Dan Harkins May 12, 2015, 1:49pm


The U.S. government has sued Black and Decker for allegedly dragging its feet in reporting dangerous defects in its cordless electric lawnmower.

The United States filed a lawsuit April 29 in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, seeking civil penalties and permanent injunction against Black and Decker (U.S.) Inc., of Maryland.

According to the complaint, Black and Decker failed to report to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission when its cordless electric lawnmower was found to have a defect that "could created a substantial product hazard and/or created an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death." Specifically, the mowers were discovered to spontaneously restart, the suit says.

From September 1995 to September 2006, the defendant made about 177,871 of these products, the lawsuit states, and from November 1998 to February 2009, the defendants received at least 112 complaints about a continuous run defect and/or a double component failure, the lawsuit states.

Around 2002, the complaint says, the company investigated 17 complaints the mowers were operating even when the safety key was removed and in February 2004 an expert finally identified the continuous run defect. But it wasn't until Dec. 23, 2008, after having seen complaints of people being injured by the defect, when Black and Decker filed its first report about it, the lawsuit states.

By March 11, 2010, the CPSC told the defendant its preliminary finding was that the mowers "presented a substantial product hazard," the lawsuit states, and finally, on Sept. 29, 2010, the CPSC recalled the mower.

The complaint seeks $1,825,000 for each of four counts against the company, plus injunctive relief requiring the company to implement monitoring systems that would immediately report complaints to the Consumer Protection Agency. The lawsuit also requests compensation for costs and fees. The United States is is represented by the Department of Justice.

U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, case number: 1:15-cv-01239-GLR.

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