The Consumer Product Safety Commission and Whirlpool agreed on a settlement after the CPSC claimed that Whirlpool knowingly failed to report that some of its electric radiant heat cooktops had a defect that could create a "substantial product hazard."
The CPSC said that the defect on 17 of its JennAir, KitchenAid and Whirlpool brand cooktops posed an "unreasonable risk of serious injuries to consumers."
Whirlpool will pay a civil penalty of $11.5 million, the CPSC said.
The CPSC said starting in November 2017, Whirlpool received numerous reports that the cooktops could turn on by themselves. The CPSC said that despite these reports, Whirlpool never forwarded these reports to federal officials, as required.
The CPSC said that by the time Whirlpool filed a report with the agency, there had been 157 reports of cooktops automatically turning on, causing 14 incidents of property damage.
It was not until August 2019, about 21 months after receiving its first reports, that Whirlpool declared a recall.
"American consumers should never have to worry that products in their homes will turn on without warning and ignite a fire," said CPSC board member Richard Trumka. "To avoid that, companies have to report to CPSC immediately when they know of such risks. The agency charged that Whirlpool didn’t for years. It waited to report the problem until after 157 incident reports, including burns and damage.
"Over 25,000 of these products marked Whirlpool, KitchenAid, and JennAir were recalled in 2019, with a free replacement. Today, we act to hold Whirlpool accountable for ignoring safety and hiding information its customers needed to protect themselves."
In addition to the civil penalty, Whirlpool has agreed to file annual reports regarding complying with the Consumer Product Safety Act.
The CPSC said 26,300 cooktops were subject to the recall.The products were sold at Lowe's, Home Depot, Best Buy and other retailers from between $1,150 and $2,500.
In 2022, Whirlpool reported approximately $20 billion in annual sales.
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