January 5, 2015 — The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced a $2.6 million settlement with the maker of the “Gator Combo Axe” for failing to report a dangerous safety defect.
The axe had a 7-inch knife embedded in the hollow handle that was supposed to be secured by two small magnets. Unfortunately, the knife could dislodge unexpectedly and cause serious injuries to consumers.
According to the Justice Department:
“The United States alleged that beginning as early as 2005 and continuing over the next several years, Fiskars received consumer complaints and warranty claims indicating that the knife fell out of the Axe handle while the Axe was being used to chop, pound or hammer.”
In several instances, the knife fell out during use and caused lacerations requiring stitches, permanent nerve damage, and surgery to repair severed tendons
The manufacturer, Fiskars, received numerous reports of injuries and was hit with lawsuits, but the company did not alert the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) as required by law.
According to the Seattle Times, one of the lawsuits was filed in April 2009 by a man who suffered permanent wrist injuries due to a wrist laceration. In July 2010, another person reported severe nerve damage after being injured by the combo axe.
About 103,000 of the axes were recalled in March 2011. At the time, five lacerations were reported, all requiring stitches. The manufacturer offered consumers a free handle cap to hold the knife in the axe handle during transport and storage, instructions, and a warning label.
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