The Marriott Corp. has agreed to pay $70,000 for allegedly failing to report hazards at its amusement parks that resulted in several injuries and one death, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced yesterday.
In a separate action this week, Kawasaki Motors Corp., charged with failure to inform CPSC of risks involved in using its snowmobile drive tracks, agreed to pay a fine of $90,000 and to recall 16,500 vehicles.
The fines are a result of negotiated settlements in which the companies denied any wrongdoing while agreeing to corrective measures. Such action is a common way of settling civil disputes without the time and expense of court proceedings. The maximum penalty for this offense is $500,000.
A CPCS spokesman said Marriott paid a lesser fine than Kawasaki, even though the hotel company suffered a fatality on its property, because there were more products involved in Kawasaki's case.
The Marriott case involved several accidents on its "Willard's Whizzer" roller coaster rides at the Great America amusement parks in Santa Clara, Calif., and Gurnee, Ill. A 14-year-old boy was killed last March when two trains collided at the California playground.
The roller coaster soon was adjusted, and CPSC inspectors found no safety defects in it. However, when it charged Marriott with not reporting possible defects, the corporation responded by bringing a lawsuit claiming that CPSC had no jurisdiction over the case because amusement rides are not consumer products.
As part of the settlement, Marriott agreed to drop the lawsuit -- without conceding to CPSC's jurisdicition -- and to report to CPSC on the safety record of its rides for the next two years.
In addition to its $90,000 fine, Kawasaki agreed to recall 16,500 of its 1978 and 1979 model snowmobiles at a cost to the company of $3 million to $4 million. CPSC has records of 20 injuries sustained on these Kawasaki vehicles, including fratures or severe lacerations which resulted in finger amputations in three instances.
The snowmobile tracks are the MGB (molded grouser bar) type, designed and manufactured by Kawasaki and the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. The metal bar has tended to detach from the rubber track belts. When the bars are detached and the snowmobile is turned on its side exposing the rotating track, the bars can stike the limbs of anyone lifting the vehicle or standing next to the track.
Use of the track was discontinued after the 1979 model. Owners of the earlier models should contact their local Kawasaki dealer before June 30 for information on track replacements. To verify model numbers affected, consumers may call 800-492-8363 in Maryland or 800-638-8326 elsewhere.
Both Marriott and Kawasaki declined to comment.