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Wheelchair Lift Manufacturer Faces $1.75M in Penalties for Selling Knowingly Selling Defective Lifts

Wheelchair manufacturer Ricon Corp., is being forced to pay $1.75 million in civil penalties and has agreed to increased oversight by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration after it continued to sell defective wheelchair lifts, despite having issued a recall due to a potential fire hazard.

The company has agreed to a consent order including the penalty and an admission that it violated the Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act by selling the defective equipment and violated federal safety regulations by failing to promptly notify NHTSA that it had done so.

“This company’s failure to protect the public from a product known to be a safety risk is absolutely unacceptable,” NHTSA Anthony Foxx said. “Manufacturers must meet their safety obligations, and when they don’t, we will be there with strong enforcement action.”

Ricon has recalled more than 4,000 wheelchair lifts that it sold to manufacturers of vans and buses since September 2012. The recall was issued to fix a defective cable had the potential to spark a fire. In June of 2013, the NHTSA began contacting bus and van manufacturers who used Ricon wheelchair lifts to make sure they were aware of the recall. According to the NHTSA, Ricon was asked when it had ceased producing the defective lifts, but the company had allegedly failed to respond to repeated requests for the information.

In January 2014, six months after the initial recall, Ricon informed the NHTSA that it had mistakenly continued to produce and sell wheelchair lifts with the safety defect. It reported selling 356 defective lifts after the recall was issued, and as a result of NHTSA’s investigation, it issued a new recall to address those lifts in March.

“Ricon violated the Safety Act both in continuing to produce and sell a product already identified as defective, and violated its obligations to make timely notification to NHTSA that it had sold defective products,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “In addition to paying a financial penalty, the company has agreed to increased NHTSA oversight and to improve internal procedures to prevent such safety risks going forward.”

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Original article here.