Sears, Roebuck To Pay $500,000 Penalty for Failing to Report Hazard with Riding Lawn Mowers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Sears, Roebuck and Co., of Hoffman Estates, Ill. has agreed to pay a $500,000 civil penalty to settle allegations that it violated federal reporting requirements (Settlement Agreement and Order - PDF) .

Between April 1999 and September 2001, Sears received about 1,600 reports of fuel leakage and fuel tank cracking with certain models of Craftsman rear-engine riding lawn mowers. Although there were no known injuries or deaths involving these lawn mowers, the company failed to report the defect to CPSC as required under the Consumer Product Safety Act.

Murray Inc., of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., manufactured 36,000 rear-engine riding mowers for Sears under the Craftsman label. Murray recalled the lawn mowers in March 2003 and paid a $375,000 civil penalty in September 2003 for filing a late report on the lawn mowers.

According to federal law, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are required to report to CPSC immediately (within 24 hours) after obtaining information which reasonably supports the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial risk of injury to the public, presents an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or violates a federal safety standard.

In agreeing to settle the matter, Sears, Roebuck and Co. denies that it violated the reporting requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Act.
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