Wal-Mart Settles Lawsuit in Defective Exercise Machines

Wal-Mart Settles Lawsuit in Defective Exercise Machines

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WASHINGTON (AP) Wal-Mart has agreed to pay a $750,000 penalty to resolve a government lawsuit that said the company failed to report safety hazards from defective exercise "glider" machines.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., also agreed to better track information about product safety hazards, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Justice Department said Friday.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Bill Wertz said the company reported injuries involving the glider machines to the manufacturer but saw no reason to alert the government.

"We believe we acted responsibly," he said. He added that by settling the case, the company admitted no wrongdoing.

In May 2001, the two agencies accused Wal-Mart of failing to report hazards with Weider and Weslo brand exercise gliders, despite knowing of at least 29 consumers who were injured while trying the equipment in Wal-Mart stores. Injuries included fractured vertebrae, herniated discs and a compression injury to a woman's spine.

People used the gliders by sitting on a seat while pushing pedals with their legs and pulling handlebars with their arms.

The seat on the gliders could collapse during use, causing people to fall, the safety commission said.

The law requires companies to immediately report dangerous products to the government.

In November 2001, Icon Health & Fitness Inc., the Logan, Utah-based manufacturer of the gliders, agreed to pay a $500,000 civil penalty for failing to report 68 injuries involving the same exercise equipment.

Icon recalled about 75,000 of its folding exercise gliders in 1999.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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