Core Health & Fitness LLC, Vancouver, Washington, has agreed to pay a $6.5 million civil penalty, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The settlement resolves CPSC's charges that Core failed to immediately report to CPSC, as required by law, that its Cable Cross Over Machines and Dual Adjustable Pulley Machines contained a defect or created an unreasonable risk of serious injury.
Core Health & Fitness manufactures commercial fitness equipment under brand names StairMaster, Schwinn, Nautilus, Star Trac and Throwdown.
Despite agreeing to pay the fine, the agreement “does not constitute an admission by Core to the charges,” according to the agreement, which is available on the Federal Register. “Core specifically refutes the staff’s findings that the Cable Cross Over Machines and Dual Adjustable Pulley Machines contained a defect that could create a substantial product hazard or created an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death; that Core failed to notify the Commission in a timely manner … and that there was any ‘knowing’ violation of the [Consumer Product Safety Act],” according to the agreement.
The agreement states that Core is paying the penalty to settle the matter and save on litigation expenses.
The products in question were manufactured by Unisen and Core from 2001 and 2017. Core purchased the assets of Unisen in November 2010, taking over the distribution, manufacturing and sale of the products.
CPSC charged that Core had information that the height adjusting carriages on the machines can loosen and fall, posing serious impact injury hazards to the user. Core received reports of 55 incidents involving falling carriages, including 11 incidents that resulted in head lacerations requiring stitches or staples, but Core did not notify the CPSC immediately of the defect or risk.
Core recalled the Cable Cross Over Machines and Dual Adjustable Pulley Machines on July 12, 2017.
However, Core says in the agreement that it took steps to address problems with the equipment after being notified by health club operators and was not aware of systemic or overarching issues with the products. It instead viewed the problems as routine maintenance issues.
Core had a product safety compliance program at the time that included quality control personnel and a product safety testing program, according to the agreement. However, in addition to paying the $6.5 million civil penalty, Core has agreed to maintain an improved compliance program to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act. Core will also maintain a related system of internal controls and procedures to ensure that information required to be disclosed by Core to the Commission is recorded, processed and reported in accordance with applicable law.
The penalty agreement has been accepted provisionally by the Commission by a 4-0 vote.