Viking Range Corporation of Greenwood Mississippi has agreed to pay a $450,000 civil penalty for failure to report to the U.S. Consumer Safety Product Commission regarding a known dangerous door hinge defect in some models of the consumer retail Viking Refrigerator. The CSPC claimed that the company, Viking Range Corporation, was aware that a manufacturing defect in a door hinge support mechanism had caused injury to consumers on at least ten occasions over a period of several years. By law, Viking Range should have reported this to the CSPC immediately but failed to do so. Failure to report such a defect placed Viking in violation for a substantial period of time.
Viking sold thousands of the defective refrigerators at various retail outlets and specialty stores from July 1999 until April 2006. The defective units of the Viking Refrigerator have door hinge mechanism that has been known to loosen, allowing the door to sag and come free from the units. Multiple impact injuries have been reported as a result of this defect. The United States has strict laws to protect consumers from such injuries, as well as an extensive reporting and cooperation process to help manufacturers and retailers communicate with consumers and address any problems that arise.
Viking reported the defect to the CSPC in April 2009 and, in June 2009, recalled over 45,000 refrigerator units. However, subsequent investigation by CSPC staff revealed that the corporation had been aware of the problem for a significantly longer time. By not reporting, Viking was in violation of a federal law that requires reporting of such defects within 24 hours. Although Viking Range Corporation has agreed to the settlement, the company still denies that it violated any law regarding how it dealt with safety issues surrounding any Viking Refrigerator.
The law in question applies to manufacturers, distributors and retailers, and requires immediate reporting of dangerous defects. Such a report would typically be filed as soon as anyone gains reasonable knowledge of a hazardous defect that could lead to serious injury or death. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are also required to report any failure to comply with any other consumer product safety rule, regulation, standard or ban enforced by the United States Safety Product Commission.