Fan manufacturer Vornado Air will pay $7.5 million to settle claims it failed to immediately report potentially deadly risks posed by twice-recalled electric space heaters.
The Andover, Kansas-based company failed to notify the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, as legally required, after receiving information that its VH101 Personal Vortex heater could overheat and catch fire, the CPSC said Thursday in a news release.
“For more than three years after Vornado learned that its heaters were susceptible to fire, the company stayed silent and did not reveal the risks to CPSC or to the consumers who had purchased the product. During that time, one of the defective heaters caught fire, resulting in the death of a 90-year-old man. This death was avoidable,” CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric said in a statement.
Vornado recalled the product in April 2018, then re-announced the recall in August 2018 after confirming a 90-year-old man in Chanhassen, Minnesota, had died in a fire involving the heater in December 2017. At the time, the company said it had also received 19 reports of the heaters catching on fire.
More than 350,000 of the made-in-China heaters were sold at retailers nationwide from August 2009 through March 2018 for about $30.
In the accord with the CPSC, Vornado said it agreed to the settlement to avoid litigation and that it does not admit to violating the law.
This isn’t the first time a Vornado product has received federal scrutiny. The CPSC in January of 2008 reached an agreement with a trust acting on behalf of the then-dissolved Vornado Air Circulation Systems to pay a $500,000 fine to settle claims it failed to quickly report more than 300 cases of defective heaters overheating, melting, smoking or catching fire.
That settlement came after the August 2004 recall of one million portable electric whole room heaters sold from July 1991 through January 2004 for between $50 and $120 due to a faulty electric connection, according to the notice.