HP Settles Exploding Batteries Claim With £272,000 Penalty

HP settles over claims it knowingly sold batteries which could overheat and put users at risk

HP has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $425,000 (£272,797) that resolves allegations that it knowingly sold laptops with battery packs that could overheat or catch fire.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) made the announcement after staff claimed that HP failed to report immediately, as required by federal law, that it knew about a fault which posted an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death.

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The CPSC alleged that HP knew about 22 incidents of overheating by September 2007, two of which caused injuries to customers and that it conducted a study into the battery packs between March and April earlier that year. By the time that it did notify the commission in July 2008, the CPSC alleges that HP was aware of 31 such incidents.

Federal law requires that manufacturers, distributors and retailers report to the CPSC within 24 hours about defects, although by agreeing to the settlement, HP denies that it broke these requirements and the allegations that the battery packs posed an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death. The CPSC however, is still interested in receiving reports about incidents involving the products.

HP recalled 70,000 batteries in May 2009 that were used in HP and Compaq laptops and sold between August 2007 and March 2008. It then recalled an additional 54,000 lithium ion batteries in May 2010 after further reports emerged that they could catch fire.

Another recall in July last year saw 162,000 lithium-ion batteries recalled after a number of people reported incidents of injuries and burns from batteries that hadn’t previously been cited. Since the May 2010 recall, there had been over 40 reports of overheating batteries, resulting in seven burn injuries, one smoke inhalation injury and 36 instances of property damage.