Ardisam, Inc. of Cumberland, Wisconsin is paying $420,000 to settle a suit by the Consumer Product Safety Commission alleging that it failed to report personal injuries suffered by hunters using its tree stands when the stands unexpectedly detached from trees.
Even though the company allegedly became aware of at least nine injury incident reports as early as 2000, the company did not report the matter to the CSPC until July, 2004 when it recalled the tree stands, which were marketed under the names “Big Foot” and “Lite Foot”. Under federal law, manufacturers, distributors and retailers are required to immediately report to the CPSC information about products that could create a substantial risk of injury or that create an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death. In making the settlement, the company did not admit that it violated the law in this case.
Certainly, a $420,000 payment to the government is no small matter. But it is a modest hit for a company that manufactured 78,000 of these products at prices ranging beween $60 and $120. When a manufacturer learns that people are becoming injured from use of its product and knowingly fails to take action to remove the product from the market, punitive damages would serve as a far more convincing deterrent. There is no substitute for a civil justice system that can deliver powerful sanctions against corporate wrongdoing.
For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Defective and Dangerous Products.