DOT Announces Increased Oversight, Civil Penalty for Wheelchair Lift Manufacturer

Ricon Corp. will have to pay $1.75 million, the department announced.

Ricon Corp. will pay a $1.75 million civil penalty and has agreed to increased oversight by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for continuing to sell defective wheelchair lifts, even as it had issued a recall of the lifts to remedy a potential fire hazard, DOT announced.

"This company's failure to protect the public from a product known to be a safety risk is absolutely unacceptable," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. "Manufacturers must meet their safety obligations, and when they don't, we will be there with strong enforcement action."

Starting in September 2012, Ricon recalled more than 4,000 wheelchair lifts that were sold to manufacturers of vans and buses. The recall fixed a defective cable that could spark a fire. In June 2013, NHTSA began contacting bus and van manufacturers who used Ricon wheelchair lifts to make sure they were aware of the recall. The NHTSA asked Ricon when it had stopped producing the lifts, but Ricon failed to respond to repeated requests for the information. Six months later, Ricon informed NHTSA that it had mistakenly continued to produce and sell wheelchair lifts with the safety defect.

"Ricon violated the Safety Act both in continuing to produce and sell a product already identified as defective and violated its obligations to make timely notification to NHTSA that it had sold defective products," said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. "In addition to paying a financial penalty, the company has agreed to increased NHTSA oversight and to improve internal procedures to prevent such safety risks going forward."

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