The Swedish multinational household appliance manufacturer AB Electrolux has agreed to pay three quarters of a million dollars stemming from allegations of safety defects in its ovens. According to federal investigators, the company knew about the defect but failed to take action, placing the safety of consumers at risk for burns.
Nearly two dozen reports of Electrolux’s faulty ovens were made since the problem was initially discovered back in 2005. The ovens in question, branded under the Kenmore name, would build up dangerous amounts of gas. When the user opened the oven, he or she would be exposed to a flaming ball of fire. Thankfully, there were no fatalities related to this manufacturing defect, but there were several cases of singed hair and skin burns from Electrolux customers.
The company sold approximately 7,800 of the defective Kenmore ovens in Sears and other North American appliance stores before they were eventually pulled. When the defect was originally discovered in 2005, Electrolux’s sister company, Frigidaire Canada, revamped the oven’s design to fix the problem; however, the problem persisted in Kenmore units due to Electrolux’s failure to take action.
The U.S. Justice Department claims Electrolux knowingly allowed the defect to persist in their ovens, continuing to manufacture and push them to stores and distributes. If this is true, it would be a direct violation of the Consumer Products Safety Act – a law enacted in 1972 by the Congress that focuses on the reduction of injuries related to consumer products.
But Electrolux claims they voluntarily reported the problem to the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2008 and conducted a recall shortly after.
“We voluntarily reported the issue to the [Consumer Product Safety Commission] six years ago in 2008, and at that time, voluntarily conducted a recall of the product. Today’s news is the final step to resolving the matter with the CPSC and we chose to negotiate this settlement to avoid the expense and uncertainty of a suit,” said Eloise Hale, a spokeswoman for Electrolux North America.
After going back and forth with the Justice Department, Electrolux agreed to pay $750,000 for allegations involving its defective Kenmore-branded ovens. It’s important to note that this is not an admission of guilt on Electrolux’s behalf, but rather a solution to federal investigators’ allegations. Electrolux continues to operate with its North American headquarters located in Charlotte, North Carolina.