The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has provisionally accepted a settlement with Aqua-Leisure Industries, Inc. requiring the company to pay $650,000 for allegedly failing to promptly notify the Commission after learning that the leg straps in the seats of its inflatable baby boats “can tear with normal use, causing children to unexpectedly fall into or under the water, posing a risk of drowning.” The company agreed to the settlement without admitting liability, and CPSC requests that those opposed to it or otherwise wishing to comment file a written request no later than November 1, 2012.

The company recalled an inflatable baby boat product in 2001 due to sudden tearing of the seat crotch, and the company continued to sell versions of the product thereafter, distributing some 4 million inflatable baby boats between 2002 and 2009. According to CPSC, the company learned of 17 incidents of seat ripping between July 2003 and July 2006 and was informed that the leg straps were not being produced according to its specifications. “Aqua Leisure waited until March 12, 2009, to report to the CPSC, just hours before the publication of a news story by a Boston news team about problems with the Subject Products and Aqua Leisure’s handling of complaints and potential failure to report to the Commission.” The company thereafter recalled the products, disclosing “31 reports of inflatable baby boat seats tearing, causing children to fall into or under the water.”

Still, according to the company, few of its products failed and no substantiated injuries were reported in association with its use. The company also contends that the boats are sold with warnings, including warnings that parents not use the product without supervising their children. “For these reasons, Aqua Leisure did not believe the leg straps tears were reportable events.” See Federal Register, October 17, 2012.