Nautilus to Pay $950,000 Penalty for Failing to Report Bowflex Fitness Machine Defects, Injuries

April 12, 2005

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that Nautilus Inc. has agreed to pay a $950,000 civil penalty.

The penalty, which has been provisionally accepted by the Commission, settles allegations that the company failed to give CPSC timely reports on serious injuries and safety defects with nearly 800,000 Bowflex fitness machines. Under federal law, manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers must immediately report information about potentially hazardous products to the Commission.

“The recent penalties levied by CPSC send a strong message that failing to report potential hazards is illegal,” stated CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. “Companies need to understand that the quicker they report product safety problems to CPSC, the quicker we can take action together and protect consumers from injuries.”

Backboard bench hazard

Between 1995 and December 2003, Nautilus made and sold about 420,000 Bowflex Power Pro fitness machines with a “Lat Tower” and a backboard bench. The CPSC alleges that between December 1998 and July 2002, Nautilus knew of 27 incidents and 25 injuries to consumers when the backboard bench broke apart and collapsed unexpectedly during use.

The company allegedly knew, but did not report to CPSC, that consumers suffered back, disc and neck injuries and falls resulting in chipped teeth. In addition, CPSC alleges that the company failed to report a June 2000 design change, intended to reinforce the bench by adding a steel plate.

In January 2004, after the company had finally reported in full, CPSC and Nautilus announced the recall of Power Pro machines.

Seat pin hazard

Between August 2002 and April 2004, Nautilus received 32 reports of consumers suffering injuries when the seat pin on the Bowflex Power Pro (with a “Lat Tower”) and Ultimate fitness machines unexpectedly broke or became disengaged during use. Nautilus, it is alleged, failed to tell CPSC that users unexpectedly fell back on the adjustable seat and suffered injuries. The injuries included a blood clot, a laceration requiring stitches, pulled ligaments and back, disc and neck injuries.

In November 2004, after the company had finally reported in full, CPSC and Nautilus announced a new recall of Power Pro and Ultimate fitness machines.

Incline support bracket hazard

Between January 1995 and April 2004, Nautilus made and sold about 260,000 of the Bowflex Power Pro exercise machines without a “Lat Tower.” These fitness machines were equipped with an incline support bracket for the workout bench.

CPSC alleges that between May 2001 and April 2004, Nautilus failed to report 28 injuries to consumers when the incline bracket broke or bent unexpectedly during use. The injuries ranged from a laceration requiring stitches to a fracture to back pain to numbness. In August 2002, Nautilus made a design change to strengthen the support bracket, but failed to report the defect or risk to CPSC at that time.

In November 2004, CPSC and Nautilus announced a recall of the Power Pro fitness machines.

After its first recall with CPSC last year, Nautilus worked with CPSC to review its entire product line and cooperatively determined the need for corrective measures. That review resulted in two additional recalls last fall.

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