Black & Decker Paying $960,000 Penalty in Trimmer Case

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the civil penalty has been provisionally accepted on a 5-0 vote by the commission.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that Black & Decker (U.S.) Inc., of Towson, Md., has agreed to pay a $960,000 civil penalty to settle allegations by the commission's staff that the company failed to immediately report safety defects with its Grasshog XP Weed Trimmer/Edger as required by law and also withheld information requested by the staff during the investigation. The commission voted 5-0 to provisionally accept the penalty, and Black & Decker denied allegations that it knowingly violated the law, according to the announcement.

Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to report to CPSC within 24 hours after obtaining information "reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard, creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or fails to comply with any consumer product safety rule or any other rule, regulation, standard or ban enforced by CPSC," according to the agency.

The staff alleged Black & Decker knew on or before May 2006 that the high-powered, electric Grasshog XP GH1000 was defective and could cause harm but did not report this to the commission. Also alleged was that Black & Decker failed to provide full information about defects with the Grasshog XP as requested in May 2006. "Based on the incomplete information provided at that time, CPSC closed the case. The firm did not give CPSC staff full information about the extent of Grasshog XP defects or the mounting number of incidents and injuries until October 2006," the announcement states. "In July 2007, Black & Decker and CPSC announced the recall of about 200,000 Grasshog XP model GH1000 trimmer/edgers. By that time, there were more than 700 reports of incidents, including 58 injuries with the Grasshog XP. The trimmer/edgers's spool, spool cap and pieces of trimmer string can come loose during use and become projectiles. This poses a serious laceration hazard to the user and to bystanders. The trimmer/edgers also can overheat and burn consumers."

Black & Decker sold the Grasshog XP weed trimmers from November 2005 through early 2007 for about $70. The recall was reannounced in August 2009 with an additional 100 injuries reported, according to CPSC, which said consumers with recalled Grasshog XP trimmer/edgers should contact Black & Decker for a free repair kit.

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