High-end kitchen appliance maker Viking Range Corp. agreed to pay a $450,000 fine to settle allegations that it knew of a refrigerator door hinge defect but allegedly kept quiet despite at least 10 reports of injuries, said the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
As part of the penalty agreement, the Greenwood, Miss., company admitted no wrongdoing and denies the CPSC allegations. The agreement has been provisionally accepted by the CPSC.
In June 2009, Viking recalled 45,326 built-in, side-by-side refrigerator/freezers and refrigerators with bottom freezers after getting 57 reports of doors detaching, including four reports of consumers suffering such injuries as bruises, strains, and broken toes and fingers. The appliances had been sold in stores nationwide from July 1999 through April 2006 for between $4,725 and $6,400.To fix the problem, Viking offered in-home repairs to consumers.
The CPSC staff alleged Viking got its first complaints of door hinge failure in January 2001, had redesigned its hinges by January 2002 and stopped using that type of hinge by September 2006. In April 2008, Viking created a new repair kit for consumers whose refrigerators showed hinge problems. The CPSC claimed Viking did not report the issue to the agency until April 2009.
Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors and stores to report to the CPSC within 24 hours after learning that a product has a defect that could cause serious injury or death or doesn't comply with consumer product safety rules.
Viking refrigerators aren't the only appliances with door issues. In March, Liebherr-Canada Ltd. recalled some of its refrigerators because the door hinge pin could come loose, causing the door to fall off.
Introduction to Value Investing
Are you the next Warren Buffett?View Course »