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Williams-Sonoma will pay almost $1M for not reporting defect

Posted by: Jane Friedmann under Businesses in hot water, Dangerous products, Whistleblower Updated: May 6, 2013 - 6:06 PM

Popular retailer Williams-Sonoma has agreed to pay a $987,500 fine and make "significant internal compliance improvements" after it failed to notify authorities of a defect in a product that was blamed for 12 injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission Monday.

The California business began selling its Pottery Barn-branded wooden hammock stands in March 2003 and by July 2008, when Williams-Sonoma filed a report with the CPSC and issued a recall for the 30,000 stands already sold, it was aware of 45 incidents of the stands failing including 12 incidents with injuries that required medical attention. The injuries ranged from bruising and lacerations to neck and back pain and fractured ribs.

When used outdoors, the stands' wooden components could rot and fracture, especially the portions hidden inside metal brackets, the CPSC alleged.

Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors and retails to report to the CPSC within 24 hours after receiving information that may reasonably indicate a product is hazardous or could cause serious injury or death.

The hammock stands were imported and sold nationwide for about $300.

Williams-Sonoma agreed to the settlement, but "neither admits, nor denies" the CPSC's allegations that the product was defective or that the company failed to notify the commission in a timely manner, the CPSC said.

A message has been left with Williams-Sonoma seeking comment.

Read the full settlement announcement on the CPSC's website.

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