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Thomas Russell

Whalen Furniture to pay $725,000 penalty in defect reporting case

WASHINGTON — Case goods and upholstery resource Whalen Furniture has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $725,000 for not immediately reporting to the government defects involving two boat-style children's beds, one of which was involved in the death of a toddler.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said the fine resolves CPSC staff allegations that the company knowingly failed to report a defect involving its LaJolla boat beds and Pirates of the Caribbean twin trundle beds as required by federal law. The beds, which include a toy chest with a 20-pound lid, were recalled after a 22-month-old child's death in 2007.

A Whalen Furniture official contacted by Furniture/Today was not immediately available for comment.

CPSC said that as part of the settlement, Whalen denies staff allegations that the recalled beds had a defect that represented a hazard that could result in serious injury or death. It also denied allegations that it failed to notify the CPSC in a timely manner.

Federal law requires that manufacturers, retailers and distributors report within 24 hours information they receive that a product could cause safety hazards for consumers.

The child from Roseville, Calif., died after the lid of a LaJolla bed toy chest fell on the back of his head and entrapped his neck.

The CPSC said the company learned of the child's death in November 2007 but did not report it to the CPSC until March 2008.

The CPSC and the company announced a recall of 7,700 of the units in July 2008. The beds were sold as part of its Bayside Furnishings division at Costco, furniture stores and online between January 2006 and May 2008 for between $700 and $1,000.

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