RETAILER sued for not reporting accidents

Friday, May 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The government is suing Wal-Mart for failing to report dozens of injuries caused by some home exercise equipment sold in its stores.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Justice Department said in a statement Friday that the retailer and its subsidiary, Icon Health and Fitness, were aware of dozens of serious injuries related to defective equipment but did not notify the CPSC of the incidents, as required by law.

The agencies said exercise gliders sold by Wal-Mart had seats that can collapse, causing the user to fall suddenly. Injuries allegedly included fractured vertebrae and herniated discs. Many of the accidents occurred in Wal-Mart stores and some of the injuries resulted in partial disability, the CPSC said.

A spokesman for Wal-Mart, Bill Wertz, told USA Today that the company followed federal regulations.

``Wal-Mart believes we did what we were supposed to do,'' he said. ``We had no reason to believe there was a risk of serious injury. The most serious injury we knew of was a tailbone fracture.''

The lawsuit seeks up to $4.5 million in fines.