Products Liability Law Daily PetSmart shoulders $4.25 million civil penalty for failure to report defective fish bowls
Tuesday, November 15, 2016

PetSmart shoulders $4.25 million civil penalty for failure to report defective fish bowls

By Colleen Kave, J.D.

PetSmart Inc., of Phoenix, Arizona, has agreed to pay a $4.25 million civil penalty for failing to report to the Consumer Product Safety Commission immediately that "Grreat Choice" and "Top Fin" brand fish bowls contained a defect that could create a substantial product hazard or that the fish bowls created an unreasonable risk of serious injury. According to CPSC staff, the company also knowingly misrepresented to CPSC the scope of the products that were subject to a recall. Pursuant to the penalty agreement, which the Commission has accepted provisionally by a 4 to 1 vote, PetSmart has also agreed to maintain an enhanced compliance program to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) and a related system of internal controls and procedures. PetSmart’s settlement of this matter does not constitute an admission of CPSC staff’s charges (In the Matter of PetSmart Inc., November 14, 2016).

The penalty agreement settles charges that between August 2011 and January 2014, PetSmart received at least 19 reports of fish bowls cracking, breaking, or shattering during normal use. At least 12 of these incidents resulted in serious injuries to consumers, including deep lacerations requiring stitches and several tendons that required surgery. PetSmart failed to notify CPSC immediately of the defect or the risk posed by the fish bowls, in violation of federal law. Moreover, CPSC staff alleged that the initial recall of 10,200 fish bowls (CPSC Recall Notice, No. 14-155, April 24, 2014) did not account for an additional 81,300 fish bowls that posed the same hazard; thus, the recall had to be reannounced and expanded in 2015 (CPSC Recall Notice, No. 16-038, November 17, 2014). The recalled fish bowls were sold at PetSmart stores nationwide from March 2010 through September 2013 for about $20.

The case is CPSC Docket No. 17-C0001.

Companies: PetSmart Inc.

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