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From Products Liability Law Daily, January 6, 2015

Gerber Legendary Blades agrees to $2.6 million for failure to report defective ‘Gator Combo Axe’

By Joe Bichl

Gerber Legendary Blades, a division of Fiskars Brands Inc., of Madison, Wisconsin, has agreed to pay a $2.6 million civil penalty pursuant to a settlement agreement that was provisionally accepted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The agreement settles charges by CPSC staff that the firm knowingly failed to report to the agency immediately, as required by federal law, a defect and an unreasonable risk of serious injury involving the Gerber Gator Combo Axe. Gerber also agreed to abide by a permanent injunction (U.S. v. Gerber Legendary Blades, D. Ore.).

CPSC staff charged that, beginning in 2005, Fiskars began receiving reports of laceration injuries caused by the Gator Combo Axe, including serious injuries requiring surgery. Fiskars and CPSC jointly announced the recall of the Gator Combo Axe in 2011.

In addition to imposing a $2.6 million civil penalty on Fiskars, CPSC requires that Fiskars comply with federal consumer product-related reporting requirements. To assure compliance with those legal requirements, the consent decree requires Fiskars to implement and maintain a compliance program that contains the following:

  • written standards and policies;

  • procedures for reviewing claims and reports for safety concerns and for implementing corrective and preventive actions when compliance deficiencies or violations are identified;

  • confidential employee reporting of compliance-related questions or concerns to either a compliance officer or another senior manager;

  • effective communication of compliance-related policies and procedures to all employees, through training programs or otherwise;

  • senior manager responsibility for compliance and accountability for violations;

  • oversight of compliance by Fiskars’ governing body; and

  • record retention requirements.

“CPSC’s job is to protect consumers,” said CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye in an agency press release. “The sooner a firm informs CPSC about incidents or injuries with defective products, the quicker we can act to protect the American public. Failure to report on a timely basis is not only illegal, it can endanger consumer safety. We will not tolerate such irresponsible and dangerous behavior.”

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