Office Depot Hit With Stiff Fines for “Knowingly” Failing to Timely Report

 The CPSC recently published a settlement agreement reached with Office Depot whereby Office Depot agreed to pay $3.4 million in penalties and fines for their “knowing” failure to timely report problems with two office chairs that they sold. This was the case even though the manufacturer of one of the chairs had notified the CPSC of the issue previously.  What is interesting about this Agreement is that Office Depot was specifically cited for “knowingly” failing to  timely report, and is alleged to have violated Section 19(a)(4) of the CPSA, 15 U.S.C.§ 2068(a)(4).  Office Depot is alleged to have received numerous complaints regarding the two chairs causing injury over the course of a number of years, but failed to timely notify the CPSC.  Office Depot specifically denied there was any defect within the subject chairs and also denied “knowingly” failing to timely report.   The CPSC also required Office Depot to bolster its existing compliance program by, among other items,  requiring Office Depot to provide a mechanism where employees can confidentially report any product problems; and by requiring that senior management (with Board oversight) be responsible for CPSC compliance.