The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Bad Boy Enterprises has been a bad boy and has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $715,000. (That was a pun that obviously had to happen. It is the second-largest fine the agency has levied against a maker of off-road vehicles.) Bad Boy continues deny responsibility. I’m not entirely sure how based on the facts.
The settlement resolves CPSC staff allegations that Bad Boy Enterprises failed to immediately report, as federal law requires, a product defect involving Classic Buggies off-road utility vehicles with Series brand and SePex brand electric motors. The problem? Sudden acceleration in these ATVs that caused injuries to riders. Bad Boy apparently knew about it and buried it under the rug, quietly fixing some while keeping the defect from the feds for years.
The off-road utility vehicles with Series motors were sold between 2003 and June 2007 and the off-road utility vehicles with a SePex motors were sold between 2007 and June 2010. Both the Series and SePex off-road utility vehicles could suddenly accelerate during use or while the ignition is in the idle position, creating a runaway vehicle situation.
In 2008, Bad Boy Enterprises implemented a repair program for the SePex off-road utility buggies to address the sudden acceleration defect without notifying the Commission. The firm did not report to the Commission until August 2009. Once the chickens came home to roost, Bad Boy issued the ATV recall for the vehicles sudden acceleration on October 21, 2009.
Further investigation conducted by CPSC found that Bad Boy failed to notify the feds about the sudden acceleration defect and incidents involving its ATVs with a Series motor. The firm did not give CPSC full information about the Series buggies until May 2010. The firm also reported in May 2010 that a new repair was necessary for the previously recalled off-road utility vehicles to repair the sudden acceleration defect. The second recall for sudden acceleration in these off-road utility vehicles was announced in December 2010. By that time, there were over 50 reports of sudden acceleration incidents, resulting in, as you would expect on an ATV, real injuries: arm and leg fractures, a fractured toe, rotator cuff injury, and sore muscles.
The Bad Boy got caught in this little drama. Was the delay worth the $715,000 penalty? Maybe it was. Maybe the extra sales made up for it. I don’t know.