The makers of the Gator Combo Axe, Fiskars Brands, settled with federal prosecutors amongst charges that the company failed to report their defective Gator Combo Ax to the Consumer Protection Safety Commission. Even though these settlement funds are not going to the injured people, this settlement could yield significant benefits to those customers injured by the defective axe.
It is the legal obligation of manufacturers, importers, distributors, and/or retailers of consumer products to report defective products to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and by not doing so, Fiskars subjected itself to fines and penalties. Fiskars Gator Combo Axe featured an ax with a hidden knife in the handle. (See Above). Since 2005, customers had complained that while using the ax, the knife would slip out of the handle and cut the user. It was not until the 2011 recall that Fiskars acknowledged the defect.
Federal prosecutors were able to elicit the 2.6 million dollar settlement from Fiskars, because they could show that Fiskars had received complaints about the defective product in 2005, but failed to report it to the Consumer Protection Safety Commission, which they are required to do. Now, the benefit from this settlement to persons injured by the ax takes shape when those individuals file suit against the company for their injuries. When pursuing a claim for injuries by the ax, attorneys can use the settlement with the federal government as evidence that the product manufacturer was aware of the defect and continued to sell it anyway. These findings by the the federal government could even warrant punitive damages for persons injured by axe, as the failure to report this defective product to the CPSC may amount to gross negligence that could shock the conscience.
If you or someone you know has been injured by defective products, or if you have questions about this blog post, please contact our office at (617) 263-0060. We’d be happy to talk to you.