A $650,000 settlement was paid by a Mass. manufacturer of children’s products as civil penalties associated with the risk of its defective inflatable baby boats to creates a drowning hazard.
Last October 17, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that Massachusetts-based Aqua-Leisure Industries, Inc., has agreed to pay $650,000 in civil penalties for its failure to report defects found in their baby boats. CPSC said that this decision is to settle allegations that the company knew but failed to immediately report to the agency the malfunction of its inflatable baby boats that is a strict requirement of federal law. The CPSC stated that the leg strap of Aqua-Leisure baby boats seat, manufactured between the period August 2002 to 2008 can rip, resulting to the child to unexpectedly fall into the water and a great risk to drowning hazard.
In 2001, similar consumer complaints made Aqua-Leisure, through instigation by the CPSC, recalled 90,000 of its Sun Smart inflatable baby boats. Between July 2003 and July 2006, there were 17 incidents received by the company for its defective inflatable baby boats sold after the 2001 recall. According to the reports, the baby boat seats are really great risks as it can rip, fell out, fail, split, tore off, or be separated from the boat. In fact, there were already four cases in which a baby boat seat tore off, causing the child to fall into the water.
By October 31, 2008, there were already 24 complaints involving several models of inflatable baby boats since the 2001 recall but Aqua-Leisure failed to adequately notify the CPSC until May 2009.
On July 2, 2009, 4 million inflatable baby boats were recalled by Aqua-Leisure and the CPSC which were marketed nationwide from December 2002 through June 2009 for the amount of $8 to $15. At the time the recall was issued, 31 consumer complaints of Sun Smart inflatable boat seats have been submitted of children falling into or under the water because of ripped or torn boat seats. Again, the reports of the problem were not submitted by Aqua-Leisure to the CPSC, although more children were exposed to the drowning hazard than should have been. It is a rigid policy of the Federal law requiring manufacturers, distributors and retailers to report to the CPSC within 24 hours after receiving information regarding a product that contains a defect that could cause a potential hazard, creates an unnecessary risk of injury or death, or fails to follow CPSC rules and regulations.
Aqua-Leisure agreed to the $650,000 settlement, but denied the allegations made by the CPSC staff that its inflatable baby boats had a defect that could cause a considerable product risk, or that its product could create an unreasonable hazard, injury or death, or that there was any violation made by the company on the requirements established by the Consumer Product Safety Act.
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