BOSTON (WWLP) – A complaint was filed against a Massachusetts-based company that claims there was a delay in reporting defective awning covers that have resulted in several injuries and one death.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department in Boston filed a complaint against SunSetter Products LP, a company in Malden that manufactures motorized, retractable awnings for outdoor use. The complaint alleges that SunSetter delayed reporting a hazardous defect involving protective vinyl covers for its retractable awnings stating they could unexpectedly swing open with force upon removal of bungee cords.

The protective covers were sold separately or given away as promotional items between June 1999 and January 2019. The complaint alleges that SunSetter received 14 reports of its motorized awnings springing open, which resulted in several injuries and one death. Despite notice of these incidents, the company did not report the problems with its awning covers to the CPSC until October 2017. The covers were recalled in August 2019.

“Prompt reporting of potentially dangerous defects or problems with products is vital to impactful and immediate consumer protection. CPSC cannot do its job without strict compliance by industry. The defect in this matter, as alleged, can cause serious injury up to and including death,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Manufacturers must be held accountable for failing to comply with this important obligation which jeopardizes the safety of consumers.”

“Companies must report safety issues in consumer products immediately, as the law requires, to prevent unnecessary injury or death,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work closely with the CPSC to hold accountable manufacturers that put profits over the safety of consumers.”

“SunSetter knew for years that its product was hazardous, yet failed to tell CPSC as required by federal law,” said Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric of the CPSC. “It took a tragic death and numerous other injuries before they finally took action – which is unacceptable. When a company continues to sell dangerous products – knowing they can cause injuries and death – it must be held accountable.”

The announcement was made Thursday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, the Department of Justice, and the CPSC.