Products Liability Law Daily Viking’s failure to report gas range defect results in $4.65 million penalty
Friday, April 14, 2017

Viking’s failure to report gas range defect results in $4.65 million penalty

By Colleen Kave, J.D.

Viking Range, LLC, of Greenwood, Mississippi, and Viking’s parent company, The Middleby Corporation, of Elgin, Illinois (collectively Viking), have agreed to pay a $4.65 million civil penalty for failing to report in a timely manner a defect in its gas ranges, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced. According to the penalty agreement, which has been accepted provisionally by the Commission in a 4 to 1 vote, Viking has also agreed to maintain an enhanced program to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) and a related system of internal controls and procedures. Viking’s settlement of this matter does not constitute an admission of CPSC staff’s charges (In the Matter of The Middleby Corporation and Viking Range, LLC, April 11, 2017; 82 FR 17979, April 14, 2017).

The penalty agreement settles charges that Viking failed to report immediately to CPSC a defect in its gas ranges that could create a substantial product hazard and an unreasonable risk of serious injury. The company received 170 incident reports between 2008 and 2014 alleging that ranges had turned on spontaneously and could not be turned off using the control knobs, resulting in extreme surface temperatures that posed a burn hazard to consumers. Two consumers who reported incidents were burned while attempting to disconnect their ranges from the power source. Viking also received five reports of ranges turning on spontaneously and causing property damage to the area surrounding the appliance, and several consumers called 911 for assistance when they were unable to turn off or disconnect ranges that had turned on spontaneously. Although Viking knew of these incidents, the company violated federal law by failing to notify CPSC immediately of the defect and the risk posed by the gas ranges.

Eventually, in May 2015, Viking recalled 52,000 gas ranges sold at ABT, Ferguson, Morrison, Pacific Sales, PC Richard & Son and other stores nationwide from July 2007 through June 2014 for between $4,000 and $13,000.

The case is CPSC Docket No. 17-C0003.

Companies: Viking Range, LLC; The Middleby Corp.

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