NEWS from CPSC
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20207
Release # 02-094
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A U.S. district judge has affirmed that companies must report immediately to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) certain information that their products could cause injury or death. The ruling was made in a civil penalty action by the U.S. government against Mirama Enterprises Inc., which does business as Aroma Housewares Co., in San Diego, Calif., an importer of juice extractors (or juicers).
Aroma received telephone calls and letters beginning early in 1998 that the juicers were breaking apart and injuring consumers. By the time Aroma reported to CPSC in November 1998, it had at least 23 reports of incidents of juicers breaking apart, including reports of injuries to at least 22 consumers. Five of these injuries required stitches and one required surgery.
Judge Judith N. Keep in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California held the company liable before trial, based on the existing evidence and legal arguments. The judge noted that "companies are specifically advised to over-report rather than under- report." She added that the thrust of the Consumer Product Safety Act "is to impose on companies in the consumer product business a duty to report fully and immediately so that the Commission might protect the public safety."
The court found that the incidents reported to Aroma were "enough for a reasonable person to be able to conclude that the juicer posed an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death. ... The standard is a 'reasonable person' standard, not a 'reasonable expert' standard."
"The court's ruling strongly supports what the CPSC has been telling companies for years," said CPSC Acting Chairman Thomas Moore. "The sooner we learn of a problem, the sooner we can inform consumers and protect them from further injury and death."
The court will now consider the amount of penalty that Aroma must pay for failing to report the unsafe juicers. The Department of Justice's Office of Consumer Litigation is representing CPSC in the case.
Aroma Housewares Co. conducted a joint recall with CPSC of about 40,000 of these juice extractors in June 1999. For more information on the recall, call Aroma at (800) 276-6286 or go to the press release.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission protects the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death from 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270, or visit CPSC's web site at http://www.cpsc.gov/talk.html. For information on CPSC's fax-on-demand service, call the above numbers or visit the web site at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/103.html. To order a press release through fax-on-demand, call (301) 504-0051 from the handset of your fax machine and enter the release number. Consumers can obtain this release and recall information at CPSC's web site at http://www.cpsc.gov.