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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Wagner Spray Tech Corp., of Plymouth, Minn. and Techtronic Industries Co. LTD, of Hong Kong, including its wholly-owned subsidiary Techtronic Industries North America Inc., of Anderson, S.C., have agreed to pay an $800,000 civil penalty. The penalty settles a federal lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota alleging that Wagner and Techtronic failed to timely report to CPSC as required by federal law the overheating of certain defective cordless power drill battery chargers. These chargers were distributed under the Wagner brand name and manufactured by Techtronic. The products were reportedly involved in several incidents that resulted in property damage.
The lawsuit alleged that Wagner and Techtronic learned about charger overheating incidents starting in 1999 and 2000, respectively, but failed to immediately report this information to CPSC, as required by law. In March 2004, 180,000 of these battery chargers were voluntarily recalled by Wagner.
"The law is clear, companies have a responsibility to immediately inform us about products that could pose a fire safety hazard to families, and we will hold them accountable," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum.
The civil penalty action demonstrates that the government may seek civil penalties against all responsible parties, including foreign entities, as well as U.S. firms, where appropriate. Under the Consumer Product Safety Act, manufacturers, distributors and retailers are required to report to CPSC immediately after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard, presents an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or fails to comply with any consumer product safety rule or any other rule, regulation or standard, or ban enforced by CPSC.
In resolving the lawsuit, Wagner and Techtronic denied the allegations that they violated federal law or failed to immediately report to the government. The Office of Consumer Litigation of the U.S. Department of Justice brought this case before the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota on behalf of CPSC.