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Black & Decker Fined $1.5 Million for Slow Lawnmower Recall

Black & Decker Fined $1.5 Million for Slow Lawnmower Recall

April 30, 2015 — Black & Decker has been ordered to pay $1.575 million for waiting years to recall lawnmowers that could start spontaneously and continue running with the handle released and no key.

The civil penalty was announced by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Justice Department.

This is the fifth time Black & Decker has been fined for failing to report a safety defect since 1986. According to CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye:

“Black & Decker’s persistent inability to follow these vital product safety reporting laws calls into question their commitment to the safety of their customers. They have a lot of work to do to earn back the public’s trust.”

About 160,000 of the lawnmowers were sold between 1995 and 2006. Beginning in 1998, Black & Decker started receiving customer complaints about the mower continuing to run after the handle was released. By 2003, customers were also reporting that the mower started spontaneously.

Over 100 incidents were reported to Black & Decker. Several people who were cleaning the blades of the mower had finger lacerations when it started unexpectedly.

In one incident from 2006, the fire department was called out to disable a lawnmower that continued to run for several hours while the consumer was being treated for hand injuries in the emergency room.

Despite the serious nature of the complaints, Black & Decker did not hire an expert to find the source of the defect until 2004. After it was identified, they did not tell the CPSC until 2009. The mowers were eventually recalled in 2010. They were also previously recalled in 2002 for a fire hazard.

Federal law requires companies to promptly report safety defects. “That means within 24 hours, not months or years as in Black & Decker’s case,” said the CPSC Chairman.

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