The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is announcing that Whirlpool Corp., of Benton Harbor, Michigan, has agreed to pay an $11,500,000 civil penalty. The settlement resolves CPSC’s charges that Whirlpool knowingly failed to immediately report to CPSC, as required by law, that 17 models of its JennAir, KitchenAid, and Whirlpool brand electric radiant heat cooktops contained a defect that could create a substantial product hazard and created an unreasonable risk of serious injury to consumers.
Beginning in November 2017 and continuing into 2019, Whirlpool received numerous reports from consumers that cooktop surface elements turned on by themselves. Despite possessing information that reasonably supported the conclusion that the cooktops contained a defect that could create a substantial product hazard or created an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, Whirlpool did not immediately report to the Commission. By the time Whirlpool filed an initial report with the Commission, Whirlpool had received at least 157 reports of the cooktops turning on by themselves, including 14 reports of property damage, four reports of objects igniting, and two reports of minor burns. Whirlpool and the Commission jointly announced a recall of the cooktops on August 28, 2019.
The settlement agreement requires Whirlpool to maintain internal controls and procedures designed to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), including enhancements to its compliance program. Whirlpool has also agreed to submit, for a period of three years, annual reports regarding its compliance program, internal controls, and internal audits of the effectiveness of compliance policies, procedures, systems, and training.
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