Cinmar Agrees to $3.1 Million Civil Penalty, Significant Internal Compliance Improvements for Failure to Report Defective Frontgate Wooden Step Ladders

Jun 06, 2014, 16:00 ET from U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Cinmar LLC, of West Chester, Ohio, has agreed to pay a $3.1 million civil penalty. The penalty agreement has been accepted provisionally by the Commission in a 3-0 vote.

The settlement resolves CPSC staff's charges that the firm knowingly failed to report to CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, a defect involving Frontgate foldaway two-and three-step ladders made of mahogany wood and designed for use in walk-in closets.  Cinmar sold the ladders nationwide between November 2005 and July 2010 for $90 to $150.

CPSC staff charged that the steps could break unexpectedly, posing a fall hazard to consumers.

Cinmar did not file its full report with CPSC until July 29, 2010.  By that time, more than 1,200 consumers had returned their ladders to Cinmar, most citing breakage, and others citing cosmetic problems.  Additionally, by that time, Cinmar had received notice of at least two dozen injuries, one requiring surgery and another necessitating hospitalization.  On January 20, 2011, Cinmar and CPSC announced the recall of 38,000 wooden step ladders.

Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to report to CPSC immediately (within 24 hours) after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard, creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or fails to comply with any consumer product safety rule or any other rule, regulation, standard, or ban enforced by CPSC.

In addition to paying a monetary penalty, Cinmar has agreed to implement and maintain a compliance program designed to ensure compliance with the safety statutes and regulations enforced by the Commission. Cinmar has also agreed to maintain and enforce a system of internal controls and procedures designed to ensure that:

  • information required to be disclosed by the firm to the Commission is recorded, processed and reported, in accordance with applicable law;
  • all reporting made to the Commission is timely, truthful, complete and accurate; and
  • prompt disclosure is made to Cinmar management of any significant deficiencies or material weaknesses in the design or operation of such internal controls that are reasonably likely to adversely affect, in any material respect, the company's ability to record, process and report to the Commission.

Cinmar further agreed to provide written documentation of such improvements, processes and controls, upon request of CPSC staff; to cooperate fully and truthfully with CPSC staff; and to make available all information, materials and personnel deemed necessary by staff to evaluate the company's compliance with the terms of the agreement.

In agreeing to the settlement, Cinmar neither admits nor denies CPSC staff's charges that its wooden step ladders contained a defect which could create a substantial product hazard or created an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or that the company failed to notify the Commission in a timely manner, in accordance with the reporting requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Act.

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction.  Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products -- such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals -- contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.

Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury go online to or call CPSC's Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or teletypewriter at (301) 595-7054 for the hearing impaired. Consumers can obtain news release and recall information at, on Twitter @USCPSC or by subscribing to CPSC's free e-mail newsletters.

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SOURCE U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission