Williams-Sonoma Agrees to $987,500 Civil Penalty

Significant Internal Compliance Improvements for Failure to Report Defective Pottery Barn Wooden Hammock Stands


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Williams-Sonoma, Inc., of San Francisco, Calif., has agreed to pay a $987,500 civil penalty.

WilliamsSonoma-LogoAs the CPSC did recently in the Kolcraft agreement, in addition to paying a monetary penalty, Williams-Sonoma has agreed to implement and maintain a compliance program designed to ensure compliance with the safety statutes and regulations enforced by the CPSC.

Williams-Sonoma has also agreed to maintain and enforce a system of internal controls and procedures designed to ensure that:

  • information required to be disclosed by the firm to the CPSC is recorded, processed, and reported, in accordance with applicable law(s);
  • all reporting made to the CPSC is timely, truthful, complete, and accurate;
  • prompt disclosure is made to Williams-Sonoma’s management of any significant deficiencies or material weaknesses in the design or operation of such internal controls that are reasonably likely to adversely affect, in any material respect, the company’s ability to report to the CPSC.

Williams-Sonoma further agreed to provide written documentation of such improvements, processes, and controls, upon request to the CPSC; to cooperate fully and truthfully with CPSC staff; and to make available all information, materials, and personnel deemed necessary to staff to evaluate the company’s compliance with the terms of the agreement.

The settlement resolves CPSC’s charges that the firm knowingly failed to report to CPSC immediately, as required by federal law, a defect involving Pottery Barn wooden hammock stands which were found to contain a defect that could pose a fall and laceration hazard to consumers.

Williams-Sonoma did not file its full report with CPSC until September 11, 2008. On October 1, 2008, Williams-Sonoma and CPSC announced the recall of 30,000 wooden hammock stands. By that time, Williams-Sonoma was aware of 45 incidents involving the hammocks, including 12 reports of injuries requiring medical attention for lacerations, neck and back pain, bruising, and one incident involving fractured ribs.

Federal law requires manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to report to CPSC immediately (within 24 hours) after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard, creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or fails to comply with any consumer product safety rule or any other rule, regulation, standard, or ban enforced by CPSC.