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HP to pay $425,000 over late notebook battery recall

Recalled HP LiIon battery

Technology giant Hewlett-Packard has reached a settlement (PDF) with the Consumer Product Safety Commission that has the company paying a civil penalty of $425,000 for failing to notify the CPSC over reported problems with lithium-ion batteries in some of the company’s notebook computers.

The recalled lithium-ion battery packs could overheat, posing a risk of burning or fire. At least two of the incidents where the batteries malfunctioned injured consumers, with one consumer reportedly going to the hospital.

A full list of notebook models with impacted battery packs is available from HP’s Web site. Note that recalled battery packs spanned numerous HP Pavilion, HP Compaq, HP, and Compaq Presario lines.

Although Hewlett-Packard eventually issued a recall for some 70,000 notebook computer batteries, that didn’t happen until mid-2009. According to the CPSC, Hewlett-Packard was studying the battery packs for potential problems with the battery packs as early as March 2007, and HP knew about 22 incidents involving the lithium-ion battery packs by September 2007. However, the company didn’t get around to telling the commission about any problems until July of 2008—by which time HP knew about “at least” 31 incidents.

The $425,000 civil penalty resolves the CPSC’s allegations that Hewlett-Packard knowingly failed to report problems with the battery packs. Under federal law, companies have just 24 hours to contact the CPSC once they have information that reasonably indicates a product may be defective. Although Hewlett-Packard is agreeing to the settlement, the company denies any wrongdoing or that it violated any reporting requirements. It also denies CPSC allegations that the battery packs posed any unreasonable risk.