC Surge Arrest Surge Protectors, recalled on October 3, 2013;
Coby 32-inch Flat Screen Televisions, recalled on December 12, 2013; and
Whirlpool Jenn-Air Wall Ovens, recalled on July 29, 2015….

Best Buy’s settlement of this matter does not constitute an admission of CPSC staff’s charges.

Some of these products posed serious threats to customers who bought them. For instance, the GE Dishwashers were recalled in August 2012 after GE discovered they were starting house fires.

The LG Electric Ranges? They were recalled after LG found out that their burners weren’t turning off, or they would increase in heat setting “unexpectedly during use,” which not only could start fires but might also cause people to be seriously burned while cooking on the stove.

The Whirlpool Jenn-Air Wall Ovens? They were recalled by the manufacturer after people reported they were getting burned by the oven’s faulty oven racks. The racks would fall out of the oven during use.

Think this is no big deal – that this doesn’t happen often and your family is safe when buying products like gas dryers, dishwashers, heaters, or ovens at the store? Not so.

Goodman Company $5.55 Million Civil Penalty Settlement Over Dangerous Heaters and Air Conditioners

From the CPSC, another example. Last month, there was a $5.55 Million civil penalty settlement with a Texas manufacturer of heaters and air conditioners. Goodman Company, L.P., agreed to pay $5.5 Million after the Justice Department filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging that Goodman had “knowingly failed to inform CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, that its packaged terminal air conditioners/heaters (PTACs) contained a hazardous defect and posed an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death to consumers. The complaint also alleges that when Goodman ultimately reported the fire risk to CPSC, it misrepresented the number of fires that had occurred.

Read the details in the September CPSC news release here.

Seems these products were being sold to unsuspecting customers even though they were known to catch fire. There were three different hotel fires attributed to the Goodman air conditioners according to CPSC, for example.

This multi-million dollar settlement is an example of the maker of a product failing to protect the customer from a known hazard and danger. Manufacturers are supposed to act fast and recall products they discover are dangerous.

Will You Buy a Product in a Store That Is Dangerous? Maybe Yes.

Both state and federal law condemn stores and companies from selling products and goods that can hurt people. Federal law prohibits it. Recalls are enforced to get defective and dangerous things out of the marketplace. If a company or manufacturer will not voluntarily monitor and recall its product, then the federal government will step in and issue its own mandatory recall of the dangerous good.

Federal recalls can be for all sorts of things, from food to drugs to air bags in vehicles. See, for instance, “Millions of Recalled and Unrepaired Vehicles Drive Indiana and Illinois Roadways Today.”

State laws in place both in Indiana and Illinois also work to protect the public from products that can hurt or kill them. State laws make these things illegal. There are also “defective product” laws and product liability laws that allow those who have been harmed to sue for damages and justice after they have been injured.

However, all these federal and state laws are not enough to fight and block corporate greed. Sometimes, it’s smarter from a profit perspective to keep selling that dangerous product rather than do the right thing and remove it from distribution. Maybe the company will lose money if they recall that product! Maybe the store won’t sell as many appliances or electronics if they don’t have these products out on their showroom floors!

When profits are chosen over people, innocent and trusting victims get hurt.  Sometimes they are seriously and permanently injured.  Tragically, sometimes they are killed by the defective product.

In our next post, we’ll discuss what each of us can do to try and keep our families safe from a dangerous product, and what our options are should we be harmed and injured by a defective good. Let’s be careful out there!!!

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