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Williams-Sonoma Must Pay Almost $1 Million Fine Over Pottery Barn Hammock Recall

May 9, 2013

Williams-Sonoma Must Pay Almost $1 Million Fine Over Pottery Barn Hammock Recall

On October 1, 2008, Pottery Barn issued a recall for Chesapeake Hammock Stands due to a wood deterioration problem that could lead to injury.  However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission filed charges against Williams-Sonoma for failure to immediately report the defect with the wooden stands.  On Monday, the CPSC announced that Williams-Sonoma has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $987,500. The company also agreed to implement a safety compliance program and create a system of internal controls to accurately report information on a product or material weakness that could potentially pose a hazard.

According to the 2008 recall, if the hammock stands were left outdoors for an extended period of time, the wood could rot and cause the beams to break.  However, metal brackets on the stand often hid deterioration, so consumers might not see that a safety hazard was present.  The stand was sold at Pottery Barn and PBteen from March 2003 until July 2008 for about $300.

Williams-Sonoma filed its full report with the CPSC on September 11, 2008, and the company issued a recall of approximately 30,000 stands the next month.  At the time of the recall, Williams-Sonoma had already received 45 incident reports, including 12 that resulted in injuries such as bruising, lacerations, and fractured ribs.

According to the CPSC, federal law requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to report product defects that could cause “unreasonable risk of serious injury or death” within 24 hours of receiving such information.  The CPSC alleged that the company knowingly failed to report the defect in a timely manner.  Williams-Sonoma agreed to the settlement, although they did not admit or deny that the product was defective or that they failed to inform the CPSC of the potential defect.

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