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From Products Liability Law Daily, February 22, 2016

CPSC issues letter to ensure self-balancing scooters comply with safety standards

By John Dumoulin.

Stating that self-balancing scooters not meeting currently applicable voluntary safety standards “pose an unreasonable risk of fire to consumers,” Robert J. Howell, the Acting Director of the Office of Compliance and Field Operations for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), has written a letter to manufacturers, importers, and retailers of such scooters urging them to be sure their products comply with the applicable standards. Howell said consumers “risk serious injury or death” if these scooters catch fire and burn (CPSC LetterFebruary 18, 2016).

In the letter, Howell said that from December 1, 2015, through February 17, 2016, CPSC had received reports from consumers in 24 states of 52 fires involving self-balancing scooters, also known as “hoverboards,” that resulted in more than $2 million in property damage.

Howell said he wanted businesses to ensure that scooters they import, manufacture, distribute, or sell in the United States comply with applicable safety standards, including all referenced standards and requirements contained in UL 2272—Outline of Investigation for Electrical Systems for Self-balancing Scooters. He added that all lithium ion battery products must comply with test requirements under UN/DOT 38.3—Transport of Dangerous Goods for Lithium Metal and Lithium Ion Batteries.

Howell went on to say that his staff considers self-balancing scooters not meeting these safety standards to be defective and that they may present a “substantial product hazard” or an “imminent hazard” under the Consumer Product Safety Act. Howell stated that if his staff finds such products at import, his office may “seek detention and/or seizure” of them, and that if his staff finds such products domestically, his office may seek a recall of the products.

Towards the end of the letter, Howell said CPSC staff would “follow-up as appropriate in the future to ensure that the firms are meeting their obligations in this area” and reminded firms that they are obligated to report to CPSC if they determine that one of their products is defective.

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